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Plaintiff In Tech Hiring Suit Asks Judge To Reject Settlement

samzenpus posted about 6 months ago | from the not-so-fast dept.

The Courts 215

An anonymous reader writes with news that Michael Devine, one of the plaintiffs in a lawsuit accusing tech firms including Apple and Google of conspiring to keep salaries low, has asked the court to reject a $324 million settlement. "Apple has more than $150 billion in the bank, eclipsing the combined cash reserves of Israel and Britain. Google, Intel and Adobe have a total of about $80 billion stored up for a rainy day. Against such tremendous cash hoards, $324 million is chump change. But that is what the four technology companies have agreed to pay to settle a class action brought by their own employees. The suit, which was on track to go to trial in San Jose, Calif., at the end of May, promised weeks if not months of damaging revelations about how Silicon Valley executives conspired to suppress wages and limit competition. Details of the settlement are still under wraps. 'The class wants a chance at real justice,' he wrote. 'We want our day in court.' He noted that the settlement amount was about one-tenth of the estimated $3 billion lost in compensation by the 64,000 class members. In a successful trial, antitrust laws would triple that sum. 'As an analogy,' Mr. Devine wrote, 'if a shoplifter is caught on video stealing a $400 iPad from the Apple Store, would a fair and just resolution be for the shoplifter to pay Apple $40, keep the iPad, and walk away with no record or admission of wrongdoing? Of course not.' 'If the other class members join me in opposition, I believe we will be successful in convincing the court to give us our due process,' Mr. Devine said in an interview on Sunday. He has set up a website, Tech Worker Justice, and is looking for legal representation. Any challenge will take many months. The other three class representatives could not be reached for comment over the weekend."

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if you want your day in court (4, Informative)

ganjadude (952775) | about 6 months ago | (#46978939)

you dont join class actions. Everyone should know by now that the only people who get rich in class actions are the lawyers. If you believe you have been wronged, bring a suit yourself

Re:if you want your day in court (4, Insightful)

i kan reed (749298) | about 6 months ago | (#46979039)

Which raises the question: Why does the legal system allow settling class action suits? When is that ever a desirable result for the government's interest(stability, rule of law)?

Re:if you want your day in court (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46979277)

because .....

lawyers want it that way, because fast settlements are easy money for the lawyers (who often dont care which side they're on or even if they win or lose, so long as they cash in), and they pad the pocketbooks of those who make, enforce, and interpret the laws.

and

big rich businesses and their fat-cat owners and executives want it that way, because fast settlements with (almost always) no admittance of guilt, no airing of dirty laundry, and for a mere fraction of what a suit is for, is what they want, and they stuff those same pockets.

and as far as 'desired result' for the "government's interests" that's easy.. settlement means less workload for the 'system'.. they dont really care about outcomes, or fairness... because those who allow it to happen, happen to be the ones with the aforementioned pockets... fewer tax dollars supporting the 'system' means more available to give back to the rich via loopholes and credits, or to fund their favorite pork projects.

Re:if you want your day in court (4, Insightful)

kick6 (1081615) | about 6 months ago | (#46979471)

When is that ever a desirable result for the government's interest(stability, rule of law)?

You seem pretty sure that stability, rule of law is the government's interest. Is it? Or is it re-election, campaign finance?

Re:if you want your day in court (1)

Xicor (2738029) | about 6 months ago | (#46979529)

because class action lawsuits are supposedly much cheaper per person than one person... a one person lawsuit would just get totally overpowered by a corporation until he was destitute and couldnt afford to continue the lawsuit.

Re:if you want your day in court (5, Insightful)

tlhIngan (30335) | about 6 months ago | (#46979761)

because class action lawsuits are supposedly much cheaper per person than one person... a one person lawsuit would just get totally overpowered by a corporation until he was destitute and couldnt afford to continue the lawsuit.

Because a class action helps solve the "steal from many" problem.

What's worse for society - someone that steals $1M from someone else? Or something that steals $1 from 1M people? The outcome is the same, yet there is willingness to pursue the former and ignore the latter.

Think of it this way - your phone bill goes up $5 per month. Over say, 5M subscribers, that's $25M more revenue per month, or a whopping $300M per year. Well, slightly less... see...

And you know what? 99.99% of the people won't do a single thing - the cost to write in and complain is more than $5. For those that do the effort, well, just cut them a $5 cheque, or more likely a $5 credit off next month's bill. At which point they'll continue the $5 charge, repeating again.

Oh, but you can't cancel, because you're in a contract. And some abusive ones really allow for "reasonable increase in costs".

And now the CEO gets a new yacht and a big fat bonus. Next year they'll ding everyone $2 more.

The class-action was formed for this abuse - because in the end, most people cannot be bothered to claim back what really amounts to a couple hundred bucks in the end by going to court, and it's easy to buy off those that do by writing them a cheque for the refund after making it as difficult as possible.

Re:if you want your day in court (3, Interesting)

TubeSteak (669689) | about 6 months ago | (#46979653)

Which raises the question: Why does the legal system allow settling class action suits?

If you look at the statistics, it's something like 80%~95% of lawsuits get settled, depending on the type of court.

The legal system not only allows the settling of [any] law suits, it prefers them.
Judges spend less time judging and more time signing/refereeing settlements.

Settlements are the main means by which the law is imposed in the United States.

Re:if you want your day in court (1, Insightful)

Raul654 (453029) | about 6 months ago | (#46979675)

> Why does the legal system allow settling class action suits?

Because when all the basic facts are the same, it makes *a lot* more sense to have one trial covering 64,000 victims than it does to have 64,000 trials. The *only* people who benefit from having all those unnecessary trials are the lawyers. If anything, class actions are less profitable for lawyers than the alternative.

Furthermore, unlike this case (where each plantiff suffered substantial harm: tens or hundreds of thousands of dollars each), imagine a case where the harm suffered is small-but-nonzero. (For example, a few years back, the music CDs with the rootkits on them. For most people, the harm is the cost of the CD, around $15. Maybe twice to four times that if you want to include the cost of rootkit removal) In those cases, nobody in their right mind is going to spend hundreds or thousands of dollars to file a lawsuit to recover $15. So the victim's choice is a class action suit or nothing at all.

Re:if you want your day in court (2)

kaizendojo (956951) | about 6 months ago | (#46979051)

Everyone should know by now that the only people who get rich in ANY LEGAL actions are the lawyers.

Fixed that for you.

Re:if you want your day in court (4, Funny)

shadowrat (1069614) | about 6 months ago | (#46979131)

Everyone should know by now that the only people who get rich in ANY LEGAL actions are the lawyers.

Fixed that for you.

Don't be so pessimistic. I have it on good authority that several people i see on tv got hundreds of thousands of dollars after their accidents. They look real happy.

Re:if you want your day in court (1)

The123king (2395060) | about 6 months ago | (#46979465)

And the lawyers won't take fees unless i win!

Re:if you want your day in court (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46979895)

Larry H Parker got me 2.1 million

Re:if you want your day in court (1)

jythie (914043) | about 6 months ago | (#46979409)

Though to be fair, when looking at the actual income of most lawyers, that money gets pretty spread around. Handling such a suit requires a lot more then a few people sitting in an office writing stuff down. Research costs and expert witnesses, not to mention the mountain of data that needs to be looked at by hand, really ads up.

That is not to say lawyers (at least partners) do not make a pretty penny, but it is not nearly as profitable to the individual as people tend to think.

Re:if you want your day in court (5, Interesting)

JMJimmy (2036122) | about 6 months ago | (#46979781)

Everyone should know by now that the only people who get rich in ANY LEGAL actions are the lawyers.

Fixed that for you.

As someone who has intimate knowledge of a very successful law office (1000+/hour rates) the number of times they almost went bankrupt or had to risk their personal financial well being to support the business is crazy. The number of hours and stress level is beyond anything I'd consider putting myself through. At the end of the day they pull in a lot of money but one big case going sour at the wrong time can ruin them.

One problem most people don't consider is that these companies have dozens or hundreds of employees (depending on the size), most of them have to be skilled because one mistake can derail a case; that means high pay for quality employees. Then you've got the issue of delays - many cases can drag on for years, even decades, which means you've got to plan your revenue stream based on best guess of if/when cases will pay out and how much they'll bring in. All the while the employees, rent, taxes, loans, etc. need to be paid - a medium sized firm (15-30 people) can have up to $250,000 in costs/month. That's a lot of money for such an uncertain business model.

Re:if you want your day in court (4, Informative)

coolsnowmen (695297) | about 6 months ago | (#46979075)

This has been covered here before

You do not have the resources to beat the likes of apple in a case like this unless you have video of them laughing at your resume as they burn it and shout, "We're conspriing not to hire this guy!"

Re:if you want your day in court (5, Insightful)

coolsnowmen (695297) | about 6 months ago | (#46979097)

And even then, if you did, they would make it a condition of the settlement that you not talk about it, that they admit no wrong, and you'd get a couple thousand dollers while they continued their conspiracy ( making it more difficult for everyone to negotiate for higher saleries).

Re:if you want your day in court (1)

larry bagina (561269) | about 6 months ago | (#46979361)

There was one person (hr/recruiter at google) fired for soliciting an Apple employee, with an email chain to prove it. I'd say s/he's got a pretty strong case but everyone else has a pretty weak case. They got less job offer spam in their inbox and want to get paid for it?

Re:if you want your day in court (1)

SailorSpork (1080153) | about 6 months ago | (#46979463)

Which it seems they basically had [slashdot.org] .

Re:if you want your day in court (1)

Charliemopps (1157495) | about 6 months ago | (#46979121)

you dont join class actions. Everyone should know by now that the only people who get rich in class actions are the lawyers. If you believe you have been wronged, bring a suit yourself

He probably will. But it would be prudent to try and get the Class Action back on track first.

Re:if you want your day in court (2)

ehiris (214677) | about 6 months ago | (#46979133)

Except, this is not about the money as much as about exposing the filthy disgusting shit these people do to keep people from earning what they are worth.

And we should all wonder how that looks on the global scale. If they get away with this type of stuff in the US, image what they get away with in countries with extremely corrupt governments.

Re:if you want your day in court (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46979215)

Except, this is not about the money....

BWAHAHAHAHAHAHahahahahahahahahahaha!!

You think this isn't about the money? Really? This is 100% about the money. Not only in the sense that people are greedy and want to get their hands on Apple's (and Adobe's, Google's, and Intel's) cash horde (as exemplified by the fact that their cash horde is a big part of why this guy wants to get the class action suit back on track) but it's a case about people not being paid what they believe a fair market would have paid them. This case could not be more about the money if they tried. EVERYTHING about this case is about the money.

Re: if you want your day in court (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46979813)

Think about it... This guy is a whiny little bitch who will now be fired at his earliest convenience for coming forward, all because he thought that $2500 to make up for years of lower wages, no upward momentum, and no other job options was the fault of some giant conspiracy instead of him just being an entitled, whiny little bitch.

Re:if you want your day in court (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46979167)

If you believe you have been wronged, bring a suit yourself

It isn't a matter of believing if you have been wronged. It is a matter of believing that you can win.
If you can afford to take Apple and Google to court by yourself then you have more money than you need to begin with.

Re:if you want your day in court (1)

fredprado (2569351) | about 6 months ago | (#46979217)

In this case it should be viewed as more a matter of hurting the corporations and making it unprofitable for them to try and do it again than about receiving money back.

That said class actions are usually lacing regarding compensations because of settlings. THAT is a much bigger greater problem with the judicial system. As soon as something went to court settling should not be allowed anymore. Settling should be an option BEFORE going to court,

Re:if you want your day in court (1)

jythie (914043) | about 6 months ago | (#46979371)

While it is debatable how good a mechanism it is, class action lawsuits are supposed to make it so people who could not afford a lawsuit can band together to take on companies with significant legal resources. Lawsuits are EXPENSIVE, esp when you are going against big companies. Such a fight is out of the range of most average people, the research costs along would bankrupt them.

Re:if you want your day in court (1)

westlake (615356) | about 6 months ago | (#46979531)

you dont join class actions. Everyone should know by now that the only people who get rich in class actions are the lawyers.

It is not easy to get a US federal court to proceed with a class action --- and generally very bad news for the plaintiff when one goes forward.

To assume that a class action benefits only the lawyers is nonsense.

In a victory for opponents of mandatory arbitration, Charles Schwab & Co. has agreed to pay $500,000 and remove a controversial provision from customer contracts that would require arbitration of class action claims.

The settlement stems from a complaint by the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority Inc. in February 2012 that Schwab had violated Finra rules by including class action waivers in more than 6.8 million customer contracts.

In February 2013, a Finra panel ruled that the Federal Arbitration Act superseded the regulator's rules and allowed Schwab to include language in its customer contracts blocking customers from consolidating multiple claims in arbitration or participating in judicial class actions, even when the agreement violated Finra rules.

In this case, the board stepped in and overturned the hearing panel's initial decision, finding that ''the FAA does not preclude Finra's enforcement of its rules,â the board said in its decision.

''Over the last year, [a Schwab representative said,] we heard clearly that a number of our clients and members of the general public have strong feelings about maintaining access to class action lawsuits. 'We have agreed with Finra to remove the waiver from our account agreements, rather than seeking further legal appeals on the matter.''

Schwab pays $500,000 to settle Finra dispute over class action waivers [investmentnews.com]

This story gets all the more interesting when you realize what FINRA is and does.

FINRA is a private corporation that acts as a self-regulatory organization (SRO). FINRA is the successor to the National Association of Securities Dealers, Inc. (NASD) and the member regulation, enforcement and arbitration operations of the New York Stock Exchange. It is a self-regulatory organization, a non-governmental organization that performs financial regulation of member brokerage firms and exchange markets. The government agency which acts as the ultimate regulator of the securities industry, including FINRA, is the Securities and Exchange Commission.

All told, FINRA oversees about 4,250 brokerage firms, about 162,155 branch offices and approximately 629,525 registered securities representatives.

FINRA offers regulatory oversight over all securities firms that do business with the public, plus those offering professional training, testing, and licensing of registered persons, arbitration and mediation, market regulation by contract for the New York Stock Exchange, the NASDAQ Stock Market, Inc., the American Stock Exchange LLC, and the International Securities Exchange, LLC; and industry utilities, such as Trade Reporting Facilities and other over-the-counter operations.

FINRA operates the largest arbitration forum in the United States for the resolution of disputes between customers and member firms, as well as between brokerage firm employees and their firms.

Financial Industry Regulatory Authority [wikipedia.org]

Re:if you want your day in court (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46979741)

Class actions aren't about getting rich, they are about punishing a wrongdoing to deter future occurrences. I think any settlement should have to be given to a non-profit charity chosen by the plaintiffs. That way the money is put to a use that is beneficial to society.

Re:if you want your day in court (2)

plopez (54068) | about 6 months ago | (#46979889)

Now you are blaming the victim. If Apple, Google setc. had, to coin a phrase, "Done no evil" we wpouldn't need lawyers now would we? So would your solution be to get rid of lawyers and allow evil to triumph?

Great! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46978941)

An iPad for 40$? Sign me up!

Re:Great! (1)

egr (932620) | about 6 months ago | (#46979005)

That only works if you have billons of dollars in a bank. Otherwise it is 6 month in jail and/or fine.

Time for a union that is only way to get the power (5, Informative)

Joe_Dragon (2206452) | about 6 months ago | (#46978945)

Time for a union that is only way to get the power to the workers!

Re:Time for a union that is only way to get the po (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46979043)

Time for a union that is only way to get the power to the workers!

Careful the all powerful think tank of bullshit will smacktard you with some verbal backwash. Think of the children and puppies!!

Re:Time for a union that is only way to get the po (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46979047)

Really as much as the libertarian crowd hates unions here, this is the kind of thing they were created to stop- worker exploitation and malfeasance by those who own the means of production.

Re:Time for a union that is only way to get the po (5, Informative)

clarkkent09 (1104833) | about 6 months ago | (#46979881)

Libertarians are not against unions. Show me one source that shows that libertarians are against the right of people to associate or not associate however they wish. They are against laws that force employers to recognize unions and bargain with them as well as the laws that force employees to become paying union members even if they don't want to.

Re:Time for a union that is only way to get the po (0)

DoofusOfDeath (636671) | about 6 months ago | (#46979083)

Unions have pros and cons. You don't get one without the other. Careful analysis should be done before assuming that unionization would be a net gain.

Re:Time for a union that is only way to get the po (5, Interesting)

interkin3tic (1469267) | about 6 months ago | (#46979453)

What DOESN'T have pros and cons? Even vaccinations hurt a bit for a split second, and they're the closest thing to "something that is completely devoid of cons" that I can think of.

With unions, I think history has shown they are good medicine for when the labor force is being abused by employers with government's blessing.

Unfortunately, with both vaccinations and unions, after living with them for too long, people forget what life was like before they were around, and only notice the cons, and then listen to assholes telling them they're nothing but trouble. We then have to do a mini cycle where the old problems come back a little before people realize there are plenty of good reasons for unions or vaccines.

Which text editor.... (1, Funny)

Dareth (47614) | about 6 months ago | (#46979089)

Which text editor....is the official text editor of this union?

I will not be associated with beeping VI users.

Emacs is my favorite operating system, even if the text editor is a bit on the weak side.

Re:Which text editor.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46979385)

I will not be associated with beeping VI users.

Emacs is my favorite operating system, even if the text editor is a bit on the weak side.

I thought VI was the official text editor for Emacs.

Re:Time for a union that is only way to get the po (5, Interesting)

Charliemopps (1157495) | about 6 months ago | (#46979115)

Time for a union that is only way to get the power to the workers!

Apparently you've never worked for a union. You just pass your power on to the union, whose best interest is the union, not you. I'm not against organized labor, but unions in this country are usually even worse than they corporations they are supposed to protect you against.

I've worked for 3 different union shops in my time and they were all the same. Got seniority? You can't get fired... ever. People would come in drunk and the UAW would protect them. We had teams of people that sat reading books at a picnic table all day just in case someone went home sick, they were making $25/hr to do that. I also worked for AT&T. At one point I had a customer having a problem with a particular database. It was outside my normal functions but they were dead in the water and the department that was supposed to handle it wasn't returning their calls. I fixed it, got commended by management. A month later I had a union grievance filed against me for doing the work someone else should have done. They actually tried to fine me. Luckily I got a new job before they could complete the case and I just told them to stuff it when they decided against me.

This is all anecdotal personal experience so take it with a grain of salt. Maybe I just had bad luck. But I'm done with unions.

Re:Time for a union that is only way to get the po (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46979269)

I worked in IT at Ford in a non-union building and got in trouble for moving the overhead bin in my cubicle a level higher on the pegs so my 22 inch CRT (in 2010) Monitor would fit underneath it.

Apparently they have union guys come in to move the desks..... We were told to log a ticket and wait many weeks while not having a monitor on my desk. Just sit there and earn what was at the time $70,000 billed hourly until someone fixes it and gets a working computer setup at the desk.

They were happy to pay me $35/hr to sit and read printed manuals because their own issued computer wouldn't fit inside their own issued desk.

Don't miss that gig :)

Re:Time for a union that is only way to get the po (0)

LordLimecat (1103839) | about 6 months ago | (#46979359)

Apparently he hasnt even looked at history. Unions have a pretty shady history, whether private or public sector. Things like fighting merit based pay, encouraging striking union members to sabotage company resources, ostracising / attacking workers who are against unionization... it stinks of protectionism and mafia-like behavior.

Re:Time for a union that is only way to get the po (1)

thaylin (555395) | about 6 months ago | (#46979403)

so because some unions do it all unions are bad?

Re:Time for a union that is only way to get the po (3, Interesting)

pnutjam (523990) | about 6 months ago | (#46979451)

It's nice to see all the anti-union rhetoric. Now find me a police dept that doesn't have a union. Interesting...

Re:Time for a union that is only way to get the po (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46979697)

There is no such thing as "merit based pay".

Re:Time for a union that is only way to get the po (1)

garcia (6573) | about 6 months ago | (#46979439)

I had a grievance filed against me for "not doing enough work" because my desk was...wait for it...too clean.

Yes, I had to go through 5 weeks of 3-5 FTEs spending several hours each week discussing the fact that someone claimed I was not busy enough because my desk was neat and tidy.

Want to know it was resolved? They came and looked at my desk and then we went to their office and looked at their desk (a fucking disaster area) and then it was dropped.

FTEs = Me, my union rep, the individual filing the grievance, their union rep, and an arbitrator. For 5 fucking weeks.

Unions are horseshit.

Re:Time for a union that is only way to get the po (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46979545)

While you do raise some valid issues, this isn't really one of them:

We had teams of people that sat reading books at a picnic table all day just in case someone went home sick, they were making $25/hr to do that.

I assume you are talking about in an assembly line setting, right? Well, what else would you do? If someone does go home sick and you have nobody to replace them, then you've got 2 choices really:
1) shut down the line completely
2) slow the line to a fraction of it's pace so that the sick worker's job can be shared by the adjacent workers.

Both options are extremely expensive. It's cheaper to just pay some people to be on standby.

Re:Time for a union that is only way to get the po (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46979201)

Unions are really for working class people, not for rich white collar workers upset about making only four times the median salary instead of five times.

Re:Time for a union that is only way to get the po (1)

shadowrat (1069614) | about 6 months ago | (#46979205)

Time for a union that is only way to get the power to the workers!

bah. the heyday of unions was back when people were literally being worked to death. i make really good money. I have a really safe job environment. I get more vacation than i know what to do with. Honestly, I've only ever worked one weekend that wasn't my choice. I was able to quit that job on a whim and get a better one.

Other than that, the worst parts of my career are the times when i feel like i have to work with a technology that isn't my favorite technology. I'm not about to start paying dues to some shady organization for the promise that i'll never have to touch VB or the Facebook api again.

Re:Time for a union that is only way to get the po (1)

Junta (36770) | about 6 months ago | (#46979369)

I get more vacation than i know what to do with.

You obviously aren't inventive enough. Personally, if I had 365 days of vacation a year I'd still want more (that one day in February every few years would suck).

Re:Time for a union that is only way to get the po (1)

gnupun (752725) | about 6 months ago | (#46979207)

Unions means the smart programmer and the average programmer get almost the same salary. Do you want that?

Re:Time for a union that is only way to get the po (1)

pnutjam (523990) | about 6 months ago | (#46979645)

I don't know about you, but I like to fix things, not avoid them because I think they are broken.

Re:Time for a union that is only way to get the po (1)

gnupun (752725) | about 6 months ago | (#46979699)

Your so-called solution does break more things than it fixes. Who wants a second unreasonable boss?

and real world says (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46979823)

That the smart programmer and the average programmer are only about 10% different in code output - I'd say 10% difference in salary is 'almost' the same salary so if both take home pays would be higher (because unions typically increase everyones take home) why the hell are you complaining? Because you aren't lording over your coworker?

Hrmmmm.

Re:Time for a union that is only way to get the po (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46979887)

There are plenty of smart programmers out there earning far below what average/poor programmers get in other jobs. Besides, who is to say all programmers will work in the same job classifications? You may find software developer I, software developer II, etc... This also gives a career path in the company (something that doesn't exist in most places)

Sure, some will do a better job than others, but because of the peter principle both programmers will be working for someone in the company who doesn't understand what either of them do, but desperately want to reduce their salaries or positions so they can get a bonus. At least in a union there's a layer of protection for the worker before hitting the pavement when they're thrown off the bus.

The reason unions exist is to increase the bargaining power of workers. IT workers on the whole have very little bargaining power and that is why they are very easy to outsource. Sure, there are some extremely talented people out there who can command whatever pay they want. There are also professional athletes in sports who can demand high pay, and even then most belong to an association.

For every star worker there are tens of thousands of rank and file workers who do a great job but are scared to death about losing their job and being outsourced. It's time to face facts and leave the survival mode thinking and hyper-competition between workers behind. While complaining about their neighbours portion size, everyone is burning out due to high stress, long hours, and being seen as a disposable asset. They stopped caring about you as a worker long ago, if they ever did.

In this *particular* case... (1)

Junta (36770) | about 6 months ago | (#46979331)

So in this case, the person is in a class action suit. His frustration is that the lawyers who effectively control the thing from the plaintiff perspective have a significant conflict of interest and his voice is likely to go unanswered. The lawyers want the easier money which will be a large amount for them and a moderate amount for the members of the class. Most of the class would be happy to get a moderate amount and fully expect that they were just screwed. He would rather go through the effort to get his day in court and risk the guaranteed money to get back at the defendants more effectively.

In a union, he again consigns his particular fate to leadership that is just as likely to pay little attention to his particular grievances for the sake of their own welfare and sometimes the welfare of the whole.

What he really wants is to not to consign his particular fate to class action lawyers and a union in this case would resemble the same situation. Whether you believe a union overall is a good or bad idea, in this particular scenario I wouldn't expect a significantly better situation for the person's particular sensibilities in this scenario.

Re:Time for a union that is only way to get the po (1)

LordLimecat (1103839) | about 6 months ago | (#46979343)

It is wearying to see people shout for unions as if theyre a panacea or dont have scores of their own issues. Anyone remember the thuggish behavior of the Verizon unions a few summers back, where they were pissed that their non-profitable department was not making as much as other, profitable departments? To prove their point, they went around slicing through fiber lines [washingtonpost.com] ... one might almost dismiss the "verizon reps say" as just a smear campaign, except for all of the tech support calls I got during that time from verizon business customers whose internet mysteriously went out right as the strike was underway. Thats not suspicious, at all....

Unions did great things in the past, but these days they seem to be champions of vastly inflated salaries and fighting merit-based pay whenever possible. No way, no how, no thanks, Im doing quite fine in my merit-based, capitalist run industry. I've had quite enough of "workers unite" talk for a lifetime.

Re:Time for a union that is only way to get the po (1)

Junta (36770) | about 6 months ago | (#46979401)

went around slicing through fiber lines

Talk about a new take on the whole 'broken glass' fallacy.

Re:Time for a union that is only way to get the po (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46979773)

Yes, that is how business is done, get a union and watch as you suck the company into the ground.

Or file a lawsuit and do the same......... What could go wrong? Besides losing your job...........

Sue your employer/potential employer! (4, Funny)

penguinoid (724646) | about 6 months ago | (#46978953)

That never turns out badly.

Re:Sue your employer/potential employer! (3, Insightful)

timeOday (582209) | about 6 months ago | (#46979183)

Those of us without the guts to do this should at least cheer on those who do.

Alternate response: they have already received an opening offer of $324M, how 'bout you?

Phantom cash (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46978963)

They have those cash reserves, sure. Until the tax man comes looking for it...

Re:Phantom cash (1)

thaylin (555395) | about 6 months ago | (#46979323)

Tax man, hahahahahahahaahahahahahahha, that is so funny. Silly AC didnt you know they have that on hand because the tax man does not come for corperations, only us peons.

Re:Phantom cash (1)

Ozymandias_KoK (48811) | about 6 months ago | (#46979763)

Not relevant. You're taxed on profits (generally), not sheer amount of cash you may or may not be sitting on.

so sad... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46978965)

After the Lawyers take their 40% that leaves about $3100 per class member. Incredible.

Yes but the difference is who you steal from (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46978977)

Obvious, no?

Lawyers didn't do their job (5, Informative)

jmcbain (1233044) | about 6 months ago | (#46978997)

From the NY Times article:

Mr. Devine said he told his lawyers that he found the settlement inadequate as it was being negotiated, but they ignored him. Lawyers in the case declined to comment on Sunday. ... As a class representative, he is eligible for an incentive award for the time and effort he put into the case. His lawyers have asked the court to approve a $20,000 payment for each representative from settlements reached last year against three other defendants in the suit — Lucasfilm, Pixar and Intuit. A similar payment might be forthcoming from the settlement with Apple, Google, Intel and Adobe. Even if the case went to trial and the plaintiffs got the full $9 billion, he would not get much more.

Re:Lawyers didn't do their job (4, Funny)

NoNonAlphaCharsHere (2201864) | about 6 months ago | (#46979045)

When a lawyer says "It's not the money, it's the principle", it's the money.

Re:Lawyers didn't do their job (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46979311)

When a lawyer says "It's not the money, it's the principle", it's the money.

That's what you *heard* the lawyer say. What he really says is:

"It's not the money, it's the principal"

Why does how much money the company's have matter? (-1)

Troyusrex (2446430) | about 6 months ago | (#46979031)

Against such tremendous cash hoards, $324 million is chump change

So... because Apple has a lot of cash on hand they should have to pay more in damages? Why? The reward should be based on the damage done not the size of the defendants bank account.

Re:Why does how much money the company's have matt (4, Informative)

pnutjam (523990) | about 6 months ago | (#46979041)

RTFA, the reward is about 1/10 of the damage done, insulting and hardly a deterrent.

Re:Why does how much money the company's have matt (1)

UnknowingFool (672806) | about 6 months ago | (#46979193)

Unfortunately for the plaintiffs, usually the real winners are the lawyers. $3B or $324M: most of it will go to the lawyers.

Re:Why does how much money the company's have matt (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46979235)

The real winners will be future employee's if the award is large enough to have a real deterrence effect. Which is the point of a class action, not to let companies get away with lots of small injustices. It is, in fact, the principle of the matter that these companies be made to answer for their actions.

Re:Why does how much money the company's have matt (1)

Archangel Michael (180766) | about 6 months ago | (#46979333)

Actually, most of it won't go to the lawyers. However, there are only a few lawyers vs thousands involved in the Class.So the lawyers make 1/3 and split it among a very limited few. The rest (2/3) gets spread among thousands and thousands. So lawyers make a lot, and everyone else makes a little.

The fix for this is lawyers representing a Class in a lawsuit, are limited to the some multiple of the average member of the Class. Last class action I was a part of, I got some $2.34. Imagine a lawyer only able to gain 10K times that amount MAX. It would change how they proceed in representing the Class. I don't mind Lawyers making money at all. However, when they make Millions while I get $2.34 is really not a good representation of Justice.

Re:Why does how much money the company's have matt (1)

thaylin (555395) | about 6 months ago | (#46979621)

It would make it harder to form a class action, as the lawyers would not want it, of course republicans would love it

class action is not about making you whole, it is about punishing the entity that did it. If you do not punish them enough they will keep doing it, the lawyer fees are unfortunately the way to get the needed people on board.

Re:Why does how much money the company's have matt (1)

gnasher719 (869701) | about 6 months ago | (#46979467)

RTFA, the reward is about 1/10 of the damage done, insulting and hardly a deterrent.

1/10th of the claimed damage. It would be actual damage if each single one of those 64,000 class members actually would have found a different job paying $50,000 more.

Re:Why does how much money the company's have matt (3, Insightful)

sodul (833177) | about 6 months ago | (#46979743)

You seem to forget that Google officially raised their employees salary by 10% after Facebook refused to be part of the illegal agreement. In practice because how the bonus was restructured for some people it was probably an effective increase of up to 25% on the final w2. Considering that most 'tech' at google makes more than $100k per year (staff level engineers make more than $250k per year). multiply that by the number of years this has been going on, and the claimed damage does not seem inflated anymore.

Re:Why does how much money the company's have matt (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46979839)

It should actually be the other way: If the damage done was about $3 billion, then instead of a settlement of $324 million, it should be more along the lines of $6 billion or even $9 billion. If you are looking for something in case law to determine a settlement, look at RICO (Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act). It never fails to amaze me how corporations and the political right will cry bloody murder if the government even takes a gaze at the 'free market' which is trumped to be pristine and perfect, yet the same corporations will take each and every opportunity to skew that same market in their favour and will do using every illegal means possible. "The Free Market is pristine!" Except if the government imposes something on businesses. Or if those same businesses skew the market in their favour by violating the Sherman Act (if they can get away with it), or by violating the Consumer Protection Act, or by colluding to keep wages down by restricting movement of employees.

Re:Why does how much money the company's have matt (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46979101)

considering that those 64000 employees were a direct contributor to the cash horde that these companies now hold.
how can a company have that much money without the employees who made it happen?
i would say that they're entitled to a larger chunk.

consider also that the amount lost by your average employee in this case was upwards to 150,000 - 200,000 dollars over a 4-5 year period. (yes, they really were keeping salaries that deflated) scale that up and you'll easily see why this $324m number is a gross miscarriage of justice.

Re:Why does how much money the company's have matt (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46979523)

Your math doesn't even flow from the *plaintiff's* claims of the value of the suit and the number of class-members. It's off by roughly a factor of 3-4. Your (made up) numbers would put the plaintiff's claim at 9.6 - 12.8 billion, not the plaintiff's estimate of 3 billion. The plaintiff's claim puts the yearly value at an average of $46,875 over the course of that 4-5 year period ($9,300 - $11,700 per year).

That's a number the plaintiffs would have to prove, and provide supporting evidence of, in court.

captcha: illusion

Re:Why does how much money the company's have matt (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46979107)

It depends on whether there are punitive damages in the award. The purpose of punitive damages is to punish and prevent the behavior from happening again in the future. Thus, in making the award, one can certainly consider whether the damages are 'chump change' or not to the companies involved.

On the flip side of the coin, because punitive damages might result in an unfair windfall for the plaintiffs -- e.g., should someone get a million bucks if (s)he was only harmed by $50,000? -- the court has the power to direct that portion of the excess money go to charities or to a trust fund or something similar.

Re:Why does how much money the company's have matt (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46979305)

Punitive damages are something that is awarded by a jury - this isn't going to a jury, it's a settlement.

Re:Why does how much money the company's have matt (1)

Missing.Matter (1845576) | about 6 months ago | (#46979351)

This was a settlement. There are not punitive damages in a settlement.

Re:Why does how much money the company's have matt (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46979123)

The damages paid in the settlement are 1/30 as large as they should be. The amount of money the companies have simply indicates that they would be able to pay the full amount, and that it doesn't make sense to settle for less. (You'd accept a settlement for less than you're owed, if that's all the money the defendant had).

Re:Why does how much money the company's have matt (1)

EvanED (569694) | about 6 months ago | (#46979223)

The damages paid in the settlement are 1/30 as large as they should be

Well, as large as they hypothetically could(?) be if it went to trial and the plaintiffs won and the judge decided to stick it to the defendants. Not every trial does or should result in the maximum verdict.

The amount of money the companies have simply indicates that they would be able to pay the full amount, and that it doesn't make sense to settle for less

It also makes sense to settle as a risk management strategy. Defendants settle to avoid the risk of a guilty verdict* that will cost more, and plaintiffs settle to avoid the risk of a not guilty verdict that will at best get them nothing and at worst sic them with legal bills.

* I don't know if civil trials technically use the "guilty"/"not guilty" terms; probably they do not.

Re:Why does how much money the company's have matt (1)

serviscope_minor (664417) | about 6 months ago | (#46979143)

he reward should be based on the damage done not the size of the defendants bank account.

No, I think in an illegal action like this (and yes, it is very much illegal), the amount should serve as a disincentive to engage in illegal behaviour. If it's limited to only the amoun they make, then the worst case is they are no worse off than if they broke the law. Basically that gives them an incentive to break the law since there are no negative consequences.

Also, they broke the law to the tune of £3e9, to $3e8 as a settlement is pathetic.

Re:Why does how much money the company's have matt (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46979155)

Oppps we stole $3B from our workers, our bad! Here is $324 Million, we good right?

Re:Why does how much money the company's have matt (1)

Opportunist (166417) | about 6 months ago | (#46979165)

A punishment should hurt. If the penalty for breaking the law is a pittance, why bother upholding the law?

Re: Why does how much money the company's have mat (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46979221)

When you get to keep 90% of your ill gotten gains in a settlement, I think it behaves everybody to sit up and say what the fuck!

Because the money isn't theirs (2)

sjbe (173966) | about 6 months ago | (#46979259)

So... because Apple has a lot of cash on hand they should have to pay more in damages?

Because the settlement apparently doesn't make the plaintiffs whole and Apple has the cash to make them whole. If Apple wrongfully received work for which they did not pay then Apple has committed a crime and those workers should be entitled to compensation for the entirety of the value of work performed. If you work any amount of time for an employer they cannot decide not to pay you for time worked. They cannot withhold pay except in very rare circumstances which almost certainly do not apply here.

The reward should be based on the damage done not the size of the defendants bank account.

This settlement is apparently for far less than the damage done meaning some of the cash in the defendant's bank account is wrongfully obtained.

ouch... so low (3, Informative)

CamelTrader (311519) | about 6 months ago | (#46979103)

assuming that attorneys don't eat all the settlement money, this is what, like $6,000 bucks per person in the class?

Re:ouch... so low (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46979157)

try ~$750
for what was a loss of around 30k per year. (and in some cases far more)

That's why I prefer our fine system (4, Interesting)

Opportunist (166417) | about 6 months ago | (#46979159)

(fine as in punishment not as in splendid. But it's fine too)

If you are found guilty (or if you settle, don't think you get off cheaply), you're not fined a fixed sum. You're fined a part (or even multiple) of your annual income. That can be quite substantial in case of corporations. Which is also the reason for the insane fines you hear about when some corporation gets slammed by the EU or a state around here again.

Personally, I consider it a good system. Nobody can simply ignore the law because fines are a pittance to them. A year's income is a year's income, and losing that HURTS. Whether you make 4 or 7 digits (or in case of a corporation, 10+).

The nice side effect is that this also means we have more people paying fines rather than sitting in some prison because they can't. Fines put money in the state treasury. People in jail cost money.

Re:That's why I prefer our fine system (1)

dimeglio (456244) | about 6 months ago | (#46979483)

In the event of a breach of civil law (non criminal), aren't fines proportional to the tort the breach has caused? Judges usually take into account the ability to pay of the corporation when deciding on the amount. If it has to be exemplary, then the amounts would be significant. In all cases, the objective is not to kill the company but to ensure they put to settled the tort caused and more important, put in place better practices to prevent re-occurrence.

Re:That's why I prefer our fine system (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46979561)

In the future, please make it clear who the "we" actually is.

Re:That's why I prefer our fine system (1)

phorm (591458) | about 6 months ago | (#46979609)

Which is also the reason for the insane fines you hear about when some corporation gets slammed by the EU or a state around here again.

Given that fines in the US cases don't seem to invoke much of a change (we'll just switch from shady practice A to slightly different shady practice B), I'd say that the fines in the US are the one that are insane. Big isn't crazy when it needs to be big to be effective...

Cold-Calling (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46979293)

I maybe missing something but the agreements were about stopping one company from cold-calling employees of another company with the purpose of hiring them not about how they couldn't hire people from each other of the employees reached out to the other companies first. Also these are corporations that will do anything to the competition to get an edge and what better way than to hirer away their talent with inflated salaries as an incentive. Who's to say how long they'd survive at the other company after leaving where they came from being surrounded by other talented people.

Enough Apple and Google already! (1)

mark_reh (2015546) | about 6 months ago | (#46979335)

I want to know when I'm going to get mine from the early 90s when HP actually announced to employees that they were colluding with other tech employers to fix pay and benefits. I went to job interviews at other companies at the time and the story was always the same- no increase in pay and reset vacation time back to 10 days per year.

Time to LAWYRUP !

criminal conspiracy and it should be rejected (5, Interesting)

bigpat (158134) | about 6 months ago | (#46979365)

This is a case of criminal conspiracy that rippled through the economy. Where billionaires conspired to keep middle class wages lower because they wanted to make even more money for themselves. Not just people in these companies were affected. The illegally restrained salaries at these companies set the bar for millions of people in the industry. They need to pony up a few Billion more at least.

These class action lawsuits themselves seem like blatant ways of companies limiting their own liability... they simply conspire with some lawyers to sue themselves, settle for pennies on the dollar and just a few individuals that proactively reject the settlement can ever get the full amount they are due. And the incentive of those so called lawyers who are getting a percentage commission is to settle for whatever makes them millionaires, not whatever will make people they don't really represent whole.

I think in the future that the courts should require proactive agreement in writing from at least a majority of the class for the settlement to be accepted. And then let anyone that doesn't proactively accept the settlement sue later on. The opt-out system that we have now doesn't result in equitable resolutions.

Re:criminal conspiracy and it should be rejected (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46979591)

And if these same people try to do the same thing by hiring lobbyists to increase the number of H1-B visas then it is simply called "business as usual."

The class is too small. (5, Insightful)

peccary (161168) | about 6 months ago | (#46979687)

EVERYONE who works in tech has been damaged by this conspiracy. I don't work at Google or Apple, but my compensation is very much influenced by what my employer believes I could reasonably expect to earn if I went to Google.

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