Just when the tech giants behind the Silicon Valley “Techtopus” wage fixing cartel thought the worst was behind them, US District Judge Lucy Koh has thrown a surprise twist — refusing for now to give her seal of approval to the $324 million class action settlement.
Judge Koh has suggested the agreed settlement might be too low, but there are whispers that Koh is frustrated at being denied the chance to preside over what would have been one of the most interesting and significant Big Tech court cases ever (a frustration shared by this particular journalist and at least one of the plaintiffs in the case, Michael Devine).
... [M]ost of the previous attention in the case was focused on the behavior of executives at Apple and Google. What hasn’t been fully explored is the involvement of major and minor Hollywood studios that are alleged to have been party to the same illegal cartel. The wage-fixing cartel originated with Pixar and Lucasfilm, two northern California computer animation film studios now under Disney’s roof. ...
[I]n February 2004, [Pixar exec Ed] Catmull emailed Steve Jobs — who served simultaneously as CEO of Pixar and Apple — to complain about Sony Pictures chiseling in on the computer animation business and not playing by the rules. Which, as Catmull wrote to Jobs, meant Sony was trying to poach Pixar’s tech specialists by offering them higher pay: “Sony has approached all of our producers trying to hire them. They all just ignored Sony,” Catmull wrote Jobs, explaining:
“We don’t have a no raid arrangement with Sony. We have set up one with ILM [Lucasfilm] and Dreamworks which has worked quite well.”
Catmull tells Jobs he plans to visit Sony’s animation people, to rope them into the wage-fixing cartel:
“I probably should go down and meet with [REDACTED] and Sony to reach some agreement. Our people are become [sic] really desirable and we need to nip this in the bud.” ...
What Dr. Catmull is talking about, is nipping rising wages in the bud. Because things might start to get out of hand. And we couldn't have that. (What's a little wage-control between chummy movie top-kicks, hmmm?)
The point of the above, boys and girls, was to keep Adam Smith's rules (you know, the "free enterpirse" thing?) from working.
Because labor is a commodity, just like oh ... movies ... or sow bellies. And when a group of wealthy executives get together to make sure that market forces don't perform as they might, well, people suffer. (Mostly people that have to pay rent and meet a mortgage.)
Never forget: In our glorious corporatist state, rules and laws are for the little people.