Last June I posted about Disney employees having to train their own H-1B Visa replacements before being laid-off. I knew that wouldn’t be the last I heard of companies’ misuse of worker visas.
Toys ‘R’ Us and New York Life are the latest companies to take advantage of loopholes in the system by cutting 70 and 300 workers respectively. While Disney workers’ non-citizen replacements stayed on in Orlando, Toys ‘R’ Us and New York Life have current employees train their replacements, who then return–along with their jobs–overseas.
“After 30 years, it is very, very disappointing being told you are going to lose your job to a foreign country,” said one technology team member who is 49, and started with New York Life when he was 18.
As I mentioned in the Disney post, the visa’s intended purpose is to attract exceptionally skilled workers–not to have already skilled American workers train their cheaper replacements. Not only is the stuff of workers’ nightmares happening, but, in many cases, highly skilled foreign workers are being blocked:
…outsourcing firms are increasingly dominating the program, federal records show. In recent years, they have obtained many thousands of the visas — which are limited to 85,000 a year — by learning to game the H-1B system without breaking the rules.
In one glaring example, a denied H-1B applicant, Atulya Panday, has to run his New York-based start-up, Pagevamp, from Nepal. Unlike the outsourcing and layoffs going on at Toys ‘R’ Us and New York Life, Pagevamp would be doing quite the opposite. According to Mr. Panday’s business partner, “…most people would feel Atulya was making a positive contribution to the U.S. economy.”
Yet Atulya Panday is being kept out while many not-as-skilled foreign workers are replacing their skilled American counterparts.
So, who’s going to make a change? While several large corporations are pushing for expansion of the H-1B Visa, Bernie Sanders is the only presidential candidate addressing the need for serious reform. Hillary Clinton, on the other hand, is an ardent supporter of the current H-1B program. According to Bernie Sanders’ website:
Proponents of new visa policies advocate that the visa program will attract and retain the “best and brightest” immigrants…However, data has shown that the top ten users of the H-1B guest worker program are all offshore outsourcing firms. As Bernie pointed out, “these firms are responsible for shipping large numbers of American information technology jobs to India and other countries.”
Obviously, supporting a candidate like Sanders would be a step in the right direction. Just as important is raising awareness about this issue among your friends, family, and coworkers, and pushing your elected officials to take action. Start by signing this petition.