New York governor Kathy Hochul vetoes ban on noncompete clauses

Workers living in New York who plan to change jobs didn't plan on Kathy Hochul. The state's Democrat-controlled legislature passed a ban on noncompete clauses in employment contracts, but its Wall Street-controlled governor vetoed it.

Noncompete agreements have proliferated throughout the economy in recent years: Between 18 percent to 45 percent of workers in the private sector may be bound by them, according to surveys. Critics argue that the restrictive clauses prevent the free movement of labor and place an unfair burden on a constellation of workers, especially those who work low-wage, low-skilled jobs.

Governments have responded in kind. About half the nation's states have imposed sharp limits on noncompete clauses, and some states, like Minnesota and California, have banned them altogether. Under President Biden, the Federal Trade Commission is exploring a national ban on companies requiring workers to sign the agreements.

California banned noncompetes in the 19th century.

The most interesting thing about it is Hochul plainly saying that the reason she's vetoing this law is to force finance industry workers to stay in their jobs. Almost any other sort of politician would somehow code it in terms of freedom, choice, rights, economic growth or some other way to make it seem like it's good news for someone, anyone. But she's happy to make clear it's just what Wall Street wants her to do; it's literally how Bloomberg News reports the story in its headline.

It's no wonder she almost lost to a very right-wing Republican in one of America's most liberal states. Her constituency is exclusively corporate and her only appeal to humans is their fear of what might replace her.