Soapbox Sound Off: American Jobs and the H-1B Visa

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)

6 thoughts on “Soapbox Sound Off: American Jobs and the H-1B Visa

  1. NotAPunkRocker

    H1B visas would not apply to tellers, cashiers, etc. Outsourcing is not the same thing as work visas.

    H1B only applies to certain job categories, usually professional level engineers, scientists, faculty, etc. Companies have to go through a lot of posting requirements and application fees and information to the Federal government to justify those hires and they are limited in how long you can have a person hired under that type of visa.

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    1. Deborah Drucker Post author

      OK I am not an expert on these H-1B Visas. Apparently these jobs at SCE are being outsourced under this program as the LA Times reported. I wonder what program the bank tellers jobs were replaced under? Regular old work visas that the company like Bank of America or Citibank helped them obtain?

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      1. NotAPunkRocker

        “regular” (as in non-professional, like admin workers, etc) workers cannot be hired under an H1B or most any other visa.

        In outsourcing, they are hired as local employees for the country that particular workplace is located.

        That’s part of one of the plans for immigration reform, depending on how you look and who you follow: making it possible for non-professionals to get visas so they can work here legally (which, I believe, may ONLY apply to people already here and working illegally…but don’t quote me on that)

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Deborah Drucker Post author

        Ok well I do not object to people finding jobs here. What I object to is the practice of replacing American workers whether clerks, tellers, engineers, tech workers, whatever, who are currently working the job and qualified for the job with workers from other countries. And adding insult to injury by having them train their replacements. These are not just a couple of jobs either. The LA Times reports “massive” job loss at SCE. I am very skeptical about these companies saying they can’t find people here. Are all these employees such terrible workers that Edison is forced to lay them all off and hire people from another country. Nope I am very skeptical. 🙂

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      3. NotAPunkRocker

        Oh, i know, just wanted to be clear we are talking about two (maybe even 3!) different things. The times i have had to hire under H1B were jobs that were historically hard to fill, AND very specialized in terms of concentration. Even though it benefits employers to have that job filled, it is still not an easy, quick process or one that you can use often (or even want to use often)

        🙂

        Liked by 1 person

      4. Deborah Drucker Post author

        Well I guess Edison figured out how to streamline the process or found it worthwhile to use to replace a whole lot of people. 🙂 I will acknowledge that there are times when it has been used legitimately. But I think it is being abused as well.

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