Saturday, March 22, 2014

Corporatists On Steroids

Remember the wage-fixing dust-up between Google, Apple, Pixar and others?

Turns out there were a LOT of others.

Apple and Google’s wage-fixing cartel involved dozens more companies, over one million employees

... In January, I wrote about “The Techtopus” — an illegal agreement between seven tech giants, including Apple, Google, and Intel, to suppress wages for tens of thousands of tech employees. The agreement prompted a Department of Justice investigation, resulting in a settlement in which the companies agreed to curb their restricting hiring deals. The same companies were then hit with a civil suit by employees affected by the agreements.

This week, as the final summary judgement for the resulting class action suit looms, and several of the companies mentioned (Intuit, Pixar and Lucasfilm) scramble to settle out of court, Pando has obtained court documents (embedded below) which show shocking evidence of a much larger conspiracy, reaching far beyond Silicon Valley.

Confidential internal Google and Apple memos, buried within piles of court dockets and reviewed by PandoDaily, clearly show that what began as a secret cartel agreement between Apple’s Steve Jobs and Google’s Eric Schmidt to illegally fix the labor market for hi-tech workers, expanded within a few years to include companies ranging from Dell, IBM, eBay and Microsoft, to Comcast, Clear Channel, Dreamworks, and London-based public relations behemoth WPP. All told, the combined workforces of the companies involved totals well over a million employees.

According to multiple sources familiar with the case, several of these newly named companies were also subpoenaed by the DOJ for their investigation. A spokesperson for confirmed that in 2009-10 the company was investigated by the DOJ, and agreed to cooperate fully with that investigation. Other companies confirmed off the record that they too had been subpoenaed around the same time.c...

The revelation that tech companies and animation companies built themselves a cartel to suppress wages (free markets, hell yeah!) shouldn't surprise anybody living in 21st Century America.

I have learned over the years that companies will do lots of things to hold down pay. Sometimes what they do is borderline legal, sometimes not. Beyond conspiracy, one of the more basic ploys is to tell employees not to share wage information. The fact that this maneuver violates a wage earner's right of free speech and various labor regulations doesn't way heavy on many employers' minds.

Neither does lying to employees about what other individual are making. It's a practice so common that many managers consider it basic good business.

We today live in a corporatist state with most branches of government in service of corporations, from military manufacturers building tanks the Pentagon doesn't want, to a banking industry scooping up piles of free money, to entertainment and oil conglomerates guzzling tax rebates. That illegal wage suppression got so egregious the Department of Justic stepped in to slap hands and wrists is an anomaly, not a sight that "the system is working."

In 2014, the system is designed for entities with the word "incorporated" at the back of their names, not for flesh-and-blood individuals.


Mark Mayerson said...

I hope that the Pixar and Lucasfilm settlements will be public and will include an admission of guilt. Otherwise, the whole thing will be swept under the rug and prospective employees and stockholders will be left in the dark.

Steve Hulett said...

Don't get your hopes up.

Grant said...

Since Pixar was bought from lucas, and since the former president and head of H.R. from Lucas went to Pixar 10 years ago, why would anyone be surprised? If they don't admit guilt, the next best thing would be to clean house of ALL top management at both companies.

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