College of Law

Do Consumers Still Reign Supreme in the Antitrust Hierarchy? How Antitrust Can Promote the Interests of Workers and Other Stakeholders in the Economy

Do Consumers Still Reign Supreme in the Antitrust Hierarchy? How Antitrust Can Promote the Interests of Workers and Other Stakeholders in the Economy

DATE: Monday, April 10 2023
TIME: 12:00 pm - 2:30 pm MST
LOCATION: College of Law and Virtual Event
COST: Free and open to the public.
2 hours CLE (pending).

FTC Commissioner Alvaro Bedoya and Assistant Attorney General for Antitrust Jonathan Kanter to provide keynote addresses


Since the embrace of antitrust’s consumer welfare standard in the 1980s, the welfare of workers has been neglected, and the focus of antitrust policy has been solely the welfare of consumers. As a result, antitrust policy has tolerated wage-fixing conspiracies that should be per se illegal based on weak procompetitive assertions. Promised layoffs following mergers have often been considered “efficiencies.” Moreover, up until recently, antitrust agencies have not addressed employment non-compete agreements. These agreements have proliferated, and challenges to non-competes have had unpredictable outcomes under conflicting state laws.

But things are starting to change. In 2022, the Department of Justice (DOJ) blocked a merger in the book publishing industry based entirely around a theory of writer (worker) harm. The DOJ also pursued and secured criminal charges against a manager of a company for entering a no-poach agreement with a rival to not raise the wages of nurses working in the Clark County School District and to not hire nurses from each other. Not to be left out, in January 2023, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) proposed a rule that would ban all post-employment non-compete agreements.

The University of Utah has been at the vanguard of this burgeoning movement to reinvigorate antitrust enforcement. In 2019, the University of Utah Department of Economics, led by Professors Mark Glick and Marshall Steinbaum, organized a conference entitled “A New Future for Antitrust.” The conference developed a set of principles for the reform and refocusing of antitrust law in the era of “big tech” entitled “The Utah Statement.”

Building from that foundation, in October 2022, the University of Utah S.J. Quinney College of Law, working in conjunction with the University of Utah Department of Economics and the Antitrust Section of the Utah Bar, held a symposium titled “The New Roaring Twenties: The Progressive Agenda for Antitrust and Consumer Protection Law.” FTC Chair Lina Khan was the keynote speaker. A new interdisciplinary center was hatched, called the Utah Project, dedicated to the study of antitrust and consumer protection law in the College of Social and Behavioral Science.

And to inaugurate its annual Spring Forum, the Utah Project welcomes two antitrust leaders to deliver keynotes: FTC Commissioner Alvaro Bedoya and Assistant Attorney General for Antitrust Jonathan Kanter. Both speakers will address important topics at the intersection of labor and antitrust. A panel of economic and legal experts will follow, and will be joined by the two keynotes.

This event is co-sponsored by the Utah Project, the University of Utah S.J. Quinney College of Law, the University of Utah Department of Economics, and the Antitrust Section of the Utah Bar.

Financial support for the Utah Project has been provided by the Institute for New Economic Thinking and the Economic Security Project.


Welcoming Remarks

Rachel Hayes, Dean, University of Utah David Eccles School of Business


Keynote Speaker Introduction

Chris Peterson, John J. Flynn Endowed Professor of Law, University of Utah’s S.J. Quinney College of Law


Keynote Address:
Alvaro Bedoya, Commissioner, The Federal Trade Commission


Bilateral Q&A with Jonathan Kanter
Jonathan Kanter, Assistant Attorney General, Antitrust, Department of Justice


Panel: A Seat at the Table for Labor

Moderator: Marshall Steinbaum, University of Utah Department of Economics
Hal Singer, University of Utah Department of Economics
Lara Swensen, President, Utah Bar Association Antitrust Section
Alvaro Bedoya, Commission, The Federal Trade Commission
Manish Kumar, Deputy Assistant Attorney General for Antitrust


Closing Remarks

Hal Singer, University of Utah Department of Economics


Alvaro Bedoya was sworn in May 16, 2022 as a Commissioner of the Federal Trade Commission. President Joe Biden named Bedoya to a term that expires on Sept. 25, 2026. Bedoya was the founding director of the Center on Privacy & Technology at Georgetown University Law Center, where he was also a visiting professor of law. He has been influential in research and policy at the intersection of  privacy and civil rights, and co-authored a 2016 report on the use of facial recognition by law enforcement and the risks that it poses to privacy, civil liberties, and civil rights. He previously served as the first Chief Counsel to the Senate Judiciary Subcommittee on Privacy, Technology and the Law after its founding in 2011, and Chief Counsel to former Senator Al Franken, of Minnesota. Prior to that, he was an associate at the law firm WilmerHale.

Jonathan Kanter was confirmed on November 16, 2021, as Assistant Attorney General for the Antitrust Division. Throughout his career, Mr. Kanter has been a leading advocate for strong and meaningful antitrust enforcement and competition policy. Mr. Kanter has been a partner in the Washington, D.C. offices of two national law firms and was the founder of a boutique antitrust law firm dedicated to promoting antitrust enforcement. Mr. Kanter began his career as an attorney for the Federal Trade Commission’s Bureau of Competition.

Hal Singer is a professor of economics at the University of Utah and director of the Utah Project. In a consulting capacity, he serves as managing director at Econ One. He is an expert in antitrust, consumer protection, and regulation. He has researched, published, and testified on competition-related issues in a wide variety of industries, including media, pharmaceuticals, sports, and finance. Federal courts have certified ten classes in reliance on Dr. Singer’s economic models. As a Managing Director at Econ One, he has extensive experience providing expert economic and policy advice to regulatory agencies in the United States and Canada, as well as before congressional committees.

Lara Swensen is a shareholder with James Dodge Russell & Stephens, P.C. Her practice focuses on complex commercial litigation, including intellectual property and antitrust issues. Ms. Swensen has represented both individuals and companies engaged in difficult, high-stakes disputes. Although her focus is resolving matters in litigation, she has also assisted companies with internal investigations, antitrust compliance training, and alternative dispute resolution. Prior to joining the firm, Ms. Swensen also worked as a legal consultant for various large technology companies. Ms. Swensen is active in various community organizations.  She currently serves on the Utah Supreme Court’s Ethics & Disciplinary Committee, which reviews, investigates, and hears all informal complaints charging unethical or unprofessional conduct by attorneys.  She is President of the Antitrust Section of the Utah Bar.  Ms. Swensen also previously served on the Executive Board for Women Lawyers of Utah.

Marshall Steinbaum is an Assistant Professor of Economics at the University of Utah and a Senior Fellow in Higher Education Finance at Jain Family Institute. He is an empirical labor economist by training, and his research investigates the existence and implications of employer power in labor markets, with applications to antitrust, higher education, and student debt. He has written for a number of popular outlets relating to his expertise in inequality, antitrust, labor markets, the history of economic ideas and intellectual history more generally, student debt and higher education policy, as well as book reviews related to those subjects.


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