Having starved the lower economic classes and decimated the middle classes, pushing them into the lower strata through a combination of rich-favoring tax policy, wage intimidation, off-shoring jobs, and outright theft, Big Business has begun to move its attention to ripping off the upper classes, starting with its own professionals.
Let's be sure we understand what this means. No one is safe from predators. NO ONE.
The Federal Trade Commission is investigating whether the world's biggest oil companies colluded to suppress managerial, professional and technical employees' wages in ways that violated U.S. antitrust laws, according to people familiar with the matter.
The previously undisclosed probe has been open for several years and involves as many as a dozen oil companies, including Exxon Mobil Corp., Royal Dutch Shell PLC, BP PLC and Chevron Corp, these people said. The probe remains active, they added, but the five FTC commissioners have yet to vote on the matter, and it is possible a suit will never be brought.
Imagine that. Big Oil is caught stealing from its own employees but somehow there's a question about whether that might be, you know, legal. Maybe they can do that, eh?
The investigation is the latest evidence of concern among U.S. antitrust enforcers that the nation's largest employers may be interfering with the labor market to hold down costs. The U.S. Department of Justice is carrying out a similar probe into whether companies in the technology sector have improperly agreed not to poach each other's employees, according to people familiar with that matter. A spokeswoman for the Justice Department declined to comment.
So the antitrust "enforcers" are concerned, are they? Nice of them to notice, given that this sort of thing has been going on for the past 30 yrs or so. Know why the suit may not be pursued? Cause the FTC thinks Big Oil is now obeying the law that it ignored for decades.
The case, Todd vs. Exxon, was at first dismissed by a federal district court in New York, but the decision was overturned on appeal in 2001. The appellate ruling in favor of Ms. Todd, written by Sonia Sotomayor before she became a Supreme Court justice, was seen as putting employers on notice that exchanging salary information with their competitors could potentially violate antitrust law.
"That opinion by Sotomayor, I think now we can safely say it's the law of the land on employer communications with regard to employees, especially if it's a joint action," says John Carney, a lawyer who represented Ms. Todd. However, the suit didn't get class-action certification. Last year, the oil companies settled Ms. Todd's suit and several others like it for an undisclosed sum, without admitting liability or wrongdoing.
About four years ago, the FTC began its inquiry into issues behind the case. Now, some FTC officials question whether the case is worth pursuing because the practices in question are likely to have ceased in the nine years since Justice Sotomayor's appellate ruling, the people familiar with the matter said. Exxon, BP, Shell and Chevron declined to address the issue.
I bet they did. Somebody might wonder how much they'd stolen.
[T]he suit alleged [that] Exxon alone was able to lower its salaries by $20 million a year.
And raise its executives' salaries by, oh, say, $20M a yr? I'm just guessing.
The corporate/rich have created an economy that is basically a funnel channeling $$$ that used to be on the bottom and in the middle straight to the very tippy top. That effort has been way successful, so successful that the banksters are bragging that they've managed to engineer a economy in which only the rich matter. In fact, a "plutonomy". (.pdf file - H/T RW)
The latest Survey of Consumer Finances, for 2004, has been released by the Federal Reserve. It shows the rich continue to account for a disproportionately large share of income and wealth in the US economy: the richest 10% of Americans account for 43% of income, and 57% of net worth. The net worth to income ratio for the richest 10% of Americans increased from 7.4x in 2001, to 8.4x in the 2004 survey. The rich are in great shape, financially.
➤We think this income and wealth inequality (plutonomy) helps explain many of the conundrums that vex equity investors, such as why high oil prices haven't seriously dented growth, or why "global imbalances" are growing along with the equity bull market. Implication 1:Worry less about these conundrums.
➤We think the rich are likely to get even wealthier in the coming years. Implication 2: we like companies that sell to or service the rich - luxury goods, private banks etc. Favored names include LVMH and Richemont.
Nothing like being upfront about stuff.
Powered by Zoundry Raven