Beta

Slashdot: News for Nerds

×

Welcome to the Slashdot Beta site -- learn more here. Use the link in the footer or click here to return to the Classic version of Slashdot.

Thank you!

Before you choose to head back to the Classic look of the site, we'd appreciate it if you share your thoughts on the Beta; your feedback is what drives our ongoing development.

Beta is different and we value you taking the time to try it out. Please take a look at the changes we've made in Beta and  learn more about it. Thanks for reading, and for making the site better!

Silicon Valley Workers May Pursue Salary-Fixing Lawsuit

Unknown Lamer posted about 6 months ago | from the next-thing-they'll-be-letting-them-unionize dept.

Businesses 130

First time accepted submitter amartha writes with news that a lawsuit alleging Silicon Valley companies of colluding to lower wages is going forward as a class action. From the article: "Roughly 60,000 Silicon Valley workers won clearance to pursue a lawsuit accusing Apple Inc, Google Inc, and others of conspiring to drive down pay by not poaching each other's staff, after a federal appeals court refused to let the defendants appeal a class certification order."

cancel ×

130 comments

First! (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#45966163)

First time i have been first!

Collusion, in tech? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#45966165)

I'm shocked. You mean large tech companies conspired to fuck over their employees?

Say it isn't so!!

Re:Collusion, in tech? (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#45966203)

You're clearly wrong on this. You incorrectly had the word "tech" in that sentence, inaccurately limiting its scope.

Re:Collusion, in tech? (3, Insightful)

Virtucon (127420) | about 6 months ago | (#45966849)

Agreed, it's not just tech companies. I've seen where quite a few verticals have agreed with their peers not to poach which ultimately drives down wages. These kinds of agreements including non-compete employee contracts need to be abolished once and for all. I was hit one time by being offered a position at another company only to find out that they had a no-poach agreement with the company I was working for. It would have been a nice bump in salary too. About six months after that incident I left anyway for another opportunity.

Re:Collusion, in tech? (1)

Penguinisto (415985) | about 6 months ago | (#45968085)

Agreed, it's not just tech companies. I've seen where quite a few verticals have agreed with their peers not to poach which ultimately drives down wages. .

They can agree all they want, but judging by the feverish recruiter calls/emails (and not a few internal HR-generated ones from some really big corps)? When the labor market is tight, all rules are off the table.

Dunno about you, but the nanosecond my job title and duties officially included "DevOps", things got evil in my inbox and voicemail in a hurry.

Re:Collusion, in tech? (2)

rossz (67331) | about 6 months ago | (#45968203)

I work in a three man devops department. For months we've been short a man. Last friday the other guy quit without notice. So it's now just me running a three man department with limited hope of filling the two empty slots in the immediate future. There are lots of system admins around, but not a lot of them have advanced devops experience.

Re:Collusion, in tech? (1)

ebh (116526) | about 6 months ago | (#45968841)

We're in a similar situation in our build/release group. The problem is that they want senior level talent at junior level wages, and until they can find such a sucker^Wcandidate, we continue to do without.

Re:Collusion, in tech? (1)

Penguinisto (415985) | about 6 months ago | (#45969235)

Good news is, you'll only do without until release/launch/upgdate dates start slipping, and/or the outages start piling up - then they pay attention. ;)

Re:Collusion, in tech? (1)

drsmithy (35869) | about 6 months ago | (#45969053)

There are lots of system admins around, but not a lot of them have advanced devops experience.

Maybe you should consider taking someone on and training them.

It might even generate a bit of loyalty.

Re:Collusion, in tech? (2)

Penguinisto (415985) | about 6 months ago | (#45969183)

Maybe you should consider taking someone on and training them.

Good advice - this is how I got a junior DevOps admin; I found a dev who wanted to jump in, so I campaigned to get him hired. took a huge load off of me in the process once he ramped up.

Re:Collusion, in tech? (3, Insightful)

i kan reed (749298) | about 6 months ago | (#45966213)

Hey, hey, that's not fair, large tech companies have also conspired to fuck over their customers and suppliers. We just have proof about employees.

(I don't know why we call our economy free-market, when regular people don't get a chance to participate in a free way).

Re:Collusion, in tech? (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#45966425)

I don't know why we call our economy free-market, when regular people don't get a chance to participate in a free way

Because the people who keep braying about the 'free market' are incapable of understanding that it's a purely theoretical construct which has never existed, and which will always be abused by the players -- thereby wiping out most of the claimed benefits we'd get from it.

The free market is an ideology, which means it is defended the same way -- loudly, uncritically, ignoring the problems with it, and telling us that if they could only force us to adhere to it, it would magically show how awesome it is.

Pretty much the same thing the Communists said.

Both Communism and Capitalism can't (and don't) exist as their proponents claim, and can't (and don't) work as advertised.

But both are willing to let the world burn to bring us all to their glorious new world.

Re:Collusion, in tech? (0)

i kan reed (749298) | about 6 months ago | (#45966537)

But I promise my own personal perception of an ideal system of governance will be perfect and resolve all your problems. Just make me dictator for life, and I'll get it all sorted out.

Re:Collusion, in tech? (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#45967269)

Life? Bah, make me dictator for 8 years and I could straighten out the US. 8 years and then a peaceful transition back to a Democracy after everyone is back on equal footing in the eyes of the law. Really, only easy stuff needs to get done. Take money out of politics, codify a no national security clause to avoid the constitution, put term limits on supreme court justices, remove the ability of lawmakers to exempt themselves, and establish that corporations are not people in respect to rights granted them, so the constitution does not apply to them and they give them an actual legal requirement that they must also consider the general welfare and long term affects of their actions on the financial system as a whole. Also, lobbyist would be illegal entirely, anyone attempting to directly affect the outcome of and opinions of an issue through use of large funds shall be put to death and their assets used to pay debt or put into a rainy day fund.

Re:Collusion, in tech? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#45967373)

Dang. You oughta run. You'll be elected for sure (or assinated).

Re:Collusion, in tech? (1)

GameMaster (148118) | about 6 months ago | (#45968219)

Don't forget to outlaw any government agency ever knowingly releasing false information to the public and I suggest making it a mandatory life sentence without parole for elected federal politicians; appointed bureaucrats; and military personnel above a certain level of officer rank. You can't have a legitimate democracy if the government is actively lying to the public in order to control public opinion. A democracy can only ever hope to be legitimate if the voters have as close to an unfiltered view of reality as possible. As they say, "Garbage in, garbage out".

Bravo. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#45966545)

Bravo. The first time that I have seen an accurate description of the free-market.

Awesome.

Re:Collusion, in tech? (1)

jythie (914043) | about 6 months ago | (#45968123)

*nod* communism and capitalism, as pure forms, suffer from the same basic flaw which results in them being nearly indistinguishable when actually implemented in practice. Ideologues judge their systems based on the best case scenario and how much better things would be, but the real value in a system is how resilient it is to things NOT being ideal and how much impact corruption can have.

Re:Collusion, in tech? (1)

lgw (121541) | about 6 months ago | (#45967521)

Who calls our economy "free market"? The only free markets I see are the exchanges (commodities and stock exchanges), which are "free" in the important sense of "no government price fixing" (except a couple of agricultural commodities, but that's now rare), but still have plently of market regulations. The key is: the price isn't what's regulated, it's mostly fraud prevention and assurance that you can pay what you owe.

The labor market in America is still reasonably free, however - in this case these are workers in one of the highest paid fields in the world, complaining (legitimately, but still) that they should be paid still more. Much like professional athletes striking over salary caps - they may have a point, but they're still well paid.

Remember, total corporate profits in the US are less than 10% of total wages in the US. "Evil big corporations" are certainly paying as little as they can get away with, but there's not much slack there in the first place. It's not like, on average, we could be paid 20% more if our collective bosses was only more generous - that money just doesn't exist (and small companies are on far thinner margins here - making payroll is a monthly uncertainly for most).

Re:Collusion, in tech? (2)

TFAFalcon (1839122) | about 6 months ago | (#45967937)

Wouldn't increasing pay also increase the number of things that the workers buy, increasing the profits of the companies? You know, trickle around economics instead of just trickle down.

Re:Collusion, in tech? (1)

jythie (914043) | about 6 months ago | (#45968173)

In actual economic models and historical records, yes, increasing wages almost always has a positive effect on the economy as a whole. The problem with things like raising wages is largely political/philosophical. It is kinda strange in that it is one of those areas where 'bleeding hearts' and 'realpolitik' overlap.

Re:Collusion, in tech? (1)

lgw (121541) | about 6 months ago | (#45968901)

Increasing the pay of everyone is no different than changing the exchange rate of the currency, IMO.

But either way, that money to increase pay (non-trivially) doesn't exist. What's the fair share of distributions of gross earnings between workers, owners, and the government? Corporate taxes are a different argument, but the remainder gets split about 80% workers, 20% owners in successful large companies, and 105% workers, -5% owners frequently happens in struggling small businesses, at least short term.

If it were 80% owners, 20% workers it would be an entirely different story - sure, just double workers pay, with a small sacrifice for owners that's probably a win in the long run. That's what already happened in the industrial revolution. We've gradually shifted all the way to the other 80/20. You can pay workers more by raising prices, but if all businesses do that, well, that's what inflation actually is most of the time (when the government isn't desperate).

Re:Collusion, in tech? (1)

i kan reed (749298) | about 6 months ago | (#45968953)

except that we factually know that a greater percentage of money is being held by corporations, and workers have been producing more, and not seeing any of it, which stifles everything.

Re:Collusion, in tech? (1)

lgw (121541) | about 6 months ago | (#45969155)

What does "being held by corporations" mean? Do you mean that the debt burden of companies is low and the cash reserves of those who have them is high? That's what the bottom of a recession looks like: the companies simply don't see a way to invest for growth, and want to be sure that they make payroll if things get worse. Seems OK to me, but then I hate bailouts.

Or do you feel that a company with a danger-reserve of cash should just pay everyone a one-time bonus, and hope for the best? You certainly don't give raises which must be sustained when cashflow is at its worst, that way bankruptcy lies: you control every expense you can and hold your breath. But you can only hold your breath so long, and that's why recessions end - and raises follow the improving economy, they can't realistically lead it. Fortunately we're in the upswing now, and while this has been a savage recession and growth off the bottom is still quite slow, the direction is right.

Re:Collusion, in tech? (1)

alexander_686 (957440) | about 6 months ago | (#45969267)

I think you are missing the point.

You are right about corporate debt – except that the amount of cash being horded by companies today, as a percentage of their assets, is much higher than at the same point in other recessions. A rainy day fund is one thing. CEOs hording cash to further their ends – and not the corporations – is something else.
Also, when profits increase the profits tend to be split between the workers and the stockholders (capital). What is interesting is that in this recovery is that much of the gain is being captured by capital – much higher than it has been either historical or when exiting a rescission.

Re:Collusion, in tech? (1)

lgw (121541) | about 6 months ago | (#45969965)

This is the worst recession since the Great Depression, plus "QE Infinity" is a new thing sharply distorting many markets. You can't expect recovery to look normal. I believe that once we get some nice inflation going, and the Fed stops being the only real buyer of government debt, we'll come around very quickly to a normal recovery pattern.

In any case, it's worth noting that if the value of all publically traded companies were evenly distributed among all workers, each share would be roughly similar to a year's average income. If you really think capital has it better, it's just not that hard to save and invest 1 year's income over the course of the next several years. More and more people are doing that now, which I find the best long term answer to all of these questions: let most of us become both owners and workers, and see what people think then about the distribution.

Re:Collusion, in tech? (1)

alexander_686 (957440) | about 6 months ago | (#45968929)

Maybe. Here are 2 counter arguments.

Corporations are better at saving and investing than individuals. The investments made today is what is going to raise a worker’s productivity tomorrow. A worker’s productivity is one of the prime factors in determining their pay.

Or maybe consumers will take their pay increase and use that to pay down their debt – which is what people have been doing since the housing market blew up.

Lots of variables in play.

Re:Collusion, in tech? (4, Insightful)

drsmithy (35869) | about 6 months ago | (#45969089)

Remember, total corporate profits in the US are less than 10% of total wages in the US. "Evil big corporations" are certainly paying as little as they can get away with, but there's not much slack there in the first place. It's not like, on average, we could be paid 20% more if our collective bosses was only more generous - that money just doesn't exist (and small companies are on far thinner margins here - making payroll is a monthly uncertainly for most).

Why must salary increases for workers be sourced from existing profits ? Why could they not be sourced by reducing the ridiculous pay packages of upper and executive management ?

Re:Collusion, in tech? (1)

DiEx-15 (959602) | about 6 months ago | (#45966219)

It is nothing new. Happens all the time in other industries.

Only difference is that other industries aren't as vast as Apple or Google and aren't in bed with the NSA.

Re:Collusion, in tech? (1)

tomhath (637240) | about 6 months ago | (#45966223)

That's why there are laws in place that give these employees the right to sue. If the companies did something wrong they will pay the price.

Re:Collusion, in tech? (4, Insightful)

mjr167 (2477430) | about 6 months ago | (#45966269)

No... the lawyers will get rich, the workers will get fired, and the company will continue business as usual.

Re:Collusion, in tech? (4, Insightful)

Moryath (553296) | about 6 months ago | (#45966271)

Eventually.

After years of appeals, attempts to bury the employees in mounds of paperwork and bleed them dry on legal fees.

Followed by appeals over whether or not the defendants, if they lose, have to pay the plaintiffs' legal fees too...

Meanwhile, The H1-B Scam [dailykos.com] is alive and well, just two stories down from this one on the front page...

Re:Collusion, in tech? (2)

ShanghaiBill (739463) | about 6 months ago | (#45966483)

After years of appeals, attempts to bury the employees in mounds of paperwork and bleed them dry on legal fees.

Uhh ... this is a class action lawsuit. The employees don't have to do any paperwork, and their legal fees will be precisely ZERO. That is the way class action lawsuits work. The lawyers take all the risk (and also reap much of the rewards).

Re:Collusion, in tech? (1)

defaria (741527) | about 6 months ago | (#45966981)

If it complies with the law then how's it a scam? Also, if you don't think the law is correct then the bone you have to pick is with the government - not the employers.

Re:Collusion, in tech? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#45967265)

If the employers are bribing -- er, lobbying the legislators to extend that policy, how is it not their fault?

Re:Collusion, in tech? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#45968285)

Can we get an age filter on slashdot? All these 12 year olds, fresh from their elementary government course, thinking that voting and changing laws are how to fix things in Amerika. I bet you think legal means right and illegal means wrong too. I bet you think laws are real things, instead of the thin air that they are. I bet you think the police are here to protect us. Go away and live some. Your idiocy is annoying.

Law is not Morality (1)

Etherwalk (681268) | about 6 months ago | (#45968561)

If it complies with the law then how's it a scam? Also, if you don't think the law is correct then the bone you have to pick is with the government - not the employers.

If you live in a country without truth-in-advertising laws (or with poorly enforced ones), you can advertise blatantly untrue claims, comply with the law, and it's still a scam.

Kind of like how the holocaust can still be murder/genocide even if Hitler makes it legal.

Re:Collusion, in tech? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#45966255)

Watch now as the slashdot lolbertarian crowd insists that corporations should be allowed to collude to fix salaries, and that this lawsuit is just more government coercion of the blessed Free Market.

Your salary is merely another sacrifice that the dread god Freem'Arkhet demands! Do not contravene His will!

Re:Collusion, in tech? (2, Insightful)

0123456 (636235) | about 6 months ago | (#45966377)

Corporations were created by governments, so they woudln't even exist in a free market.

But don't let that spoil your rant.

Re:Collusion, in tech? (2, Insightful)

i kan reed (749298) | about 6 months ago | (#45966517)

Murder laws were created by governments, and murders wouldn't exist in a free market(just people killing each other).

Just because something is defined by law doesn't make something like it, but now legally unconstrained, from existing.

Re:Collusion, in tech? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#45969471)

Unfortunately, they would just be a group of people owning the business. If this company broke the law, the owners go to jail and are liable for damages.

But please, keep on defending corporate personhood & welfare (job creation).

Re: Collusion, in tech? (1)

NeutronCowboy (896098) | about 6 months ago | (#45966533)

Ah yes, if we could just return to that blessed world before the government imposed all those restrictions on people who wanted to conduct business. I mean it's not like corporations have all kinds of benefits people don't have, but are getting all the rights of people....

Oh wait. They are. You're falling prey to a serious case of "but it's not true communism!"

Re:Collusion, in tech? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#45966617)

Rrrrright. Remove that ", Inc." from Apple, Google and others, and they wouldn't ever become that big and overpowered to make up those no poaching deals.

That's because only government meddling made them behemoths they are today, not decades of conquering markets and buying up competition. Legal status is the most important here.

Re:Collusion, in tech? (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#45966685)

Corporations were created by governments, so they woudln't even exist in a free market.

Cite one historical example of a free market existing, and working as advertised.

Bonus points if it doesn't also correspond with slavery, serfs, colonialism, special exemptions from kings or governments, or general examples of how the 'free market' gets manipulated to benefit the wealthy. If you can't, then the whole idea of introducing one is founded on the belief that if we could only create it, it would work, no matter the cost of getting there.

In that camp, I give you Chairman Mao, Pol Pot, and Josef Stalin.

Much like those, unregulated Capitalism is a lie, and something some people are willing to force on the rest of the world so it will see just how awesome the vision is and come to see the Inherent Truth in it. And people who claim to be forcing Inherent Truth on us (for our own good, of course) need to be killed before they cause even more damage.

At its core, Capitalism is just entrenching greed and ownership as a belief system, and allowing the rich to call the shots without any rules or oversight to keep it in check.

It does not, can not, and never actually has existed or operated as claimed.

And it certainly does not find optimal solutions based on perfect knowledge in which the suckers, er, consumers, are 'free' to make other choices.

The reality is, your so-called 'free' market is pretty much a fiction, there is no historical precedent for it, there's no proof it works as claimed. Essentially you believe in the tooth fairy, but keep insisting on forcing us to accept it as a valid system.

Re:Collusion, in tech? (3, Insightful)

CohibaVancouver (864662) | about 6 months ago | (#45967001)

Cite one historical example of a free market existing

I have a friend who makes nice clay pots and sells them on Craigslist for cash.

Re:Collusion, in tech? (1)

Dahamma (304068) | about 6 months ago | (#45968815)

And that friend pays no taxes on income or acquiring the equipment or raw materials to make the pots? (or I should say, is not required to pay taxes but tax evasion with the risk of fines or prison is still not a true "free market")

Oh, and someone literally just sends "cash" on craigslist? Bullshit. Probably Paypal or a check/money order/etc. Which are all also regulated in some way.

Re:Collusion, in tech? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#45969303)

Fine. Somalia.

Re:Collusion, in tech? (2)

0123456 (636235) | about 6 months ago | (#45967089)

Cite one historical example of a free market existing, and working as advertised.

A free market is what people do when no-one holds a gun to their head forcing them to do something else.

And I don't see what your rant has to do with my point, that corporations themselves wouldn't exist in a free market. Big business exists because of big government, and neither could exist without the other.

Statists demand bigger and more powerful government, then complain when that results in bigger and more powerful corporations. This just proves they're not very smart.

Re:Collusion, in tech? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#45967357)

And I don't see what your rant has to do with my point

Why am I unsurprised? You keep talking about what would happen in a free market, but you have no actual evidence or examples of how one of those would work, just a theoretical abstraction. You just keep saying if we had it, it would fix all of these things, but you can cite no proof or examples of it.

that corporations themselves wouldn't exist in a free market

And the reality is, a free market would not exist in a free market. It would always be subject to collusion, cartels, and general malfeasance which invalidate most of the assumptions of what a 'free' market gets us. The entire premise of your argument is "if only we had something which has never existed, all of these problems would go away, and for this I offer as proof my belief system about how this thing which has never existed will operate".

You're full of shit.

So you're talking about how something would work in a system which has never existed and which can't exist as promised. You're talking out of your ass and presenting this as fact. It isn't fact, it's your belief, that's all.

In other words, you are using circular logic to tell us how things would work in this fictional scenario you claim would fix all of this, when this fictional scenario has never existed, and would be devoid of any controls to keep all of these bad outcomes from happening, and we have a huge pile of evidence that all of these negative outcomes would happen anyway.

So all of your conclusions about what would happen if we had a free market are complete and utter fantasy and bullshit.

And then you make claims about how your unsubstantiated statement 'proves' something -- it doesn't prove a fucking thing. In your system of logic it creates an assertion which is consistent with your chosen ideology, but it doesn't prove anything more than Karl Marx did.

There is (and can be) no 'proof' of how free market would operate and what it would result in, because there's NEVER FUCKING BEEN ONE BEFORE.

Re:Collusion, in tech? (2)

plopez (54068) | about 6 months ago | (#45967585)

A free market is what people do when no-one holds a gun to their head forcing them to do something else.

Your are confusing a Free Market with an un-regulated market. The stock market for example comes close economically to a free market but is heavily regulated.

Re:Collusion, in tech? (1)

drsmithy (35869) | about 6 months ago | (#45969217)

A free market is what people do when no-one holds a gun to their head forcing them to do something else.

But then inevitably someone does get a (metaphorical or literal) gun and starts holding it to people's heads.

Re:Collusion, in tech? (1)

tomhath (637240) | about 6 months ago | (#45967119)

Cite one historical example of a free market existing, and working as advertised.

There probably are no examples. But his point that Corporations don't exist in a free market is still valid.

Capitalism is just entrenching greed and ownership as a belief system

That's certainly one way to look at it. Humans respond to incentives, at its heart capitalism is a system that attempts to provide incentive for hard work, innovation, and risk taking. Greed can corrupt it the same as greed can corrupt any other system, which is why we have governments and regulations.

Re:Collusion, in tech? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#45968207)

There probably are no examples. But his point that Corporations don't exist in a free market is still valid.

Sure, and in perfect Communism there is no inequity and everybody lives happily ever after in a Worker's Paradise.

But since neither of them are real, the point is kind of meaningless. Talking about what does and doesn't exist in a system which has never existed except as an abstraction is meaningless.

If you want to talk about reality, great. If you want to talk about theoretical utopian societies and how much better they'd be ... go to a philosophy class.

Greed can corrupt it the same as greed can corrupt any other system, which is why we have governments and regulations.

Which is why all of the people talking about getting rid of governments and regulations (and claiming this wonderful, self-correcting, and non-existent system is better) are mostly full of shit, because what they're saying has no basis in reality, just theory.

The reason we need regulations on this kind of stuff is because greed will eventually take over, and humans are, by nature, short-sighted, malicious, and stupid.

If, as the Libertarians tell us, we suddenly scrapped regulations and most of government, the outcome is not some perfect society. It's complete pandemonium as players do everything they can to get an advantage, to the detriment of everybody else and there's nothing to keep them in check.

The argument carries no more weight than telling me how the world would all be better if we believed in god and followed the bible literally -- there's no proof for it, it has nothing to do with reality, and therefore is something you believe and hope. Not something which you can say is true.

All I hear is "my invisible pink unicorns would solve this problem", but since there are no invisible pink unicorns, everything predicated on the existence of them is completely meaningless.

Re:Collusion, in tech? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#45968563)

Getting back to the post that started this:

Watch now as the slashdot lolbertarian crowd insists that corporations should be allowed to collude to fix salaries

The only person who mentioned that is you. Nowhere do I see any one else making that claim. And then you call them idiots for making claims that don't exist. Pot,meet kettle.

Re:Collusion, in tech? (3, Insightful)

Dahamma (304068) | about 6 months ago | (#45968857)

There probably are no examples. But his point that Corporations don't exist in a free market is still valid.

No, it's really not. You guys need to brush up on your economics if you are going to keep throwing around "free market" as an *economic term*. A free market economy means basic supply and demand are controlled by the market, not regulated by a government. It has nothing to do with corporations per se, which were created as a form of limited *liability*.

Re:Collusion, in tech? (1)

Arker (91948) | about 6 months ago | (#45968667)

A free market exists wherever people are buying and selling voluntarily without coercion. They work remarkably well as long as you accept that 'work' in this context simply means facilitating exchanges that leave both parties better off.

If by a historical example of a free market you mean a time and place where every market, without exception, was completely and utterly free of coercion then yes, that's difficult to point to. But you are rather missing the point.

The free-er the market is, the better it functions, and *major screwups* (as opposed to small and constant corrections) always turn out to trace back to an intervention. This is a truism that can be observed in action day in and day out.

Re:Collusion, in tech? (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#45969545)

Uh, the definitions of "free market" I know include such annoying details like "informed buyers", which unfortunately already makes this whole thing quite an utopia instead of something real.

> The free-er the market is, the better it functions

Not without the "informed buyers", it rather becomes a "lemon market", i.e. a market where only the cheapest product sells since nobody can assess the quality, which then drives down the quality etc. and rather results in a market collapse.
I guess you could consider "self-destruction" as "working perfectly", but I'd rather not see that variant implemented.

Re:Collusion, in tech? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#45966487)

Nah, the Lefties will rush in claiming the only way to solve this is by unionizing and striking so the evil corporations go out of business or overseas. Problem solved.

Re:Collusion, in tech? (4, Insightful)

drsmithy (35869) | about 6 months ago | (#45969275)

The point of unions is not to drive the "evil corporations" out of business. That would be counter-productive and stupid.

The point of unions is to put employees on an equal footing to employers when it comes to negotiations on working conditions and pay.

Generally, they achieve this goal well.

Re:Collusion, in tech? (1)

Spy Handler (822350) | about 6 months ago | (#45966833)

I lost my tech collusion virginity when I realized the hard drive makers were artificially inflating prices after the Thailand flood.

Re:Collusion, in tech? (1)

TWiTfan (2887093) | about 6 months ago | (#45968469)

I have a libertarian friend with whom I am always arguing. His general contention is that the free market fixes everything, and government regulation and oversight only gets in the way of the free market. I argue that this may or may not be true, but that's it's really irrelevant, because there is no such thing IRL as the "free market," never has been and never will be.

This is just the sort of story that highlights what I mean by that. Left to their own devices, companies that are supposed to compete on a level playing field and all that will more often instead find ways to create monopolies for themselves, collude for mutual benefit, exploit various resources, etc.

Re:Collusion, in tech? (1)

aaarrrgggh (9205) | about 6 months ago | (#45969417)

In fairness, the collusion agreements generally aren't intended as much to suppress wages, but to maintain workforce stability. Reducing turnover dramatically reduces training costs and helps to improve efficiency.

That companies don't return some of the savings to their employees is a separate matter.

Re:Collusion, in tech? (1)

outlander (140799) | about 6 months ago | (#45969927)

It's intended to keep salaries down, no mistake, and that's probably first among the reasons for it.
'Workplace stability' is a polite term for 'OMG we don't manage our staff well enough to have some redundancy and we allow ourselves to let people to become SPOFs' - and the average nontechnical corporate manager's response to this is to resort to underhanded means to retain staff and keep costs down.
There's nothing about this that actually benefits the worker.

IANAL, but... (4, Interesting)

jddeluxe (965655) | about 6 months ago | (#45966193)

It might be difficult to prove the INTENT of the "no poaching" agreement was to suppress wages. Unless any of the defendants were stoopid enough to refer to such in emails or other discoverable documentation.

Re:IANAL, but... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#45966263)

I dunno, prosecutors generally don't have trouble proving the intent of someone pointing a gun at someone and pulling the trigger, even as the defendant argues that they intended for rainbows and flowers to shoot out.

Of course, this is a civil case, so standards are lower but the attorneys are paid more, so it's still up in the air.

Re:IANAL, but... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#45966387)

Might or might not be. The no-poaching agreement was put in place for a reason. Seeing as those companies are all nominally competitors in both the products they produce and in the workforce they hire from, it's hard to imagine any other motivation.

This has likely impacted me, as well, even though I don't reside in the Silicon Valley. Artificially deflating wages there, translates into making the North American remote offices of those companies and other techs less advantageous salary-wise. Everybody loses, except for the execs that can point to "holding the line on wage growth" as an accomplishment at year end. Those dudes then gobble up massive bonuses that substantially offset any savings the wage freeze may have realized.
Anti-competitive practices have wide ranging impacts. Money paid to the middle-class goes substantially into the local economy, as the middle-class tends to spend more of their take-home on necessities and less on luxury goods. If I got a raise that beat inflation (would be the first since the downturn in 2000), I'd renovate my kitchen. If my VP were to get the same % increase, he'd probably fly the family to the Bahamas for an extra couple weeks...

Re:IANAL, but... (3, Insightful)

0123456 (636235) | about 6 months ago | (#45966389)

How can it not suppress wages? Do you really think Joe Programmer will earn less if three other companies want to hire him, or if those three companies collude together to not hire each others' employees?

Re:IANAL, but... (5, Insightful)

dkleinsc (563838) | about 6 months ago | (#45966459)

They have a demonstrably anti-competitive agreement between purchasers of a service to make each seller only able to deal with one of the purchasers, creating a monopsony. Textbook macro basically argues that the effect of a monopsony is that the only buyer in the market now has basically complete control of the terms of any agreement with the seller, because the seller's only option is to not sell his product.

Another way of describing this: Imagine you work for Amazon. Without these agreements, you have these options:
1. Accept a 3% raise to continue working at Amazon.
2. Accept a 25% raise to go work for Google.
3. Not work at all and be unemployed or at least accept a massive wage cut.

With these agreements your options now are:
1. Accept a 3% raise to continue working at Amazon.
2. Not work at all and be unemployed or at least accept a massive wage cut.

This is inherent in these kind of agreements. There's no need to prove intent.

Re:IANAL, but... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#45966561)

You can quit Amazon and interview at Google. That's not poaching.

but it didn't remove the option. (5, Informative)

YesIAmAScript (886271) | about 6 months ago | (#45966609)

The agreement was not to reach out and poach others' workers. It wasn't to refuse to hire them. You still had the option of getting a 25% raise to go to Google, all you have to do is apply to Google.

The agreement didn't reduce the options available to people, it just made it so the engineer had to take the first step, the recruiter wouldn't call you to entice you.

Re:but it didn't remove the option. (3, Insightful)

ranton (36917) | about 6 months ago | (#45966989)

The agreement was not to reach out and poach others' workers. It wasn't to refuse to hire them. You still had the option of getting a 25% raise to go to Google, all you have to do is apply to Google.

The agreement didn't reduce the options available to people, it just made it so the engineer had to take the first step, the recruiter wouldn't call you to entice you.

With the exception of my first job and one time that I relocated, every job I have ever had was offered to me when I wasn't even looking for work. I am confident that my next job will probably be offered to me by an ex-coworker, a friend of a friend, or someone else who knows I will be an asset their company and has enough money or interesting enough work to entice me away from my current employer. My current employer did the exact same thing so it wouldn't catch them by surprise. If you aren't constantly worried that your employees are going to jump ship, it is either because you are compensating them very well or you have crap employees.

If you are doing things right, by your 30s employers will be coming to you not the other way around. If there are agreements out there stopping companies from reaching out to me with job offers that would certainly reduce my opportunities.

Re:but it didn't remove the option. (2)

Anti-Social Network (3032259) | about 6 months ago | (#45968835)

Also consider the horrendous difficulty of getting through automated HR scanner processes [consumerist.com] . You have to win Buzzword Bingo, and then you have to be matched to a position the company is actively looking to fill.

That's a nerve-wracking experience in the best of times; however, if you've got somebody inside the company actively tracking your application status and staying on the HR people not to let it fall through the cracks, that's a big benefit to your sanity and your chances of successfully landing a new employer.

Re:but it didn't remove the option. (1)

mounthood (993037) | about 6 months ago | (#45967529)

The agreement was not to reach out and poach others' workers. It wasn't to refuse to hire them. You still had the option of getting a 25% raise to go to Google, all you have to do is apply to Google.

The agreement didn't reduce the options available to people, it just made it so the engineer had to take the first step, the recruiter wouldn't call you to entice you.

Assume this is true: people still got paid less because Google didn't call them and offer the 25% raise.

To come at it from a different angle: why did the companies discuss and agree to this, if not to save money? If they want to argue that it was *only* to reduce turnover ... well why did they think people would leave? Because they'd be offered better salary or compensation.

How you WISH the law worked. (1)

catfood (40112) | about 6 months ago | (#45969039)

Wait, so now the law is that colluding to reduce workers' wages is only illegal if there's no possible way around the collusion?

That's new information. Thanks.

I was not aware there were only three compaies (1)

SuperKendall (25149) | about 6 months ago | (#45966615)

I know Google is fond of buying up companies but I was not aware they had bought ALL of them.

Because otherwise your whole argument falls to pieces when you realize that someone can leave Amazon/Google/Apple and work at ANY OTHER COMPANY. Often with VC funding paying huge salaries. So in what way does a gentleman's agreement not to poach drive down wages?

Furthermore, the agreement was not to SEEK OUT employees of those other companies - they can always move between companies of their own volition. So in your own example, someone working at Amazon would have all of the first three options even with the agreements in place.

Re:I was not aware there were only three compaies (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#45966795)

The conspiracy included Apple, Amazon, Google, Palm, Intel, Adobe, Pixar, Lucasfilm, and Intuit, and that's just from the first round of discovery.

http://www.mercurynews.com/nation-world/ci_20434459/apple-google-intel-antitrust-lawsuit-poaching-workers

Re:IANAL, but... (1)

defaria (741527) | about 6 months ago | (#45967009)

Bullshit. Go work for any of a thousand other companies or start your own business. You are pushing a false dichotomy.

Re:IANAL, but... (1)

Lynal (976271) | about 6 months ago | (#45967031)

It's a little more complicated than that. The issue is match quality between workers and firms. Match quality increases over a worker's tenure at a firm (as they learn the systems / practices / whatever). To better model the issue you'll want to include training costs and long term contracts.

For example, it won't work out if a firm trains workers and then those workers just find better jobs, so one solution is long term contracts. Long term contracts may be forbidden, so firms need other ways to retain workers who they've spent a lot of money to train. Anti-poaching rules may be another solution.

I'm not saying implicit anti-poaching agreements are good, but it's not a black and white issue.

Re:IANAL, but... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#45967053)

Clearly, YANAL.

Re:IANAL, but... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#45967449)

Of course it's evil if the anti-competitive agreement is between companies, but it's good when the reciprocal anti-competitive agreement is between employees. Or so says the Sherman/Clayton/Robinson/Patman Anti-trust acts (which give a carveout for union activities and strangely major league baseball).

Please discuss... ;^)

Re:IANAL, but... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#45967785)

Is this the part where we are supposed to pretend that the employer and the employee are negotiating from equal positions of power?

Re:IANAL, but... (3, Informative)

Bite The Pillow (3087109) | about 6 months ago | (#45967575)

The case evolves around a comment made by Appleâ(TM)s late-CEO Steve Jobs to Palmâ(TM)s CEO: âoeWe must do whatever we can to stop cold calling each otherâ(TM)s employees and other competitive recruiting efforts between the companies.â

Copied directly from the article. No logic needed. No need to prove intent because It's right there in the comments at the core of the entire case.

I do agree that these whiny millennials could do the normal thing and occasionally look for other options and therefore lost nothing, but the law does not look favorably on anticompetitive practice, so that statement is pretty much all they needed.

Re:IANAL, but... (2)

strimpster (1074645) | about 6 months ago | (#45966689)

Reading over the original judge's order to allow the antitrust lawsuit to continue [scribd.com] , it seems that the DOJ gathered enough evidence to show that the actions from the companies were detrimental to the employees.

After receiving documents produced by Defendants and interviewing witnesses, the DOJ concluded that Defendants reached “facially anticompetitive” agreements that “eliminated a significant form of competition . . . to the detriment of the affected employees who were likely deprived of competitively important information and access to better job opportunities.” DOJ Complaint against Adobe, et al. (“DOJ Adobe Compl.”), Harvey Decl. Ex. A, at 2, 14; DOJ Complaint against Lucasfilm (“DOJ Lucasfilm Compl.”), Harvey Decl. Ex. D, at 2, 15, 22; CAC

112. The DOJ also determined that the agreements “were not ancillary to any legitimate collaboration,” “were much broader than reasonably necessary for the formation or implementation of any collaborative effort,” and “disrupted the normal price-setting mechanisms that apply in the labor setting.”

Re:IANAL, but... (4, Informative)

ranton (36917) | about 6 months ago | (#45966769)

It might be difficult to prove the INTENT of the "no poaching" agreement was to suppress wages. Unless any of the defendants were stoopid enough to refer to such in emails or other discoverable documentation.

What other purpose could "no poaching" agreements possibly have? Their only purpose is so a company does not have to pay a salary high enough and/or create a work environment good enough to keep the employee from leaving.

Re:IANAL, but... (2)

donscarletti (569232) | about 6 months ago | (#45966871)

It might be difficult to prove the INTENT of the "no poaching" agreement was to suppress wages.

The legal standard for civil cases is on the "preponderance of the evidence", i.e. the proposition is more likely to be true than not. If it transpires before the court that the intent of the "no poaching" agreement might have been promoting gentlemanly conduct in HR, might have been based on the belief that employees become more productive the longer they have been in a team, but probably was to drive down wages, then the judge must rule in favour of the plaintiff.

Of course you cannot simply think of a hypothetical illegal reason for someone to have done something and sue them because it sounds likely. This is because, in this case the respondent will naturally testify that they did it for some particular reason and didn't do it to drive down wages, and sworn testimony does carry legal weight and it does take real evidence to refute it; but all it takes is a credible witness swearing that they were part of some wage collusion meeting, that they read a memo regarding the agreement's true purpose or they heard or read anything that refutes the intent given and unless their testimony can be refuted in turn, then it's really just down to who's story sounds the most credible.

evidence (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#45966383)

I'm curious what evidence they have that shows this

Re:evidence (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#45967025)

E-mails between Steve Jobs and the CEOs of half the damn industry. It was a network of "bilateral agreements", with Steve-o on one side of all of them.

Post the judgement on Google busses (4, Funny)

bob_super (3391281) | about 6 months ago | (#45966395)

I'm sure the people protesting in SF will be glad to hear that the Googlers are, in fact, underpaid.

Re:Post the judgement on Google busses (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#45966665)

I'm sure the people protesting in SF will be glad to hear that the Googlers are, in fact, underpaid.

Yeah, while the rest of us work for wages that would charitably be considered "unlivable poverty" out there, they keep whining for MORE money, complete with benefits and perks that would be considered patently absurd in any other part of the country. Add to that increasingly-baroque hiring processes that ensure only the most well-connected workers* get hired by anyone in the Valley and everyone else gets rejected by enigmatic "hiring committees" wholly disconnected from the rest of the interview process for shadowy reasons nobody ever reveals, and all I can say is cry me a fucking river, Silicon Valley.

*: Note that this phrase does not imply skill.

Re:Post the judgement on Google busses (1)

bob_super (3391281) | about 6 months ago | (#45967127)

Per the Holy Market rules, it's your job to ask your boss for more money (it's better if you deserve it and your company is making a profit).
It's fun to point and laugh when the NHL/NBA/MLB go on strike over salaries, but as all valuable employees of very profitable corporations, they have the right to ask for their cut (and these guys can't exactly find multi-million contracts elsewhere).
Be valuable, get paid well. You sound more whiny than they do.

Talking about individuals' salaries is definitely a problem, but companies do industry surveys all the time to make sure that they fall within the right salary ranges: avoid overpaying any non-exec, prevent useful underlings from looking elsewhere. Non-poaching tacit agreements tend to exist between suppliers and customers (because it's bad business), but they shouldn't exist between competitors. Anytime competitors agree on anything, cartel laws have to get involved.

The only Googler I know is an Uber-Geek (of the "Work day done? Let's compile some code while I do 3D animations" breed). His main Silicon Valley "connection" works at Apple, and he owes his job to updating his LinkedIn, and being extremely good (I don't whine because he deserves to be at Google with all the perks, when I know I don't).

Re:Post the judgement on Google busses (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#45966807)

A Googler making $150K in San Jose is underpaid compared to programmers in the midwest. They're certainly not making rock star wages.

Do they have hard proof evidence...? (1)

bogaboga (793279) | about 6 months ago | (#45966489)

...Or do they simply have circumstantial evidence? For, if the companies got into a pact via a "gentleman's agreement" - an agreement not written down on paper and not recorded in speech anywhere, potential employees will have a tough time proving their case.

Disclaimer: I support Google, Apple and their ilk.

Re:Do they have hard proof evidence...? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#45966621)

Unfortunately, the CEO of one of those companies was dumb enough to brag about the whole scheme to his biographer before he died of pancreatic cancer. Whoops!

See, the problem with a conspiracy is that it's only as secure as the dumbest conspirator.

Re:Do they have hard proof evidence...? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#45967829)

Heresay from a dead man is not very good evidence. But we'll see how it goes.

The times, they are a-changing. (4, Interesting)

jtownatpunk.net (245670) | about 6 months ago | (#45966555)

Not. Looks like things haven't changed in generations.

My grandpa moved from the east coast to the west coast back in the 50s because of non-poaching agreements in the aircraft industry.

Not the only Case, just first one publicly (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#45966631)

Years ago when I was doing jobbie work I found out that the job shops in the Detroit Metro area had a similar agreement not to hire people working for other job shops. It was a kind of a "Don't piss in your neighbors backyard" thing. Turns out a lot more companies are doing this in a lot more places than you might guess. Can anyone say "slave labor?". This kind of thing starts out in the board rooms and propagates down to the hiring floor, not the other way around. This is a very revealing insight into how these "people above suspicion" on the corporate boards think. Is it time to take down one or more of these "Too Big To Prosecute" firms? Can we actually dare to believe one of these people might serve some time in prison? Nah! Not as long as their cronies in government protect them.

I tha8k you for your time (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#45967511)

window5, SUN or [goat.cx]

I worked for HP about 15 years ago. (5, Interesting)

mark_reh (2015546) | about 6 months ago | (#45967691)

Every year the HR people would make presentations to us about how they got together with HR people from other big engineering companies in the valley and decided upon job descriptions and pay and benefits packages, and by the way decided that the COL raise this year would be X%.

My coworkers, most of whom were oblivious to the big picture, would cheer at the annual pay raise and I would grumble about the salary fixing that they were proudly presenting.

I wonder if I can get in on the class-action suit...

Bullshit. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#45969047)

I got headhunter calls for jobs at Google when I was at Apple, I have friends who went from Apple to Google, Google to Yahoo, Apple to Pixar, etc.

Load More Comments
Slashdot Account

Need an Account?

Forgot your password?

Don't worry, we never post anything without your permission.

Submission Text Formatting Tips

We support a small subset of HTML, namely these tags:

  • b
  • i
  • p
  • br
  • a
  • ol
  • ul
  • li
  • dl
  • dt
  • dd
  • em
  • strong
  • tt
  • blockquote
  • div
  • quote
  • ecode

"ecode" can be used for code snippets, for example:

<ecode>    while(1) { do_something(); } </ecode>
Create a Slashdot Account

Loading...