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How Silicon Valley CEOs Conspired To Suppress Engineers' Wages 462

Posted by Soulskill
from the ungentlemen's-agreement dept.
Oneflower writes "As we discussed last week, a lawsuit is moving forward that alleges widespread conspiracy among the CEOs of Apple, Google, Intel, Adobe, Intuit, and Pixar to suppress the wages of their tech staff. Mark Ames at Pando explains how it happened, and showcases some of the emails involving Steve Jobs and other CEOs. Quoting: 'Shortly after sealing the pact with Google, Jobs strong-armed Adobe into joining after he complained to CEO Bruce Chizen that Adobe was recruiting Apple’s employees. Chizen sheepishly responded that he thought only a small class of employees were off-limits: "I thought we agreed not to recruit any senior level employees. I would propose we keep it that way. Open to discuss. It would be good to agree." Jobs responded by threatening war: "OK, I’ll tell our recruiters they are free to approach any Adobe employee who is not a Sr. Director or VP. Am I understanding your position correctly?" Adobe’s Chizen immediately backed down.'"
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How Silicon Valley CEOs Conspired To Suppress Engineers' Wages

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  • by Shados (741919) on Friday January 24, 2014 @02:16PM (#46058567)

    Even with this kind of crap happening, salaries for good engineers keep spiking, with employers fighting each other, one upping each other, piling more bonuses, more vacations, more perks, year after year after year.

    Once that trend stops and things start going down, maybe. But until then? Why would you want to standardize/equalize something when you benefit from the chaos? The companies with standard compensation packages based on specific rules almost all pay less than the others.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday January 24, 2014 @02:19PM (#46058613)

    If only the tech workers of the world had a touch more self and class-consciousness, they'd be able to see that, often, management is actively working against their interests. From wage-manipulation & collusion, to selling sitting cheek-to-jowl with coworkers as "open" and "collaborative," there's enough to give even a naïve, "everything is awesome!!!," workaday programmer pause.

  • Re:So, cue up.. (Score:5, Informative)

    by FriendlyLurker (50431) on Friday January 24, 2014 @02:32PM (#46058803)

    OK. I am actually a free market libertarian software engineer. This does bother me, but I would suggest that the solution to these sorts of problems is exposure rather than laws.

    This time they got caught out in a few emails, next time they will just keep it to verbal agreements on the country club golf course. The "exposure" is not going to come from a few or even many Engineers complaining in isolation that there might be some collusion going on as the alternative offers are drying up.

    I don't need to work for any company that would underpay me.

    and if you did you would not be able to get a decent higher paying job elsewhere due to collusion like this.

  • The Free Market (Score:0, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday January 24, 2014 @02:45PM (#46058989)

    OK, these companies colluded. But shouldn't the free market bring forth a new company, willing to pay more and hire away the best employees of all these firms and thus out-compete them? There's no need to regulate - the invisible hand should be squeezing these guys all by itself now. Clearly these engineers aren't worth any more money, or they would have left to form this new company (or companies) and beat all the existing firms at their own games. No need for unions or anything anti-competitive (red tape regulations) to be brought in by the government, as the problem should self correct.

  • by rmstar (114746) on Friday January 24, 2014 @02:46PM (#46059003)

    It's a voluntary relationship where each side can expect the other to exploit any weakness for their own interest.

    For the engineers, it is a weakness that they are peasants before they are engineers. The CEOs have an unfair advantage over them, and that advantage is not part of engineers voluntary agreement.

    Why do I have to even explain this to you?

  • Re:So, cue up.. (Score:4, Informative)

    by hey! (33014) on Friday January 24, 2014 @02:57PM (#46059149) Homepage Journal

    I don't need to work for any company that would underpay me.

    And how would you judge whether a company is underpaying you? By comparing what the company offers you to the *market price*.

    What the CEOs stand accused of is colluding to depress the market price for engineering labor.

  • Re:So, cue up.. (Score:4, Informative)

    by the gnat (153162) on Friday January 24, 2014 @03:47PM (#46060007)

    I would also argue that start-ups tend to be in California because employment agreements that prevent you from moving to a competitor are not enforcable in CA.

    This is often cited as a major reason why Silicon Valley (and probably the Bay Area and San Diego biotech clusters) even exists in the first place.

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