Is a Silicon Valley Hiring Cartel Forcing Down Wages?

And then we formed a cartel to push down wages—hilarious!

Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

A group of 60,000 Silicon Valley workers got clearance today to move ahead with a lawsuit based on an explosive allegation that Apple, Google, Adobe, and others have formed a hiring cartel that drives down wages. Specifically, the accusation is that these firms have an agreement not to poach each other’s employees.

If true, this seems like a very clear violation of existing antitrust laws. The ruling today doesn’t speak to the merits of the case. Instead District Court Judge Lucy Koh gave the go-ahead for this to be pursued as a class-action case, which creates a more favorable legal environment for the plaintiffs. It’ll be interesting to see what facts come out as this goes forward. Apple was involved in a pretty blatant form of cartel formation around e-book pricing a couple of years back, so it does seem as if the corporate culture over there isn’t very concerned about these kind of legal liabilities.