It's all fun and games until they come after your job.
This is a story about jobs lost. Not lost because "greedy unions" drove production overseas or because "lazy, uneducated workers" demanded high wages for unskilled work.
No, this is a story about highly-educated, hard-working Americans losing good jobs so companies can fatten their bottom lines.
Ever hear of the B-1 visa? Read on:
In general, B-1 visas are granted to business visitors coming to the United States for short stays to attend meetings, conferences or training sessions, or to install specialized equipment. Visitors may not be employed for contract work like H-1B workers, nor can they be paid salaries in this country. There is no annual limit on business visitor visas, whereas H-1B visas are restricted to 85,000 a year.
According to more and more reports, the B-1 visa is now being used as a cover to import low-paid tech workers from 3rd-world countries who will replace American IT workers. When H-1B visas couldn't supply enough cheap labor, offshore recruiting firms (known as "body shoppers") began abusing the B-1 visa:
The events began with Mr. Palmer, 43, a project manager from Alabama who was hired by the company in 2008. In a sworn affidavit he submitted to the federal court, Mr. Palmer said his differences with Infosys management began after he was summoned to a meeting in Bangalore in March 2010. Top executives, he said, discussed ways to “creatively” get around H-1B visa limitations “to fulfill the high demand for its customers at lower cost.”
When Palmer refused to play along, things got ugly:
Following his refusal, Palmer contends that he was threatened and harassed, receiving telephone "calls just hoping he'd die, 'you need to keep your mouth shut and leave us alone' - stuff of that nature," said his attorney, Kenneth Mendelsohn, who's based in Montgomery, Ala. The lawsuit also says he has had to "endure racial taunts or slurs, including being called 'a stupid American' and criticized for being a Christian."
There were also issues with pay, expense reimbursement and hours alleged in the lawsuit. Palmer also charged that the company failed to act on his complaint to its internal whistleblower team.
This particular case, which revolved around the actions of bodyshopper company Infosys, was settled in October. If you've been following the shenanigans surrounding banks like JP Morgan and Goldman Sachs, the outlines of the settlement will look nauseatingly familiar:
Tech services giant Infosys Ltd agreed on Wednesday to pay $34 million to end a US investigation related to the widespread practice by Indian firms of flying workers to client sites in the United States on temporary visas.
Infosys, India's second-largest IT services exporter, agreed in the settlement that it committed civil violations of US employment law, but it was not required to admit and did not admit widespread further wrongdoing.
"Infosys denies and disputes any claims of systemic visa fraud, misuse of visas for competitive advantage or immigration abuse. Those claims are untrue and are assertions that remain unproven," Infosys said in a statement.
The company emphasized that the allegations were not criminal, and that there would be no limitations on its eligibility for US federal contracts or access to US visa programs as a result of the settlement.
Yes, that's right: yet another large international firm that has made a pretty penny screwing Americans gets to write an impressive check (while remaining quite profitable), deny any wrongdoing, and, like so many big banks, keep their place at the U.S. goverment trough.
Let's take a look at an example of who loses their jobs when bodyshoppers like Infosys enter the picture:
Northeast Utilities in Connecticut Tuesday confirmed that it plans to turn over part of its IT operations to two India-based outsourcing firms, despite a recent push by state lawmakers to keep it from doing so.
NU says it employs some 400 IT workers, and "will retain about half of those employees" after turning some operations over to outsourcers Infosys and Tata Consultancy Services, two of India's largest IT firms.
Utility jobs had been considered among the more stable in Connecticut, at least until NU merged last year with Boston-based utility NStar.
Company officials at the time told regulators and lawmakers that the merger would lead to savings.
Oh, there will be savings, all right- savings built on the backs of 200 or so highly-educated professionals that will no longer have jobs.
That's 200 positions abruptly converted into "jobs Americans won't do."
It's also taxes Uncle Sam won't get (IIRC, B-1 worker earnings are not taxed). And it's money that won't stimulate the U.S. economy, as much of it will leave the country in remittances to family abroad.
And that's to say nothing of the downward pressure on what used to be respectable professional wages, and the deliberate shrinking of the job pool by earmarking thousands of positions for visa workers only.
It will probably have a generational effect:
If Congress does take action on an immigration overhaul, an increase in the cap on H-1B visas would be part of it. And the prospect of a big jump in the temporary work visas is worrisome to some academics, who say it will have consequences for students.
The nexus of H-1B visas and higher education came up Friday during a policy forum for U.S. House staff members focused on H-1B visas.
Hal Salzman, a professor of public policy at Rutgers University, said that the U.S. produces enough graduates to satisfy the demands of the labor market. But if the cap increase goes through, the market will be flooded with workers, and people under the age of 30 would be especially hard hit by the increased competition for jobs.
Neeraj Gupta, the CEO of Systems in Motion, a U.S.-based provider of IT services, said the purpose of the visa program should be to supply workers needed for important jobs that are hard to fill -- not as source of low-cost labor.
"If you stop the flow of H-1Bs, it will encourage businesses like us" and "it will encourage the offshore businesses to start investing in local workforces," Gupta told the audience of House policy analysts. "Today, they have no incentive to hire an American workforce."
When outfits like Microsoft and Facebook plead and whimper about "immigration reform," they are using public pressure to fatten their own bank accounts. Ditto for the constantly-repeated nonsense about the STEM-worker shortage.
These days, there is only one worker shortage- a shortage of workers willing to accept subsistence pay and a complete lack of benefits or security in exchange for highly-skilled work.