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6 - Antitrust, Free Trade, and Fissuring

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  05 May 2022

Sanjukta Paul
Affiliation:
Wayne State University, Detroit
Shae McCrystal
Affiliation:
University of Sydney
Ewan McGaughey
Affiliation:
King's College London
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Summary

Just as the relationship between labor and antitrust is often misunderstood, this chapter argues that the relationship between antitrust and trade policy is frequently misunderstood or misrepresented, and it has important implications for labor. Above all, they are seen as operating in distinct spheres, with antitrust as a domestic policy and trade as an international one. In light of this, I first outline several common conceptual frameworks used to understand the relationship between the two policy areas, drawing on work from economics, political science, and law. Second, I contrast different views on the changes to industrial organization, globalization, and trade that have made this distinction obsolete. I argue that the problems at the intersection of domestic antitrust and labor regulation – workplace fissuring, subcontracting, franchising etc. – are in fact that same set of problems associated with power imbalances in international supply chains emphasized by scholars of globalization. I finish with a case of 20th-century trade and antitrust policy showing that many of the domestic regulatory changes to antitrust and labor were motivated by a desire to protect American industry from international trade competition. While different perspectives either frame globalization as an external driver of domestic re-regulation or as irrelevant to it, globalization as currently experienced is in part constituted by these domestic reforms.

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Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Print publication year: 2022

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