H-1B: Outsourcing on America Soil

If you missed the New York Times’ expose about Disney, which detailed how its employees had to train their own H-1B visa replacements before being laid-off, don’t worry. You haven’t heard the last of companies’ misuse of worker visas. 

Toys ‘R’ Us and New York Life are the latest companies to take advantage of loopholes in the system by cutting 70 and 300 workers respectively. While Disney workers’ non-citizen replacements stayed on in America, Toys ‘R’ Us and New York Life have current employees train their replacements, who then return–along with their jobs–overseas.

“After 30 years, it is very, very disappointing being told you are going to lose your job to a foreign country,” said one technology team member who is 49, and started with New York Life when he was 18.

As I mentioned in my Disney blog, the visa’s intended purpose is to attract exceptionally skilled workers–not to have already skilled American workers train their cheaper replacements. Not only is an employee’s worst nightmare happening to workers on a regular basis, but needed foreign workers are being blocked:

…outsourcing firms are increasingly dominating the program, federal records show. In recent years, they have obtained many thousands of the visas — which are limited to 85,000 a year — by learning to game the H-1B system without breaking the rules.

In one glaring example, a denied H-1B applicant, Atulya Panday, has to run his New York-based start-up, Pagevamp, from Nepal. Unlike the outsourcing and layoffs going on at Toys ‘R’ Us and New York Life, Pagevamp would be doing quite the opposite. According to Mr. Panday’s business partner, “…most people would feel Atulya was making a positive contribution to the U.S. economy.”

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Groups such as Partnership for a New American Economy are pushing for an expansion of the H-1B. Who’s countering them? Bernie Sanders is the only presidential candidate addressing the need for serious reform. Hillary Clinton, on the other hand, is an ardent supporter of the current H-1B program. According to Sanders’ website:

Proponents of new visa policies advocate that the visa program will attract and retain the “best and brightest” immigrants…However, data has shown that the top ten users of the H-1B guest worker program are all offshore outsourcing firms. As Bernie pointed out, “these firms are responsible for shipping large numbers of American information technology jobs to India and other countries.”

I don’t mean to lead you on a witchhunt–or suggest that all H-1B sponsorships are misused–but I thought I’d call out a few companies in the Madison-area that seek out sponsored workers: American Family Insurance, Collabera, GE Healthcare, HMC Corporation, and Charter Global Inc. 

Finally, let me be clear: I’m not suggesting that all H-1B holders aren’t skilled or don’t deserve jobs. What I’m alleging is that the system is flawed. Entrepreneurs like Atulya Panday are being kept out while the bulk of H1-B holders are used because they’re disposable. With foreign contract workers, U.S. businesses don’t have to pay severance packages or pensions. They can just stop sponsoring a visa.

Supporting a candidate like Sanders, demanding that our politicians revisit visa regulations, and blocking further trade agreements–like the TPP–would be a step in the right direction. Just as important is raising awareness about the practice of outsourcing on American soil among your friends, family, and coworkers–and making your lack of support known to the companies that misuse H-1Bs. You can begin advocating for displaced workers by sharing this article about two former tech workers currently suing Disney.

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Categories: Business, Economic rights, Immigration, Immigration policy, Labor policy, Workers' rights

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10 replies

  1. I have been reading more News articles at an increasing rate about the outsourcing of US jobs using foreign contract workers. We have a growing number of citizens training new workers to replace them mostly due to the TPP trade agreements . Citizens do not blame those workers replacing their jobs. Employees blame the corporations and the legal loop holes used to gain OUR tax dollars, avoid severance packages, pensions, etc. Corporations have lawyers to help them in ways the majority of us and our government does not. it is likely from what I have been reading that corporate lawyers and lobbies set up those loop holes during the TPP negotiations.

    There are a number of reasons the American citizens are being crushed. I do not know if TPP could of ever been negotiated in a fair way for American workers. I believe one problem is that our federal government and Unions are being underfunded in multiple ways that most of us can not imagine. For over 40 yrs, super wealthy corporations have our local, state and federal government at a huge disadvantage due to the amount of money and expertise they have. Clearly our Unions can not afford the lawyers to match what the large corporations and wall street have access to. We are being stumped on by pure greed. Obviously, I don’t know all the issues, problems, or answers but sadly, I believe our future is at risk.

    Liked by 3 people

  2. Another outstanding post, prog chik. I had no idea that you were such a skilled writer. A very nice piece.

    Nothing that corporate America does surprises me any more. I am very curious about their ideas of patriotism and ordinary human decency.

    Liked by 3 people

  3. What shocked me is that it is the US corporations that are violating the TPP contracts and abusing the visa programs They have no intention of keeping our qualified American citizens.. Instead they are bring international people here short term to learn how to do the work. The employees train these teams to do their jobs. When the individual goes home to their country, they take the US jobs with them. That violates the contract in every way and it is our corporations doing this to American workers. It is illegal and they clearly do not care about American jobs. The contract states that they can not use these visas to hurt the wages or job security of American citizens.

    Liked by 1 person

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