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Google, Apple and Others Accused of 'No Poaching' Deal 276

lightbox32 writes "According to the Wall Street Journal, several of the US's largest technology companies, which include Google, Apple, Intel, Adobe, Intuit and Pixar Animation, are in the final stages of negotiations with the Justice Department to avoid a court battle over whether they colluded to hold down wages by agreeing not to poach each other's employees. 'The Justice Department would have to convince a court not just that such accords existed, but that workers had suffered significant harm as a result. The companies may not want to take a chance in court. If the government wins, it could open the floodgates for private claimants, even a class action by employees. A settlement would allow the Justice Department to halt the practice, without the companies having to admit to any legal violations.'"
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Google, Apple and Others Accused of 'No Poaching' Deal

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  • by alphatel ( 1450715 ) * on Saturday September 18, 2010 @01:10PM (#33620816)
    The following companies confirmed they were questioned but have been relieved of the Justice Department investigation:


    The agency has decided not to pursue charges against companies that had what it believes were legitimate reasons for agreeing not to poach each other's employees, said people familiar with the matter. Instead, it's focusing on cases in which it believes the non-solicit agreement extended well beyond the scope of any collaboration.
    • over the years I'm becoming embarrassed to work in this industry, your list was modded up, because everyone knows there are very, very, few honest tables in the casino.

    • by commodore64_love ( 1445365 ) on Saturday September 18, 2010 @01:55PM (#33621140) Journal

      I hope you're being sarcastic.

      Collusion of any kind should never be allowed, as it distorts freedom and hurts consumers (and workers).

      One of the reasons I quit IEEE is because I got tired of reading articles from them about how the government needs to allow more H1B1 visas to hire foreign engineers/programmers. Clearly IEEE was colluding with corporations and representing their interests. Why would I want to face competition from Temp Engineers willing to work at $15/hour? If companies face a shortage, let them hire some unemployed or fresh-out-of-college Americans rather than import workers. So I stepped sending money to IEEE.

      • If companies face a shortage, hire some unemployed or fresh-out-of-college Americans rather than import workers

        You make it sound like software engineering is utility. Importing workers has a cost too and salaries of HIB1 are public and they are not lower than others. Basically companies get more talents to choose from and of course some local people would hate that. These Temp Labors you are talking about work in the field under the sun and you are not competing with them unless you want to work there.

        • the IEEE is supposed to be an institute that furthers the needs and status of institute members, that is the chartered engineers themselves NOT the employers. It should be working to uphold the status of the chartered engineer in society and ensuring the experience and qualifications required to gain chartered status are respected and valued appropriately.
          • IEEE may or may not involve itself in a political issue that is globalization, but I was just pointing out the usual cheap labor argument does not apply in software engineering. Companies want more candidates while locals don't. It's a political fight.
            • >>>cheap labor argument does not apply in software engineering

              Right. I guess Apple and Microsoft and IBM are moving their software development over to cheaper countries because..... what.... for fun? C'mon. I know you're not that dumb as to believe that "cheap labor don't apply to software" statement. They do it because the programmers are one-half to 2/3rd cheaper.

        • >>>These Temp Labors you are talking about work in the field under the sun

          Someone doesn't know how to read. I was discussing IEEE articles, which were specifically about importing more TECH workers for Microsoft, GM, and so forth, not potato farmers. And yes if you double the supply (via imported workers), than that means the price goes down for the hiring companies. ECON101. That's what they - to drive down wages.

      • Why would I want to face competition from Temp Engineers willing to work at $15/hour?

        Wait - so the companies are bad for not being competitive enough but it is okay when you don't want competition?

        • >>>Wait - so the companies are bad for not being competitive enough but it is okay when you don't want competition?


          Strawman argument. Don't put words in my mouth I did not say.

          I said IEEE was bad because they are supposed to represent the engineers, and instead are representing the companies (pushing to import cheap labor) which eventually hurts Americans who are unemployed and can't find work. So I stopped sending IEEE money. As is my right. Maybe more people should do that, rather

    • by PPH ( 736903 )

      The agency has decided not to pursue charges against companies that had what it believes were legitimate reasons for agreeing not to poach each other's employees,

      What are these 'legitimate reasons'? Why can't Google, Apple, Intel, et al just use those as a defense?

      • by sjames ( 1099 )

        Well, the reasons might involve portraits of Ben Franklin. We'll give you a thousand good reasons we shouldn't be investigates...

    • I happened to work in a place where both HP and Microsoft employees in close proximity, and I was informed by many employees that there were agreements that the other would not hire the workers of one, until they had been away from their respective company for at least 6 months...

      I knew guys on the HP side that wanted to work for Microsoft, but they couldn't afford a 6 month vacation in order to get a job elsewhere...

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      The following companies confirmed they were questioned but have been relieved of the Justice Department investigation:


      There's probably not a lot of demand for a bunch of 65-year-olds...


      Except for maybe HP - where would Microsofties go, exactly? MS Research folks might have suitors from Google I suppose... but really, the main "competitor" would be academia.


      Yeah, Yahoo's been such a player over the past 10 years, I'm sure their people are in high demand... (yes, that's sarcasm)


      All I can say is - how does Genentech fit in with these other companies at all?

  • Don't be evil ... []

    ... unless it gets in the way of making a huge profit on the backs of your underpaid employees, assisting with censorship, handing over political dissidents to tyrannical regimes, or releasing a mobile operating system that is open only to the carriers & manufacturers but not the users (who can't install binary apps outside of a java sandbox)!
    • Seriously, that's the least of it. Eric Schmidt is now regularly making grand, dystopian predictions as if his vision of the future is all we deserve. Add a big, swivel chair and a Persian cat and he'd come off like a Bond villain. Because remember, the little people don't deserve the privacy that HE deserves. After all, our privacy gets in the way of his profits. As do some laws. So we'd better change those to his liking in a hurry!

  • ...since one of my Adobe (former) co-workers just left for a gig at Pixar. Someone else left a while back for Google. And there are several ex-Apple folks on my team at Adobe.

  • Why exactly is it called the "Justice Department" ?

    Seems like if you are a corporation, you can avoid the whole "justice" bit just by having a few meetings with the "right people" and greasing some palms.

    • I mean, can a murderer negotiate with the Justice Department, so that he agrees to halt murdering anyone else, with having to admit to any murders he already committed ?

      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        "OK, we agreed that I do no further murders. But what about rapes?"
        "Rapes? Did you ever rape someone?"
        "No, because I murdered them. Since I cannot murder them in the future, I want to rape them instead."
        "Well, what do you have to offer?"
        "Well, I offer to never rob a bank."
        "You haven't yet robbed a bank, have you?"
        "But I could start to, and then it would cost you money to catch me."
        "OK, makes sense. So, you never rob a bank, and we allow for one rape per year. You have to register each rape with us, though,

      • by Fjandr ( 66656 )

        I hope you're joking (hard to tell), because things exactly like that do happen from time to time.

        • I think they call it "plea bargaining" in the US. You admit you did it, then they let you off to do it again.

          It's the only way to curb their rampant healthcare costs for all the jailed prisoners complaining of mutilated assholes and inside out colons.

  • How is this legally different from a typical teaming agreement? The purpose of a teaming agreement is, in part, to keep wages reasonable by discouraging poaching. This is very common and legally enforceable in Virginia. If one our partners offers an employee a sweeter job, their ass is grass once Legal catches wind of it. If another large consulting company comes us to us and offers a large-scale agreement, I don't see a fundamental difference.

    Doesn't mean I AGREE with that...

  • it's nonsense (Score:3, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday September 18, 2010 @01:49PM (#33621094)

    I work at one of the companies in the investigation and I was recruited by another.

    On top of that I've hired many people into the company I work for (which again is one of these) and my recruiter told me exactly what's allowed and what's not.

    What isn't allowed:
    Actively recruiting people from the other companies. That means no cold-calling, no standing outside their parking lot, no poaching at tech conferences.

    What is allowed:
    Hiring their people. If they submit their resume, it's fair game. If someone else submits their resume, it's fair game.

    And on top of that, as I mentioned above, one of the companies even broke the rules to try to recruit me, so I'm sure the company I'm at does it too to the others.

    Anyway, none of this really hurts the employees, if you want to find a new job, no doors are closed to you just put your resume out there.

    On another note, not mentioned in this investigation (that I know of), the company I work at has a "freeze-out" on another company. Anyone who left this company to go there is blackballed and is not to be hired back. How long that will last I dunno, but for now they're very serious about it. This actually might hurt employees' career prospects and probably is illegal.

    Oh, another another note, it's common in the industry to do salary surveys. Each year, the companies actually collude to share information about how much they are paying their employees in different positions and then they do equivalent rankings. They then report these figures as part of their annual compensation reviews/reports. I have to imagine sharing this information makes it a lot easier to put in place these "no cold calling" agreements.

  • You want competitive labor markets, you got competitive labor markets. These workers can try competing against workers in China, India, and other nations with a rapidly improving skill base in information technology and a lot of mouths to feed.

    These employees should have got while the getting was good, and kept their mouths shut, because these companies had actually decided to keep them employed rather than shipping their jobs outside US borders. With this "gentleman's agreement" out of the way, what else

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      Well sure, when you use the threat of using overseas slavery.... that will go over well with the American people.

      Every corporation could pull out of America if they want...

      Is that what they want?

      America will be fine without them. We'll rebuild ourselves without them, and take care of our people, and lock those corporations out of our country all together.

      Is that what you want? :)

      Being a hard ass can go both ways... and believe me... Nothing is more fun and exciting than our country (America) angry, and dete

  • Corporate fascism (Score:2, Interesting)

    by edfardos ( 863920 )
    I've been trying to think of ways to describe how capitalism in the United States has degraded to Corporate Fascism. This is a fantastic example of corporate fascism -- something citizens can relate to; and these are just the corporations which got caught....


    • Rather than down mod this rather silly comment, I'll take it seriously. Fascism is a political system in which corporations collude with an autocratic government in exchange for special treatment. (Some people would say that Berlusconi's Italy is not that far off it.) Here, the Government is refusing to let corporations behave in an anti-competitive manner, whether they waste money on lawyers doing it, or agree to be good and keep the lawyers out. That looks to me like democracy. As for companies behaving l
  • by lordDallan ( 685707 ) on Saturday September 18, 2010 @02:23PM (#33621306)
    Am I the only person that sees the Apple board connection? Eric Schmidt(Google), Paul Otellini(Intel), Steve Jobs (Pixar/Disney), and Scott Cook(Intuit) all sat on Apple's board. I believe they even all server simultaneously. That's everyone but Adobe, who definitely has their ties with Apple too, even if those ties are strained right now.

    Seems like more than a coincidence to me.
  • by bzipitidoo ( 647217 ) <> on Saturday September 18, 2010 @02:38PM (#33621382) Journal

    What I love are the contortions employers go through to complain that they can't find talented people while doing everything they can to make sure they don't accidentally hire talent. Ranges from interpreting experiences and education as not applicable or relevant to flat out just not believing the resume, though they don't put it that way of course. Things like declaring that Windows Server 2003 experience doesn't count for Windows Server 2008. We've all heard the stories about the requirements for more years of experience than is possible. And who knows, maybe they've made a subjective evaluation that they just don't like this dorky geek they're interviewing and are trying to push his buttons, trying to create the excuse they need to show him the door. The way things should work is that a CS degree ought to be enough for a development position, period. And that no one earns such a degree if they can't develop. Post a "help wanted" ad, and take the next appropriately degreed person who walks in the door. I think it nearly was that easy to get professional work in the 1950's. But now?

    And then they poach each other? These employers are like the sort of women who think all single men are single because there's something wrong with them, and spend all their time trying to steal married men away from their wives. It's an understandable kind of mental laziness. Why go to all the trouble of thoroughly checking someone out when it's easier to let others do that and then lure away their picks? However, they have to balance that with several worries. Not all picks are good ones. If he could be lured away once, he could be lured away again. Or that a prospect might be a waste of time because he's faithful and satisfied and can't be lured away.

    Non-poaching agreements definitely damage the unemployed. It might seem the other way. If an employer can't poach, the only place to look is the market. But in balance, I think that benefit is outweighed by the lower compensation they can pay, and the effects that has on everyone. Without such anti-competitive measures, some of these employers would more often take a chance on someone who is less likely to be tempted away and who can be hired for less.

  • This is probably just an agreement not to pinch staff in order to stymie a competitor. Sure you can recruit staff because you want to do something better, and in general this is good for the public, but you can also do it just to stop the competitor doing something better than you. Like grab key staff in a key department, not because you have any particular use to them but because frankly it's worth you paying them just to not go and work at the other guy. This is a tactic that involves everybody losing, bu

  • As always, it looks like the actually affected employees who had their job mobility significantly reduced, and hence their bargaining power, GET NOTHING out of this. How is this a victory, except on some government lawyer's resume?

It seems that more and more mathematicians are using a new, high level language named "research student".