Backlash against foriegn worker visas

Backlash stirs in US against foreign worker visas | Yahoo! News

 

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.

View galleryFILE- In this April 22, 2013 file photo, the Senate …
FILE- In this April 22, 2013 file photo, the Senate Judiciary Committee holds a hearing on immigrati …
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.

View galleryJay Palmer, a whistleblower against Infosys, an Indian …
Jay Palmer, a whistleblower against Infosys, an Indian firm that eventually paid a hefty fine for H1 …
“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.”

View galleryJay Palmer, a whistleblower against Infosys, an Indian …
Jay Palmer, a whistleblower against Infosys, an Indian firm that eventually paid a hefty fine for H1 …
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.”

___

Laura Wides-Munoz reported this story from Miami. Paul Wiseman reported from Washington, D.C.

via http://news.yahoo.com/backlash-stirs-us-against-foreign-worker-visas-135208422–finance.html

Classrooms Should Be Sanctuaries

Don’t Deport Our Students; Classrooms Should Be Sanctuaries | Creativity Not Control

 

A few years ago, one of my students told me something that made me furious at the U.S. government: she said she was afraid to come to school because she thought ICE might show up in the classroom to deport her.  We strategized together about what to do if this happens.

I was left outraged that we even had to have this conversation. The classroom should be a sanctuary where all students can learn, without having to worry about being kidnapped by the state and removed from their families and communities.

This was just as heartbreaking as when another student asked me if you need to purchase a password in order to become an American citizen, as if the United States is a VIP club that is simply too expensive for people from his community.

These kinds of situations are becoming increasingly common; students will come in to class depressed, worried their parents or siblings are about to be deported.  Many are from working class immigrant communities that are slated to be left out by all of the comprehensive immigration reform proposals tossed back and forth in Congress.  They are the ones the Democratic Party is willing to jettison and the Republicans are ready to demonize as the “bad immigrants”, not the good Dreamers.  Many of them have gotten entangled in the criminal justice system because of racial profiling or because they had to hustle to get by since they can’t access legal jobs.  They can’t afford college because of rising tuition.  They are marked as gang members simply because of the neighborhoods they live in.  When congresspeople talks about increasing security, they mean kicking out people like them.

But where are they supposed to go?  Many Mexican youth can’t find jobs in either the US or Mexico, and are facing violence in both places.  They are a generation that is getting squeezed out of both countries, and have nowhere to go unless they fight back.  They are the North American cohort of millennial youth, children of the economic crisis who are facing a precarious future.  This generation is rising up all over the world, from the Arab Spring to the migrant worker strikes and riots in China’s Pearl River Delta.

Many of the mainstream immigrant rights groups don’t want to take up their cases because it is seen as too difficult to convince the government that they “deserve” to stay.  But when I talk with them, I don’t see threats to national security, I see intelligent, caring, creative young people who are active in their communities and are trying to build lives here.

As a teacher, I feel blessed to be connected with undocumented activists who are developing innovative organizing strategies for stopping deportations.  The National Immigrant Youth Alliance is at the forefront of an emerging movement of undocumented folks who have been reuniting families torn apart by deportation, particularly through the recent Bring Them Home actions.

If I weren’t connected with these folks I’d be depressed and helpless when my students share these stories.  But now I can suggest some ways they can build solidarity to stop deportations, and I know there are skilled activists who can support them in this, people who come from similar backgrounds and have faced their fears together.

For this reason, I strongly encourage readers to support NIYA’s current efforts to free four young people from immigration detention.  One of these youth was deported right from his high school classroom, and has been imprisoned in detention for 71 days after trying to cross back into the U.S.

As a history teacher, I often facilitate conversations among students about past social movements such as the civil rights movement and Chicano/Chicana labor struggles.  Students will debate whether or not things have gotten better since then.  I think that 40 years from now we will remember stories of students being deported from our classrooms and will see ICE’s practices as barbaric, analogous to the oppression communities of color faced before the 1960s.  But that will only happen if we all take action to prevent the state’s ability to kidnap, deport, and imprison youth today.

via Don’t deport our students; classrooms should be sanctuaries | Creativity Not Control.

Billions of Dreams

Billions of Dreams, Not Billionaires’ Dreams | Creativity Not Control

 

GATES FOUNDATION

Fun Facts

  • Much of the Gates Foundation funds are in Berkshire Hathaway stock, which owns Burlington Northern Sante Fe (BNSF) and Canadian Railway (CN).  BNSF and CN are now profiting from explosive tar sands oil trains.  This expanded rail capacity will bring tar sands oil to Asian markets, even without Keystone XL.
  • Gates Foundation has significant investments in the GEO Group, which operates the immigrant detention facility in Tacoma.
  • Gates Foundation invests in G4S, a private security firm that operates detention camps in Palestine and has been accused of human rights abuses.
  • The United Nations recently reported that small-scale, organic farming is the best way to eradicate hunger, yet the Gates Foundation continues to support GMOs and agro-business giants like Monsanto and Cargill.
  • They preach nutrition, but invest billions in McDonald’s, Coca-Cola, Pepsi, Burger King, etc.
  • They preach support for the working poor, but invest billions in Walmart
  • They preach about fighting climate change, but invest billions in fossil fuels like Exxon Mobile, Arch Coal, Peabody Coal, etc.
  • Gates’ Measures of Effective Teaching (MET) project failed miserably at validating their preconceived belief that teacher effectiveness can be scientifically measured.    (This study won the National Education Policy Center’s 2013 Bunkum Awards, recognizing lowlights in educational research).
  • Gates has been a key driver of standardized testing, which is being rejected by parents and teachers nationwide.  These standardized tests were originally created by the Eugenics movement in attempt to prove the ‘genetic superiority’ of whites and to apply assembly line models to classroom.
  • Gates admitted their Small Schools Initiative produced “disappointing” results AFTER districts spent millions redesigning buildings based on Gates direction (eg, Cleveland HS).
  • Gates brags about the quality of his own relevant and relationship-based education at Lakeside, yet pushes Common Core and treats schools as education factories to produce more workers.
  • The Gates Foundation post-secondary program was severely criticized by the Chronicle of Higher Education for being “designed for maximum measurability, delivered increasingly through technology, and…narrowly focused on equipping students for short-term employability.”

read more via Billions of Dreams, Not Billionaires’ Dreams | Creativity Not Control.

Is the right-wing attack on teachers sexist

Is the Right-Wing Attack on Teachers Sexist? | Creativity Not Control

The right wing says: because taxpayers put food on our table as teachers, you each get to be our bosses and you get to micromanage every minute of our time. If we care for your children in ways that appear inefficient, you can fire us. They would never tell the shareholders in a company that they get to directly manage production line staff, nor would they tell taxpayers that they get to directly manage the daily routine of the president or the joint chiefs of staff, who they also claim “work for the people”. In fact, they don’t think working class people should manage anything. But, curiously, they do tell white hetero men that they get to manage how their wives spend their time and how they raise their kids- “because they put food on their table”. Now, consider that the majority of teachers are women, and that we participate in the upbringing of children. Does anyone else see a pattern here?

via Is the right-wing attack on teachers sexist? | Creativity Not Control.

The Political Economy of Cynicism

The Political Economy of Cynicism | Creativity Not Control

 

Hypothesis 1:

The  cynicism, flippancy, snarkiness, and anxious arrogance of the American  intelligentsia is produced by obnoxious shards of academic humanities programs clashing with each other as the wrecking ball of austerity hits US universities.

Evidence:

As the bourgeoisie restructures education, there are fewer tenure track positions at universities, especially in the humanities. So the existing pool of graduate students must compete with each other to get those jobs. This turns graduate school into something like a training camp for an academic American Idol contest.  Postmodernists and Enlightenment Grand Masters go at it like characters in the Hunger Games.   The social mission of the graduate student is to destroy the competition, to come up with some new boutique intellectual product that can be sold.  Often this is a critique of someone else’s product, like an up-and-coming Pacific Northwest coffee shop with it’s sarcastic anti-Starbucks ads.

This competition does not drive up the quality of intellectual production; it incentivizes splitting hairs and trivializing language and analysis.  Niche markets proliferate to the point where everything becomes a niche, so nothing is.

To make it as the next Intellectual ™,  grad students and young professors have to hate on each other, get into all sorts of petty fake rivalries that drive up each others’ status, use their  privilege, critique their  privilege, critique other people’s  privilege, use this to gain privilege, critique themselves for doing that,  participate in social movements, wish they were participating in movements, critique movements for not confirming their theories, and so on.

Out of the thousands who do this, a few emerge as the next  Slavoj Zizek.  Most become overworked functionaries who entertain people with sarcastic jokes when they are drunk.

There are graduate student comrades who resist these immense social pressures and end up playing sincere roles in social movements or in the education of future undergrads.  They are less snarky because they learn to think and act with others.  But most of them will never be recognized by academia and will become adjunct community college professors if they’re lucky.

Given these pressures,  people should think twice before they encourage young intellectuals  to enter PHD programs in the hope of becoming professors.

One possible alternative:

Over time, those of us who like thinking and learning creatively will end up building communities where we can learn all the things people try to learn in PHD programs and more –  in a healthier, less competitive  environment.

Hypothesis 2:

The snarkiness, cynicism, flippancy, and anxious arrogance of the American  intelligentsia is also a product of journalists competing for attention in a world overstimulated by an unprecedented level of media production.   Shock value becomes an asset if you want to be heard above the chatter of the Internet.  So does  that old modern sarcastic game of “whatever you can do, I can do meta”.   Like graduate students, journalists compete to find the hidden truth behind what other people say, to the point of reducing everything to cynical games of words and images.  Expose everyone’s hypocrisy except for your own – unless a market for self-deprecation emerges.

Evidence:

One possible alternative:

Over time, those of us who like searching for truths will end up building communities where we can share difficult stories fearlessly without fake objectivity or cynical self-consciousness.  We will realize we are all hypocrites in some way, which is why we need to communicate with each other, finding out what’s going on together.

via The political economy of cynicism | Creativity Not Control.

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