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Microsoft Government The Almighty Buck Politics

Microsoft Says H-1B Workers Among Those Losing Jobs 612

Posted by kdawson
from the define-'fair' dept.
CWmike notes that after a US Senator urged Microsoft to lay off H-1B workers first, Microsoft says it is cutting a 'significant number' of foreign workers as part of the layoff it announced last week. But experts say there is nothing in the law requiring a company to cut the jobs of H-1B workers before US workers. David Kussin, an immigration attorney, said, 'In fact, the law is very well designed to say that you have to treat H-1Bs the same as US citizens in all regards.' Another H-1B critic, UC Davis professor Norman Matloff, said the Senator's letter would help their fight. 'If Microsoft doesn't state that they will lay off the H-1Bs first — and they won't state this — then it would be awfully tough for Bill Gates to come back to the Hill and urge an H-1B increase, wouldn't it?'"
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Microsoft Says H-1B Workers Among Those Losing Jobs

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  • by Reality Master 201 (578873) on Tuesday January 27, 2009 @09:27AM (#26620979) Journal

    It's an easy thing to fix - require that H1B visa holders receive the same pay and benefits for their work as the rest of the workforce. If companies really have problems finding citizens to fill jobs, and aren't just trolling for lower paid wage slaves, then it ought not to be a problem, right?

    Man, I'd love to see the tech industry try to talk its way out of that.

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by ritesonline (1155575)

      The biggest danger could be that overseas workers are cheaper to keep therefore 'let's get rid of our own people first' which would really add to the economic problems.

      I guess that's why Ms had to be pushed to do the sensible thing.

    • by Shambly (1075137) on Tuesday January 27, 2009 @09:35AM (#26621061)
      I don't see why they should pay more for your services when someone is willing to do it for less. The company is the one suffering if they are missing adequate skill sets for what the task demands. I really don't understand why a company should "hire locally" first when its not in its best interest to do so.
      • by bogaboga (793279) on Tuesday January 27, 2009 @09:48AM (#26621213)

        I mean if you do not see why a company should pay more for my services when someone is willing to do it for less, then I would like to see the following:

        Microsoft should outsource management or hire H-1B visa personnel for management positions as well. It will be cheaper for the company too. How about that?

      • by Shakrai (717556) on Tuesday January 27, 2009 @09:49AM (#26621223) Journal

        I really don't understand why a company should "hire locally" first when its not in its best interest to do so.

        I didn't used to see why either but somebody who is wiser than I am put it this way: Michael Dell is too cheap to pay for the country that created him

        In other words, the United States (for all it's pluses and minuses) got Microsoft/Dell/etc going, why aren't they giving back to the United States? I'm not some hippie liberal douche but I tend to believe that there are more important things than the bottom line. We owe it to future generations not to undercut our own population in the perpetual search for lower wages.

        I would also say that this applies to consumers as well as to CEOs. If you aren't willing to buy anything more expensive than the cheap plastic shit sold at Wal-Mart then you are part of the problem.

        (And before I get modded troll the 'hippie liberal douche' remark is a South Park reference)

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by OzRoy (602691)

          Here I was thinking that our society is supposed to be built on competition. If you can create a scompany that can compete and be successful then that's good.

          Why should it be different for a country? If they can't compete by providing the skilled labour necessary why should a company be forced into 'purchasing' the less skilled labor?

          • by mark72005 (1233572) on Tuesday January 27, 2009 @10:09AM (#26621439)
            Capitalism and employment based on merit and all is fine for most people, until they are sweating - then the government/nanny needs to protect them from any possibility of harm.
            • ...then the government/nanny needs to protect them from any possibility of harm.

              You mean the government nanny that allocated the H1B visas because they're weren't enough skilled people to do the job? Now there are millions out of work that are able to do the job due to the poor economy. I'll be damned if my tax payer money should pay support costs to those out of work while the government I fund gives jobs to foreign nationals.

            • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

              by cepayne (998850)

              These big companies (and their CEO's) have a responsibility,
              and it is not with their employees. Don't bring any emotions
              into the issue, there is only one responsibility - to keep the
              SHAREHOLDERS happy.

              They will (and they do) step on their fellow Americans to make
              money. Money for themselves and also for SHAREHOLDERS. At
              that point, their part in the capitalistic system is performing as
              expected/intended.

              You have no "Right As an American" anymore, you are their
              consumer or your are their employee. You are nobo

          • by tele_player (969525) on Tuesday January 27, 2009 @10:30AM (#26621729)

            Why should it be different for a country? If they can't compete by providing the skilled labour necessary why should a company be forced into 'purchasing' the less skilled labor?

            Because it's not fair when companies can shop all around the world for the cheapest prices on necessities (e.g. labor), while the common US citizen cannot shop all around the world for the cheapest prices on necessities, such as food, housing, education and health care. In other words, the competition is between US employers and US labor, and the employers have an unfair advantage.

          • by Shakrai (717556) on Tuesday January 27, 2009 @11:42AM (#26622983) Journal

            Here I was thinking that our society is supposed to be built on competition

            Ah, the dog eat dog extreme of the far right. Eventually people will wake up and realize that it's no better than the "from each according to his ability to each according to his need" extreme of the far left.

            I wasn't advocating for a socialist solution. I was bemoaning the fact that the Michael Dell's of the world grew up with all of the advantages that the United States offers and can't even bother to employ American workers to answer their goddamn tech support numbers. They've taken all of the advantages that American society offered while contributing as little as possible in return. You may respect that but I don't -- and it's this extreme that business has shifted to in the last few decades that has emboldened the far-left into seeking further expansions of the nanny state that will eventually erode our competitiveness on the global stage.

            Read up about welfare capitalism sometime. Read up about the CEOs of yesteryear that sought a square deal for their workers and in so doing helped to create a market for their products. Everybody won to a certain extent. Now we've traded that all away for the cheapest labor or the cheapest stamped plastic POS product that breaks every 12 months.

            why should a company be forced into 'purchasing' the less skilled labor?

            At no point in my post did I advocate for forcing anybody into doing anything. I was bemoaning what we've become -- not advocating for any specific solution. So nice way to distract from my underlying point.

        • WHO IS JOHN GALT? (Score:2, Insightful)

          by Shivetya (243324)

          So Michael Dell OWES it to us. His hard work, his identifying a need and filling it, somehow makes him indebted to society as a whole because that is what is morally right? So guilt the producers of wealth by claiming that the non producers are the only reason why they were able to produce in the first place.

          Have your read Atlas Shrugged? Perhaps you should. The most selfish people in this world are those who demand others to give of themselves.

          I am a trader. I earn what I get in trade for what I produ

          • http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/AtlasShrugged [tvtropes.org]Meanwhile, contrast the "reality" described in that book with the current news.

          • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

            by crmarvin42 (652893)
            I don't believe that Michael Dell owes me anything, I don't work for him.

            But for those states that have given his company tax breakes to locate his offices and factories in there cities and towns? Yeah, I think he owes them a little. They cut him breaks that helped him become successful, and he really ought to pay a little of that back if he can.

            Those states went without certain tax revenue, and they'll be losing even more if he starts dumping American employees in that state in favor of imported la
            • by DeepZenPill (585656) on Tuesday January 27, 2009 @11:40AM (#26622961)

              You miss the whole point of those tax breaks. The states didn't sacrifice anything to attract his business there. If they hadn't offered tax breaks, they wouldn't receive ANY tax revenue from Dell because the company wouldn't have set up shop there. It was a calculated decision by the state that resulted in a large net gain in tax revenue, and a net gain in employment, regardless of the makeup of that employment, and it was an agreement entered into willingly by both parties. Dell has no obligation to the state beyond that.

              I sincerely hope that people with such attitudes never buy imported products. It's always easy to criticize others' decisions to use their own resources in the most efficient manner, but when the tables are turned they claw for rationalizations to make themselves exceptions to their rule.

          • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

            by KeithJM (1024071)
            I did actually read that book. While I don't hate the philosophy, I'm shocked at the arrogance of Ayn Rand to include 50 page long rants (presented as speeches or arguments by characters). If you want to write a philosophy book, that's fine. But don't pretend your rants are a novel.
          • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

            Mod parent up. People would do well if they read a book about the ideas that made this country great and those that are tearing it down. If one can't at least see that a man has the right to his own life and what he has earned through legitimate business, contracts to the mutual benefit of both parties, then perhaps one lacks the capability to reason.

            • by cc_pirate (82470) on Tuesday January 27, 2009 @10:53AM (#26622081)

              On the other hand, if one espouses and believes a philosophy that says that "Whatever I can do to make myself more money at the expense of the group is both moral and reasonable", well, you wind up with the current GOP ideology of selfishness and greed and you can see where that has gotten us.

              • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

                by Shambly (1075137)
                It's only greed if you look at it from the perspective of the us worker. For the guy with the HB-1 visa its a great use of his skill and you better believe that he is getting paid more then he was back home otherwise he wouldn't of bothered to apply for one of the very few slots available. Why is his future worth any less then yours?
              • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday January 27, 2009 @11:01AM (#26622253)
                On the other hand, if one espouses and believes a philosophy that says that "Whatever I can do to make myself more money at the expense of the group is both moral and reasonable", well, you wind up with the current GOP ideology of selfishness and greed and you can see where that has gotten us.

                Could you be any more petty and childish? Surely you can't believe that the Republican ideology is 'DO WHATEVER YOU CAN TO MAKE MONEY AT THE EXPENSE OF THE GROUP!'. No one has ever stated that, and it's as ridiculous and stereotypical as believing that every Democrat is a tree hugging homosexual. I'm sure some of you don't hug trees.

                Republicans, and even libertarians believe that nobody should be able to make money by fraud. Your hypothetical 'Expense of the Group' example is retarded, and what brought this house of cards crashing down was low interest rates by the government, and forced home loans to people who didn't deserve it. While the propaganda to blame free markets has been plentiful, repeating a lie doesn't make it true.
                • by jollyreaper (513215) on Tuesday January 27, 2009 @12:24PM (#26623807)

                  Republicans, and even libertarians believe that nobody should be able to make money by fraud.

                  Look at the legacy of the Bush administration. The reality does not reflect your arguments. Roll back regulation, roll back enforcement, protect the guilty, victory at any cost. If the president does it, it is legal. To the victor goes the spoils. Winning isn't everything, it's the only thing. Who is John Galt? I am, motherfucker.

              • by jollyreaper (513215) on Tuesday January 27, 2009 @12:22PM (#26623771)

                On the other hand, if one espouses and believes a philosophy that says that "Whatever I can do to make myself more money at the expense of the group is both moral and reasonable", well, you wind up with the current GOP ideology of selfishness and greed and you can see where that has gotten us.

                Thank you, you hit it right on the head. The part of Ayn's ideas that makes sense at first blush is "Hey, don't take from me what I created, let me choose to do what I want with it." That goes right back to the American Revolution with "Taxation without representation is tyranny." Yes, taxes are the price we pay for a civil society but a civil society would also let us say what should be done with it.

                The part that Ayn completely misses is capturing the true costs and debts represented by a society. Her heroes are idealized men who never quite existed in the real world, only in the adventure pulps. Her heroes are like Doc Sampson, Johnny Quest's dad, Rusty Venture's dad, etc. You could sit them down on a desert island with nothing but coconuts and surly natives and five years later he'd have a modern society and space travel. This just doesn't happen in the real world.

                In the real world, the Edison's and Gates' and other robber-barons are building their empires upon the groundwork laid by society. Public money paid for the national defense so they aren't growing up as slave labor for a foreign power. Public education provided for them, likely not for their own schooling but the schooling of their employees. Imagine if they were to set up shop in Haiti and had to start educating their workforce in the ABC's before they could ever get to producing things of value!

                A healthy economy is like an ecosystem. The plants grow, get eaten by something that gets eaten by something eventually eaten by the apex predator. The apex predator dies, decays, and the biomass enters the ecology once more.

                The problem with the Randites is they simply don't want to play fair. They'll gussy up their arguments with all sorts of sophistry but the fact of the matter is they're greedy and don't want to pay their fair share.

          • Re:WHO IS JOHN GALT? (Score:5, Informative)

            by Bender0x7D1 (536254) on Tuesday January 27, 2009 @11:39AM (#26622933)

            So medical doctors would be the richest people in the world. I can choose to go without a car. I can choose not to use roads. I can choose to raise my own food and make my own clothes. However, when I get very sick, I can either find a doctor and pay them whatever they want, or die. Sure, if I want to hold strongly to my beliefs, I can tell the doctor to go screw themselves. However, death is kind of a big deal. You don't get to change your mind.

            Plus, this was the attitude that allowed Crassus to become one of the richest people in history. His fire brigade would show up at your house fire and refuse to work unless you sold him everything for pennies on the dollar. Again, I could hold to my beliefs and watch it burn, or I could sell it and salvage something from the fire.

            • Re:WHO IS JOHN GALT? (Score:5, Interesting)

              by EvolutionsPeak (913411) on Tuesday January 27, 2009 @12:17PM (#26623691)

              You seem to think that medical doctors would be able to set arbitrarily high prices and people would have no choice but to pay them. That would not happen because people have a choice about which doctor to go to.

              If doctors were making insane amounts of money then more people would become doctors, which means more competition and lower prices. So, medical doctors would not necessarily be the richest people in the world by any stretch of the imagination.

              However, in a pure market system there would be people that could not get care (as there are now) because they are unable to pay the market price. Free markets maximize overall wealth (barring externalities), not the number of products sold or people served.

              If this is unacceptable, which it may very well be in this case, then that is your argument for why health care should not be subject to the free market, NOT because doctors might get rich.

              You'd better be damn careful that what you replace it with actually is better. Doctors must be paid enough to get the best people. I sure as hell don't want to be under the knife of some second rate surgeon kept on by some government bureaucracy.

          • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

            by jollyreaper (513215)

            So Michael Dell OWES it to us. His hard work, his identifying a need and filling it, somehow makes him indebted to society as a whole because that is what is morally right? So guilt the producers of wealth by claiming that the non producers are the only reason why they were able to produce in the first place.

            Wow, you're quoting Ayn Rand without a sly and ironic wink? You've fallen for it? Just remember, Alan Greenspan was a disciple and bedmate of hers.

          • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

            by rsclient (112577)

            John Galt is the protagonist of an irritating book espousing a failed theology.

            I'm sorry -- was that a rhetorical question? How about this, then:
            Microsoft could be created in part because of American ideology -- an ideology that pays massive dividends to the rich. Are you Wal-Mart? Isn't it nice that there are good, cheap roads going everywhere. Along these roads are thousands of towns, each of which *could* stop you and make you pay a "customs fee". (they used to do this along the Rhine). But instead

          • First, let me note that I have read the book, and I take exception to some of the things in the book. I'll throw my exceptions at the end, for those who don't want to bother with them.

            You seem to be comparing Michael Dell to John Galt, or the two or three other main characters (president of the railroad, president of the copper company... I don't remember.)

            You forget that there were more character sketches in the book than those three.

            There were those who ran companies, but were all the time on the dole of

        • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday January 27, 2009 @10:03AM (#26621371)

          Too late; we've been sold out to China. Globalization tends toward global equality. There simply isn't enough available energy (because we haven't invested in efficiency and improved harvesting and energy management) for us all to live at current American standards. The American lifestyle depends on cheap energy of all flavors; we have not been paying the real cost of energy -- the cash equivalent of the energy deficit we have accumulated makes the budgets of the world's governments look feeble. Once we get a few places in America down to *average* Chinese or Indian village standards this will be clear.

        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by zappepcs (820751)

          I think it can be put in simpler terms: When H1B visas were requested and utilized there were many more Americans with jobs. While the workforce market allowed for foreign workers then, it does not necessarily do so now. Foreign and temporary workers should make up the bulk, if not total, of workers laid off now. Don't give me crap about how they spend money here in the USA too. It's about keeping a job, feeding families. Sorry, American families should come first in these hard times. Yeah, I know we just d

          • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

            by Anonymous Coward
            So lets take one of these H1B visa holders. They most likely grew up in a country with a much lower GDP than the USA. That country probably used its scarce taxpayers dollars to educate them. Then the US entices them over with its bubble economy and thirst for global labor. So this H1B visa holder ends up paying their tax dollars not to the country that spent its tax dollars educating them, but to the good old US of A. Now when times are tough, you want to kick these guys out on their arses, back to a countr
          • by Firehed (942385) on Tuesday January 27, 2009 @10:39AM (#26621859) Homepage

            The people laid off should be the ones with the lowest skill-set, regardless of their location. Or does equality only apply domestically?

            If companies lay off their best employees (foreign or domestic) because they're the most expensive to keep on board, those companies will suffer in the long-term, which is good for exactly zero people. I'd argue that companies have been forced to do this in order to help the short-term bottom line for idiotic shareholders who refuse to see R&D as a good thing because it doesn't bring in revenue next week, but it's that kind of stupidity that brought us this situation in the first place.

            I'd like to think that most companies aren't so short-sighted to think that getting rid of their highest-paid employees is a good idea in the long term, but they've been forced into a position where they have to do so because it makes the shareholders happy. It's the asshole day-traders trying to ride the stock market to immediate infinite riches that are killing your precious American jobs.

            Yes, I'm saying that Americans are causing their own replacement by H-1B foreign workers. Blame Wall St., blame the guys with the annoying accents doing your tech support, blame whoever the hell you want. I'm blaming all of the people happy to get rich at anyone else's expense, probably including whoever manages your 401k.

      • Let the company pay what they want and put a tariff on the good. The most likely effect is it will stop the trade and force the job offshore. At least until we start putting tariffs on imported data. Looks like a new can of worms just got opened.
      • by mark72005 (1233572) on Tuesday January 27, 2009 @10:07AM (#26621425)
        Simple answer: They shouldn't.

        If someone can do your job as adequately as you can, and will do it for less, then they should get the job.

        I've worked with outsourced workers who were located in India, and trust me, there's no functional equivalency there yet. Not even close. but when that person is making $5,000 USD a year or less, their salary covers a multitude of shortcomings.

        If your company doesn't do it, your competitors will, which will render your margin much higher than theirs. And if they outlaw it here in the US, foreign competitors will still do it, and thus, you'll still lose.

        This is why tampering with market forces is in most cases ill-advised.
        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by Rogerborg (306625)

          Mmm. Market forces work just fine in a nearly homeostatic state. There's a real choice to be made between cutting costs (bad for the employees) or increasing productivity (good for everyone).

          Unfortunately when you throw a market wide open to widely disparate providers - and we're talking about a ratio of 5 or even 10-to-one in salary costs - then market forces dictate that purchasers go for the low cost bidder. Increasing productivity - i.e. training and retaining skilled staff - isn't a realistic opti

      • by elrous0 (869638) * on Tuesday January 27, 2009 @10:17AM (#26621523)

        You're right, they shouldn't be required to hire locally. The government, conversely shouldn't be giving them tax breaks, special immigration exemptions, bailouts, and all the other bits of corporate welfare that are regularly given to large corporations like this.

        If you want to argue for the "free market" and the laissez-faire approach to letting businesses do whatever the hell they want to, then you had damn well better remember that it cuts BOTH ways. "Free market" also means no handouts.

    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by Veretax (872660)
      Could someone explain to me, why Bill Gates would be arguing for H1-B Visas before congress now? I thought he left Microsoft?
    • Unfortunately, really easy. Claim that people do not have equivalent experience, qualification, competencies, whatever, so should be rewarded less (even if they are in practise doing exactly the same job). HR shills justify the impossible all the time...

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      As an L1B (not H1B) VISA holder I am in total agreement with you, all this H1B VISA nonsense does not help the likes of me who work (reasonably) hard and contribute a fair some in taxes (very little of my money is used to pay whats left of my mortgage back home).

      That said I think it would help America Greatly to setup a special low-pay VISA program that has strict guidelines for what types of job can be performed under it IE Cheap labor for working land/child care/house maids/packing plant jobs no one els
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by bjwest (14070)

        I think before we setup a special low-pay VISA program for jobs no one else would want, we should employ our own citizens first. Not wanting to do a certain job should not be a valid excuse to sit on your ass and draw unemployment or welfare. Put welfare recipients to work in our fields, houses and packing plants. Subsidize them with food stamps if they can't make it on the wages. There is no reason we should be using immigrant workers for unskilled labor when we have such a large pool of unskilled leac

    • by geekmux (1040042)

      It's an easy thing to fix - require that H1B visa holders receive the same pay and benefits for their work as the rest of the workforce. If companies really have problems finding citizens to fill jobs, and aren't just trolling for lower paid wage slaves, then it ought not to be a problem, right?

      Man, I'd love to see the tech industry try to talk its way out of that.

      Ah, with regards to equal pay and benefits, are you certain it is the companys fault?

      Prospective Employees A and B are applying for the same job, but B happens to be a single man holding an H1-B. He also knows that while he is trained well and has some experience, one of his competitive edges is he is willing to ballpark a lower salary requirement when asked.

      If you have two equal prospects but one is willing to work for $10K less, who are you going to hire?

      • by Ken D (100098) on Tuesday January 27, 2009 @11:22AM (#26622675)

        Let me fix that for you:

        "B happens to be a single man holding an H1-B. He knows that if he doesn't find a job in 60 days his visa will be canceled and is willing to work for significantly less than prevailing market wages to avoid being forced to leave the US and have to start the visa process all over again from scratch."

    • by jellomizer (103300) on Tuesday January 27, 2009 @09:52AM (#26621253)

      There is a shortage, of American tech workers. Many of the out of work onces complaining about this still haven't adjusted to the fact that there tech bubble back in the 90's was indeed a bubble, and are still trying to find Web Designer jobs that pay excess 100k a year to use Front Page.
      Unfortunately the truth about tech jobs, is that it is support role position, It is a professional careerer but you are not going to be rich from it, it pays about the same as a teacher, which isn't bad, and allows us to live at middle class levels.

      Even when there is a shortage qualified people will still get left out for various reasons.
      Poor Resume/Self Promotion skills
      Unable to relocate to an area which has more jobs.
      Personalities don't match corporate culture
      Out of date, or different focus on skills
      Just aren't trying.

      Just poke around your college especially in the masters levels, for Computer Science and Engineering. Look at those classes listen to the accents of the people talking. Even in MBA classes Americans are just not trying to get smarter and be competitive anymore.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by cervo (626632)
        Sorry friend, if there is such a shortage how can Microsoft and the other companies afford to cut all these tech jobs? if there is such a shortage don't they need every tech worker they can get?

        Maybe in Mars you can fire a ton of tech workers and then claim a shortage of qualified workers (or in the Capital) but in reality you just fired a bunch of qualified tech workers (they were qualified enough to be hired in the first place). So go figure.
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by stewbacca (1033764)
        That guy using Front Page to make web pages should have never been called a Web Designer in the first place--hence the bubble burst. I've lived through several bubbles, and every one of them have the same traits...Johnny-come-lately gets his hands on a cheap PC and some shitty software and is suddenly a (self-proclaimed) designer/programmer/architect, etc. etc. If we quit chasing dollars in unsustainable (temporary fads) and invest in real skills, these busts would go away. But hey, if you wanna make 100
      • by Tablizer (95088)

        There is a shortage, of American tech workers.

        Studies by Rand and universities have shown that this is FALSE. There is NO demonstrate-able general shortage.

        Now there are *spot* shortages, but we need spot shortages to allow us to transition from the surplus spots. Otherwise, citizens would be fired from the surplus specialties but not get the shortage spots because they are filled by H1B's. Think about it.

        Just poke around your college especially in the masters levels, for Computer Science and Engineering.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by jeff4747 (256583)

        There is a shortage, of American tech workers. Many of the out of work onces

        Wow...I don't think I've ever seen someone contradict themselves quite so fast.

        If there really is a shortage, then there are few-to-no out of work.

        If a company is having trouble finding people for their job, that's the free market telling them they need to pay more.

    • Lets get those low end jobs protection too.

      After all we want to be fair.

      I can talk my way out of the scenario you presented easily.

      1. You won't move
      2. You don't have the skills I need
      3. You think your worth more than I think the job is
      4. Your attitude sucks (by your posting I doubt I'd want you around, sound like a fairness whiner

      Really, #1 and #2 are big reasons why H1-B work so well. People go where the jobs are, people with families rarely do, or worse act insulted if asked to.

      The majority of jobs peop

    • by xzvf (924443) on Tuesday January 27, 2009 @09:56AM (#26621279)
      Personally, I think the US should take advantage of being able to import skilled workforce. Most H1B holders are the types of people we want living and innovating in our country. In the long run as citizens, they would likely create more jobs than they "steal". I'm all for granting the opportunity to become a citizen to anyone that graduates from an accredited US university graduate program (maybe limited to science and math, but ok with all). Leverage our leadership in university education to create a larger pool of domestic talent.
    • by hey! (33014) on Tuesday January 27, 2009 @10:04AM (#26621379) Homepage Journal

      Yes. And let them stay as long as they want, rather than kicking them out to bring new H1Bs in to replace them. That's pretty much a formula for accelerating the movement of tech jobs overseas, taking inexperienced engineers, showing them the ropes, and sending them back to offshoring outfits in places with low wages.

      I don't want to frame this as a kind of nationalistic struggle, but India and China don't need a US funded technology and tech jobs transfer program, which is what H1B really is. They are quite capable of developing their own, robust indigenous industries.

      If a talented and educated person wants to move here for a while, and can support himself, I don't think it hurts us very much if at all. If after a few years he decides he'd like to stay here, that's good. Productive people create wealth, and wealth creates jobs. The very best create companies, even industries.

      What's really bad for the country, not just American engineers looking for a job, is a revolving door program which drains the country of experience gained by work being done here. The knowledge gained by work is a capital resource, and kicking H1Bs out who want to stay here is like sending boxes of cash out of the country.

    • Since discriminating is already illegal on basis of race, which is a protected class by federal law, wouldn't the legal conventions to which you refer seem to already be in place?

      I believe that Grassley and others are requesting these companies open themselves up to discrimination suits. I see no reason why a concerted effort to eliminate all H1 jobs before others would result in any fewer lawsuits than say, eliminating all the workers over 45 first, or all the pregnant women who are likely to have enormous
    • by Thelasko (1196535) on Tuesday January 27, 2009 @10:04AM (#26621387) Journal

      It's an easy thing to fix - require that H1B visa holders receive the same pay and benefits for their work as the rest of the workforce.

      It's already required. [wikipedia.org]

      Employers must attest that wages offered are at least equal to the actual wage paid by the employer to other workers with similar experience and qualifications for the job in question, or alternatively, pay the prevailing wage for the occupation in the area of intended employment, whichever is greater.

      You're ignoring two things:
      1. Companies have ways of working around this rule. This typically involves saying that the visa holder has skills not available in the U.S. workforce.
      2. By importing workers, the company effectively shifts the supply curve [wikipedia.org] and lowers wages across the board.

      I will also add, laying off foreign workers first is a form of protectionism. [wikipedia.org] Protectionism is never a good economic policy.

    • by EatHam (597465)
      There already is a requirement that H1B get paid according to the prevailing rates. Not necessarily within that company (a company could have a policy to pay 110% of prevailing rates, but pay the H1B holders 100%), but you can't just hire an H1B engineer and pay him minimum wage.
    • by rve (4436)

      Why are you so sure H1-B visa holders are paid less than the rest of the workforce?

      There is quite a bit of competition over this limited number of visas, so a lot of them are rather highly qualified, and paid accordingly.

      I don't see any evidence that the H1-B program has a depressing effect on engineers wages. Typically, an American engineer is paid two or three times as much as his equivalent in western European countries, which either don't have H1-B type positions, or are unable to attract the highly qua

    • by squiggleslash (241428) on Tuesday January 27, 2009 @11:46AM (#26623071) Homepage Journal

      It's an easy thing to fix - require that H1B visa holders receive the same pay and benefits for their work as the rest of the workforce

      Ok, done (several decades ago, actually), still the same "problem" though ('cos, well, nothing's changed, that's the point, it always was a requirement of an H1B and pretty much all the employment visas that the holder get the same pay and benefits as a citizen for the same job.)

      H1Bs are popular amongst employers not because they're easy to abuse (the amount of bureaucracy involved takes care of any "benefits" you might have in having someone for which a firing has worse consequences than an ordinary citizen) but because they make it relatively easy to get very, very, skilled people from overseas.

      Being able to hire good people means being able to do things you otherwise wouldn't be able to, which means being able to survive as a business and employ more people, citizens included. What would be good though would be to replace H1Bs with an expanded green card program, so fear of losing one's job does not factor into the equation, and so people who want to work in America because they want to be a part of this country aren't discriminated against over those who just want to take the money and run.

  • 'If Microsoft doesn't state that they will lay off the H-1Bs first â" and they won't state this â" then it would be awfully tough for Bill Gates to come back to the Hill and urge an H-1B increase, wouldn't it?'"

    During the recession yes, and rightly so. I don't see any problem if there is a shortage situation when the session ends and they urge for more visas. I am no M$ fan, but they seem to be doing the same as everyone else has to; lay people off when there is less work then take them on when there is more.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday January 27, 2009 @09:41AM (#26621125)

    The United States wants to be the leader in technology, but it won't encourage kids to go into science and engineering, and won't let many talented and better educated foreigners come and work at their companies.

    And then they bitch and complain when companies like Microsoft move jobs to other countries that either do have the people they want, or will let those people come and work there.

    • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday January 27, 2009 @10:02AM (#26621357)

      That is so true. The university i am working in (somewhere in new england) has a bunch of foreign grad students. I would say that about 80% of them are foreigners. I am myself a postdoc and a foreigner, all but 2 postdocs are foreigners. Americans should see the things straight: without foreigners research in the US would take a big hit. I do not understand those xenophobic republicans bitching about us. There is nobody to replace us. The foreign postdocs got hired because there was no american up to our job. Not surprising as few get a PhD anyway. Of course getting a green card is awfully hard and guess what, people do not really like being treated like disposable toilet paper.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by stewbacca (1033764)

      There are plenty of American kids who go into science and engineering. But when you compare the population of the US (300 million) to that of India ( just for example--1.2 billion), it's easy to see why there are so many "qualified" Indians compared to Americans.

      The problem isn't necessarily a lack of technically qualified Americans--just a lack of technically qualified Americans who will sacrifice things such as quality of life (living anywhere just for a job) or for lower pay. The real problem is Mic

  • by anand78 (832850) on Tuesday January 27, 2009 @09:51AM (#26621237)
    I agree and disagree with this. You have to be in an H1B shoes to appreciate this. I have seen folks laid off as H1B with unsold houses and cars. They had to just get a ticket, and leave the country. Barring the Native Indians, I think it is a hypocrisy on most Americans. Would you be here commenting, if the same was done to your forefathers. Being an Asian with H1B is taking jobs, but being from Europe, it is heritage.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by operagost (62405)

      Being an Asian with H1B is taking jobs, but being from Europe, it is heritage.

      That's a red herring. A European with an H1B is still an H1B. The issue is immigration status, not ethnicity. Most H1Bs tend to be from India, Pakistan, or the far East, so naturally most H1B "victims" tend to be from Asia.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Tablizer (95088)

      Asian with H1B is taking jobs, but being from Europe, it is heritage.

      I for one complain about H1B's from ANY country that we are running a trade-deficit with. The huge trade deficits are partly to blame for the financial meltdown. Such countries refuse to stoke local consumer consumption, creating lopsided trade conditions. And, many H1B's are from eastern Europe, I would note.

      I have seen folks laid off as H1B with unsold houses and cars.

      You shouldn't buy a house or an expensive car if you're on the H1B pro

  • by Arthur B. (806360) on Tuesday January 27, 2009 @10:02AM (#26621359)

    Heh, H-1B workers don't vote. Now of course, if the senator had asked them to fire gay people first...

    The gut reaction of many slashdotters to migrant workers is simply disgusting. It combines basic misguided tribalism ("Yeah we're in the same group of 300M people") with a rent seeking behavior ("I want a higher wage at the expense of the consumers")

    I won't even get started on the total immorality of the concept that the govt grants you or not a "right" to work for a willing employer, grants you or not a "right" to rent a house from a willing landlord, etc.

    • by mrops (927562) on Tuesday January 27, 2009 @10:38AM (#26621843)

      What disgusts me is the double standards. America was and is the land of the immigrants and dreams. The country was born out of immigration. America is proud of the American Dream, IMHO H1-B visa holders carry the torch of that dream more than born citizen. They come to this country in that hope. Unfortunately the dream is being hijacked by a few rick business men on the top for cheap labor that is willing to throw in 120 hr weeks.

      If you really want to fix this, then transform the H1-B program and give the H1-B visa holders right equivivalent to that of greencard holders. The problem will mitigate itself. All of a sudden the employers will realize that immigrants are not slaves and if u lower wages and expect 120 hr weeks, they will find a better opportunity. Also remove the concept of "sponsor" for H1-B. Sure a employer can sponsor, however an immigrant steps into US, he is free to work anywhere.

      This will level the playing field for Americans, as employer will really find a local before he attempts H1-B.

      • by deraj123 (1225722) on Tuesday January 27, 2009 @10:58AM (#26622183)

        I couldn't agree more. The H1-B program seems not that much different from indentured servitude. We got you over here - either you work for us, at the wages we dictate, or you leave.

        The problem is that the people here don't want the dream. They want prosperity, and they feel entitled to prosperity. Immigrants present competition, which threatens that entitlement. The American dream, America itself, was never about entitlement. It was never about deserving something. It was about being free to use what you had to achieve what you could without being oppressed. We've lost that.

  • by SupremoMan (912191) on Tuesday January 27, 2009 @11:01AM (#26622229)
    That's corporate speak for "none of your business" I believe.
  • by Hognoxious (631665) on Tuesday January 27, 2009 @11:39AM (#26622949) Homepage Journal

    TFA said:

    If Microsoft doesn't state that they will lay off the H-1Bs first -- and they won't state this -- then it would be awfully tough for Bill Gates to come back to the Hill and urge an H-1B increase, wouldn't it?'

    Actually, no. If the H1-Bs are specialists in something Microsoft have desperate need for [1], and the people being laid off are in some area Microsoft don't need any more [2] then it's not difficult at all.

    Perhaps someone subscribes to the fallacy of fungibility?

    [1] HCI jockeys, security specialists... I could go on
    [2] Sucks to be on the Zune team. From what I've heard the games division might be taking an early bath too.

  • by JustNiz (692889) on Tuesday January 27, 2009 @11:49AM (#26623133)

    >>> then it would be awfully tough for Bill Gates to come back to the Hill and urge an H-1B increase, wouldn't it?'

    Yes, especially as he doesn't work for Microsoft any more.

  • by thirty-seven (568076) on Tuesday January 27, 2009 @12:13PM (#26623595)

    I worked at Microsoft in Redmond with H1B work status for four years. In 2007, I left MS because I found a job opportunity that was better for my family. (This new job happened to be back in my country.)

    I can't comment about the overall H1B program in the US, or the overall US labour market, or even on any new changes at MS over the past year, but I do definitely know about the experiences of H1B employees in the developer and testing roles at MS.

    I (and all other non-US-citizen employees) were treated exactly the same as every other employee. We had the same job descriptions and responsibilities as other employees and the same opportunities for promotion. We were integrated in teams that included US citizens, other H1B-status workers, and people with other immigration statuses. We were certainly paid the same as any other employee with a similar job and similar experience.

    I also know that Microsoft has very high hiring standards for developer and tester roles. I was not in a management/lead position, but I occasionally reviewed resumes and took part in interviewing applicants. Interviews were tough all-day affairs, including questions that required the use of logic, math, programming, and testing methodologies. The point wasn't to see if the applicant could regurgitate the knowledge, but to view his or her thinking process, creativity, and problem solving abilities as they tried to come up with a solution, and handle complications or restrictions that the interviewer throws at the candidate after they come up with an initial solution.

    During the time I was there, my group and most others were always trying to hire more people. The major bottleneck was waiting to get any resumes for candidates that seemed worth interviewing. Most interviews ended with frustration that the candidate wasn't up to standards. Just because you applied to MS and didn't get a job or even an interview is not proof that Microsoft didn't need to look outside the US to find candidates up to their standards.

    So, you might have valid criticisms about the quality of Microsoft software, but MS really does have very high standards for their employees, and employees with H1B status are treated the same as any other full-time employee there.

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