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DOJ Investigates Google, Apple, and Others For 'No Poaching' Agreement

Soulskill posted more than 2 years ago | from the it's-only-cheating-if-you-get-caught dept.

Businesses 360

CSHARP123 writes "The Department of Justice launched an investigation into the 'No Poaching' agreement between Apple and Google in 2010, but details of the case were only made public for the first time yesterday. TechCrunch was the first to sift through the documents, and has uncovered some ostensibly incriminating evidence against not only Google and Apple, but Pixar, Lucasfilm, Adobe, Intel, and Intuit, as well. According to the filings from the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California in San Jose, these companies did indeed enter 'no poach' agreements with each other, and agreed to refrain from soliciting employees. The documents also indicate they collectively sought to limit their employees' power to negotiate for higher salaries."

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So what? (0, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38761486)

If employees have the right to form unions, I don't understand how this is that much different. Different sets of rules for different folks ain't in anyone's interests.

Re:So what? (5, Insightful)

Sockatume (732728) | more than 2 years ago | (#38761560)

Union actions are public knowledge. Whatever benefits the union gains are slightly counterbalanced by businesses' responses and negative reactions from the public and politicians. Corporate agreements are not public. Someone looking to be hired by one of these companies cannot use it to their advantage in the decision-making process, and they avoid any public reaction.

If they want to make these "corporate unions" public they're welcome to have them, but the clandestine nature of the agreements makes it obvious that they already know that there'd be hell to pay.

Re:So what? (4, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38761732)

Union actions are public knowledge.

Absolutely. They're completely transparent and above-board. Not just to their membership, but the general public.

Re:So what? (1)

rubycodez (864176) | more than 2 years ago | (#38761784)

quite right, when Teamsters or United Steelworkers lay in wait and beat up a scab, it makes the news

Re:So what? (1)

Runaway1956 (1322357) | more than 2 years ago | (#38762298)

So - who's that dude who was supposed to have been buried in concrete, in Chicago? That sure made the news, but no one has bothered to break out the corpse, and charge anyone with his death yet.

Re:So what? (1)

Sockatume (732728) | more than 2 years ago | (#38761928)

No they aren't.

Re:So what? (4, Informative)

i kan reed (749298) | more than 2 years ago | (#38762452)

That's a bald assertion there. By the very nature of a union, it must be public in order to gain members and perform actions like strikes. It's impossible to do that privately. Moreover it's against the (U.S) law to make a secret union. Now, from what reasoning could you possibly conclude they aren't public?

Bald assertions like this make you look bad, and harm your argument.

cartels (5, Insightful)

pr100 (653298) | more than 2 years ago | (#38761914)

Hang on. Isn't this essentially trying to operate a tech-labour market cartel?

Re:cartels (3, Interesting)

Sockatume (732728) | more than 2 years ago | (#38761944)

That is why there would be hell to pay.

Re:cartels (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38762186)

I happen to know that the formula 1 teams and top tier suppliers have an identical "gentlemans agreement" not to take each others staff unless they have already handed in notice

Re:So what? (2)

Sarten-X (1102295) | more than 2 years ago | (#38761662)

Personally, I'm inclined to agree.

The no-poach agreements reduce the stress on a company that has talent but, in the short term, isn't as desirable as somewhere else. In my opinion, the agreements shouldn't prevent Apple from hiring a Google employee (or even offering a great deal), but rather just from advertising jobs specifically to them because they're at Google. In the long term, employees who are dissatisfied enough will leave eventually. They know the jobs are out there.

Re:So what? (5, Insightful)

PPH (736903) | more than 2 years ago | (#38761898)

No soliciting is one thing. And I don't really have a problem with that either.

But try working in an area where employers have a 'do not hire' policy. You quit one job and everyone else tells you they won't hire ex-employees of certain companies for a period of time. You might as well step out of the bushes and surrender when you hear the slave hunters' dogs approach.

Re:So what? (5, Insightful)

ByOhTek (1181381) | more than 2 years ago | (#38761704)

In general, employers, especially ones where unions are present, are a relatively small number of groups that wield a lot of organized power.

Conversely, unions, ostensibly*, represent the employees and potential employees, a group which usually has more total power than the employers, but lacks the organization to wield it effectively, often wielding it only to the extant that the weakest and most desperate individuals in the group are willing to wield it. Why? because the employers will take those first, as they are cheaper, and this makes those that were trying to get fair compensation, instead of just any compensation become the weaker and desperate*. Unions can balance the ability to wield power so that the employers are move likely to provide fair compensation. Large employers typically don't need this assistance.

* There are quite a few unions I've seen that seem to only absorb chunks their member's paychecks without actually providing any benefit in bargaining with the employer, effectively acting as a lamprey on capitalism. These days I'm not sure if this is the exception or the rule... At one time, it was the exception.
** there are exceptions to this rule, however, as this is the most profitable way to run a business (get the cheapest labor that will give you the desired quality), this tends to be the trend, and companies not following it will be less profitable, and therefore grow less than companies that do.

Re:So what? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38762114)

do these employees even have a union? why don't they?
sure, if these 7 companies want to have agreements between them, fine - then where are the unions representing all 7 of these companies' tech workers, saying "if you have agreements like this, every single employee of all 7 of these companies will go on strike" ?

This is why we don't need regulation (5, Funny)

elrous0 (869638) | more than 2 years ago | (#38761492)

As my wise Republican candidates have pointed out, this kind of thing is proof that the free market--left to itself and without any government oversight, regulation, or interference--will make things better for all of us. The DoJ needs to get off the backs of these job-creating companies and let them give their employees the freedom that Jesus and Capitalism can only provide when we have a free market with no regulation or oversight. Anything less is socialism.

Re:This is why we don't need regulation (1, Troll)

ArsonSmith (13997) | more than 2 years ago | (#38761624)

Exactly, it'd be so much better if the government would just tell me where I should work. Why should I have to worry about presenting my self to companies and showing how I could be of benefit to them?

Re:This is why we don't need regulation (1, Insightful)

operagost (62405) | more than 2 years ago | (#38762336)

I love the Slashdot bias. Both this and the parent post made snarky comments from both sides of the issue, but the one advocating less government intervention got modded down. I think it's hilarious that the same naiive ideologues who protest SOPA because of the dangerous control it gives the government are just fine with giving the government control over private contracts.

Re:This is why we don't need regulation (0)

0xdeadbeef (28836) | more than 2 years ago | (#38762474)

> government control over private contracts

I know, seriously. We're all much better off when mafias enforce "private" contracts.

Re:This is why we don't need regulation (1, Insightful)

Mitsoid (837831) | more than 2 years ago | (#38761664)

Seriously, god bless the American Free Market system....

I would insert a parallel to Slavery from the past, but it'd probably get marked as a Troll or Flamebait... So... I'm just gonna call this "The new form of slavery".. You're bought and paid for by one company, and you're stuck there making whatever wage they give you regardless of the value of your contributions/knowledge/development (since no one else will be able to hire you for what you're grown to be worth)

Re:This is why we don't need regulation (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38761960)

I would insert a parallel to Slavery from the past, but it'd probably get marked as a Troll or Flamebait... So... I'm just gonna call this "The new form of slavery"..

Hold on... You were going to insert a parallel to slavery, but instead you decided to call it "the new form of slavery"? Well I was going to reply to your comment, but instead I'm just gonna to write a reply.

Re:This is why we don't need regulation (0)

Talderas (1212466) | more than 2 years ago | (#38762014)

The agreement was not to solicit employees of the other company. All it means is that Apple can't advertise a job directly at a Google employee. It means they need to make a public job posting which the Google employee has to find and then apply for to switch companies.

Re:This is why we don't need regulation (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38762106)

Mod parent up, ffs dilute the liberal propaganda spewed by sheep all over this page.

Re:This is why we don't need regulation (5, Informative)

msauve (701917) | more than 2 years ago | (#38762208)

From the article: "The evidence states that the defendants agreed not to poach employees from each other or give them offers if they voluntarily applied, and to notify the current employers of any employees trying to switch been."

Where did you come up with your claim to the contrary?

Re:This is why we don't need regulation (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38761682)

This isn't the free market, this is democrats taking advantage of the free market so they can dictate more regulation. In the interim, they get to enter no poaching agreements, that with the size of the tech industry and the number of corporations listed, equates to little to no effect - while in the long run the increased regulations they can inflict will hit their real enemy - small corporations that haven't yet grown into viable threats.

Re:This is why we don't need regulation (5, Informative)

Motard (1553251) | more than 2 years ago | (#38761744)

This represents a non-free job market. That's the problem and why it's apprpriate for government to step in.

No one is arguing for no regulation. But there is such a thing as over regulation.

except Ron Paul (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38761990)

Nobody except Ron Paul and the Libertarians who want government completely out of company business.

Re:except Ron Paul (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38762400)

Maintaining the free market requires regulations. Contracts have to be enforced, property rights and freedoms must be kept, etc., etc. Instead of writing stupid stuff go read information from a different point of view.

Re:except Ron Paul (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38762466)

And how does any of that contradict what was just said?

Re:This is why we don't need regulation (2, Insightful)

Herkum01 (592704) | more than 2 years ago | (#38762322)

Your kidding me right? That is what the Republican Party has been screaming about the last 4 years. They want NO regulation on anything!

  • EPA, gone.
  • Minimum wage, get rid of it.
  • Oversight for Banking, no!

Those are just a few examples off the top of my head, I am sure that there are more. Take Ron Paul; he is in favor of getting rid of a few government agencies just for the sake of getting rid of something.

Lets not pretend that everyone is a reasonable human being.

Re:This is why we don't need regulation (1)

operagost (62405) | more than 2 years ago | (#38762370)

How DARE you oppose a fellow Slashdotter's well-reasoned, absolutely iron-clad straw man argument?

Re:This is why we don't need regulation (1)

TheRedDuke (1734262) | more than 2 years ago | (#38761776)

I imagine the GOP's equivalent of Anonymous will be defacing the DOJ's website over this momentarily.

Re:This is why we don't need regulation (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38762080)

I'm pretty sure that's Fox News readers / watchers.

Re:This is why we don't need regulation (0)

AngryDeuce (2205124) | more than 2 years ago | (#38762234)

Come on now, everyone knows the GOP and their base are afraid of computers. "Hackers on Steroids, AIEEEEE!!!!!"

Re:This is why we don't need regulation (1)

Artraze (600366) | more than 2 years ago | (#38762090)

Have the republicans really pointed that out? I don't even think many libertarians think that way either. Readily available information is a vital part of a healthy free market, and these secret agreements violate that principle. This is the exactly the sort of thing that the government _should_ be doing in a free market economy: correcting the non ideal factors of real world competition. Things like limiting monopolies and ensuring availability of accurate information (e.g. in advertising) are some regulatory roles, while reducing taxes and mandated behavior (e.g. data retention) are deregulatory roles. Just because people talk about "deregulation" doesn't mean they think that all regulations should be eliminated any more than people saying there should be more regulations want a command economy.

Re:This is why we don't need regulation (1)

Talderas (1212466) | more than 2 years ago | (#38762302)

This no poaching agreements could be supportive of Free Market principles. By preventing companies from directly advertising jobs to a specific potential employee they have to make the job posting public and consequently open to more potentially employees. So instead of Apple directly soliciting a top engineer from Google with Google possibly being unaware of it a particularly savvy Google could see that Apple is looking for a new top engineer and they would be able to notice that one of their employees is at risk of leaving and thus adjust compensation for that employee to help retain him.

Re:This is why we don't need regulation (2)

Laxori666 (748529) | more than 2 years ago | (#38762192)

The free market does not adjust itself overnight. But, had the DoJ not done anything, there is a good chance the situation would have changed in a few years. Why? Essentially, a certain group of X companies are colluding to keep employee salaries low. Say the market salary for an employee would be A, but it's reduced to D as a result of the collusion. This is an unstable situation for two reasons: first of all, it's possible that one of the X companies will start hiring employees for a slightly higher salary (C, where A > C > D). This would be to their individual advantage, as they would get A-level talent for only C, more so than the other companies in the collusion ring. Collusion is unstable.

But, more likely, there would just be tech companies that aren't one of those X companies, and they would simply hire employees at a higher rate (B, where A > B > D). This would get them better talent. Talent would just start bleeding out of the X companies towards the companies that are willing to pay more.

Government intervention seems to happen when people are way too impatient with the free market. If the government intervention produced the same result as a free-market adjustment that would take 10 years, but only in 1 year (or something like that), then that would be fine. The problem with government intervention is that it often has unintended consequences... which consequences are far harder to re-adjust as there is bureaucracy and what-not, and usually end up being worse than the problem they tried to fix in the first place (cf. minimum wage hurting unskilled workers the most).

An interesting follow-up question would be to look at who started this investigation in the first place. I haven't found the answer after a few minutes of googling, but I'd be interested to know if anyone else knows/can find out.

Re:This is why we don't need regulation (1)

operagost (62405) | more than 2 years ago | (#38762442)

I mostly agree. I'm not against the DOJ stepping in, but by our law, in order to do anything they should have to prove that these companies have formed a trust. If these companies composed, say, 80% of the job market in the area, that would probably be a trust. I would hope that no one expects government bureaucrats (remember, DOJ is appointed and not elected) to start breaking private contracts that they summarily deem "unfair".

Not evil? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38761508)

Nothing evil about this?

Re:Not evil? (4, Interesting)

It doesn't come easy (695416) | more than 2 years ago | (#38761718)

Google went from "Do No Evil" to "Amoral Megacorp" in record time. It's the age we live in (everything happens faster).

Re:Not evil? (2)

K. S. Kyosuke (729550) | more than 2 years ago | (#38762384)

Google went from "Do No Evil" to "Amoral Megacorp" in record time. It's the age we live in (everything happens faster).

If Google is a "do-no-evil" company and other are not, logically, to allow Google people to go to work for "do-evil" companies instead would be evil in itself. Therefore, they must not allow it.

No higher salary for you, (4, Insightful)

Megaweapon (25185) | more than 2 years ago | (#38761516)

we need that money to fuel the lawyers for all our patent violation lawsuits against each other.

Cartels fall apart (1, Insightful)

Darkness404 (1287218) | more than 2 years ago | (#38761552)

So what? Cartels will naturally fall apart given no government interference. It is in their best interests to cheat on this agreement. Its just like the prisoner's dilemma, while it might be best for all of them to cooperate, they won't because they want an advantage over their competitors. Cartels never last so long as there is a lack of government involvement.

Re:Cartels fall apart (5, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38761612)

You're implying that it's better to have the potential to gain $50,000 million with high risk than $5,000 million with low risk.

The greatest fallacy of capitalist philosophers is to forget that the system is run by people, and people only live for a small amount of time and with relatively modest material needs.

The greatest success of capitalist practitioners is to take advantage of this and tell the average man that competition is healthy while succeeding at the top through cooperation.

Like Abbott said, white men like to play the game of divide and rule. It has been the crowning principle of the British empire and all its ideological descendants.

Re:Cartels fall apart (1)

Rockoon (1252108) | more than 2 years ago | (#38762150)

You're implying that it's better to have the potential to gain $50,000 million with high risk than $5,000 million with low risk.

I find it strange that you only enter 2 values into your prisoners dilemma.

Please let be subscribe to your "greatest fallacy" newsletter. Its got to be full of them!

There was government involvement from the start (1)

Megaweapon (25185) | more than 2 years ago | (#38761634)

in the form of IP laws.

Re:Cartels fall apart (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38761646)

Cartels never last

Ever heard of this thing called OPEC?

Re:Cartels fall apart (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38762430)

Have you ever actually read up about OPEC? Look some time at how many members actually produce at the agreed upon quantities. OPEC exists by name only at this point, with all members pretty much doing as they please. World conflict has a much larger say in setting oil prices than OPEC does.

Re:Cartels fall apart (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38761666)

Exactly, that is why diamonds are so reasonably priced!

Re:Cartels fall apart (1, Informative)

Darkness404 (1287218) | more than 2 years ago | (#38761740)

I said not involving government.

The reason why diamonds are so expensive isn't the result of De Beers, but rather the governments of the western world refusing to sell diamonds unless they are certified as "conflict free" and the government of many diamond producing nations having laws in place to limit the harvesting and exporting of diamonds.

Most of the evil that De Beers does isn't done by De Beers but rather by willing governments. Take the government out of the equation and corporations become a whole lot less menacing.

Re:Cartels fall apart (5, Insightful)

rubycodez (864176) | more than 2 years ago | (#38761834)

news for you, that's what cartels do, they put government in their pocket! it's called corruption. all cartels involve government

Re:Cartels fall apart (4, Informative)

rubycodez (864176) | more than 2 years ago | (#38761932)

in fact, let me put that in stronger terms, we in the United States are ruled by cartels. In 2012 we will go to the polls and decide who will continue the cartels' agenda

Re:Cartels fall apart (1)

RyuuzakiTetsuya (195424) | more than 2 years ago | (#38762112)

you mean like the Zetas? Who are having no problems what so ever despite being a cartel and under intense government scrutiny?

Re:Cartels fall apart (1)

rubycodez (864176) | more than 2 years ago | (#38762366)

Governor Rick Perry of Teax in announced plans including tanks and warplanes to protect the USA from Los Zetas if the Mexican government collapsed. Los Zetas was formed in 1999 and is getting bigger. so they are having growth problems....what was your point?

Re:Cartels fall apart (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38761954)

I don't recall diamonds being cheaper before the "conflict free" branding.

Re:Cartels fall apart (1)

hedwards (940851) | more than 2 years ago | (#38762206)

That was my thought, that whole situation didn't arise until the late '90s, prior to that there was no particular stigma attached to buying such diamonds as most people were unaware of the consequences.

DeBeers itself already had a monopoly in the diamond market and they were the ones that were convincing people to buy diamonds for engagement rings, prior to that it wasn't a common practice at all.

Re:Cartels fall apart (1)

Megaweapon (25185) | more than 2 years ago | (#38762350)

The reason why diamonds are so expensive isn't the result of De Beers, but rather the governments of the western world refusing to sell diamonds unless they are certified as "conflict free" and the government of many diamond producing nations having laws in place to limit the harvesting and exporting of diamonds.

... because De Beers has influence over these governments to maintain the market conditions that De Beers wants. The problem with free market puritanism is that it attempts to completely separate the private entity with the government entities they manipulate. Some would even go so far as to try to victimize De Beers. The fact remains that De Beers is just as complicit in all the bloodshed in those regions. Playing the "only blame the governments involved" is shortsighted.

Re:Cartels fall apart (1)

RogueLeaderX (845092) | more than 2 years ago | (#38761702)

So what? Cartels will naturally fall apart given no government interference. It is in their best interests to cheat on this agreement. Its just like the prisoner's dilemma, while it might be best for all of them to cooperate, they won't because they want an advantage over their competitors. Cartels never last so long as there is a lack of government involvement.

[Citation Needed]

Re:Cartels fall apart (2)

Megaweapon (25185) | more than 2 years ago | (#38761738)

So what? Cartels will naturally fall apart given no government interference. It is in their best interests to cheat on this agreement. Its just like the prisoner's dilemma, while it might be best for all of them to cooperate, they won't because they want an advantage over their competitors. Cartels never last so long as there is a lack of government involvement.

[Citation Needed]

Ludwig Von Mises and his ilk (which while they had good ideas they don't really apply to real world human behaviors).

Re:Cartels fall apart (4, Interesting)

trout007 (975317) | more than 2 years ago | (#38761854)

There was a funny case involving Dow Chemicals and a German Chemical Cartel.

From http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Predatory_pricing [wikipedia.org]

Critics of laws against predatory pricing may support their case empirically by arguing that there has been no instance where such a practice has actually led to a monopoly. Conversely, they argue that there is much evidence that predatory pricing has failed miserably. For example, Herbert Dow not only found a cheaper way to produce bromine but also defeated a predatory pricing attempt by the government-supported German cartel Bromkonvention, who objected to his selling in Germany at a lower price. Bromkonvention retaliated by flooding the US market with below-cost bromine, at an even lower price than Dow's. But Dow simply instructed his agents to buy up at the very low price, then sell it back in Germany at a profit but still lower than Bromkonvention's price. In the end, the cartel could not keep up selling below cost, and had to give in. This is used as evidence that the free market is a better way to stop predatory pricing than regulations such as anti-trust laws.

Re:Cartels fall apart (2)

Darkness404 (1287218) | more than 2 years ago | (#38762068)

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Prisoner's_dilemma [wikipedia.org]

A cartel is simply a prisoner's dilemma, something that has been studied for years. While it benefits all companies in the cartel to stay with the cartel, if one person breaks the cartel, the rest of the companies are in worse off shape (investors will go for the company that broke the cartel and has higher profits). So the diagram goes something like this

Lets say this is between Google and Apple.

Case 1, Google and Apple both agree to the cartel, both are better off.

Case 2, Google breaks the cartel Apple stays, Google is better off, Apple is much worse off.

Case 3, Apple breaks the cartel, Google stays, Apple is better off, Google is much worse off

Case 4. Both break the cartel. Both are better off than if only 1 broke the cartel, but both are worse off than if they would have stayed with the cartel.

Because neither company knows what the other is going to do, the natural tendency is for the cartel to be broken up.

Re:Cartels fall apart (1)

Surt (22457) | more than 2 years ago | (#38762124)

If they sign an agreement, though, they can introduce financial penalties to case 2 and 3 that reverse the outcomes.

Re:Cartels fall apart (1)

Rockoon (1252108) | more than 2 years ago | (#38762332)

If they sign an agreement, though, they can introduce financial penalties to case 2 and 3 that reverse the outcomes.

Except that if the penalties are too steep, than neither can get out of it when a 3rd player comes in and takes advantage of not being limited by it. One of the companies will benefit from being in the agreement longer than the other, and may very well refuse to let the other out of it.

Re:Cartels fall apart (1)

Surt (22457) | more than 2 years ago | (#38762428)

All they need is an out clause that let's them end the contract. There's no downside, they both want to be able to get out in the event of just such an eventuality. They just want to know when it happens.

Re:Cartels fall apart (5, Insightful)

hedwards (940851) | more than 2 years ago | (#38762232)

It's not a prisoner's dilemma as the parties are in regular contact and in the prisoner's dilemma a large part of it is that there is no communication between the parties. A cartel is always going to be better for the individuals than going alone, that's why they form cartels and why antitrust regulations seek to prevent it. OPEC itself has had no problems existing for decades.

Re:Cartels fall apart (5, Interesting)

webheaded (997188) | more than 2 years ago | (#38761804)

Yeah, and while the people are waiting for this eventual collapse, what then? Oh, right, they're just screwed. What a great solution. Saying to let the market decide ignores the fact that these things take time and people get screwed during that time. Yeah, maybe it will EVENTUALLY sort itself out, but in the mean time, we have to put up with something like this and that is bullshit. Laissez-faire was proven pretty early on to be a completely useless government policy and yet people still trot that out like it's some new insight; it is not unlike like trickle down economics. It doesn't work, we know it doesn't work, and yet people still bring it up as a valid argument.

Re:Cartels fall apart (1)

trout007 (975317) | more than 2 years ago | (#38762238)

Or some employees strike out on their own start a new company and undercut the competition by poaching the best employees of both companies and offering them better benefits.

Re:Cartels fall apart (1)

Rockoon (1252108) | more than 2 years ago | (#38762388)

Yeah, and while the people are waiting for this eventual collapse, what then? Oh, right, they're just screwed.

..and by screwed you mean still able to take any of the other 140 million jobs in the united states.

Re:Cartels fall apart (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38762490)

Free markets do work, they have worked, and they will work. What we have now, is not a free market - we have corrupt liberals pulling the strings of their corporations to win public favor for increased regulations - which guess what? THEY ARE WRITING. If you want a working government, restrict it to the point where it works for the people, like it use to, instead of the people being resources for the government (and in direct association, the people running the corporations that buy the politicians). I really don't understand how you liberals can be so fucking deluded as to think the problem is going to resolve itself by allowing the problem makers to try their hand at "fixing" it. You aren't going to get politicians that are moral (do you honestly think Ron Paul has a shot in hell at the 2012 elections even though he's the only candidate from either side that doesn't entertain lobbyists?) - so the solution is to reduce the damage they can cause, not expand the weapons in their arsenal with increased regulations (guess what? the people who have the wealth and power to defend against it ARE NOT GOING TO BE HURT BY THE REGULATIONS - that is why the goal is to outlaw virtually everything and break the potential competition before it forms).

And on a less-than-separate note: anti-poaching means companies won't solicit employees of other companies in the agreement - it doesn't mean you can't get hired if you want to, just that the companies won't try to steel critical personnel that would be to the detriment of production efforts in both companies - ultimately resulting in decreased profits and decreased personnel for both, morons.

Re:Cartels fall apart (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38761814)

So what? Cartels will naturally fall apart given no government interference. It is in their best interests to cheat on this agreement. Its just like the prisoner's dilemma, while it might be best for all of them to cooperate, they won't because they want an advantage over their competitors. Cartels never last so long as there is a lack of government involvement.

If you take a multi-decade (if not multi-generation) view, perhaps. Sucks to be screwed over by cartels for a couple of decades or more while this sorts itself out though.

Unilever and Procter & Gamble were just found guilty in EU for forming a price fixing cartel [bbc.co.uk] . Both benefited and profited from this until EU intervened. When the dominating players do this, they effectively suspend competition and screw the market/consumers.

Re:Cartels fall apart (4, Interesting)

rubycodez (864176) | more than 2 years ago | (#38761824)

how long has the western banking cartel endured? (at least four centuries). How about the deBeers diamond cartel? what on earth makes you make such a bullshit assertion?

Re:Cartels fall apart (4, Funny)

0xdeadbeef (28836) | more than 2 years ago | (#38762374)

Don't call his religion bullshit. That's so insensitive.

Re:Cartels fall apart (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38761982)

So what? Cartels will naturally fall apart given no government interference. It is in their best interests to cheat on this agreement. Its just like the prisoner's dilemma, while it might be best for all of them to cooperate, they won't because they want an advantage over their competitors. Cartels never last so long as there is a lack of government involvement.

Prisoner's dilemma is usually a single game interaction. If you look at it from a repeated game theory, where the participants know that they will compete in the same game over and over again, they weigh the price of defection against the loss in value for all future games. They won't break their agreement if the cost of an all out poaching war would be the result.

Re:Cartels fall apart (1)

AngryDeuce (2205124) | more than 2 years ago | (#38762292)

No, eventually, the cartels become the government. The United States is effectively ruled by a slew of them; Big Media, Big Pharma, Big Oil...

Who's Missing? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38761586)

I notice Microsoft is notably absent from this list. Is it because no one in the tech world is worried about them stealing talent?

Re:Who's Missing? (2)

EmagGeek (574360) | more than 2 years ago | (#38761670)

It's because nobody in their right mind would go after someone from Microsoft, and everyone who does have talent knows that going to work for Microsoft is a career-ender. It kind of makes them irrelevant to the issue.

Re:Who's Missing? (1)

fatmonkeyboy (257833) | more than 2 years ago | (#38761910)

Right. Because who in their right mind would want to, for instance, hire Herb Sutter?

Re:Who's Missing? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38762098)

Funny how Microsoft doesn't seem to even follow Herb's guidelines. Trying to remember the last time I say Herb say Hungarian Notation was a good thing.

Re:Who's Missing? (5, Insightful)

CyprusBlue113 (1294000) | more than 2 years ago | (#38761708)

More likely no one trusts them to be a member of a cartel and not stab them in the back.

Re:Who's Missing? (1)

hedwards (940851) | more than 2 years ago | (#38762262)

There's that. But it could also be the fact that MS really loves those H-1B Visas and the competition would have a hard time poaching those folks.

Re:Who's Missing? (3, Interesting)

clodney (778910) | more than 2 years ago | (#38761940)

Or maybe because they don't have a large employee base in Silicon Valley?

Certainly MS will pay to relocate desirable employees, but moving to Seattle means that the poaching back and forth of ordinary employees is less likely.

Re:Who's Missing? (1)

man_of_mr_e (217855) | more than 2 years ago | (#38762084)

Microsoft has a long history of poaching employees. They did it from Borland, Apple, and I'm sure Google as well (Of course many employees also left MS to go to Google. The infamous "chair throwing" incident was because an employee went to google).

Microsoft probably just recognized such an agreement as anti-competitive, or they weren't asked because the others felt adding a monopoly would be unwise. Or maybe MS just wanted to poach people.

Ooooohh. (5, Interesting)

unity100 (970058) | more than 2 years ago | (#38761672)

Get a load of that coincidence. it 'coincides' just 2 days after sopa protests, and involves almost all major technology companies that have major stakes on internet. Just like how the megaupload bust 'coincided' a day after sopa protests, yesterday.

Re:Ooooohh. (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38762104)

If this is a problem, they knew about it before and chose to wait until they had an ax to grind. That's not the government standing up for tech workers, that's the government using antitrust investigations as a blunt form of retaliation. Bravo, that had not occurred to me.

Re:Ooooohh. (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Psychopath (18031) | more than 2 years ago | (#38762300)

Get a load of that coincidence. it 'coincides' just 2 days after sopa protests, and involves almost all major technology companies that have major stakes on internet. Just like how the megaupload bust 'coincided' a day after sopa protests, yesterday.

Your assumptions of government competence are staggering.

Re:Ooooohh. (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38762334)

Just a little FYI:

The MegaUpload investigation has been 2+ years in the works and the grand jury indictment was filed on January 5th.

"best" companies to work for? (5, Interesting)

spopepro (1302967) | more than 2 years ago | (#38761806)

It's funny that this drops the same day as the Fortune list of best companies to work for. I see many name here at the top of that list. Not quite sure what to think... I dislike secret corporate agreements, especially to keep salaries down, but I had a fellowship at Intel and found it to be a really good environment, and my colleagues thought so too. At the same time one couldn't help but to notice the incredible number of green badges (contractors) used while Intel posts record quarters. I suppose when you are as big as Intel, it's nearly impossible to be all good, or all evil.

Re:"best" companies to work for? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38762120)

This wasn't "to keep salaries down", it was "hey, we'd like to remain friendly towards each other, please don't try and steal my best employees away, okay?".

It's mind-boggling how many people are trying to make this into some sinister conspiracy, when it's really just a matter of trying to stay friends with your allies.

Re:"best" companies to work for? (1)

geogob (569250) | more than 2 years ago | (#38762506)

I suppose you see a difference between those two statements?

And? (2)

Purist (716624) | more than 2 years ago | (#38761826)

Most B2B contracts I've seen, particularly ones involving services, have a "non-solicit" agreement where each party agrees not to hire the other's employees away for a set period of time. It's not uncommon and I'd be willing to wager that all of these companies have done business with one another in some way, shape or form. Entering into this kind of an agreement without legitimate business that might expose the parties to one another's valuable human resources might be a problem. The part about collectively limiting their employees rights to bargain for raises...well...I don't see how that's possible. My philosophy (and practice) has always been to ask for what you want...if you don't get it, move on...if you DO get what you ask for...then turn right around and decide you want something else...I'd rather have you be the competition's problem. :-)

Re:And? (2)

cdrguru (88047) | more than 2 years ago | (#38762294)

The problem is trying to negotiate for a raise but what was happening in the 1970s - you work for company A for six months and company B comes along and offers you 25% more. Six months later, company C offers 20% more. Six months after that, company A offers the same person another 25% raise to come back. Yes, this gets out of hand quickly and is something that just about everyone - including the employees - hate. Sure, it is nice to be wanted but sooner or later it is going to catch up to you. It also changes the focus of companies where the biggest expense is already salary to one where salary and headcount are the only things that matter and they will do anything to trim people.

This sort of thing lasted for at least five years in most parts of the country in the 1970s. In some places it was closer to 10 years. A few people made out pretty well, but I think the overall result was more harm than good.

Most of these companies also had major problems with real solicited poaching - where external reps or the HR department directly would call people working for their neighbor to hire people away. Sometimes this is done just to sabotage a project - hire half the team working on it and the project gets delayed or cancelled, thus eliminating some competitive problem. Ever been offered $100 for a company phone directory? I have. I have heard of people being offered much more in some places. It is to make the soliciting of employees easier.

This is not something government can regulate because there is always a way around any sort of enforceable regulation. What is needed is an understanding that this is going to lead to a MAD situation and the escalation is going to get out of hand. That's what ended the job-hopping salary roulette in the 70s - companies realized that the end result was everybody got hurt. The problem today is how much can you really hurt Microsoft, Google or Apple? Not very much. And the minute you have one company that is immune all bets are off.

No, I don't see anything the government can do about this, mostly because it is the right thing to be happening. Sure, there might be some hands that get slapped because there are actual documents lying around. OK, so everyone learns the same thing their predecessors learned a long time ago - don't write stuff like that down or in an email. Great. Now how does the government get involved? Unless you want a Department of Employment that has to approve every hire and fire it isn't going to happen.

Fp 3um (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38761920)

GAY NIGGErS FROM the project to Fuck The Baby

I thought PETA banned poaching (2)

xmorg (718633) | more than 2 years ago | (#38761938)

...years ago. So if poaching is illegal whats wrong with agreeing not to poach>?

Re:I thought PETA banned poaching (1)

cdrguru (88047) | more than 2 years ago | (#38762394)

Poaching is completely legal in an employment sense. Google got to steal people from Microsoft to prevent them from developing a search engine earlier and while they got sued nothing really happened. I think Microsoft has done the same thing to Google as well. And I know Apple has been on both sides in the past.

There are no laws that say company B cannot directly contact company A's employees and offer them higher paying jobs. Of course, once you start down that road there are few limits as to what can happen. So you end up with a situation where anyone that has been at the same job for more than a couple of years is considered to be deadwood and undesirable - because they haven't changed jobs. Funny, but this starts hurting everyone's business and it doesn't take too many years before people figure this out.

Happened in the 1970s and while it was fun to be fought over when it ended it wasn't so great.

And The CEOs? (1)

InsertCleverUsername (950130) | more than 2 years ago | (#38762030)

It must be great to be a C-level executive, with a near limitless salary, and not subject to this kind of underhanded collusion because you're making all the rules and approving your own raises.

No real surprise. (1)

forkfail (228161) | more than 2 years ago | (#38762178)

The enrichment of those who own has always far exceeded that of those who actually create.

It's the way of the world.

Not right, but how it is.

hmmm, wonder if I could sue (4, Interesting)

Surt (22457) | more than 2 years ago | (#38762218)

So Google offered me less in salary than they might have without this agreement. I wonder if I could sue them for lost income.

Re:hmmm, wonder if I could sue (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38762438)

You can sue anyone for anything, now that doesn't mean you will win, but you might get a settlement just to go away.

Collective Bargaining (4, Insightful)

Arancaytar (966377) | more than 2 years ago | (#38762236)

Only acceptable when done by employers, not employees. Got it.

Enslavement (1)

Grindalf (1089511) | more than 2 years ago | (#38762408)

It is enslavement to form such an agreement! The people who run these companies are REQUIRED to be smart enough to understand every aspect of the work or capitalism kills the company. Accountancy maths kills legit companies that are stupid. They are effectively taking revenge for the dependency relationship that their inability to understand the business devised itself, (presumably dressing the matter up for themselves as a Machiavellian tactic) by clawing apart the lives of hardworking ordinary citizens. Isn't business fun?
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