News & Commentary

December 29, 2015

The New York Times reported on the employees of Good Technology as a cautionary tale of employees who can be left holding the bag when a once-hot startup loses its luster.  Good had lured and retained its employees through a seemingly generous stock-option program that allowed employees to retain an ownership stake in the company in lieu of higher traditional salaries.  At the company’s height in March 2014, a private valuation estimated that the company was worth $1.1 billion.  After a series of fumbles and missteps, however, the company was sold to Blackberry in September for $425 million, less than half its previous value.     For employees, the news was even worse.  After preferred stockholders and company executives were compensated, their common stock had a value of just 44 cents per share.  Because they had paid taxes on the shares based on the higher valuation, some employees ended up losing money through their affiliation with Good.  A group of common shareholders has filed a lawsuit against the company’s board alleging that it breached its fiduciary duties.  Former employee Matthew Parks said, “We listened to these executives and, in the end, incurred huge tax bills because we trusted them. . . . Employees essentially ended up paying to work for the company.”

East of Salinas, a documentary following the lives of children of undocumented farmworkers, premiered last night on PBS, according to Public Radio International.  Although the quality of life of these children has improved since the days of labor camps, they still face difficulties in meeting the challenges of school often with disrupted sleep schedules and empty stomachs.  The documentary profiles the life of third-grader Jose Ansaldo and his teacher Oscar Ramos, who himself was the child of migrant farmworkers.  A list of upcoming showings of the documentary is available here.

The National Labor Relations Board ruled last week that Whole Foods Market’s policy prohibiting employees from recording in the workplace violated the workers’ Section 7 rights under the National Labor Relations Act.  In reaching its decision, the Board noted that its case law was “replete with examples where photography or recording, often covert, was an essential element in vindicating the underlying Section 7 right.”  The Board cautioned, however, that such recording must be taken with an eye toward concerted activity by workers..

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