One out of six American workers, including manual and low-level laborers, are forced to sign non-compete agreements. It’s abusive, it’s strange, and studies say wages are 10% lower on average as a result.

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  • Corporations lawfully continue to own one’s labor even when they discontinue pay for your labor under their duress induced non-compete (euphemistically referred to) “agreements”.

    One cannot choose to rent one’s labor to one corporation while it is still owned by another. Dispossession of ownership of labor from the person who produces it has this aspect in common with slavery.

    This is accomplished also with H1b visas where these visas prevent a person from moving from one employer to another without re-entering the US on another H1b visa.

    This is a great obstacle to competitive markets, this in a nation that prides itself on—and bases wars and cold wars on—the propagandist illusion of the superiority of so-called free markets.

  • While this is true, they’ve also been beaten down in court multiple times. Your former employer absolutely cannot prevent you from getting another job. All you have to do is to spend a couple years’ salary defending your right to this year’s salary, against a corporation with deep pockets all while unemployed. What’s the problem?

    I’m an engineer, my name is on several patents – but my former employers own them. Patents were invented to protect *people* not corporations. (and also to retain the information for posterity after the patent runs out.)

    What would it do to engineers’ salaries if *they* owned the patent? Why should the CEO, VPs VIPs and their entourages reap the benefits of work they are incapable of doing themselves?

    • “A parasite is an organism that lives on or in a host and gets its food from or at the expense of its host. Parasites can cause disease in humans,” says the CDC.

      I never felt at ease with being owned, so that counts as a dis-ease for me.

      Freedom of association guaranteed by the First Amendment, it seems, should allow STEM workers to unionize against these parasites, but it also seems that STEM workers are just as opposed to unions as are the owners of their labor.

      Before STEM workers can get free of the external parasites that own their labor, they need to get rid of the parasitical ideologies that dominate the thinking that limits cooperative organization among themselves.

      My experience is that engineers, as “induhviduals” (to use Scott Adams word) are collectively biased against collective action and politically biased toward the right.

    • > they need to get rid of the parasitical ideologies that dominate the thinking that limits cooperative organization among themselves.

      That’s true. In general they see unions as beneath their dignity and a barrier to advancement. (“I’m smarter than these other bozos so a union would just hold me back”) As a direct result of that STEM types get paid less than their true value to the company and that pay keeps slipping.

      Politically, we’re a mixed bag – high tech tends to be younger and therefore leftier. You’ll find very few climate-change deniers regardless of who one votes for, and we tend to actually think about issues rather then voting a party line. I sincerely doubt that the wrongest of the right-wing scientists voted for Trump.

    • There’s always Section 1 of the Thirteenth Amendment to the US Constitution, which reads as follows :

      «Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude, except as a punishment for crime whereof the party shall have been duly convicted, shall exist within the United States, or any place subject to their jurisdiction.»

      But presumably those who sign these contracts do so «voluntarily»…. 😉


  • As a teacher of English, French, and German, I was never forced to sign an agreement that I would never use any of the other languages while teaching one of the three. 😀

    • Natural languages are not copyrighted so there are no attributions due to their inventors, nor are royalties due for their use.

      Some billionaire’s dream will be that languages will be appropriated by the state and sold to private interests, then the means to meter speech will be devised by technical people so we users can either pay royalties to its owners or have our tongues removed; perhaps some will invent their own private languages with the disadvantage that no one will be able to understand what anyone else is saying.

      Then the Tower of Babel and Wittgenstein’s private language will become relevant.

      • Je ne sais pas.
        Ich verstehe nicht.
        No comprendo.
        I don’t understand.

      • @derLehrer

        I understand only train station. 😉

      • @ andreas5 –

        That was my standard joke when I was stationed in Germany: “I understand only ‘Fräulein’ and ‘Bahnhof’!”

        [I noticed only after posting my previous message that consistency would have required the French word “comprends,” rather than “sais.”]

      • Habben Sie das Bier vergessen?

      • «Je ne sais pas.» Many years ago, I had a good friend here in Stockholm named Eva, who loved to visit Paris and who felt that her lack of fluency in French hardlyconstituted a problem – she would just introduce herself by saying Je m’appelle Eva et je ne comprends pas ! and everything was hunky-dory….


      • @ CrazyH –

        “Habben Sie das Bier vergessen?”
        “Bier” and “beer” are pronounced the same. “Bitte noch eins,” wasn’t hard to learn.

  • Honeywell abused these practices, and many foreign H1b employers bitterly complained to me that they were being taken advantage of with lower slaries that they fellow colleagues and the threat of deportation or having to overstay their visas if they quit their enforced employment.

  • So what? That’s been business as usual for many, many years. That’s not new news for many people – it’s common knowledge, like “Don’t piss into the wind”.

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