Follow Slashdot blog updates by subscribing to our blog RSS feed

 



Forgot your password?
typodupeerror
Check out the new SourceForge HTML5 internet speed test! No Flash necessary and runs on all devices. ×
Businesses Government United States Politics Technology

IT Workers Training Their Foreign Replacements 'Troubling,' Says White House 305

dcblogs writes: A top White House official told House lawmakers this week that the replacement of U.S. workers by H-1B visa holders is 'troubling' and not supposed to happen. That answer came in response to a question from U.S. Rep. Jerrold Nadler (D-N.Y.) that referenced Disney workers who had to train their temporary visa holding replacements (the layoffs were later canceled. Jeh Johnson, the secretary of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, said if H-1B workers are being used to replace U.S. workers, then "it's a very serious failing of the H-1B program." But Johnson also told lawmakers that they may not be able to stop it, based on current law. Ron Hira, an associate professor of public policy at Howard University who has testified before Congress multiple times on H-1B visa use, sees that as a "bizarre interpretation" of the law.
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

IT Workers Training Their Foreign Replacements 'Troubling,' Says White House

Comments Filter:
  • by mark-t ( 151149 ) <markt AT nerdflat DOT com> on Saturday July 18, 2015 @11:25PM (#50138017) Journal

    "Troubling"... "not supposed to happen".

    I'm not entirely sure if he's trying to deliberately understate it, or if it is just that he may be completely clueless as to what it feels like for the people who are put in that kind of situation.

    • by NicBenjamin ( 2124018 ) on Saturday July 18, 2015 @11:57PM (#50138071)

      Probably the understatement.

      If he starts talking like he's an advocate for the Disney employees he clearly takes a side, which means the people who disagree with any aspect of his case (ie: the guys advocating for more H1B Visas, businessmen prone to see any government interference as evil, Republicans who hate Obama on principle, etc.) will not take him seriously.

      If he just says something so obviously true that you can't disagree with it then he might get somewhere.

      • by davester666 ( 731373 ) on Sunday July 19, 2015 @03:09AM (#50138625) Journal

        He CAN'T really side with the Disney employee's, because he already has been paid to vote for increasing the H1B cap.

        He knows the law was sold to the public as not permitting this, but was written to permit it, because that's what the people who paid for the law demanded.

        "Oops, the law we passed lets companies screw their workers. there's nothing we can do about it. sorry."

        • by Megane ( 129182 )
          Well you know how that works, you have to pass the law to find out what's in it, right?
        • by Anonymous Coward

          The four stage strategy of government:

          In stage one we say nothing is going to happen.
          Stage two, we say something may be about to happen, but we should do nothing about it.
          In stage three, we say that maybe we should do something about it, but there's nothing we *can* do.
          Stage four, we say maybe there was something we could have done, but it's too late now.

    • This has been going on for over a decade, after Clinton near the end of his term expanded H1B for IT workers, near the tail end of the tech bubble.
      At the time there was a bit of a shortage, but schools were filled with tech student waiting to get into these new tech job.
      Then the bubble popped.
      The market was over saturated and we had the H1B laws in place, and the infrastructure that was built allowed people to work from where ever is cheaper (India, China...)
      Now the companies are still crying shortage, but

  • About Disney... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by creimer ( 824291 ) on Saturday July 18, 2015 @11:47PM (#50138047) Homepage
    The recently announced layoffs for the few tech workers in New York and California got cancelled (for now). All 100+ tech workers in Florida got laid off earlier this year. If Disney really wants to do the right thing, they would hired back their laid off workers in Florida and send the Indian workers packing.
    • Re:About Disney... (Score:5, Insightful)

      by seven of five ( 578993 ) on Saturday July 18, 2015 @11:57PM (#50138075)
      If Disney really wants to do the right thing, they would hired back their laid off workers in Florida and send the Indian workers packing.

      Or reinstate the workers, find decent jobs for the newcomers too, and send the executives packing.
    • The recently announced layoffs for the few tech workers in New York and California got cancelled (for now). All 100+ tech workers in Florida got laid off earlier this year. If Disney really wants to do the right thing, they would hired back their laid off workers in Florida and send the Indian workers packing.

      Well, what about a legislation change: If you train someone to do your job, and afterwards you are fired, this is taken as absolute evidence that the trainee shouldn't have been there under an H1B scheme, therefore needs to be sent home and the original worker be re-employed, with all wages paid as if he had been employed all the time; complaints can be filed for six years.

      Result: If it happens to you, you can do whatever you like as long as your money lasts, then go to court and get your old job back pl

  • Jeh Johnson, the secretary of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, said if H-1B workers are being used to replace U.S. workers, then "it's a very serious failing of the H-1B program."

    If Mr. Johnson closes his eyes all the way, he won't see U.S. workers being replaced by H-1B workers.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday July 18, 2015 @11:52PM (#50138059)

    Perhaps a little collective punishment, reducing the cap from 65,000 visas per year to say 40,000 and reducing it by 5,000 every year in which any company employing these H1-B visa workers misbehaves would send the right signal. Also, the H1-B slots should be sold in public auctions so that those companies that really need talented foreign workers when there are no qualified Americans, which strains credulity, can express that desperate need by either paying up for the Americans they need or forking out expensive foreign workers who are "critical to their ongoing business needs". You need skilled workers? Fine. Show me the money and you shall have them, foreigners or Americans your choice.

    • by molarmass192 ( 608071 ) on Sunday July 19, 2015 @12:36AM (#50138219) Homepage Journal
      I like the idea of an H1B tax. Say 50% of the wage paid to the H1B holder has to be paid by the employer into social security. If H1Bs are paid the "prevailing" wage + the employer has to pay 50% of gross wages into social security, then only true H1B candidates should get hired, since there should be no cost saving involved, in the end it should always be more expensive to hire an H1B. For enforcement, any employer found guilty in court of underpaying an H1B could be subjected to 100% social security back tax for all H1Bs employed by the company for a 5 year period. This helps fund social security, prevents the exploitation of H1Bs from below market wages, and protects American applicants / job holders from unfair wage competition. Companies would get greater access to H1Bs as a result of reduced misuse to acquire the talent they really can't get here. If everyone plays by the rules, it's win-win.
      • by maz2331 ( 1104901 ) on Sunday July 19, 2015 @01:52AM (#50138465)

        Excellent idea. The minimum wage for any H1B position should be $150k per year, and the employer will pay a 50% payroll tax for each employee hired under that system. It won't hurt the high-end, which the program is supposed to recruit, but sure as hell will end the use of outsourcing firms that skirt the law by mass-hiring H1Bs and then contracting with a firm to replace their IT staffs.

        • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

          by Anonymous Coward

          I suspect very strongly that were this to come to pass, H1-Bs would cease to exist in a matter of months.

          It'd sure be fun to hear the corporations and their lackeys try to spin that one. "No, no, it's not because it's no longer profitable. It has more to do with, uh, vertical synergies and leveraging new and expanding markets...."

      • You had me with you until you said Social Security.

        You are aware that every penny put into the Social Security Trust fund is immediately "borrowed" back into the general fund via bond purchases, right?

        Also: H1B workers pay into Social Security already, with no chance of ever seeing that money themselves (not like any of us will ever see it, either).

    • Enforcement isn't being done now. You think more rules and legislation fixes anything? Enforce the current law first, and get back to me on how you get that done, k?

      Much of what has crippled our nation is simply failure to enforce existing law. The rest is easily solved.

  • H1B visa reform (Score:5, Insightful)

    by m00sh ( 2538182 ) on Sunday July 19, 2015 @12:09AM (#50138109)

    The H1B system was created for a specific purpose - very short temporary workers who should become permanent green card holders very quickly. The problem is that it has morphed into a decade long temporary work program that dangles the green card to make the worker work for longer hours and less pay than a green card holder, under the threat of losing it all after being fired.

    What really needs to happen is that US and India should sit down and figure this out. Over 60% of the H1B visa users are from India. US should have a special visa program similar to H1B for Indians but without the exploitative nature of it.

    And, the reason why H1Bs are cheaper is because the US doesn't want them to go into the general labor pool but exist in their own special labor pool, not competing with the general labor pool. But, this creates a secondary job market and when corporations see the labor price differences between the two job pools, there will be incentive to do what Disney did. So, US should loosen these artificial restrictions that so that everyone is competing on the same level field.

    H1B really needs to be revised so that is does not place so much emphasis on "sponsorship". The employer can dangle the sponsorship for years denying raises, promotions and starting with low wages and long hours.

    Ideally, there should be generic visa that gives blanket work authorization for a certain period of time (like 3 years) and a path to green card without an employer "sponsorship". When a foreign worker comes to the US, they should be in the same market as everyone else, commanding the same salary, benefits etc. There is too much power with employers right now and so there is exploitation.

    • Re:H1B visa reform (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Fire_Wraith ( 1460385 ) on Sunday July 19, 2015 @12:41AM (#50138235)
      It's not just that. Certain companies (Infosys, Tata, I'm looking at you) have been very heavily abusing the H-1B visa as part of a consulting deal, where they will bid to take a contract (that replaces former native employees), and then staff that contract with H-1Bs. The net effect is that people are getting replaced, but they're doing it in a way to make it not seem that way on paper.

      Thankfully, they're getting investigated for it because they've gotten blatant enough that Senators from both parties got pissed off enough about.
    • Re:H1B visa reform (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Vrallis ( 33290 ) on Sunday July 19, 2015 @01:37AM (#50138423) Homepage

      I've known a number of H1Bs, have some I've considered good friends, and all of whom will make excellent citizens--almost all are going through the process.

      From the H1B perspective, they are effectively indentured servants. They are locked into their employer, and any progress toward citizenship is completely at that company's whim. The employee has no recourse other than to put up and shut up.

      From a citizen's perspective, the whole thing has become a sham to replace expensive American workers with far cheaper H1Bs.

      Here's how hiring an H1B works (at least part of it):
      - Find an H1B candidate
      - Make up a fake job listing with EXACTLY that candidate's resume as your 'mandatory requirements'.
      - Odds are no citizen will apply that matches those requirements precisely.
      - Congrats, the company has now found an "unfillable" position that demands an H1B to fill it!

    • by dbIII ( 701233 )

      What really needs to happen is that US and India should sit down and figure this out

      They have figured out that the middlemen who make a lot out of the arrangement are significant political donors :(

    • H1B Visa reform is easy cancel the program. There is not an issue getting IT talent there is getting cheap IT talent.

  • by dltaylor ( 7510 ) on Sunday July 19, 2015 @12:09AM (#50138111)

    A California utility has not only replaced citzens/green card holders with offshore labor, but they've handed control of critical infrastructure to foreign nationals. ATM, India is a friendly nation, but that is not guaranteed to last beyond their next election.

    • by gweihir ( 88907 ) on Sunday July 19, 2015 @12:25AM (#50138175)

      And that is a very serious problem indeed. It is also happening all over the EU with outsourcing to former eastern-bloc countries. Critical infrastructure always needs to be managed locally, anything else is pure insanity.

    • by myid ( 3783581 )

      A California utility has not only replaced citzens/green card holders with offshore labor, but they've handed control of critical infrastructure to foreign nationals. ATM, India is a friendly nation, but that is not guaranteed to last beyond their next election.

      I agree. Re. the California utility, are you talking about Southern California Edison (SCE) [computerworld.com]? According to these two [computerworld.com] articles [computerworld.com], a US senator and two US representatives are upset about replacing the American SCE workers.

      I'm not a lawyer, but I've read that Disney's aborted replacement of US workers was legal. If so, then let's change the law. President Obama, please show us just how "troubled" about the law you are, and work to fix the law.

    • they've handed control of critical infrastructure to foreign nationals.

      The worst part of that being that command and control of systems is now vastly more easy to either take control of, or simply disrupt if your goal is chaos.

      What happens when the big earthquake hits and communications have gone to hell?

  • by NicBenjamin ( 2124018 ) on Sunday July 19, 2015 @12:11AM (#50138119)

    Legally here's what happened:
    Some outsourcing company said it could only fill it's consultant ranks by hiring Indians. Since it knew the paperwork really well (and doing paperwork really well is an Indian core competency), it got them.

    Then Disney hired the Indian firm to take over some functions at Disney.

    Which means that Disney technically did not replace it's employees with H1B Visa holders (which would be ridiculously illegal). It replaced a business unit with a contractor (perfectly legal), and that contractor happened to use H1B Visa holders (also perfectly legal). Courts could rule that the consulting firm were gaming the system, but that's far from a gimme.

    Which means you probably should get a new law passed restricting the use of H1B consultants to replace American workers. And you'd damn well better word it very, very carefully or they'll just maneuver around it some interesting way.

    • Which turns it from an immigration law issue into a criminal conspiracy.

    • at least not in their banking laws. The way the laws are written is if you violate the spirit of the law but not the letter you're still in trouble. Of course, Rich people lose money when banking laws are violated. You know, we could learn something from those people. Violating the spirit of the law should carry the same weight. Screw this noise where corps just maneuver around laws. Put a little more power in our Judicial system to interpret intent, and maybe a few odds/end checks and balances to prevent a
    • by AuMatar ( 183847 )

      Simple way to fix it- require that any H1B hired must be paid twice the highest paid domestic worker. That means they'll only be paid if they really are necessary. Any company that's found breaking this rule is not allowed to hire an H1B again- ever. And they're fined 20 times what the salary(s) were supposed to be.

      We can't throw companies in jail, so breaking the law should be fucking punishing.

    • by kenj123 ( 658721 )
      No more H1B visas from now on. Zero, is that careful enough?
    • That's fairly easy to solve. The problem is that the H-1B is tied to the position at the company more than the employee. So tie the H-1B to the employee (the company making him the offer doesn't need to sponsor and obtain an H-1B for him, his goes with him and the company that brought him in needs to sponsor and obtain another to bring a replacement in) and give him a 3-month grace period if the company terminates him (and he keeps his H-1B until either he leaves the country himself or his 3 months expires)

    • It replaced a business unit with a contractor (perfectly legal), and that contractor happened to use H1B Visa holders (also perfectly legal).

      H1B is meant for when you can't find the competency locally. Clearly that is not the case here, since the contractor could hire the old employees.

    • Some outsourcing company said it could only fill it's consultant ranks by hiring Indians. Since it knew the paperwork really well (and doing paperwork really well is an Indian core competency), it got them.

      I've found there is another problem, fictitious skills/experience on resumes.

      I can't tell you how many times I have seen companies list language and tool experience Years longer than the language or tool has been in existence. All the local resumes are rejected because they don't have the skills, and the bogus ones for overseas candidates accepted at face value.

      "yes, I've been developing iPhone apps for 27 years..."

      Then they come to work and need basic training from the existing staff.

      Fortunately, not a big

  • We're going to have to do something about that... ... Someday.

    Oh look, another financial crisis. No a terrorist threat! That's it, a terrorist threat. Yeah, yeah, a terrorist.

    Pay no attention to the billionair behind the curtain. Or the H1-B sitting in your chair.

  • Another Act wrote up and passed by the Democrat party that is being abused. They say it was not ment to be used like that, well its not how its ment to be used its how it can be applied. Good job democrat party of setting this whole BS up in 1965 when you controlled the senate and house.
    • by Trepidity ( 597 )

      The original version of the "temporary worker program" was passed in 1952, and it's been continually revised over the years, in the direction of expanding it mostly. Some history here [numbersusa.com]. The current version of the program dates to 1990, in legislation that was passed by a Democratic congress and signed by a Republican president.

      But history aside, is there a meaningful partisan divide on this issue? My impression is that when it comes to actual legislative action, both parties have been mostly in favor of the

  • Madame Clinton has taken $3Million in donations from Tata and Infosys so if you want to find yourself training your own personal replacement in the near future, you know who to vote for...
  • by MindPrison ( 864299 ) on Sunday July 19, 2015 @01:22AM (#50138383) Journal
    ...This doesn't just happen in America. We the people all over the world are getting replaced by cheaper workers now. I was replaced myself, and had to train up a couple of cheap trainees that the GOV. had given my former workplace in a so called back-to-work program, with a much lesser salary - plus the GOV. even PAID for the workers the first year.

    No employer in the world can afford to say no to such a deal, the trainees actually had 16 years of experience in their field behind them, but where also laid off from a bigger company earlier on - and had been on GOV. wellfare for a long time, this is SWEDEN btw. so it's amazing it's even happening here, but since we're a wealthy country (on the paper, not counting the MASSIVE debt each Swede have since they essentially don't own anything but borrow money), this isn't something you'll see in any newspaper - much less reported in American news.

    It's a sign of the new times we're heading for. The outsourcing is massive, the GOV. will attempt to get work back to the country, so the salaries of everyone has to be slashed, but you try to tell the happy fat cat that he has to cut his living costs and you'll get the UNION all over you until you have to file for bankruptcy if you do what they want anyway. There's another agenda too - and that is they're trying to open the borders worldwide, so workers can essentially work and live anywhere. You'll notice MASSIVE unemployment rates as everything you once knew will fall apart right in front of you, until you eventually decide to accept lower pay, less perks, longer hours etc.
    • My family is Swedish on my father's side (I'm American, about three generations removed). As I think about it, I'm not even sure what exactly Sweden exports. If I remember correctly your military even imports most of their equipment.

      Anyways, you guys have a pretty direct democracy, couldn't you vote this down? Or is this a consequence of "too much democracy" and this is what the Swedes, as a whole, want?
    • by epyT-R ( 613989 )

      Why not just refuse to train them? Tell your ex-employer that you're too busy looking for another job.

  • It's completely and totally WRONG that we need to import workers in order to get shit done in this country.. or is it more about what they're getting paid, and not about their skills? If it's about skills, then when and where did it happen that we stopped being on the cutting edge of things?

    Memo to America: Step it up. You're a first-world country for fuck's sake, act like it.
    • It's completely about money. It's not that there's not enough qualified workers in the US to fill those jobs. It's that there's not enough that're willing to work for the wages the companies want to pay. Now, normally when demand exceeds supply companies are all about "Well, naturally you're going to have to pay more, that's just the law of supply and demand.". But then the companies are on the short end of that equation, suddenly it's completely unnatural and they want the right to manipulate the supply to

  • They are supposed to be highly skilled and possess talents which can't be located in the local market after a reasonable search.

    Now, you can write lots of words but lawyers just sharpen their teeth on that kind of thing.

    Simply set a dollar amount equal to the current top 10% income in the country. Right now, that's about $100,000.

    So you can't bring an H1B in for less than $100,000. Minimum salary in their pocket- not the contracting house.

    Right now almost 40,000 of the 65,000 slots are taken up by large in

  • by Coldeagle ( 624205 ) on Sunday July 19, 2015 @05:35AM (#50138845)
    I have interviewed and worked with several H1B's, and one thing that I have noticed is that while they're slightly cheaper, there is a cultural problem that is endemic. A lot of these folks are not able to innovate or thinking outside of the box. These are essential qualities in a good software developer (at least in my opinion). I have worked with one H1B whom is VERY good, and is able to think in addition to work.

    I do believe that they are hard workers and that they try, I don't know how successful they will be in the long run. Most of the candidates I have interviewed have generally been hard-put to think through problems. For example, I would ask them how would they generally approach a problem (e.g. your users need to do x, tell me how you would do this). Most were stumped by this. I would even try to lob easy questions such as database normalization (You have a table that repeats the same fields like reference name 1, reference name 2, is this correct and if not why?).

    There is also another problem, they aren't really that much cheaper ! The U.S. is an expensive place to live, and you can not really cut corners that much. We are talking about a difference of maybe 10-15k a year (at least in the ones I've spoken to). Most of the time, if you take the additional meetings that need to take place to re-review the requirements due to a little hiccup (see point about not being able to think though problems) and the costs could actually go UP. If you have to have an additional hour of meeting per week (very generous) with a PM, 3xDevelopers, BA (average if you have multiple dev streams). That's 52*5=260 hours. Average of $55/hour across all three roles, that is $14,300 for a single meeting hour long weekly meeting for the year. So the potential savings you got from one of the developers could be a wash. I have also noticed that non H1B programmers tend to work faster (again see point about working more independently).

    So my point is that this maybe a situation of self correction. The trend might re-balance itself as more companies realize some of these realities; however, that would assume that the companies take such things into account instead of being penny wise and pound foolish.
  • The Real Solution to the Visa Worker Scam
    http://www.techtoil.org/2015/07/what-stem-workers-need-to-do-but.html

    About 99% of US politicians want to increase the visa workers. You cannot vote the problem away, and you certainly cannot petition the problem away.

    There is only one solution, workers need to organize, raise money, and lobby congress. In DC, money talks and bullshit walks.

All life evolves by the differential survival of replicating entities. -- Dawkins

Working...