In the commotion about the election, a lot of real information is getting lost.
This week, a bill to reform the H1-B visa system was pulled from a House committee before a vote. In represents another defeat for attempts to protect US workers. Admittedly, it wasn’t a very good bill, but it would at least have suggested that someone in Congress cares.
For those who don’t know, the H1-B system allows US companies to import workers to do jobs in the US instead of hiring or training American workers to do those jobs. Typically, companies can hire foreign workers at lower wages, so the program has been used to terminate older and higher paid American workers and reduce salary costs, especially in banking and technology companies.
There was a reform effort in 1998 that was intended to protect workers, but the law was written with a huge loophole: as long as the foreign worker was paid at least $60,000 or had a master’s degree, they could replace a US worker. Most jobs associated with computer software pay above that.
Who are the biggest users of H1-B visas in the US?
- Tata Consultancy Services
- Wipro Ltd.
- HCL America
- Tech Mahindra Americas
In the case of Infosys, Tata, Wipro, HCL and Tech Mahindra, these are foreign companies that have been encouraged to invest in the US through free trade agreements. However, they are choosing to bring their own workers rather than hire US workers to fill positions. Where they have purchased US companies, that means replacement of US workers with workers, largely from India. (Infosys, Tata, Wipro and Tech Mahindra are Indian companies.)
That’s a problem for recovery of the US economy. As all of the presidential candidates have acknowledged, there is a need for quality, high-paying jobs for US workers. However, Congress (led by the GOP) is reluctant to do anything about it.
It’s the standard shell game — talk the talk but don’t walk the walk.
By the way, there was nothing on this in the major media like The Wall Street Journal.
Talk is cheap, action is harder, and real achievement seems to be something about which our politicians don’t care.
(1) Kawamoto, Dawn. “8 Biggest H1-B Employers in 2015,” Information Week. 3/24/2016. http://www.informationweek.com/government/8-biggest-h-1b-employers-in-2015/d/d-id/1324807
(2) Thibodeau, Patrick. “H-1B bill pulled from House committee vote amid complaints,” Computer World, September 14, 2016. http://www.computerworld.com/article/3120307/h1b/h-1b-bill-pulled-from-house-committee-vote-amid-complaints.html?token=%23tk.CTWNLE_nlt_computerworld_dailynews_2016-09-14&idg_eid=924f88aa70ca725c377f676e86c50805&utm_source=Sailthru&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=Computerworld%20Wrap-Up%202016-09-14&utm_term=computerworld_dailynews#tk.CW_nlt_%20computerworld_dailynews_2016-09-14