Wednesday, April 1, 2015
FAIRFIELD-SUISUN, CALIFORNIA
99 CENTS

Backlash stirs in US against foreign worker visas

By
From page A5 | July 07, 2014 |

Kelly Parker was thrilled when she landed her dream job in 2012 providing tech support for Harley-Davidson’s Tomahawk, Wisconsin, plants. The divorced mother of three hoped it was the beginning of a new career with the motorcycle company.

The dream didn’t last long. Parker claims she was laid off one year later after she trained her replacement, a newly arrived worker from India. Now she has joined a federal lawsuit alleging the global staffing firm that ran Harley-Davidson’s tech support discriminated against American workers – in part by replacing them with temporary workers from South Asia.

The firm, India-based Infosys Ltd., denies wrongdoing and contends, as many companies do, that it has faced a shortage of talent and specialized skill sets in the U.S. Like other firms, Infosys wants Congress to allow even more of these temporary workers.

But amid calls for expanding the nation’s so-called H-1B visa program, there is growing pushback from Americans who argue the program has been hijacked by staffing companies that import cheaper, lower-level workers to replace more expensive U.S. employees – or keep them from getting hired in the first place.

“It’s getting pretty frustrating when you can’t compete on salary for a skilled job,” said Rich Hajinlian, a veteran computer programmer from the Boston area. “You hear references all the time that these big companies . . . can’t find skilled workers. I am a skilled worker.”

Hajinlian, 56, who develops his own web applications on the side, said he applied for a job in April through a headhunter and that the potential client appeared interested, scheduling a longer interview. Then, said Hajinlian, the headhunter called back and said the client had gone with an H-1B worker whose annual salary was about $10,000 less.

“I didn’t even get a chance to negotiate down,” he said.

The H-1B program allows employers to temporarily hire workers in specialty occupations. The government issues up to 85,000 H-1B visas to businesses every year, and recipients can stay up to six years. Although no one tracks exactly how many H-1B holders are in the U.S., experts estimate there are at least 600,000 at any one time. Skilled guest workers can also come in on other types of visas.

An immigration bill passed in the U.S. Senate last year would have increased the number of annually available H-1B visas to 180,000 while raising fees and increasing oversight, although language was removed that would have required all companies to consider qualified U.S. workers before foreign workers are hired.

The House never acted on the measure. With immigration reform considered dead this year in Congress, President Barack Obama last week declared he will use executive actions to address some changes. It is not known whether the H-1B program will be on the agenda.

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg is among the high-profile executives pushing for more H-1Bs. The argument has long been that there aren’t enough qualified American workers to fill certain jobs, especially in science, engineering and technology. Advocates also assert that some visa holders will stay and become entrepreneurs.

Critics say there is no across-the-board shortage of American tech workers, and that if there were, wages would be rising rapidly. Instead, wage gains for software developers have been modest, while wages have fallen for programmers.

The liberal Economic Policy Institute reported last year that only half of U.S. college graduates in science, engineering and technology found jobs in those fields and that at least one third of IT jobs were going to foreign guest workers.

The top users of H-1B visas aren’t even tech companies like Google and Facebook. Eight of the 10 biggest H1-B users last year were outsourcing firms that hire out thousands of mostly lower- and mid-level tech workers to corporate clients, according to an analysis of federal data by Ron Hira, an associate professor of public policy at Rochester Institute of Technology. The top 10 firms accounted for about a third of the H-1Bs allotted last year.

The debate over whether foreign workers are taking jobs isn’t new, but for years it centered on low-wage sectors like agriculture and construction. The high-skilled visas have thrust a new sector of American workers into the fray: the middle class.

Last month, three tech advocacy groups launched a labor boycott against Infosys, IBM and the global staffing and consulting company ManpowerGroup, citing a “pattern of excluding U.S. workers from job openings on U.S soil.”

They say Manpower, for example, last year posted U.S. job openings in India but not in the United States.

“We have a shortage in the industry all right – a shortage of fair and ethical recruiting and hiring,” said Donna Conroy, director of Bright Future Jobs, a group of tech professionals fighting to end what it calls “discriminatory hiring that is blocking us … from competing for jobs we are qualified to do.”

“U.S. workers should have the freedom to compete first for job openings,” Conroy said.

Infosys spokesman Paul de Lara responded that the firm encourages “diversity recruitment,” while spokesman Doug Shelton said IBM considers all qualified candidates “without regard to citizenship and immigration status.” Manpower issued a statement saying it “adopts the highest ethical standards and complies with all applicable laws and regulations when hiring individuals.”

Much of the backlash against the H-1B and other visa programs can be traced to whistleblower Jay Palmer, a former Infosys employee. In 2011, Palmer supplied federal investigators with information that helped lead to Infosys paying a record $34 million settlement last year. Prosecutors had accused the company of circumventing the law by bringing in lower-paid workers on short-term executive business visas instead of using H-1B visas.

Last year, IBM paid $44,000 to the U.S. Justice Department to settle allegations its job postings expressed a preference for foreign workers. And a September trial is set against executives at the staffing company Dibon Solutions, accused of illegally bringing in foreign workers on H-1B visas without having jobs for them – a practice known as “benching.”

In court papers, Parker claims that she was given positive reviews by supervisors, including at Infosys, which she maintains oversaw her work and the decision to let her go. The only complaint: Her desk was messy and she’d once been late.

Neither Parker nor other workers involved in similar lawsuits and contacted by The Associated Press would discuss their cases.

Parker’s attorney, Dan Kotchen, noted that the case centers on discrimination based on national origin but said that “hiring visa workers is part of how they obtain their discriminatory objectives.”

Infosys is seeking a dismissal, in part on grounds that it never hired or fired Parker. Parker was hired by a different subcontractor and kept on, initially, after Infosys began working with Harley-Davidson.

A company spokeswoman said Infosys has about 17,000 employees in the U.S., about 25 percent U.S. hires. In filings to the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, the company said it has more than 22,000 employees with valid temporary work visas, some not in the U.S.

Stanford University Law School fellow Vivek Wadwha, a startup adviser, said firms are so starved for talent they are buying up other companies to obtain skilled employees. If there’s a bias against Americans, he said, it’s an age bias based on the fact that older workers may not have the latest skills. More than 70 percent of H-1B petitions approved in 2012 were for workers between the ages of 25 and 34.

“If workers don’t constantly retrain themselves, their skills become obsolete,” he said.

Norm Matloff, a computer science professor at the University of California, Davis, agreed that age plays into it – not because older workers are less skilled but because they typically require higher pay. Temporary workers also tend to be cheaper because they don’t require long-term health care for dependents and aren’t around long enough to get significant raises, he said.

Because they can be deported if they lose their jobs, these employees are often loath to complain about working conditions. And even half the standard systems analyst salary in the U.S. is above what an H-1B holder would earn back home.

Such circumstances concern Americans searching for work in a still recovering economy.

Jennifer Wedel of Fort Worth, Texas, publicly challenged Obama on the visa issue in 2012, making headlines when she asked him via a public online chat about the number of foreign workers being hired – given that her husband, a semiconductor engineer, couldn’t find work.

Wedel said her husband eventually found a job in the health care industry, taking a $40,000 pay cut.

“It’s a slap in the face to every American who worked hard to get their experience and degrees and has 10 or 15 years of experience,” she said, adding that firms want that experience but don’t want to pay for it.

To her, the issue isn’t about a shortage of workers who have the right skills. Put simply, she said: “It’s the money.”

 

The Associated Press

The Associated Press

LEAVE A COMMENT

Discussion | 4 comments

The Daily Republic does not necessarily condone the comments here, nor does it review every post. Read our full policy

  • Salty DogJuly 07, 2014 - 6:52 am

    Welcome to President Obama's brave new world.

    Reply | Report abusive comment
  • DadsterJuly 07, 2014 - 8:27 am

    This is not an Obama thing. It real took off during the 1980s. Major League Baseball is a bad also. Why do they have to go to Venezuela, Dominican Republic, Korea and Japan to find players. When we have plenty of good baseball players here in the USA.

    Reply | Report abusive comment
  • clancyJuly 07, 2014 - 3:34 pm

    Hmmm .. Seems like our government is undermining its own citizens . this needs to stop now. If you can't find a worker with the skills you need hire them at a lesser rate and train them then pay them correctly once they are trained and have them train the next person ..and do on .. Geeez!

    Reply | Report abusive comment
  • JagJuly 07, 2014 - 9:09 pm

    Always, always follow the money, but also you want teachers union, you want dumb down kids with common core; well this is what you are going to get and I am not going to put all of this one on Obama either because I think a rino republican would even increase these visas. If these companies want to pay a low rate then push them off US soil by stopping the work visas, now the U.S worker has a choice, work for less or find a different job, Oh wait we have no jobs,

    Reply | Report abusive comment
.

Solano News

Records detail shooting victim’s court history

By Jess Sullivan | From Page: A1, 37 Comments | Gallery

 
Vallejo youth wins county spelling bee

By Ian Thompson | From Page: A1 | Gallery

 
25th annual Rush Ranch Open House on April calendar

By Ryan McCarthy | From Page: A2

 
 
Saturday Club schedules Shower of Flowers event

By Amy Maginnis-Honey | From Page: A3

 
Searchers find 84-year-old missing nearly a day

By Kevin W. Green | From Page: A4, 2 Comments | Gallery

 
Symphony opportunity, scholarships available

By Susan Winlow | From Page: A4

 
Free Healthier Living workshops begin this week

By Kevin W. Green | From Page: A5

Music teachers receive program grants

By Susan Winlow | From Page: A5

 
Vallejo woman hit, killed by vehicle

By Ian Thompson | From Page: A6

Workshops offer information on child support process

By Kevin W. Green | From Page: A6

 
Water park to host first Easter egg hunt, swim

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A6

 
Group plans Haiti missions fundraisers

By Amy Maginnis-Honey | From Page: A6, 2 Comments

 
Travel presentation ready to roll in Vacaville

By Amy Maginnis-Honey | From Page: A6

Helen Mirren film set for debut

By Amy Maginnis-Honey | From Page: B9 | Gallery

 
Frazier to deliver keynote at Solano EDC event

By Kevin W. Green | From Page: B10

WIB to host regional career fair

By Kevin W. Green | From Page: B10 | Gallery

 
Fairfield police log: March 29, 2015

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A14

Fairfield police log: March 28, 2015

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A14, 2 Comments

 
Suisun City police log: March 29, 2015

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A14

Suisun City police log: March 28, 2015

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A14

 
Man struck by car, injured

By Ian Thompson | From Page: A14

.

US / World

 
California man attemps Guinness record as oldest pilot

By The Associated Press | From Page: A7

 
3D print technology provides ‘robohand’ to 7-year-old girl

By The Associated Press | From Page: A7, 1 Comment | Gallery

Police: Man, woman found dead after medical office shooting

By The Associated Press | From Page: A7

 
Endangered bighorn sheep moved to Yosemite, Sequoia parks

By The Associated Press | From Page: A7 | Gallery

Family: Man dead at Hollywood Hills home is Andrew Getty

By The Associated Press | From Page: A7

 
Tuskegee Airman Leslie A. Williams dies in California at 95

By The Associated Press | From Page: A7

Woman charged with stabbing boyfriend after salsa argument

By The Associated Press | From Page: A10

 
Police: Prisoner who stole gun, fled hospital found in DC

By The Associated Press | From Page: A10

US releases military aid to Egypt, cites national security

By The Associated Press | From Page: A10

 
Indiana governor wants changes to religious-objections law

By The Associated Press | From Page: A10

Dress-wearing man killed by NSA police had lengthy record

By The Associated Press | From Page: A10

 
Exercising critically ill patients may help speed recovery

By The Associated Press | From Page: A10 | Gallery

Defense rests in 1st phase of Boston Marathon bombing trial

By The Associated Press | From Page: A10

 
State Department found 4 emails about drones sent by Clinton

By The Associated Press | From Page: A10

Transportation strike shuts down Argentina

By The Associated Press | From Page: A11

 
Nigerian troops prevent Boko Haram attacks

By The Associated Press | From Page: A11

Iran nuke talks extend past deadline

By The Associated Press | From Page: A11

 
Relief program paid millions for ‘flawed’ work

By The Associated Press | From Page: A14

Buhari defeats Goodluck Jonathan in Nigerian election

By The Associated Press | From Page: A15

 
.

Opinion

 
Rebuild Gaza to avert next war

By Former President Jimmy Carter | From Page: A13

Reid’s US Senate legacy: Obstruction

By Jennifer Rubin | From Page: A13, 21 Comments

 
State moves up national school spending chart

By Dan Walters | From Page: A13

.

Living

Community Calendar: April 1, 2015

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A2

 
Today in history: April 1, 2015

By Maureen Fissolo | From Page: A2

Should we sent wedding invitations to relatives we know can’t come?

By Kathy Mitchell and Marcy Sugar | From Page: B7

 
Horoscopes: April 1, 2015

By Holiday Mathis | From Page: B7

Dressing up spring asparagus with an easy brown butter sauce

By The Associated Press | From Page: B8

 
 
.

Entertainment

TVGrid

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B9

 
‘General Hospital’ leads Daytime Emmy nominations

By The Associated Press | From Page: B9

Olympic champ Gabby Douglas’ family to get reality show

By The Associated Press | From Page: B9

 
.

Sports

Randle sets record, leads Stanford past ODU in NIT semis

By The Associated Press | From Page: B1

 
Vanden’s Orme strikes out 16, tosses no-hitter

By Daily Republic staff | From Page: B1

Prep boys golf preview: All 4 city teams are young

By Brian Arnold | From Page: B1

 
Short-handed Miami rallies to beat Temple 60-57 in NIT semis

By The Associated Press | From Page: B1

 
Barry Zito’s scoreless streak ends; A’s beat Angels 13-10

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

Cubs will track noise so Wrigley rehab doesn’t disturb fans

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

 
Lincecum pitches into 6th in Giants’ win over Rockies

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

AP’s Run to the Roses: Mubtaahij No. 8; Dortmund still No. 1

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

 
Michigan State title would be worth $1 million to Vegas man

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

AP study projects average MLB salary tops $4M

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

 
University of North Dakota begins campaign to find nickname

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

Judge rules Ernie Banks will is valid

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

 
Kentucky’s platoon system gives way to traditional rotation

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

Chris Mullin returns home to coach St. John’s

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

 
Soccer player at center of search killed crossing LA freeway

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

Frozen Four will be old home week for BU coach David Quinn

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

 
Rio Olympic tickets go on sale despite football uncertainty

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

Tiger Woods plays practice round at Augusta

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

 
US gives up another late goal in 1-1 tie at Switzerland

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

NASCAR finds Ryan Newman’s race team for manipulated tires

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

 
Patriots owner: Aaron Hernandez told me he was innocent

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

Raiders release DT Antonio Smith

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

 
Tennessee hires former Texas coach Rick Barnes

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

Thunder star Kevin Durant has bone graft surgery

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

 
Stanford’s Christian McCaffrey showing off versatility

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

NASCAR driver Kyle Larson released from hospital

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

 
.

Business

San Bruno supports higher fine

By The Associated Press | From Page: B10

 
Google to release their cheapest laptop yet

By The Associated Press | From Page: B10, 1 Comment

Several charged in Medicaid shoe fraud

By The Associated Press | From Page: B10

 
Fast food organizers expand their campaign

By The Associated Press | From Page: B10

Online craft retailer Etsy preps for IPO

By The Associated Press | From Page: B10

 
Many trucks being driven beyond designed top speed

By The Associated Press | From Page: B10

Buffet expected to buy dealerships

By The Associated Press | From Page: B10

 
.

Obituaries

Gordon Davis

By Nancy Green | From Page: A4

 
Carlos Penados

By Nancy Green | From Page: A4

.

Comics

Garfield

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B6

 
Peanuts

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B6

Get Fuzzy

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B6

 
Pickles

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B6

Blondie

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B6

 
Frank and Ernest

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B6

Dilbert

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B6

 
B.C.

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B6

Baby Blues

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B6

 
Baldo

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B6

Wizard of Id

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B6

 
Sally Forth

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B6

Beetle Bailey

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B6

 
For Better or Worse

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B6

Rose is Rose

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B6

 
Cryptoquote

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B7

Crossword

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B7

 
Bridge

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B7

Sudoku

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B7

 
Word Sleuth

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B7