Here are some facts about air travel. Forty-four percent of Americans fly commercially, while 12 percent of all air passengers are traveling for work. Every day, approximately 1.1 million passengers are flying for business reasons. Ninety percent of Americans have taken a commercial flight at some point in their life. So, even if only a minority of people are flying on planes in any given year, most people have experience with airports, delayed flights, lost baggage, promised services that aren’t provided, and hidden fees. So, it’s a pretty savvy political move for the White House to do something to protect consumers against these hassles. This week, the Biden administration did just that, issuing rules “that require airlines to provide automatic cash refunds to passengers when owed and protect consumers from costly surprise airline fees.”

More specifically, airlines will now be required “to promptly provide passengers with automatic cash refunds when owed because their flights are cancelled or significantly changed, their checked bags are significantly delayed, or the ancillary services, like Wi-Fi, they purchased are not provided.” The Department of Transportation will also require all airlines and ticket agents “to tell consumers upfront what fees they charge for checked bags, a carry-on bag, for changing a reservation, or cancelling a reservation.”

The Biden administration’s Department of Labor was busy helping workers this week, too. Most people are familiar with the idea of earning time-and-a-half wages but for more than 80 years “salaried workers earning less than a certain threshold have been entitled to time-and-a-half pay when they work more than 40 hours per week.”

However, the threshold that helps determine eligibility for overtime pay has risen far slower than wage growth, excluding many lower-paid salaried workers from overtime protections. DOL’s rule will raise the minimum salary threshold for the overtime exemption for executive, administrative, and professional employees in two stages, and provide for increases every 3 years to ensure the threshold keeps up with wage growth. This change will extend overtime protections to nearly 1 million workers based on an initial salary increase to $43,888 ($844 per week) on July 1, up from $35,568 ($684 per week). And it will extend protections to about 3 million more workers on January 1, 2025 based on a second increase to $58,656 per year ($1,128 per week).

This won’t affect my overworked spouse, but it will benefit almost a million workers before Election Day, and four million workers overall who are expected to work their asses off with no extra compensation just because they’re on salary. The Labor Department also issued a new rule to protect worker’s retirement fees against bad self-interested advice from “trusted investment advice providers,” which they estimate “will save tens or even hundreds of thousands of dollars per impacted middle-class saver.”

In another aggressive pro-worker move, Lina Khan’s Federal Trade Commission (FTC) dropped a bomb this week.

In a ruling Tuesday afternoon, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) said noncompete clauses would henceforth be illegal. The measure was necessary, it said, for “protecting the fundamental freedom of workers to change jobs, increasing innovation, and fostering new business formation.”

“Noncompete clauses keep wages low, suppress new ideas, and rob the American economy of dynamism,” said FTC chair Lina M. Khan in a statement. “The FTC’s final rule to ban noncompetes will ensure Americans have the freedom to pursue a new job, start a new business, or bring a new idea to market.”

We’ll have to see how this new rule fares in court, and I don’t imagine it will be favored by the conservative Supreme Court, but it’s a bold move that would not only add to Americans’ liberty to sell their labor but also assure they get a better price for it. Astonishingly, it’s estimated that one-in-five Americans have non-compete agreements.

Paul Krugman says Biden is arguably the most pro-union president since Harry Truman, but his record is broader. As you can see from example just from this week, he’s pro-worker and he’s pro-consumer.

These changes don’t get the attention they should, but just like with student-debt relief, there are a lot of people who will notice when they receive the benefits. In other cases, people won’t ever know they’ve received a benefit because some bad thing simply didn’t happen. For example, their retirement savings weren’t subjected to needless fees. It’s important the Biden gets credit for these types of reforms, so please spread the news.

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