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Businesses IT Politics To Laid-Off Southern California Edison Workers: Boo-Hoo 612

theodp writes: Speaking at a National Journal LIVE event that was sponsored by Mark Zuckerberg's and Laurene Powell Jobs' Emerson Collective, "Major Contributor" Lars Dalgaard was asked about the fate of 500 laid-off Southern California Edison IT workers, whose forced training of their H-1B worker replacements from offshore outsourcing companies sparked a bipartisan Senate investigation. "If you want the job, make yourself able to get the job," quipped an unsympathetic Dalgaard (YouTube). "Nobody's going to hold you up and carry you around...If you're not going to work hard enough to be qualified to get the job...well then, you don't deserve the job." "That might be harsh," remarked interviewer Niharika Acharya. Turning to co-interviewee Pierre-Jean Cobut,'s poster child for increasing the H-1B visa cap, Acharya asked, "Do you agree with him?" "Actually, I do," replied PJ, drawing laughs from the crowd.
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  • These guys are jerks. Obviously the Edison IT workers were qualified - they trained their replacements. Equally obvious they were available to do the job, so there was no reason to bring in H1Bs. Outright fraud by Edison, abetted by the government.
    • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday May 10, 2015 @08:44AM (#49657397)

      Edison wanted cheaper workers, plain and simple. Dalgaard and Cobut should be ashamed of themselves, but slimeballs like that know no shame.

      • by geekmux ( 1040042 ) on Sunday May 10, 2015 @11:58AM (#49658309)

        Edison wanted cheaper workers, plain and simple. Dalgaard and Cobut should be ashamed of themselves, but slimeballs like that know no shame.

        They're not slimeballs, they're fucking morons.

        When the original IT staff is training their replacements, a fucking moron would realize they are more than qualified to do the damn job.

        This was about money, plain and simple. And any fucking moron who wants to stand up and claim otherwise will earn their title of fucking moron for assuming the rest of us are as dumb and ignorant as they are.

    • Part of the qualification was their cost. I bet they failed that one.

    • by Dragonslicer ( 991472 ) on Sunday May 10, 2015 @08:50AM (#49657415)

      These guys are jerks. Obviously the Edison IT workers were qualified - they trained their replacements. Equally obvious they were available to do the job, so there was no reason to bring in H1Bs. Outright fraud by Edison, abetted by the government.

      I think training someone else to do a job is harder than doing the job, so I'd say they were better than qualified.

    • by guruevi ( 827432 ) <`moc.stiucricve' `ta' `ive'> on Sunday May 10, 2015 @08:56AM (#49657443) Homepage

      Why in the hell would anyone train their replacement though? If you see your job forcibly being taken over by someone else, I would say screw you and walk away.

      • by Somebody Is Using My ( 985418 ) on Sunday May 10, 2015 @09:05AM (#49657473) Homepage

        Why in the hell would anyone train their replacement though?

        Because usually all you know is that /somebody/ is going to be replaced: it might be you, it might be any one of the twenty other people who do a nearly identical job to you. You hang around because you hope that - when the cut comes - you are one of the few spared and you don't want to work with idiots (thus having to do not only your own job but covering for all the replacements). Or working for a large corporation hasn't stripped you entirely of your conscience, you won't want to leave the same burden on any of your current co-workers if you yourself are laid-off and they aren't (you may even care about the customers too, who shouldn't have to deal with poorly trained replacements).

        Even the more pre-emptive and forward-thinking employees who have sent out resumes would still stay at the job as long as they can until they actually get an offer for a new job.

        Having said all that, I once was fired "immediately" but was then "allowed" to stay an extra two weeks to train my replacement. I graciously turned them down and left right after the meeting.

        • by Dog-Cow ( 21281 ) on Sunday May 10, 2015 @09:39AM (#49657621)

          Given current business practices in the US, the rational thing to do is train your replacements incorrectly, but in such a way as their lack of training is only noticeable after you are fired, or long enough after the training has taken place that it can't be tracked down to your specific instruction. This way, you either harm the company who fucked you or you give them an employee who can't do the job, showing that H1Bs aren't worth the effort.

      • by itzly ( 3699663 ) on Sunday May 10, 2015 @09:17AM (#49657531)

        In a previous job I had the choice between leaving and leaving with a bonus if I would train my replacements. I took the bonus, which was the rational choice.

      • by cas2000 ( 148703 ) on Sunday May 10, 2015 @09:17AM (#49657533)

        probably because the company threatened the workers' severance packages if they quit or gave them any excuse to sack them: train your replacements and get what you're entitled to or quit and get fuck all.

        as with many other abuses of and thefts from workers, this is probably legal. or, at least, ignored by anyone in authority who could investigate and press charges.

      • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday May 10, 2015 @09:32AM (#49657589)

        A friend's company outsourced the IT department and Call Centers.h
        He agreed to train the replacements.

        What he got out of the deal...that is, what his company did for him.
        3 more months of employment than those who refused
        3 trips to Europe where the outsourced call centers were. (His wife joined him for a European vacation.)
        New contacts
        Great recommendations
        Several thousand dollars of IT equipment
        Retraining -- at least $10K in training and salary while being retrained

        With the retraining, he was able to land a new job as a "Limited Time Employee" for a major integrator and works a project in the city he lived in. His LTE work has gone on for over 3 years (kind of like a real job and it expected to last for another 3 years. (The "contract" is rebid periodically and he may be picked up by the contract-winner so there is the possibility of employment beyond the 3 year contract he knows about.)

    • by fuzzyfuzzyfungus ( 1223518 ) on Sunday May 10, 2015 @09:29AM (#49657577) Journal

      These guys are jerks. Obviously the Edison IT workers were qualified - they trained their replacements. Equally obvious they were available to do the job, so there was no reason to bring in H1Bs. Outright fraud by Edison, abetted by the government.

      It's more of a sleight of hand trick: the actual issue on the table was price; the '' flacks did a quick swap to capability (so that they could assert that those lazy workers could have gotten the job if they just up-skilled some more or something); and then abandoned the issue before anyone could point out that 'make yourself able to get the job' is not a matter of 'become more capable'; but 'become cheaper and more powerless.'

      At least when these guys are talking about actually unskilled individuals what they say is somewhere close to true-ish, albeit not very helpful(yes, it is true that people with no skills and tepid intelligence are fucked. Any plans on how the bottom couple of quintiles are going to just train their way into being somebody you'd let touch an application, much less pay to do so?); but this one is a pure cost move. The workers were able to get the job, that's why they had it. They did have the skills, that's how they trained their replacements. They just weren't cheap enough.

      Obviously, if you run a company whose two main costs are techies and electricity, you want to be able to hire techies for whatever qualifies as subsistence wages in Uttar Pradesh; but don't pretend that that's about 'skills', and don't fucking pretend you are doing us a favor by preaching some wise words about job creation at the same time.

      • by JeffOwl ( 2858633 ) on Sunday May 10, 2015 @11:04AM (#49658021)
        I've seen this done twice. The company reorganizes the departments such that it isn't so much a "skill" issue, it's a "skill mix" issue. The help desk people don't know how to also be Linux Admins, the Linux Admins don't know how to also be COBOL programmers, the COBOL programmers can't also be web developers. Then they post the new job classifications at cheap rates so that few permanent US residents want to take the jobs. Once they got the new people in, the org changed again so that a year later is was back to being pretty close to the way it started.
    • Solution (Score:5, Insightful)

      by alvinrod ( 889928 ) on Sunday May 10, 2015 @11:04AM (#49658029)
      Here's an easy solution to this problem. Make H1-B a path to citizenship (and really we want as much intelligent and highly-skilled labors as possible to stick around) so that eventually companies can't hold the H1-B over an employee's head to keep wages down. Next, keep track of former H1-B workers who are currently unemployed and do not allow for any addition applications until there there are fewer than say 10% who have been unemployed for more than a year. Additionally, count any citizens who were displaced by an H1-B worker (would need to follow companies using H1-B workers more closely, but that's part of the trade-off) as part of this pool as well.

      If a company can't find enough skilled workers, they need to raise wages to attract better candidates and let the companies who aren't willing to pay as much draw from the pool of applicants who are less qualified. Otherwise they can pick from what's available and spend some time training their hires.
    • by MrBigInThePants ( 624986 ) on Sunday May 10, 2015 @02:52PM (#49659135)
      Abetted by most of the citizens of the US, either by apathy, ignorance or acceptance.

      It brings to mind this wonderful quote oft. paraphrased by unionists:

      "First they came for the Socialists, and I did not speak out &mdash; Because I was not a Socialist.
      Then they came for the Trade Unionists, and I did not speak out &mdash; Because I was not a Trade Unionist.
      Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out &mdash; Because I was not a Jew.
      Then they came for me &mdash; and there was no one left to speak for me."
      -- Pastor Martin Niem&#246;ller (1892&ndash;1984)

      Well US IT workers, welcome to the real world. While you have been living in your tech bubble for over a decade, this has been happening in one form or another to US factory and other workers for a very long time. People bellyached of course but nothing of substance was done.
      Everybody lined up behind the republican or democrat soup kitchen line or just opted out and the country continued as it always has.

      I cannot remember how many anti-union posts I have read on this very website over the years (although less so lately...too little too late of course) The ridiculous pontificating for "free-market", "libertarianism" or other bollocks with no scientific, moral or any other foundation at all.

      And while you might cry "everyone else is the same, why pick on us?". But you are not the same. You had access to the tools of change the whole time, you are smart and capable.

      This is what comes from being asleep at the wheel. You get what you vote for...even if you don't vote.

      PS: I am not talking to the extreme minority who did something - congrats to you and I wish there were more of you.
  • by supernova87a ( 532540 ) <.kepler1. .at.> on Sunday May 10, 2015 @08:37AM (#49657377)
    Fair is fair, so let's make sure it cuts both ways, all the way up the management chain. Let anyone who can and is willing to do the CEO job for less $ take the position, and have to have the current CEO train his replacement.
    • by Feral Nerd ( 3929873 ) on Sunday May 10, 2015 @09:47AM (#49657649)

      Fair is fair, so let's make sure it cuts both ways, all the way up the management chain.....


    • by tnk1 ( 899206 ) on Sunday May 10, 2015 @01:34PM (#49658781)

      Doesn't quite work that way. There is a division of labor out there which may or may not be fair, but here it is:


      Your burger flippers are unskilled. The problem with that is that anyone can be unskilled at something, so there's always a large pool of people to pick from. More people than any number of unskilled jobs available. If they want jobs, they have to compete somehow. If they have no skills, then price is all they can compete on. "Retraining" an unskilled worker is pointless because, while it is relatively easy to do, you're still doing unskilled labor.

      Your skilled workers are not just plumbers and electricians, but also most IT workers too. They can get screwed, but can usually find a job if they are willing to relocate. However, there is a danger that your skill itself becomes useless, or that there is a local glut of people who do what you do. Skilled workers are the most likely to be able to play the market based on re-training and movement. However, they're not immune from layoffs. Re-training will help them, but only if the re-training is close enough to what they did before where they can apply experience to that new job. Otherwise, off to the unskilled pool with you.

      Finally, talent. The reason you don't "offshore" CEOs is because CEOs and rock stars and distinguished scientists are themselves considered valuable as unique individuals. They don't just have a skill, they personally have resources which are believed to improve your company aside from what they know or how many hours they work.

      To be honest, there are CEOs out there who look like idiots in their field, but invariably, they're hired because of something they bring to the table. They know people, they are superb marketers, they're incredibly brilliant (even if past their prime) scientists, or they just have a brand. It doesn't have to be a CEO, it can be an asshole superstar programmer with as much gift for self-promotion as for coding.

      My latest example of this is a senior executive who was at one place I used to work. He introduced a lot of interesting concepts, but didn't really develop those into a stable product. When I came on, I determined that he didn't even calculate how much his latest database was going to cost us per user. In fact, he didn't even get a price quote. In short, he was a walking disaster. Except....

      Except he was a brilliant sales engineer who could talk to executives and make them interested in our product just by looking at some slides. We landed a huge deal and now we have a pile of shit, but when we get that pile of shit fixed, we're in a great place. I may have torn my hair out at the poor decisions that were made, but at least I had something to fight for, whereas we could have had a tight, perfect app with zero customers.

      Or perhaps we could have had a great app and still gotten the good deal. That's the downside of talent, you don't always know if the brand is more than the marketing, but when it works... it works.

      Yesterday, I watched a video from 1997 where Gil Amelio from Apple was introducing what would eventually become MacOS X. That video also had one other feature. There where two words on a slide brought everyone to a standing ovation: Steve Jobs. The talent had arrived.

      Don't get me wrong, being the "talent" doesn't make you smarter or better, necessarily. It does mean you have a brand, though. And it is impossible for us to have a realistic discussion of why CEO's make what they make without understanding that they aren't paid for how much they work, or for what they know. For whatever reason, they're paid because they are who they are, and who they are is perceived to be a force multiplier of some form.

      Of course, CEO's are offshored all the time. But no one calls it that, because it is a completely different process. They're business rock stars, and a lot of the same crap that goes for that type of rock star goes for them too. Including the ridiculous pay, and often the bad behavior as well.

  • by Stormwatch ( 703920 ) <> on Sunday May 10, 2015 @08:38AM (#49657379) Homepage

    I'm not religious, but this kind of shit only makes me think of that famous line: "It is easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of heaven."

    • by cas2000 ( 148703 ) on Sunday May 10, 2015 @09:22AM (#49657565)

      yes, that's exactly what you're supposed to think. you're supposed to be consoled by the fact that you'll go to heaven when you die and that'll be better than anything the rich cunts have now. that will more than make up for the shitful life you're living. hallelujah and praise the lord. accept your lot, everyone gets what they truly deserve.

      • by currently_awake ( 1248758 ) on Sunday May 10, 2015 @09:53AM (#49657673)
        This Heaven sounds like a horrible place. All Gods laws enforced (no extra-marital sex, no porn, no seductively clad young girls), and the preachy holyer-than-though types run the place.
        • Not to mention the music. Think about it - what good musicians would wind up in Heaven, as opposed to not?

          To reference Good Omens:

          Listen," said Crowley urgently, "the point is that when the bird has worn the mountain down to nothing, right, then-"

          Aziraphale opened his mouth. Crowley just knew he was going to make some point about the relative hardness of birds' beaks and granite mountains, and plunged on quickly.

          "-then you still won't have finished watching The Sound of Music."

          Aziraphale froze.

          "And you'll e
  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday May 10, 2015 @08:46AM (#49657405)

    Well PJ, direct from your web-site []

    "PJ, the co-founder of Echo Labs, always dreamed of starting a company in the United States, but if he doesn't get an H1-B visa, he'll have to move Echo Labs to Canada."

    And my response to you is,

    If you want the H1B, make yourself able to get the H1B. Otherwise, enjoy Canadia...

    • by rikkards ( 98006 )

      Sounds like a douche, we don't want him

    • If you want the H1B, make yourself able to get the H1B.

      Thing is, there's nothing that you can do that will guarantee you an H1B, because it is a quota system. No matter how qualified you are, it's a lottery.

      The guy does sound like a douche, though.

  • It goes both ways (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Dog-Cow ( 21281 ) on Sunday May 10, 2015 @08:48AM (#49657413)

    This is why it's morally OK to fuck over corporations.

  • by Dragonslicer ( 991472 ) on Sunday May 10, 2015 @08:51AM (#49657423)
    The beatings^Wlayoffs will continue until morale improves.
  • by paiute ( 550198 ) on Sunday May 10, 2015 @09:07AM (#49657477)
    "If you want the job, make yourself able to get the job"

    I wanted the job so hard I tried to get my DNA to change so that I was Indian but my damn lazy American genome would not cooperate.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday May 10, 2015 @09:15AM (#49657525)

    "When plunder becomes a way of life for a group of men in a society, over the course of time they create for themselves a legal system that authorizes it and a moral code that glorifies it." -- Frédéric Bastiat, 1848

  • by Craig Cruden ( 3592465 ) on Sunday May 10, 2015 @10:06AM (#49657731)
    Simple solution is to change the rules of the H1B visa..... not by stopping the "skilled" immigrants but by having every visa come with residency - which would free a skilled worker to work anywhere and not just for the sponsoring company. I have personally seen the impact on wages for H1Bs because of the need to stay with the company while the company works through the process for residency (which can take the full 6 years). If they change jobs the residency process has to start again, which makes the company not having to compete in regards to wages for H1B visa holders. Competition is good, H1B to residency process depresses it and distorts the market.
    • In Canada, the moment you apply for permanent residency on your work visa (which can be done very soon, especially under the provincial nominee program), you get a blanket work permit not tying you to any particular employment, for both yourself and your spouse, that is valid for as long as they're reviewing your case.

      PNP itself is a pretty good idea that I think US could use. Basically, the idea is that provinces sponsor immigration, with the stipulation that new immigrants are required to settle there, an

  • Heads on Pikes (Score:5, Insightful)

    by PopeRatzo ( 965947 ) on Sunday May 10, 2015 @10:08AM (#49657743) Journal

    Every time I read one of these statements from the entitles poodles that run corporate America, I hear guillotines being sharpened.

  • by Jack Zombie ( 637548 ) on Sunday May 10, 2015 @10:08AM (#49657747)

    ...with the dismissive attitude of an authority figure who knows they can't be touched.

  • Simple Solution (Score:5, Insightful)

    by l0ungeb0y ( 442022 ) on Sunday May 10, 2015 @11:08AM (#49658049) Homepage Journal

    Require all employers who hire an H1-B to pay TOP MARKET RATE for their region for the position they hire that person for.Additionally, require the employer initiate and cover all costs of Naturalization of the H1-B employee after 1 year or rescind H1-B status and send them home. A per worker fee that is large enough to cover teh cost of oversight should be required for each H1-B worker hired. This could be handled through ICE -- the same as they handle Green Card Applicants -- just perform random interviews and checks on the H1-B workers to ensure they are indeed working in the job capacity they were documented as and are indeed receiving the appropriate level of pay. Deviation should result in hefty fines the first time ($100,000 or more per incident) with severe penalties after repeated incidents ($1,000,000+ fines and revocation of all H1-B permits and inability to obtain future permits)

    This way, we can be sure H1-Bs will indeed be a highly skilled and specialized worker hired because there is no local equivalent and that the H1-B worker is not exploited as a cheap labor source and given all employee accommodations as required under law.

  • I wonder ... (Score:5, Interesting)

    by PPH ( 736903 ) on Sunday May 10, 2015 @12:01PM (#49658325)

    ... how SoCal Edison manages to work within the Critical Infrastructure Protection [] directive with foreign workers having access to processes and records. Back when I worked for an electric utility as an engineer (before these directives were in place), we had access to a lot of customer information, including sites involved with other utilities such as water, sewer, gas and oil pumping stations, hospitals, public safety (police, fire,border patrol, etc.) facilities. And Department of Defense installations (including a few secret ones).

    So how is it that we allow foreigners to come in and work jobs with this kind of access? You want a few hundred ISIS operatives to cross the border? No problem arranging the border sensor grid outage.

  • by fnj ( 64210 ) on Sunday May 10, 2015 @12:04PM (#49658335)

    If a single commenter mentioned this, I didn't see it. The entity employing H1B workers is required by law to file a Labor Condition Application to ensure that they meet or exceed the prevailing wage, and an attestation designed to ensure that they are not used to break a strike nor to replace citizen workers - i.e., that the H1Bs are really needed because citizens cannot be found to do the jobs.

    Obviously this does not work, or there would be little to no motivation to gratuitously replace citizens with H1B workers. What no one has satisfactorily explained to me (beyond waving the hands and mumbling "corruption") is, how is the law being flouted?

    • by Mr. Shotgun ( 832121 ) on Sunday May 10, 2015 @07:19PM (#49660583)

      This [] video may help explain things a bit. Short story is that companies looking to hire H1B personnel will post these positions in two publications of "general" circulation and then if anyone does apply they will use every method of disqualifying them that is legally available. They categorize this as "good faith recruitment" to the department of labor when in reality it is anything but.

  • by WindBourne ( 631190 ) on Sunday May 10, 2015 @03:24PM (#49659319) Journal
    Seriously, the H1-B is about companies being able to control the price. IOW, it is a local communist approach. All competition disappears.
    With green cards, the employee is free to move around, and as such, they can find the best companies to work for.

    That is how we get REAL competition.
  • by tempmpi ( 233132 ) on Sunday May 10, 2015 @04:05PM (#49659547)

    The first thing they should do is to abolish the random lottery for H1B visas and grant the visas within the cap to the applicants with the highest salaries. That would help to stop companies that are abusing H1Bs for driving wages down and at the same time would make sure that if a company really really needs the skills of a specific foreigner, they could get a visa for him or her by paying a very high wage.

  • by Tablizer ( 95088 ) on Sunday May 10, 2015 @11:59PM (#49661763) Journal

    Plutocrat mentality: "I've got mine now, the rest of you can grovel for scraps."

In seeking the unattainable, simplicity only gets in the way. -- Epigrams in Programming, ACM SIGPLAN Sept. 1982