The LA Times reported today that a bipartisan US Senate Committee, made up of conservative Republicans and liberal Democrats, has requested an investigation into H-1B Visa abuses by Southern California Edison and other companies in the US. According to the report there have been massive layoffs at SCE and outsourcing of jobs. The senators have asked the Justice, Homeland Security, and Labor Departments to investigate. I was encouraged to read this but I wonder why now? Why has it taken so long?
I remember waiting in a line at LAX several years ago and striking up a conversation with a woman there. She told me that at a Bank of America branch in Los Angeles where she worked, the bank was replacing all the American tellers with workers from other countries and she and her fellow employees were being forced to train them before losing their jobs. I have noticed that Citibank has had tellers from other countries working at my local branch for years. And I have read many times about tech companies like Microsoft employing this practice of hiring engineers on this program. “The Los Angeles Times has reported that Southern California Edison’s workers have found themselves in the position of training their foreign replacements as the company sheds hundreds of employees in favor of workers from India.” Hmm, sounds familiar.
The way I understand the H-1B Visa system works is that companies have to show they are not able to find qualified American workers for their jobs and then they are allowed to hire people from outside the country. I am not against immigrants getting jobs but just not being hired to replace American workers who are willing and able to do the jobs.
The real reason companies do this is to hire people at a cheaper wage. I am glad our government is finally showing some interest in standing up for the American worker.
It has got to be a very hard thing to be forced to train your replacement when you are being ” involuntarily unemployed,” ( one of my favorite euphemisms for being fired or layed off). Have you had an experience of losing your job from a company using the H-1B Visa program, and having to train your replacement?
Updated: One of my readers brought up the point how the H-1B Visa has been used legitimately. Here is another article from the LA Times explaining how the H1-B Visa program is abused and how SCE is manipulating it to get rid of their older experienced IT workers. Apparently, the way these companies are manipulating the regulations is by going through middle men companies and using loopholes in the law. The LA Times article states: ” It has long been an open secret that the H-1B Program has gone off the rails. The SCE situation is the most common usage..” It states last year Cargill announced they would outsource 900 IT jobs in this manner.
More reading from:
Mother Jones: “How H-1B Visas are Screwing Tech Workers” (2013)
NPR: “Who’s Hiring H-1B Visa Workers? It’s Not Who You Might Think” (April 2013)
Computerworld: “H-1B Loophole May Help California Utility Offshore IT Jobs” (2014)
LA Times: “How Congress Connives in the Offshoring of American Jobs” (February 2014)
Computerworld: ” H-1B Battle to Take Center Stage in Senate on Tuesday” ( March 16, 2015)