Skip to comments.Backlash In U.S. Against Foreign Worker Visas Growing
Posted on 07/06/2014 11:03:16 AM PDT by PoloSec
Kelly Parker was thrilled when she landed her dream job in 2012 providing tech support for Harley-Davidson's Tomahawk, Wisconsin, plants. The divorced mother of three hoped it was the beginning of a new career with the motorcycle company.
The dream didn't last long. Parker claims she was laid off one year later after she trained her replacement, a newly arrived worker from India. Now she has joined a federal lawsuit alleging the global staffing firm that ran Harley-Davidson's tech support discriminated against American workers in part by replacing them with temporary workers from South Asia.
The firm, India-based Infosys Ltd., denies wrongdoing and contends, as many companies do, that it has faced a shortage of talent and specialized skill sets in the U.S. Like other firms, Infosys wants Congress to allow even more of these temporary workers.
But amid calls for expanding the nation's so-called H-1B visa program, there is growing pushback from Americans who argue the program has been hijacked by staffing companies that import cheaper, lower-level workers to replace more expensive U.S. employees or keep them from getting hired in the first place.
"It's getting pretty frustrating when you can't compete on salary for a skilled job," said Rich Hajinlian, a veteran computer programmer from the Boston area. "You hear references all the time that these big companies ... can't find skilled workers. I am a skilled worker."
Hajinlian, 56, who develops his own web applications on the side, said he applied for a job in April through a headhunter and that the potential client appeared interested, scheduling a longer interview. Then, said Hajinlian, the headhunter called back and said the client had gone with an H-1B worker whose annual salary was about $10,000 less.
"I didn't even get a chance to negotiate down," he said.
The H-1B program allows employers to temporarily hire workers in specialty occupations. The government issues up to 85,000 H-1B visas to businesses every year, and recipients can stay up to six years. Although no one tracks exactly how many H-1B holders are in the U.S., experts estimate there are at least 600,000 at any one time. Skilled guest workers can also come in on other types of visas.
An immigration bill passed in the U.S. Senate last year would have increased the number of annually available H-1B visas to 180,000 while raising fees and increasing oversight, although language was removed that would have required all companies to consider qualified U.S. workers before foreign workers are hired.
The House never acted on the measure. With immigration reform considered dead this year in Congress, President Barack Obama last week declared he will use executive actions to address some changes. It is not known whether the H-1B program will be on the agenda.
Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg is among the high-profile executives pushing for more H-1Bs. The argument has long been that there aren't enough qualified American workers to fill certain jobs, especially in science, engineering and technology. Advocates also assert that some visa holders will stay and become entrepreneurs.
Critics say there is no across-the-board shortage of American tech workers, and that if there were, wages would be rising rapidly. Instead, wage gains for software developers have been modest, while wages have fallen for programmers.
The liberal Economic Policy Institute reported last year that only half of U.S. college graduates in science, engineering and technology found jobs in those fields and that at least one third of IT jobs were going to foreign guest workers.
The top users of H-1B visas aren't even tech companies like Google and Facebook. Eight of the 10 biggest H1-B users last year were outsourcing firms that hire out thousands of mostly lower- and mid-level tech workers to corporate clients, according to an analysis of federal data by Ron Hira, an associate professor of public policy at Rochester Institute of Technology. The top 10 firms accounted for about a third of the H-1Bs allotted last year.
The debate over whether foreign workers are taking jobs isn't new, but for years it centered on low-wage sectors like agriculture and construction. The high-skilled visas have thrust a new sector of American workers into the fray: the middle class.
Last month, three tech advocacy groups launched a labor boycott against Infosys, IBM and the global staffing and consulting company ManpowerGroup, citing a "pattern of excluding U.S. workers from job openings on U.S soil."
They say Manpower, for example, last year posted U.S. job openings in India but not in the United States.
"We have a shortage in the industry all right a shortage of fair and ethical recruiting and hiring," said Donna Conroy, director of Bright Future Jobs, a group of tech professionals fighting to end what it calls "discriminatory hiring that is blocking us ... from competing for jobs we are qualified to do."
"U.S. workers should have the freedom to compete first for job openings," Conroy said.
Infosys spokesman Paul de Lara responded that the firm encourages "diversity recruitment," while spokesman Doug Shelton said IBM considers all qualified candidates "without regard to citizenship and immigration status." Manpower issued a statement saying it "adopts the highest ethical standards and complies with all applicable laws and regulations when hiring individuals."
Much of the backlash against the H-1B and other visa programs can be traced to whistleblower Jay Palmer, a formerInfosys employee. In 2011, Palmer supplied federal investigators with information that helped lead to Infosys paying a record $34 million settlement last year. Prosecutors had accused the company of circumventing the law by bringing in lower-paid workers on short-term executive business visas instead of using H-1B visas.
Last year, IBM paid $44,000 to the U.S. Justice Department to settle allegations its job postings expressed a preference for foreign workers. And a September trial is set against executives at the staffing company Dibon Solutions, accused of illegally bringing in foreign workers on H-1B visas without having jobs for them a practice known as "benching."
In court papers, Parker claims that she was given positive reviews by supervisors, including at Infosys, which she maintains oversaw her work and the decision to let her go. The only complaint: Her desk was messy and she'd once been late.
Neither Parker nor other workers involved in similar lawsuits and contacted by The Associated Press would discuss their cases.
Parker's attorney, Dan Kotchen, noted that the case centers on discrimination based on national origin but said that "hiring visa workers is part of how they obtain their discriminatory objectives."
Infosys is seeking a dismissal, in part on grounds that it never hired or fired Parker. Parker was hired by a different subcontractor and kept on, initially, after Infosys began working with Harley-Davidson.
A company spokeswoman said Infosys has about 17,000 employees in the U.S., about 25 percent U.S. hires. In filings to the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, the company said it has more than 22,000 employees with valid temporary work visas, some not in the U.S.
Stanford University Law School fellow Vivek Wadwha, a startup adviser, said firms are so starved for talent they are buying up other companies to obtain skilled employees. If there's a bias against Americans, he said, it's an age bias based on the fact that older workers may not have the latest skills. More than 70 percent of H-1B petitions approved in 2012 were for workers between the ages of 25 and 34.
"If workers don't constantly retrain themselves, their skills become obsolete," he said.
Norm Matloff, a computer science professor at the University of California, Davis, agreed that age plays into it not because older workers are less skilled but because they typically require higher pay. Temporary workers also tend to be cheaper because they don't require long-term health care for dependents and aren't around long enough to get significant raises, he said.
Because they can be deported if they lose their jobs, these employees are often loath to complain about working conditions. And even half the standard systems analyst salary in the U.S. is above what an H-1B holder would earn back home.
Such circumstances concern Americans searching for work in a still recovering economy.
Jennifer Wedel of Fort Worth, Texas, publicly challenged Obama on the visa issue in 2012, making headlines when she asked him via a public online chat about the number of foreign workers being hired given that her husband, a semiconductor engineer, couldn't find work.
Wedel said her husband eventually found a job in the health care industry, taking a $40,000 pay cut.
"It's a slap in the face to every American who worked hard to get their experience and degrees and has 10 or 15 years of experience," she said, adding that firms want that experience but don't want to pay for it.
To her, the issue isn't about a shortage of workers who have the right skills. Put simply, she said: "It's the money."
Only the most blithering race bigot or America-Hating Liberal Globalist thinks we need any foreign workers
Complaining about H-1B workers is racist and hateful.
When Patriot Law is declared (shortly perhaps) any immigration whether legal or not will be outlawed and any managers employing illegals could be hanged as an example to others. But illegal immigration and the H1B issue are only a few of the flawed cogs in the gears that run the USA these days. Patriot Law is going to have to deal with quite a few issues in short order.
I laughed at a guy several years ago who claimed that what these big multi-national companies really wanted was to be just like Foxconn with huge dormitories and guards to keep the workers in them until their next work shift let them into the factory to work.
I’m not laughing anymore.
Today I look around and I see these huge companies not wanting American workers because we are to ‘old’ or we cost too much. Yet they want us to buy all of the stuff they make and provide. How can we do that if we don’t get paid a prevailing wage? Answer: We can’t, which leads us to the inevitable point that the entire world-wide economy may just come crashing down.
The survivors of that will be the lucky and the prepared. Personally I think the lucky are going to out-number the prepared.
They’ll just sell their crap in countries where people have jobs...like china.
An individual trained in engineering or comp sci can readily update to any new tech concepts or programming advances. It isn’t difficult for an intelligent, well-educated individual in these fields. I can speak directly to the use of H1B’s as cheap labor. A recent employer of mine (not a company but a state gov’t) hired individuals with visa challenges that US citizens don’t have—the pay rate was about 40% less than the going rate across the US for comparable positions and institutions. There was no overt advertising for such individuals but the pay and the situation would result in such candidates. The result was a department staffed with people from all over the planet and a few old-timers from the local area. Performance among the foreign hires was a mess. A few US citizens were hired but they either left quickly or were awful performers, too.
It is about the money. Good performers cost money—but they are well worth it. As far as gov’t goes, it is the gov’t’s responsibility to encourage economic opportunity for the citizenry. This gov’t works against that responsibility and that is arguably the worst thing a gov’t can do in peace time.
When big corporations have drained America dry to fatten their bottom line, what do they expect to do next?
This stunt by the ham-fisted nitwit is likely to backfire and strengthen calls for immigration enforcement and make any amnesty bill unpalatable even for Democrats.
Another Billionaire Marxist pushing my wages down in a field I've been unable to get a job in since the last lay off.
I don't care how much money he has, I do mind that he lies to legislators to personally benefit himself at my expense.
“The argument has long been that there aren’t enough qualified American workers to fill certain jobs, especially in science, engineering and technology.”
That is a lie.
The H1-B program should be eliminated.
IBM’s solution was to encourage their laid off US citizens to move to India where they would be paid a mere fraction of their old salary but it would “go farther”.
That might just be why he did it!
I agree with you, H1B needs gone.
Wow. Did the top brass lead by example?
IBM Offers To Move Laid Off Workers To India
Feb. 2, 2009
The easiest way to get rid of the H1B problem would be to eliminate the program altogether and alow those workers to get green cards. The H1B program is a promotion channel for all Indian staffing companies and you will not be promoted to management without an offshore stint by any of them. They send them here on H1B visas because they can’t take a better job from another firm without sponsorship and are at high risk of being deported if they look for another job.
I have been working with firms like Infosys for more than a decade and am well versed on how they operate as an employer as well as a supplier.
“Today I look around and I see these huge companies not wanting American workers because we are to old or we cost too much.”
It is because you expect a certain standard of living (which probably touches on both of your points), especially if you want to have a family.
“Yet they want us to buy all of the stuff they make and provide. How can we do that if we dont get paid a prevailing wage? Answer: We cant, which leads us to the inevitable point that the entire world-wide economy may just come crashing down.”
Actually, most of their customers are in Asia now, with their new rising middle classes that have our former jobs.
Its simple, an H1B worker has to do what the company wants or they go home. Of course they will work longer and for less. Its indentured servitude. Now compete with that.
If there was a shortage of high skilled tech workers there would be wage pressure in these areas. There isn’t any, wage growth is weak or zero.
H1-B has got to go. The Silicon Valley is now entirely an Indian-Chinese encampment, with Indian-Chinese political and human values, to boot.
“There was no overt advertising for such individuals but the pay and the situation would result in such candidates. The result was a department staffed with people from all over the planet and a few old-timers from the local area. Performance among the foreign hires was a mess.”
A programmer friend described how they make the case for “no American workers” to do the work: They post jobs with requirements nobody could match anyway, claim it was unfilled, then import Asians to do it.
I’m seeing the same nonsense in accounting and banking now, and performance among those foreign hires isn’t so great, either. Their pay isn’t as much lower than ours than you would think, but a company can work them a lot longer hours for as long as they are sponsored. When their sponsorship/indentured servitude is up, they have no bargaining leverage; they leave the company (staying in the US) and their job goes to another (new) Asian import.
In “Wall Street”, Martin Sheen tells Charlie that rich people have been screwing others forever; in these examples, he’s absolutely right. Bill Gates, to justify his use of Asian indentured servants, complains that American students don’t go into computers anymore; why would they, if they’re just going to be undercut by those coolies? At the same time, he threatens to move the work to Canada or Asia itself if he isn’t assured a steady stream of said coolies.
That is simply evil.
How H1-B Works.
An American citizen makes $100,000 writing JAVA code for a company, call it A. An Indian contract programming company, call it B, offers to replace that American for $45/hour. The company, A, does not have to contribute FICA, FUTA, SUTA or any benefits so they see it as a win win.
Indian company, B, brings an Indian over and pays him $10/hour and houses him with 6 other Indians in a cheap apartment. The Indian programmer accepts this form of indentured servitude because he wants his green card.
If the Indian contracting company, B, pulls the Indians H1-B sponsorship, he must leave the country immediately. He has to remain on that same H1-B visa for 3 to 5 years before he can get his green card. If he leaves and has to get a new H1-B, the clock on his 3 to 5 years resets to zero. Thus they will never leave and never say a word.
This is slavery people, and it is keeping Americans from getting jobs. Also, the company that brings a H1-B in must prove that there are no Americans available for the work at the prevailing wage. This is never enforced.
There are many companies, here in America where H1-B programmers make up the majority and English speaking Americans are the minority.
“H1-B has got to go. The Silicon Valley is now entirely an Indian-Chinese encampment, with Indian-Chinese political and human values, to boot.”
The same is gradually occurring in the financial sector in the NYC metro area; a lot of the “Americans” I used to deal with have been replaced by Asians with names that are fifteen syllables long.
The problem is NOT the educated, legal foreign workers, the real problem is the hordes of uneducated, diseased, illegals coming across the border, whom our tax dollars are supporting.
This is just more diversionary tactics, riling up people against the relatively small number of H1B visa recipients, who have to jump through hoops, work, pay taxes, go through background checks, etc — to divert our attention from the indiscriminate mob coming across our borders.
We should keep our eyes on the ball.
“The problem is NOT the educated, legal foreign workers, the real problem is the hordes of uneducated, diseased, illegals coming across the border, whom our tax dollars are supporting.”
I guess that depends on what you do for a living; the H1-Bs are taking the jobs Americans used to raise families with, while the Bronze Horde is taking lower-paying jobs or going directly to welfare. I don’t draw much distinction between the two; they just weaken different sectors of the workforce (and both involve skirting the law to do so).
“The current law limits to 65,000 the number of foreign nationals who may be issued a visa or otherwise provided H-1B status each fiscal year (FY). Laws exempt up to 20,000 foreign nationals holding a masters or higher degree from U.S. universities from the cap on H-1B visas.”
“estimated growth rate of 700,000850,000 net unauthorized immigrants per year”
Both from Wikipedia.
As someone who is constantly praised for my chip design skills and background, but who has spent most of the H1-B era looking for work...
...and on behalf of my fellow American engineering friends, who in the Silicon Valley 80% are looking for work...
...let me tell you that your post is 100% horse manure.
The job I was finally able to land (and a job with zero benefits, by the way) is to act as a field support engineer for design software used by chip designers.
That means I go into the Silicon Valley's larger chip design houses every week. They are huge, and yet have 80% Indian, 19% Chinese, and a minor smattering of Europeans... all right off the boat.
It makes it incredibly clear that, as an American, you will NOT be treated equally in the job application process!
Says you until you lose your job (and salary grade) to low cost third world "degreed labor".
We were told (A) that the illegals are here to do the jobs that no American wants to and (B) that the visa workers are here to fill openings for which no American has the necessary skills (tech sector). NEITHER is true (we are told how important it is for the illegal children of adult aliens to be able to get a college degree to better themselves and compete for degreed professionals' jobs).
Are the H1Bs being paid at the American engineer’s rate or at a lower wage?
Holy cow ...I had no idea this was going on.
“The problem is NOT the educated, legal foreign workers...”
Actually, that IS a problem. Not the Biggest problem, but it is a problem. Back in the 90s, when the .com boom started, US companies realized there would be a MAJOR shift in their workforce into Programming/IT jobs.
US companies were quick to recognize the utility of the “paperless workforce”. If all you do is programming stuff, why pay for anyone to be here? They started companies that outsourced their work and produced it CHEAPLY because they used foreign labor.
As time moved along, they realized they could import that cheap labor and the H1-B boom took off.
The H1-B fiasco is a salary reducer from the get-go. There are MILLIONS of people in this country who can do the job. But they won’t work for half of what some poor schlep from India will. That guy think he is now Bill Gates that he is making $25,000 per year.
The H1-B is all about cheap labor. There is no labor shortage in this country.
HP says in order to stay competitive they want their workforce to be 80/20 by 2016. Guess who the 20% is? Offshore 80, onshore 20.
Performance among the foreign hires was a mess.
True, but I was specifically referring to the H1B problem. H1B’s are taking away a significant number of middle class jobs. The people I used to hire for $80,000 plus now can’t be placed in jobs I am still paying just as much for.
These outsourcers will not hire Americans period. They hire locally and bring them here so they can promote them through to management. Where an American company will provide the same service with American employees, they are shut out because they can’t provide the cheap offshore labor that backs them up.
The other trick the outsourcers pull is they will provide a cheaper domestic resource with their full contract provided you use them exclusively. That resource will only be someone sent here on an H1B and never a domestic hire.
Regardless of what is happening on the bottom end of labor, the H1B problem has virtually eliminated middle class IT jobs.
Dallas-Fort Worth is turning into Mumbai West.
I think what you are really referring to is the IT workforce that is off-shore — i.e. they never come to the US, your phone call for IT support goes to India or wherever.
I think that is the result of the expensive regulations US companies face in the US, which also virtually eliminated manufacturing jobs in the US.
If the government would cut back on all the useless regulations that increases the cost to the companies, they would be more able and willing to hire workers in the US.
The H1B visa seems to only allow a few thousand employees in the entire nation per year, that cannot possibly cause a major problem, but as I said, it’s easier to blame that program, to take attention away from the mass invasion of unqualified illegal immigrant who will be costing all taxpayers significant amount of money.
No I am referring to the onshore jobs in an onshore/offshore model of business. There are less jobs than there used to be, but there is still plenty of onshore work. I deal with this every day and know the model well. There is really not that much that is fully managed by the outsourcer in the high end engagements.
It must be nice to live in such a comfortable, dense oblivion!
“The problem is NOT the educated, legal foreign workers, the real problem is the hordes of uneducated, diseased, illegals coming across the border, whom our tax dollars are supporting.”
I agree that the hordes you describe are a serious threat and a deliberate attack on America and her citizens. I would suggest that not all the educated, legal foreign workers are a welcome boost to America. It is quite true that some are great additions to the nation (members of my family include some recent immigrants who are or were H1B’s), however, there are employers in the US who are hiring them only to save a buck and diminish job opportunities for US citizens who are good and better performers. One of my closest friends is an H1B who now leads the science and medicine field in which she is outstanding and there is no one on this planet who can readily challenge her performance. She is also a conservative who makes the US a stronger nation. However, there are other H1B’s who are not good performers, who are tribal, and who care not one whit for the US Constitution or culture. It is, as in all matters, a mix of complexity.
Thanks for your considered and interesting contribution.
Right now, there are huge departments of the US government, such as the GSA and FDIC, that has outsourced government contract jobs to H1-B Indian workers. Pathetic.
You have that exactly right.
If I had my way, H1-B would be illegal.
And stateside HP pays LOW contractor rates.
“Regardless of what is happening on the bottom end of labor, the H1B problem has virtually eliminated middle class IT jobs.”
Absolutely; happening in finance as well. Rather than bring in the American workers and tell them they must accept a 25% salary reduction to keep their jobs, they are simply laid off and replaced with Asian coolies.
The oddest thing is that companies that had prided themselves on striving for perfection are now quite willing to accept 50% of the worker talent for 50% of the wages (in every job I see). If customers don;t like it, they can go to Hell.