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"Peking University Law School-Globalization and Comparative Law Series Lectures"——The online lecture by Professor Eric A. Posner of the University of Chicago Law School was successfully held

On August 7, 2020, at the invitation of the Peking University Law School, Eric A. Posner was a guest speaker in the Peking University Law School’s “Global & Comparative Law” Series Of courses and delivered a successful live online lecture on the topic of “platform companies’ monopoly on the labor market and its regulation” . The lecture was hosted by Peking University Law School Associate Professor Chen Ruoying, with Peking University Law School Professor Yang Ming, Assistant Professor Yan Tian and Dai Xin participating in the discussion. This lecture received enthusiastic responses from teachers and students. Nearly 100 teachers and students participated in the lecture online.

Professor Eric A. Posner is Kirkland & Ellis Distinguished Law Professor, Arthur and Esther Kane Chair Researcher at the University of Chicago. At the same time, he is also an academician of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and a researcher of the American Academy of Law. His research covers a wide range of financial regulations, international law, constitution, contract law, and economics of law. He is one of the most prolific scholars in the American law school, and the citation rate of his work was ranked fourth among all American law professors.

Before the lecture began, Chen Ruoying Introduced Eric A. Posner and several other panelists, then expressed her heartfelt thanks to Eric A. Posner for bringing his lectures to Chinese students and teachers.

In the main part of the lecture, Professor Eric A. Posner introduces the problem of labor market monopoly in the United States and the regulation effect of anti-monopoly rules on this problem from four aspects: the raising of labor market monopoly issues, relevant theories about labor market monopoly issues, the lack of anti-monopoly rules in the practice of labor market monopoly issues, and suggestions for reform of anti-monopoly rules. 

In the interactive session of the lecture, Mr. Yang Ming shared his learning experience of this lecture: China faces the same labor buyer’s market monopoly problem, especially in the era of platform economy. In the past, disputes were basically resolved within the scope of contract law, but in the future, China’s law enforcement agencies and courts will be more concerned about how to apply anti-monopoly laws to deal with such disputes; China’s anti-monopoly law has only been promulgated for more than ten years, there are not enough experience and methods to define the relevant market and eliminate the effects of competition; in terms of labor buyer’s market monopoly, how to define the labor market and measure labor market concentration; whether the traditional model of degree can be applied to the current booming network industry and platform companies, and how to more effectively measure the damage caused by the labor buyer’s market monopoly to competition, Professor Posner’s research has given us excellent inspiration; in addition, China has always been in there is a preference for the use of policies when protecting labor rights. Therefore, how to coordinate the implementation of the anti-monopoly law, the regulation of other departmental laws and policy adjustments, so that these methods of protecting labor rights can be most effective. In this regard, Professor Eric A. Posner responded and reiterated that his findings, opinions and suggestions are all aimed at the US market, and pointed out the complexity and diversity of the solutions to the problem of labor market monopoly.

After that, Mr. Yan Tian expressed his gratitude to Professor Eric A. Posner, and briefly summarized the three highlights of the lecture to help students better understand the content of the lecture, and then raised three questions. Professor  Yan believes that Professor Posner has opened a new direction for the intersection of anti-monopoly law and labor law, because past research focuses on the monopoly of the labor provider in the labor market, not the monopoly of the labor purchase. Teacher Yan also affirmed Professor Posner's quantification and presentation of the damage caused by labor market monopoly to laborers. Professor Eric A. Posner responded Yan Tian’s three major issues—"Does the introduction of anti-monopoly law have a sufficient basis for solving labor market monopoly" , "How to define labor market monopoly with clear standards? Some standards have a tendency to expand" and "how to prevent excessive restrictions on platform companies that cause labor market monopoly to prevent slipping to another monopoly". Teacher Yan Tian also recommended Professor Eric A. Posner's book "The Radical Market" to teachers and students. 

Then, Professor Chen Ruoying raised questions about the definition of the labor market monopoly problem, the causes and solutions. In response to Eric A. Posner's belief that excessive search costs have led employers to lock in workers, Mr. Chen pointed out that the importance of search costs is gradually decreasing, but the increase in training costs may have led to similar results. When analyzing the reasons for the lack of antitrust lawsuits in the labor market, Professor Chen also suggested to distinguish between the above two types of employees. In this regard, Professor Eric A. Posner emphasized that a related problem is that employers with monopoly position lock in employees and increase employee turnover costs through training only applicable to the employer, thereby depressing wages.

Professor Dai Xin took companies such as Uber for example, discussed with Eric A. Posner the challenges that such internet-based businesses pose to workers in their search for new jobs, and the application of antitrust law and other traditional legal issues Challenges. Eric A. Posner took Uber's online car-hailing as an example to answer and discuss the new problems that platform companies have brought to labor law and antitrust laws, and pointed out the importance of defining the legal status of online car-hailing drivers: if they are identified as employees, Therefore, it is necessary to apply the labor law more actively to protect it in law; but if it is defined as an independent third party, it may be more necessary to apply the anti-monopoly law to determine whether it is in collusion with the platform company. In addition, Professor Eric A. Posner also answered questions raised by online teachers and students and expressed gratitude to the conference organizer, reviewers, and participating teachers and students.

At the end of the activity, Professor Chen Ruoying expressed her gratitude to Professor Eric A. Posner and the teachers and students who participated in the discussion, and announced the successful conclusion of the lecture.

Translated by: He Jinghan

Edited by: Yin Ziyou