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AFL-CIO Proposed Reforms for the H1B Program 1046

Posted by Hemos
from the changing-the-laws dept.
Alien54 writes "[I first saw this link over on RFN]. The AFL-CIO has announced a series of proposed reforms for the H1B Program. The proposal is very thorough, and covers eight different problem areas of the H1B laws."
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AFL-CIO Proposed Reforms for the H1B Program

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  • Yet Another LInk (Score:1, Insightful)

    by The Turd Report (527733) <> on Friday January 03, 2003 @01:37PM (#5007251) Homepage Journal
    h1b info []
  • I might be ... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by craenor (623901) on Friday January 03, 2003 @01:38PM (#5007261) Homepage
    Totally off base here, if so, offtopic mod the hell out of me.

    But instead of being so concerned about the number of jobs being grabbed in this country by foreign nationals...

    I think more concern should be paid to the number of tech jobs being farmed out to foreign countries. Did you know the helpdesk for the State of Missouri is served from India?
  • Prevailing Wage? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by jasonditz (597385) on Friday January 03, 2003 @01:39PM (#5007268) Homepage
    Doesn't it seem like letting the employer and employee work out how much money the job will pay is a much better system than having some bureaucracy decide what the prevailing wage is and binding everyone to that? Or is there something about being born outside the borders of the United States that makes wage negotiations inherently evil?
  • My proposed reform (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Otter (3800) on Friday January 03, 2003 @01:45PM (#5007309) Journal
    Lawyers routinely earn six figures straight out of school. Same for MBAs. Programming and IT aren't nearly as lucrative, and basic science barely pays above the poverty level until you get a faculty position.

    The most basic understanding of economics suggests that the "need" for lawyers and managers is clearly much greater than the "need for technical workers" that drives the H1-B program that singles out engineers and scientists for increased worker supply. When are we going to see an H1-B program for lawyers and MBAs?

    Of course it will never happen because those professions have enough sense not to cut their own throats. H1-B targets the people who may have high IQ scores but are too freaking stupid to organize, lobby or even realize what 100,000 people competing for their job does to their lives.

    Actually, my position is this: immigration numbers should apply across the board. If I have to face competition from an infinite number of Chinese scientists, I should at least reap the cost savings from having that competition across the economy.

  • by splattertrousers (35245) on Friday January 03, 2003 @01:46PM (#5007324) Homepage
    My understanding of the article's position: foreign workers work too cheaply; therefore the US should let fewer of them in so that American workers can get those jobs, but at a higher salary.

    If you were a company and had a lot of lower-paid foreign workers, and then the government stopped letting you hire such workers, what would you do? Hire more highly paid American workers? Or just farm the entire project/department out to a foreign country?

    The latter would save the company money and result in fewer American jobs and less income tax revenue for the US. It would create more jobs for foreign companies and more income tax revenue for those countries. Probably not what the AFL-CIO wants to happen.

  • by mxs3549 (572071) on Friday January 03, 2003 @01:47PM (#5007328)
    I think the whole H1-B program is flawed. The fact that the visa is tied to a specific company sponsor means that the employer has the implied threat of deportation to use in any wage negotiation. This has to be a big factor in the lower wages paid to H1-B workers. I would rather see increased numbers of immigrants on a permanent resident/citizenship track than a reformed guest worker program.
  • by dnoyeb (547705) on Friday January 03, 2003 @01:47PM (#5007330) Homepage Journal
    My problem is not that other people work cheaper than me, eventhough this threatens my job. My problem is that the savings is absorbed by the CEOs and shareholders, it never finds its way to the laborers.

    Therefore, its typically fueled by greed and not economic needs.
  • by I'm a racist. (631537) on Friday January 03, 2003 @01:47PM (#5007338) Homepage Journal
    The problem is, from the foreigner's point of view, just getting to be in America (and out of their own hellhole), is a huge benefit. Therefore, they are willing to accept a low standard of living (by American standards).

    The end result of this is an overall lowering of the standard of living, because if Americans want to be competitive, they have to sacrifice their standards.
  • by sisukapalli1 (471175) on Friday January 03, 2003 @01:48PM (#5007347)
    It seems to actively discourage immigration. Nothing more, nothing less. Three year terms (with no renewal) is not much of an incentive for anyone to come to US to work. It is a thinly veiled attempt to say "no H1's", without the courage to say so.

    If such proposals go on, with no foreign workers to work in US, and US people complain about outsourcing of jobs to other countries, US is heading towards becoming a protectionist and reclusive country.

  • by aralin (107264) on Friday January 03, 2003 @01:48PM (#5007349)
    Hi, I am on H1b and all the points in their proposed reforms are either in the current laws already in even stricter form or (the change of limit from 195 000 to 65 000) bound to happen as some extensions expire soon. From reading the article they have absolutely no clue about both the current environment and the current laws. The limits of H1b visa are not even reached and in the current market is almost impossible for a company to obtain a DOL certification for their recruitment on the position anyway. This is just someone trying to solve problem that does not exist.
  • Re:I might be ... (Score:4, Insightful)

    by override11 (516715) <> on Friday January 03, 2003 @01:49PM (#5007351) Homepage
    Well, as long as it is economically sound to hire foreign workers than USA workers, it will continue to be like that. Think of the choice, pay 100 US employee's an average of, say, 25 - 30K / year plus heath benifits, workmans comp, etc., or pay a foreign worker less than minimum, no health benefits, and not have the US laws to contend with?
  • by NDPTAL85 (260093) on Friday January 03, 2003 @01:49PM (#5007352)
    That sounds good on paper but an employee and an employer are rarely equals. If you think a common person with no assets or resources or regulated standards is going to be able to negotiate a fair wage vs. a huge corporation with its army of lawyers, strategists...etc then you are just living in a dream world. Consider that the US is pretty much the most unregulated economy in the Western World (comparisons to Japan and Europe here) and I think the businesses here have enough of a free hand to do what they need/want to do.
  • tech unions? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Alien54 (180860) on Friday January 03, 2003 @01:49PM (#5007360) Journal
    The AFL-CIO has put together that whole Techs Unite webpage [], which includes a number of interesting thoughts, like a union for Techs.

    Of course unions, etc have not been a traditional alliance for geeks. I can just imagine the flamewars over this.

    The proposed reforms validate many if most of the concerns of IT workers, but I am not sure if these are the best solutions. I have seen suggestions that advocate the all out abolition of the H1B program. This might be the way to go [], if the the thing H1B fixed did not in fact fix anything in the first place.

    The last thing we need is the US to become the equivalent of Detroit with urban burnout across the whole country.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday January 03, 2003 @01:50PM (#5007362)
    Since the H1B issue, at least for the moment, is focused largely on technical professions, I wonder what would happen if engineers unionized on a large scale, much like auto workers or many of the trades (plumbers, electricians, construction workers, etc.).

    Many engineers have observed that, particularly in today's economic climate, employers are treating enginners as replaceable, identical "commodity parts". Doesn't this attitude argue for unionization, so as to assert the rights of engineers to have better pay (maybe), protection from having their jobs shipped offshore or replaced by a H1B holder, and the like?
  • reciprocity (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday January 03, 2003 @01:50PM (#5007366)
    Either you believe in a capitalist free global market or you do not.

    Supply and demand. Increased supply of labour reduces costs to business. By trying to restrict supply with statute, you reduce the profitability of your own businesses. Why bite the hand that feeds you?

    Labour controls will ultimately reduce the number of US citizens that are employed, contrary to the intent.
  • by Daniel Dvorkin (106857) on Friday January 03, 2003 @01:52PM (#5007376) Homepage Journal
    No, wage negotiations (in any country) are not inherently evil. The problem is that, in the current setup, they're inherently unequal. The whole concept of negotiations pretty much depends on the idea of the negotiating parties having, if not equal power, at least comparable power. Right now, the balance of power is tilted so far in favor of the employer that employees have basically nothing to bring to the table. The whole idea of unions is to bring the balance of power closer to something to which the word "balance" can reasonably be applied.

    Sometimes this happens without collective bargaining, but only in unusual economic conditions; the height of the dot-com boom is an example. And the often hysterical denunciations coming from the corporate world of the techie work culture at the time shows how seriously the suits take this threat to their power -- as does the anti-union meme which has been successfully implanted in American culture among otherwise intelligent people (e.g. techies.)

    Look, when you go in to try to get a job, or ask for a raise, or whatever, you're sitting across the desk from someone who has the collective power of an entire corporation behind him. You, on the other hand, have ... just you. Unions, labor laws, etc. are a way to address this imbalance. What's the problem?
  • Hunh? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by mindstrm (20013) on Friday January 03, 2003 @01:52PM (#5007383)
    So.. they all speak different languages natively.. SO WHAT? You said.. they all speak english in common. Isn't that the point?

    I'm not saying it's great to have lots of foreign work.. but bringing up the fact that they don't natively speak english is kind of, well, bigotry.

  • by Grishnakh (216268) on Friday January 03, 2003 @01:52PM (#5007387)
    Yes, there is. Due to conditions inherent in our first-world economy, which are absent from India's third-world economy (like child labor laws, health care, social programs for the indigent, anti-pollution laws, etc.), things which make this country a nice one to live in instead of a polluted poverty-stricken hellhole, it's simply not possible to survive on a $2,000 per year salary. Unless we want to turn the clock back and become like a third-world country, we should have protections.
  • by splattertrousers (35245) on Friday January 03, 2003 @01:55PM (#5007410) Homepage
    My estimation is that a project that should have taken 3 months instead took 3 years

    Do you think the project took so much time because the people didn't speak English as a native language?

    I've been on a number of failed projects, many of which had foreign workers, and I wouldn't attribute any of the failures to those workers' countries of origin. I'd attribute the failures to the managers' and team leads' lack of experience running successful projects.

  • H1B != Immigration (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Skyshadow (508) on Friday January 03, 2003 @01:55PM (#5007417) Homepage
    Your argument is basically flawed. The H1B was designed as a work visa, not as a method of immigration. If you want to move to the US and become a naturalized citizen, there's already a process for that.

    Of course, for software developers, this whole arguement is moot: It's probably too late to save the jobs of most US software developers, anyhow. Their jobs are going to get shipped to a dozen different countries where the cost is a mere fraction of developing in the US, and I don't see how you can stop that short of having Congress pass some kinds of taxes on it (which they certainly won't do in the current pro-business climate).

    Were I a mid-level developer in the US, I'd think that it's time to either (a) go back to school and get a specialized advanced degree or (b) figure out what other field I'd like to be in. The party's over.

  • Pure Xenophobia (Score:5, Insightful)

    by etymxris (121288) on Friday January 03, 2003 @01:57PM (#5007424)
    Judge me by my merits, not by my nationality. If someone from India has more experience or skill than I do, then they should get the job.

    Yes, the market is tight. But people with H1-B visas are people to. Reading the article made me envision "Attack of the Clones". Everyone is struggling for jobs, not just people here. Have a heart, have a brain, judge yourself and others by your merits, not nationality.

  • by bill_mcgonigle (4333) on Friday January 03, 2003 @01:58PM (#5007441) Homepage Journal
    The reason many employers like H1-B workers is that they can treat them like shit, and there's nothing the worker can do about it. If they quit they stand to lose their H1-B status (or so I'm told) so they take it.

    If the employers had to treat the H1-B workers with respect, they would hire fewer of them, and the problem would take care of itself. The H1-B workers would shop themselves around, salaries would equalize, the language barrier would be a significant downside, yet the good ones would still succeed.

    Giving people more freedom is usually the right answer.
  • by seichert (8292) on Friday January 03, 2003 @02:05PM (#5007503) Homepage
    Actually, my position is this: immigration numbers should apply across the board. If I have to face competition from an infinite number of Chinese scientists, I should at least reap the cost savings from having that competition across the economy.

    Actual competition would probably also raise wage rates within your profession. A problem with H-1B or any other restrictive immigration program is that the foreigners are on unequal footing. If the foreigner cannot find a job or does not accept a job at low pay they will have to return to their home country. This leads to foreigners driving down the wage rate. Think about it, when you go out and look for a job you can turn it down if the pay is too low, the benefits are inadequate, or reasonable safety standards are not exercised. You will not get tossed out of the country and can continue looking for work. You can also take the time to negotiate with potential employers, form unions (which I do not recommend), start new companies, etc.

    If foreigners had the same freedom to pursue these activities I think you would see a much healthier job environment for native born American workers. New companies created by foreigners would also provide job opportunties to Americans. Protectionism ultimately results in poverty for everyone. True competition (without barriers to foreigners) will result in prosperity.

  • BINGO! (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Skyshadow (508) on Friday January 03, 2003 @02:08PM (#5007521) Homepage
    This poster makes an excellent point:

    The thing most often passed over in this sort of arguement is the real-world fact that some people (Americans like myself) live in a first-world environment, and it's certainly in our own self-interest to perpetuate that.

    It might sound unfair to say, "I want to continue living in better circumstances than 98% of the rest of the world, and I will therefore have my government pass laws which favor me and my country to do so", but to expect me to say otherwise is both self-centered and naive.

    So, yeah. The US ought to discourage sending jobs overseas and tax companies that use foreign workers. The US ought to heavily discourage companies from hiring foreign workers who'll go back to their countries after X number of years (if they want to make money and stay in the US to spend it, that's something else, but that's not what H1B's are). The US should try to raid the best and brightest from other countries to improve the average IQ level in our own country.

    But that's not what we're doing. Instead, we're acting in the next-quarter interests of specific companies, and that's a Bad Thing(tm) for everyone concerned.

  • Re:Hunh? (Score:2, Insightful)

    by EatHam (597465) on Friday January 03, 2003 @02:08PM (#5007526)
    Insisting that your employees speak a common language is not bigotry. I would insist that my employees speak English natively or speak it well enough that I can't tell they are not native speakers.
  • by dgenr8 (9462) on Friday January 03, 2003 @02:09PM (#5007530) Journal
    Dear DPE [mailto],

    I read with enthusiasm your proposals for H1-B reform. However I think many of the suggestions will be difficult to implement, and they only attack the problem indirectly.

    The problem with the H1-B program is that foreign workers should be sponsored by American WORKERS, not American companies.

    Each H1-B Visa should bear the signature of an American worker who was offered the job at his or her current pay level, and refused it.

    Please see that the authors of your excellent proposal on H1-B reform are aware of this enforcement option.

  • by Skyshadow (508) on Friday January 03, 2003 @02:10PM (#5007546) Homepage
    their "standards" are unrealistic and inherently *based* on taking advantage of other nations?

    Then that's a little something we call "reality". It may be a foreign concept to most /.'ers, but our entire fucking world is based on the idea of outcompeting others.

  • by Ironica (124657) < minus bsd> on Friday January 03, 2003 @02:11PM (#5007549) Journal
    ... that it's tied to a specific job.

    Put simply, if the government perceives a labor shortage and imports workers from countries that have a surplus in that area, then the government should be the one importing and placing them in jobs. An H1-B visa should be for a specific term, with possible renewal, with no possibility of deportation during that term (unless the visa holder violates US laws).

    Furthermore, the government should be telling the companies how much that job pays (the "prevailing wage" that we hear so much about) for that location... basically setting the price. If the company doesn't want to pay it, they're welcome to try to find US workers more cheaply. If it happens to be lower than they've been paying, well, more power to them.

    If H1-B is intended to fill a gap, then let's take out the advantages for employers in hiring guest workers. If anything, let's make it a disadvantage; if their visa expires and the DoL doesn't feel it should be renewed, boom, they're gone. They may not speak English as a native language, they may not have the same educational background. Right now, these are small prices to pay for having workers that you have a great deal of leverage with. Just take away that leverage, and this will all solve itself, I bet.

    Me, I have a friend who got married a couple years ago. He was engaged, but they hadn't planned to get married so soon... then he found out he was getting laid off, so it was get married or get deported. Why does anyone think it's a good idea to create these situations?
  • Huh? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by The Pim (140414) on Friday January 03, 2003 @02:12PM (#5007558)
    You're saying your company can't manage a project for crap, so the H1B program needs reform?
  • Re:Pure Xenophobia (Score:4, Insightful)

    by EricWright (16803) on Friday January 03, 2003 @02:13PM (#5007580) Journal
    The problem is that, it the company can hire 2 foreigners who produce at, say, 75% of your ability for the same amount of money they pay you, which scenario is more likely to happen? You get the $X000 job, and produce 100% of your output, or the two foreigners get the $(X/2)000 jobs, and the company gets 150% of your production?

    Remember, many of these people come from very poor countries, and are more than willing to pound out C++ code for $30k/yr, working 16 hours a day, simply because that is a small fortune to their families. Would you take that job? More to the point, would you want to be in a position where you HAD to take that job?

    I have nothing against people from other countries coming here with hopes for a better life. That's what America is all about. What bothers me is that, by being willing to work for far less money, companies will prefer them over me, even if I am better qualified for the job.

    A corporation's only responsibility is to make money for their owners/shareholders. If they can do that by hiring more people for less money, that's what they will do.

  • by NearlyHeadless (110901) on Friday January 03, 2003 @02:14PM (#5007588)
    No, wage negotiations (in any country) are not inherently evil. The problem is that, in the current setup, they're inherently unequal. The whole concept of negotiations pretty much depends on the idea of the negotiating parties having, if not equal power, at least comparable power. Right now, the balance of power is tilted so far in favor of the employer that employees have basically nothing to bring to the table.

    Yes, that's why everybody except union members make minimum wage. Oh, wait, only 5% of workers earn that little. Hmmm, I earn about six times minimum wage, plus benefits (also not mandated by law). That's a little hard to explain by your theory, isn't it?
  • by terrymr (316118) <> on Friday January 03, 2003 @02:16PM (#5007608)
    How do I mod the story as flamebait - these arguements have been dredged up over and over again. Reality check guys - the numbers of H1B visas issued this year are drastically down because market conditions mean there are enough US workers to go around.

    As for some of the goofy proposals requiring limits of 2 years on viasa how frustrating would that be for an employer to have to replace people every 2 years.

    I get tired of hearing about how foreigners are taking all are jobs, women, sponging off the state etc.... Although sponging off the state and stealing are jobs seems to be mutually exlusive.

  • Re:I might be ... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by ergo98 (9391) on Friday January 03, 2003 @02:17PM (#5007616) Homepage Journal
    If it's significantly cheaper to code overseas (and it is), then market forces pretty much dictate that the capital is going to flow that way regardless of what we want.

    I would love to see some actual empirical studies on this: Every bit of anecdotal information I have heard has concluded the exact opposite-< Management/HR was so keen to protect their own jobs (despite the fact that that's where the most savings can be derived with minimal negative impact any day of the year) that all they could see was low per hour fees from foreign outsourcing companies. Of course development is far more than just the per dollar rate. We all know, for instance, that the productivity of programmers varies by a ratio of 100:1 or more (especially telling as some developers actually are a net negative contributor as they do more harm than good). When you have someone making $7/hour feeding your code to your competitors all the while causing chaos with communications (or complete lack thereof), tremendous inter-office communications costs (hey management can fill their ranks with a new "Inter-national affairs division"), and what is created is garbage. That has been exactly the experience that I have read about for companies that couldn't see beyond a lower per hour rate.

    National outsourcing is nothing more than doing something for the appearance of doing something: Management justifying itself by point at its great "cost saving" initiatives (gotta give that CEO several million more). Give it a few years and the numbers will speak for themselves, and the desparate companies will be a long gone history lesson.
  • by Billly Gates (198444) on Friday January 03, 2003 @02:20PM (#5007641) Journal
    Its not about tallent but cheap labor.

    In India 7/hr can buy alot more then New York or even Houston where Nasa is based. Overall its bringing down the value of US workers whether we are working for a company that is directly or even indirectly effected by this problem. If a new employee comes from a company that is downsizing then he/she will be willing to work for less. Then we are affected if our salary is viewed as too high.

    What this does is infact turn down well qualified graduates here in America because the graduates can not afford to make a living or live comfortably with the demand of their professions. Aerospace companies are cheap and if you put an American and an Indian with identical qualifications together, the company will pick the Indian. The American will not only be viewed as more expensive be he/she will be more willing to leave the field if the pay becomes too low.

    Sorry but my tax dollars go into INS and they should work for me!Not the Indians are a collective of wealthy CEO's.

    Sun Microsystems is not only rumoured [] to be hiring Indians for programmers but also white colar jobs like salesmen, marketing agents, accountants, etc! Your job may be next if this trend continues. I expect all of the major fortune 500 companies to actually be run in India or China and mass unemployment here in the USA because of it.

    ITs all about competition and if a competitor can have laborat at 1/4th the cost then as a CEO you have to do the same. Its greedy and disgusting!

  • economic suicide (Score:5, Insightful)

    by g4dget (579145) on Friday January 03, 2003 @02:21PM (#5007648)
    For the US to try to give these jobs to Americans at above world wages for skilled labor is economic suicide: if the foreign workers can't move to the US to do these jobs, the jobs will simply move out of the US, and the US will lose the tax revenue.

    Unlike service sector jobs, or even manufacturing jobs, software and biotech jobs are highly mobile because they don't require a lot of equipment, all they require is skilled people. You might ask: if these jobs are so mobile, why do they all come to the US? That's probably mostly due to the preferences of the foreign workers themselves: people with a good education and skills tend to live well here. A US job is a perk for foreign workers. But if they can't get that perk because of visa restrictions, they are going to do the same job from overseas.

    And think of it this way: do you really think that Europe, China, India, or Japan like it that their nationals come to the US to work here? Far from it. They call it the "brain drain" and are complaining bitterly about it. Some would dearly love to charge the US for the educational expenses of those who leave. The deal that the US has been getting out of the H-1B program is particularly sweet for the US because those are skilled workers, educated and raised at the expense of taxpayers of other nations. Europe, China, and Japan would love to see nothing more than to see the US H-1B programs restricted.

  • Re:I might be ... (Score:2, Insightful)

    by cayenne8 (626475) on Friday January 03, 2003 @02:21PM (#5007653) Homepage Journal
    I find this to be true of the work of many of the HB-1 contract workers I've dealt with...and yes, most were from India. They did not seem to be able to use creative, independent thought for most projects assigned to them. If it was just rote, repetative coding...they were just fine, but, if you told them to go research on the net, and put something together from imagination...this seemed to ellude them. I've also seen layoff's of US citizens, and the keeping of the HB's...and it sure can't be for the quality of work...has to be the low, low salaries they get. The contract houses keep a LARGE majority of their bill, they make them more money. I'm not saying that all Indians for HB's fall into this category, but, the majority I've had experience with do...
  • by verloren (523497) on Friday January 03, 2003 @02:26PM (#5007696)
    (Disclaimer: I'm on my second H1-b, and have no problem with the government delaying or changing the program as they see fit - their purpose is to protect and promote the welfare of Americans, not provide nice jobs for foreigners like me)

    One of the measures listed is
    Restrict this "temporary" guest worker program to one, two or three year (non-renewable) term.

    I'd guess that a great many people wouldn't bother. Visa processing can take 3-6 months (and maybe more under these new suggestions), then I get to pack up my life at home, leave friends and family, potentially put my existing career on hold, all to spend a year in another country. Sure it's nice, but I'm not sure the incentive is there.

    In my situation I knew I could spend a few years here (maybe even get citizenship if I liked it that much), which made it well worth the upheaval. And of course I'm helping my company prosper, and paying lots of taxes without access to the corresponding benefits.
  • by szyzyg (7313) on Friday January 03, 2003 @02:28PM (#5007707)
    For example - they suggest that work experience is inadequate and that a degree in the field of work is required. Well... I spent 10 years getting various degrees in Astronomy and Physics before getting bored and writing internet radio software (icecast, mp3serv, mp3mixer). When a company in the US recruited me to architect their mp3 streaming system I could demonstrate that I'd been working in mp3 streaming for longer than anyone else.
    Even then there was some worry that my degrees never really said much about computer science despite the fact that I'd been hacking code for 20 years as an 'amateur'. But my Masters did have the phrase 'computational physics' in it, so that was enough to get me in back in 2000. Probably not any more.

    Really, what the visa program should be about is determining whether a potential applicant will make the US a better place. Skilled workers benefit the economy regardless of their nationality. With H1 visas there is this notion of taking jobs away from 'qualified' US workers, well everyone I've seen that was as qualified as myself is either in a job or choosing to take time off.

    Of course... if you cut down the number of tech workers US companies can import then you might start to find that more work gets outsourced overseas - moving money out of the country and weakening the economy.....
  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday January 03, 2003 @02:28PM (#5007709)

    I work in kind of a niche market where we marry embedded controls, networking, data acquisition GUI's, databases, etc in automated testing equipment. We've just finish a 3 month round-up of candidates for a Systems Analyst (read Industrial Automation software engineer) position. We considered all takers. We used head hunters and employment websites. We finally boiled it down to the 4 best candidates. Only 1 of them was a US citizen, the rest were F1 (student) visa holders. We chose one of those 3 and will help to expidite her H1B, as we have down in similar situations 5 or 6 times in the past.

    If US citizens applied for the job and were good enough, they'd get the job. Plain and simple. They just don't show up.

  • by tstoneman (589372) on Friday January 03, 2003 @02:28PM (#5007713)
    Please, please, please no one ever join a tech union. Let's keep some sanity and let us be judged by our merits, and not by our seniority. High Tech is the last bastion of hope when it comes to working hard and getting recognition.

    I've worked in union environments before (during college), and the only reason why unions are set up is so that the union leaders can make a shitload of money.

    Think "economies of scale". If a union gets union dues from everyone as a company, even if it's a small amount of money, they will reap shitloads. This is why they go around trying to enlist as many companies as possible... because they get the union dues of thousands of workers with little additional capital because they have already set up the infrastructure. It's exactly like the business model of for crying out loud!

    So, by loading these guys up with money, us peons get stuck in stagnating jobs where the paperwork and red tape to go up just stops us from doing anything.

    If you're good at what you do, you have no reason to join a union. Please, just say "No".
  • by steffl (74683) on Friday January 03, 2003 @02:29PM (#5007718) Homepage Journal
    we have a lot of people who do not speak english natively where I work (a very large telecom company:-)

    I have completely different experience though - what is important is intelligence and skills, not language. We get into language related problems from time to time but overall it has almost no effect, certainly neglibile compared to problems caused by incompetence of some people (some of them speak english fluently some of them don't).

    from my personal experience I much rather deal with people who know what they are doing and don't speak english that well (it might mean that the meeting will take 10 minutes instead of 5 but the actual work will be done on time and the result is good code) than people who speak fluently but don't know what they are doing (the meeting will take forever because they don't understand what's going on and the work is either never done or the result is very poor code).

    disclaimer: english is not my first language.

  • by Ars-Fartsica (166957) on Friday January 03, 2003 @02:35PM (#5007789)
    No one cares if the outsourced company attains your notion of "excellence" (which you had probably overestimated in any case). In the world of business, the cheapest adequate solution wins.

    That means if someone can do a minimally acceptable job for less money than you, you're out. I'm not offering this as knee-jerk cynicism, simply observations from years in business. Costs matter, and the corporation left standing is typically the one that has ruthlessly slashed costs everywhere possible. This is why United Airlines is bankrupt and SouthWest is not. This is why most manufacturing is now done outside of the US. This is why outsourcing exists at all.

  • by Tackhead (54550) on Friday January 03, 2003 @02:39PM (#5007824)
    > Look, when you go in to try to get a job, or ask for a raise, or whatever, you're sitting across the desk from someone who has the collective power of an entire corporation behind him. You, on the other hand, have ... just you. Unions, labor laws, etc. are a way to address this imbalance. What's the problem?

    I'll bite.

    I have... just me. My skills. My experience. My mind. Umm... whoa, dude, maybe I'm not that powerless after all!

    I wouldn't be sitting across the desk from that guy unless I had something he wanted. Something he needed. Otherwise he'd be doing something else, something more profitable than talking to me.

    I wouldn't be sitting in that guy's cubicle now if he didn't have something I wanted.

    I'm coming from the capitalist side, but you can look at it from the view of left-wing politics if you like -- the tech industry is probably the first time in history in which the workers can truly say they own the means of production, namely the individual globs of grey stuff in their skulls.

    The problem for wannabe-Marxists (I'm not implying you're one, just pointing it out) is that the grey stuff doesn't belong to a collective - it belongs to individuals. The proof of that comes every time you look at the wide disparities of productivity between programmers - some suck, some are adequate, some are great, and some are gurus.

    To me, those factors lead me to conclude that individual bargaining, not collective bargaining, the "right" (in both the moral and the practical sense) way to negotiate wages, at least in the tech industry.

  • by Rimbo (139781) <`rimbosity' `at' `'> on Friday January 03, 2003 @02:41PM (#5007846) Homepage Journal
    Time to burn off some karma.

    I hate the whole issue of H1B reform, because rather than being framed in terms of fair treatment for H1B workers, it is framed in terms of "protecting American jobs." And any time that phrase comes up, it is a red flag for me.

    Why does Patrick Buchanan want to build a wall around the USA? "Protecting American jobs." Yeah, I'm sure there are tons of Americans trying to get those high-paying home construction, hotel maid, and grape-picking jobs.

    So when I see the AFL-CIO making noise about revising the H1B visa program in the name of "Protecting American jobs," I'm already suspicious.

    This list is playing with people's emotions in a down economy to put forth a "keep all those brown-skinned people out!" agenda.

    The real problem with the H1B visa program is that it essentially makes indentured servitude legitimate. It provides no way for laid-off immigrants holding H1B's to stay in the country. People here on H1B's (the list DOES mention this, but it's buried among all of the hate-mongering) are paid less than most workers.

    What it does do, on the other hand, is ensures that the best and brightest people of the world become Americans, which makes America stronger. People on H1B's don't come here for brief periods -- they come here to stay. And that's a GOOD THING. Everyone in the USA benefits when immigrants come to this country, although they may not benefit in the short term or see the benefits immediately. Yes, that person with an H1B visa may have denied you that job, but that person is now producing for the USA and not for some other country, that person is keeping our culture lively by bringing hers in to mix with ours, and will start her family here, raising her children as Americans. She will work hard because it will be the first time she will be in a place where she will be valued for her hard work, and not for what caste she was born into.

    And that hard work directly translates into a healthy economy, which means more jobs for people like you and me.

    So ironically, immigration -creates- jobs.

    If you're going to fix H1B, fix it properly. Make sure H1B visa holders have wages that are as high as those for citizens. But don't use the H1B problem as a front for racism and xenophobia the way the AFL-CIO does here.
  • by EnderWiggnz (39214) on Friday January 03, 2003 @02:46PM (#5007898)
    so... how's your pension?

    and your job security?

    oh, you can be fired at a drop of a hat with no severence?

    wait until you get to the point where you are too experienced and get shitcanned.

  • Re:I might be ... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by afidel (530433) on Friday January 03, 2003 @02:46PM (#5007900)
    Ugghh, I just had a two hour ordeal with our corporate helldesk in India yesterday, what a headache. I had to repeat every password and token about 5 times using internation alpha beta charly style. India may have been a British colony, but I don't think they ever really mastered English. Another factor is the programming factor, just because they live in India doesn't mean good programmers will necessarily work for less. In fact one company found that because the cheap programmers they were hiring made so many more mistakes the project costs actually went up because more experienced programmers had to do bug checking and the QC department had to be expanded, basically they rediscovered the mythical man month. Highly intelligent people will demand the same basic salary wherever they are, because if they aren't getting it where they live it is rather easy for them to move across borders. My problem is not so much with the H1-B from an immigration standpoint but from a neigh slave labor standpoint. Many of the employers who use the H1-B program flaunt the fact that they ignore the prevailing wage portion of the statute, they also will threaten the employee with firing more than they would a normal employee because the H1-B has a particularly nasty non-trasference component to it where if they lose their job in many cases the worker has to leave the country before another company can get them a new visa.
  • by raehl (609729) <raehl311 AT yahoo DOT com> on Friday January 03, 2003 @02:46PM (#5007904) Homepage
    Alright, if you're an American, with a 4-year degree from an American college, and some guy from India, overcoming all of the inherent obstacles in India, can do your job better than you do, he deserves your job. You started with all the advantages.

    The intent of the H1B program is good, and I think the AFL-CIO is addressing what's wrong with it: They're not saying the program's goals are bad, they're just saying that if the workers coming over here are being paid less than the workers who are here, then by definition they are not doing a job H1B was designed to fill.

    Thier position, and I agree, is that if a company is willing to pay the same wage to bring over a foreigner instead of hiring a US worker, then they probably need to hire a foreigner (otherwise they wouldn't bother.) If they're paying a sub-standard wage to bring over a foreigner, then they're just abusing the H1B system for a purpose it wasn't intended for, and THAT's what needs to stop.

    H1B's good, abuse of H1B's bad, and wages paid is a good indication of whether H1B is being abused in a particular situation.

    As for whether H1B is right or not - Open immigration. If immigrants can do your job for less, tough crap for you. If companies hire a bunch of immigrants to work for less and it turns out they can't do the jobs, tough crap for the company when it has a crap product and goes out of business.

    Americans need to secure their employment by being the most qualified people to do the jobs, not by setting up a legislative barrier to simply block out people who are qualified.
  • by didiken (93521) on Friday January 03, 2003 @02:50PM (#5007933) Homepage
    Well as a electrical engineer wannabe myself, I feel like the clones (the foreigner) and the majority human races (American) are against us ;).

    First, let's put it this way, remember that most Americans (unless you're Indian American) are also immigrants decendent that their ancestors stepped off the boats earlier than the foreigner.

    And frankly I am not worrying a whole lot about these H1B visa issues. If you're good, you'll be okay anywhere. Take the inspiration from the earlier Slashdot thread What Should I Do With My Life? [].

    I guess many slashdot readers might still have the perception the mad Chineses or Indians or Russians (and many other countries) are the 'engineers' or the 'programmers' that are underpaid and stuff, and therefore steals poor American jobs. My opinions are the H1B visas are the scapegoats because so many laid-offs.... economy downturns and we're still waiting for the next-big-thing, so foreigners should be kicked out and give jobs to Americans. The real story I can tell you is, it is damn hard to get a part-time programming job in university, let alone H1B visa if you're foreign students (at least at my university). It is damn more expensive sometimes to hire a foreigner... think about the paperwork and stuff. If a foreigner can get a job in America, he is surely the best-of-the-best. Get real, cheap != efficient okay.

    Actually I am more than happy if AFL-CIO manages to scrap H1B. You're just kicking them back to their countries, helping them to solve their brain-drain problems ;). Well guys you're going to lose another round on globalization, sending the best and the brightest trained from the most adavanced and technological nation, back home. I'm sure many Chinese and Indians are great entrepreneurs, and by then you'll hear US companies outsourcing MORE to these ex-H1B folks. Not a good strategy either.

    Remeber, the truth is in you. Whoever innovate wins go fuck the prom queen. Losers go under the food chain. That's exactly how the economy should work, right ?
  • I'm agreeing with you, but I'm not an h1b holder, I'm an American citizen.

    The USA has tons of talent. But none of it is developed, and you have too many people in the tech industry (still) who are there not because they like tech, or work hard, but because they think it's easy money. On the radio, you hear the ads: "Come to the Crapola Institute, and graduate with a degree that will get you a high-paying job in the exciting tech industry!"

    I'm glad to see that most of the posters here on Slashdot seem to be agreeing with the point of view that this proposal fails to identify real solutions and real problems, and is really just xenophobia disguised as economic reform. At least Americans appear not to be culturally ignorant... maybe all that "multiculturalism" stuff they forced down our throats in the early 90's actually had some value?
  • a "common"market (Score:5, Insightful)

    by zogger (617870) on Friday January 03, 2003 @03:03PM (#5008042) Homepage Journal
    --we HAD a huge common market. No visas required to travel, a common currency, the members traded with each other, and the money "made" inside this common market remained mostly inside, thereby getting spent and respent and respent and respenty. It created the worlds largest and most successful middle class. That was called the united States. A single blue collar job could pay for a family with several kids, a home, a car or two, and that worker had a good chance of having full benefits and a retirement pension. Ain't that way no mo. It was a success. 50 soverign states that traded with each other, a slew of differing languages spoken but one language as the default business/governmental language. It was large enough to do this. Neighbor helped make neighbor prosperous. We still had foreign trade but the sheer greed and stupidity hadn't taken over as bad as it is now. It was a system that "just worked" pretty much.

    But no, couldn't keep doing that, had to have that one percent of the population that was already "rich" want to be "richer".

    Here's just a basic law of economics, when you move a job away from your border, and the person who loses his job loses his spendable income, that money is lost to the tune of 7 to 1 roughly. If the replacement job-if it even exists-pays less, with less bennies, then it pays less with less bennies, that person and the economy is worse off, not better..

    The US corporate "model" now is just destroying the already existing middle class to create a slightly larger and extremely wealthier upper class, and a much larger bottom tier class, like the model in most second and third world countries. As long as someone still has their own personal good paying job they won't hardly care, as they are enjoying the extremely temporary cheaper prices on their goods and services. The "other guy's" predicament is just a news blurb. As soon as they become a statistic instead of a spectator to the phenomena, they "won't get it". And I am not talking about "buggywhips" being phased out, I am talking about "jobs" that are still "being done and needed and useful".

    This current globalization is a complete and total scam. IF it worked as advertuised and promulgated by the governmental and 'stock market expert" shills, we wouldn't have a 500 billion a year balance of trade deficit.

    The US in two and half decades has gone from the world's largest creditor nation economically to the world's largest debtor nation, the exact same time span that massive globalization has been pushed at all high governmental/corporate levels. We wouldn't have personal bankruptcies at an almost 30 year high, we wouldn't have the percentages of unemployment we have, we wouldn't have home mortgage defaults at a 30 year high.

    Now anyone might call this a mere "coincidence", or series of coincidences, but I call it a long range loose plan by certain international loyal to no one uber connected rich ones/cartels/groups with both a political and economic agenda that is going to be proven to be *not nice* in the near and medium future, let alone from a long range historical view..

    This is IMO and I also see nothing to dissuade me from this opinion. I look at actual tangible and verifiable results, not rhetoric and large scale hucksterism.

    Globalization for the united States middle classes, the true productive people in our society and the true "wealth creators", as opposed to the "wealth re-arrangers", is pure economic vaporware, it is only a "success" for the ones controlling the agenda.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday January 03, 2003 @03:05PM (#5008057)
    As far as admitting people into our country, it's time to stop that. There are plenty of people here, bringing more in serves no purpose. We don't need to "import culture", because, as he said, we have our own national culture now. Why should I want to trade my culture for that of some scumbag immigrant?

    Have you seen how these H-1Bs live? They live in absolute squalor and filth (so it feels just like home to them). Spics are notorious for piling a few dozen people into a 1 bedroom apartment, but spics are too lazy to get H-1Bs. Indians, who I think make up the majority of H-1Bs, are absolutely disgusting. They have little/no concept of hygeine. Even the "clean" ones stink, it's just the way they are. They're soooo fucking happy to be here, living in shitty conditions doesn't bother them at all (they'd be doing that back in India anyway).

    Anyway, he's got a point, the quality of immigrant nowadays is really low. Our country is filling up with niggers, spics, camel jockeys, gooks, and dotheads. This is really unacceptable. They lower the quality of our nation. They are disgusting, stupid, and lazy.

    If they were comparable to whites, how did they end up ruining all of their countries?

    Just because you "want" all people to be equal doesn't mean they are.
  • Re:I might be ... (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Zeinfeld (263942) on Friday January 03, 2003 @03:10PM (#5008100) Homepage
    Of course development is far more than just the per dollar rate. We all know, for instance, that the productivity of programmers varies by a ratio of 100:1 or more (especially telling as some developers actually are a net negative contributor as they do more harm than good).

    The problem with outsourcing is that you can also spend a lot of money hiring Big 5 consultants to write code for you at $200 an hour and still end up with a bunch of half trained chimps whose only skill is padding their hours.

    Just face it, most programmers suck, most are clueless. Software project managers are worse. If you project is going to be made a hash of you might as well have it made a hash of by $10 an hour half trained chimps than $200 and hour half trained chimps.

    The big problem with code projects is that there are very very few elite programmers whose communication skills are good enough to allow them to leverage other people to do the grunt work. If you have one of those people who can architect code to a really high quality then your project is likely to succeed.

  • Re:I might be ... (Score:4, Insightful)

    by troup (637599) on Friday January 03, 2003 @03:11PM (#5008121)
    If the Missouri citizens knew this they would probably be as outraged as I have been over the past 4 months. I was a contractor at Siemens ICN, Lake Mary, FL and Siemens imported cheap foreign labor, specifically L-1 "intra-company transfer" visa holders throught Tata Consulting India. They are imported from TCS India to TCS USA. They are then sold off as "consultants" to American businesses. We were mandated to train them before we got laid off. Over 20 Americans(mostly employees) fought the same battle. Do you realize your government allows foreigners to 1. come into our country 2. to take our jobs(while management mandates we train them) 3. and send their kids to our schools 4. while we're sent to the unemployment line 5. and OUR CONGRESS voted for this 6. Congress voted to put Americans out of work so foreigners can come INTO our country and take our jobs!!!!!!! And those foreigners on L-1 work visas can bring their families. Their children can go to our schools. While they take our jobs, my property taxes pay for their children to go to our schools. I would guess that if you are a CEO type, you don't care because this betters your life. But what about the working Americans that suffer so these CEOs can increase their paychecks.??? Think about it, our government allows foreigners to take our jobs and via property taxes requires us to pay for the education of their children. Yes, that is what the L-1 work visa, aka, the "American Worker Replacment Program" is all about. Over 4 months of begging and pleading for help resulting in Representative John L. Mica getting reelected while we were sent to the unemployment line. Mica, Bush, Sen Graham and Nelson care for their select few; those that fund their campaigns. Mica had the gall to call me in September and "quiet me down" prior to the election. So, I thought he was going to help us. Not a chance in hell. He only wanted us to keep his "American worker replacement program" undercovers so he could get reelected. He got what he wanted he got reelected, we got laid off, his Indians now work at the corporation in his district, which by the way Siemens provides campaign funds to him. Michael T. Emmons Longwood, FL 32779 0918.html -- The Siemens ICN, Lake Mary, FL displacement program 020901.html --The JP Morgan, Tampa, FL displacement program
  • by minard (264043) on Friday January 03, 2003 @03:16PM (#5008161)
    oh no, not this one again. Every time this comes up (on many message boards, I might add) I post the same argument, and as far as I know, nobody has ever replied.

    Here it is - what makes you think that just because an "alien worker" is working somewhere else in the world, they aren't competing with Americans for jobs? The economy is global, and much of the global market is outside of the US. Much of it, for many products, is in China, the rest of Asia, and Europe. This whole pseudo-economic argument that typically gets presented as a justification for "keeping aliens out" or, more and more frequently, "sending all the foreigners home" is nothing more than xenophobia. It has nothing to do with economics. If America chooses to become more isolationist, and stop its current policy of bringing in the best people it can find to work here, America will go backwards, not forwards. The biggest single threat to American engineering jobs is the (approximately) 10:1 ratio of new engineering graduates in China and the US. You will not do any service to US engineering jobs by restricting the supply of engineers in the US. Maybe this will help short term, but long term it's very bad news.

    One more thing - the constant references to H1-B holders as "temporary" or "guest workers" is strictly correct, but otherwise misleading. None of the H1-B holders I know (and in case you hadn't guessed, I'm one too) have no intention of turning up in the US for a few years and then "going home". It's simply the only immigration route available. You have to get an H1-B and be resident in the US in order to apply for a green card, and eventually citizenship.

    So is anybody going to refute this?

  • by minard (264043) on Friday January 03, 2003 @03:21PM (#5008215)
    I really can't agree with that. As stated in another post, the H1-B program is the only available route to immigration. As an H1-B holder myself, you can guess I know many others, and what you describe doesn't apply to anybody I know. If you think what you state is a problem, we should be campaigning for an alternative route to immigration that doesn't require the artificial "temporary worker" intermediate step.

    As you say, I pay taxes, and much of what I earn gets returned to the local economy. I own a house in the US. My family and I are heavily involved in the local community. The characterization of myself and others as "not contributing to the social framework" and "harming the economy" by "transferring wealth and experience outside the US" is wrong, and frankly, pretty offensive. It sounds plain racist to me...

  • Re:I might be ... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by NDPTAL85 (260093) on Friday January 03, 2003 @03:26PM (#5008239)
    These foreign workers add, not subtract to our economy. Even when they put you out of work. The savings from their lower wages can be passed onto us, the consumer who must pay for the products. Its a win win for nearly everyone.
  • Re:I might be ... (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Tackhead (54550) on Friday January 03, 2003 @03:33PM (#5008300)
    > Biotechnology. Genetic engineering. A few bored kids in a garage with a chemistry set discovers the cure for cancer. Thousands rush out to buy their own home chemistry sets. Begin next boom.

    Amen. Won't happen in a garage, but computational biology - the notion that DNA is to cells as machine language is to computers - and that just as one can reverse-engineer a computer program by tweaking a few bytes and running it to see what changes, one can reverse-engineer DNA by knocking out a few sequences and replacing them with something new... is extremely powerful.

    If I were 15 again, I'd be reading everything I could while planning for a Bio/Chem major with a CompSci minor. It runs on computers made of meat, but it's code just the same.

  • by markwusinich (126760) <> on Friday January 03, 2003 @03:43PM (#5008409) Homepage Journal
    I was arguing pro union and the guy in the next cube was anti-union. His argument went like this:

    Him: My wife has to pay something like $50/month to the union out of her own pay, and in return she gets nothing!

    Me: What job does she do?

    Him: She teaches in Upper Darby. (He then went on to rant about how it's worse in Philadelphia)

    Me cutting him off: Why doesn't she work for one of the private schools. She would have a better working environment and would not have to deal with unions.

    Him: But she has to work for the public schools. The private schools don't pay squat.

    At this point, I figured he made my point. But he did not get it. The union, not the public school got her more pay.

    Also the union, not the employer has bosses that the members vote on. If you don't like the way the union is going, then run to become a leader.

    It should also be noted that in many companies where union workers are. The best of the workers quickly become management. Their pay is not tied to the union wage.

    Even if you don't become management there are very few unions that dictate a maximum pay. So if you can argue that you are worth more, argue it and get it.
  • by minard (264043) on Friday January 03, 2003 @03:48PM (#5008472)
    you're missing the point of what I said. Here's the bit I object to:

    The harm comes if/when you leave, transferring the experience you have gained and the finances you've earned with you

    The problem I have is the assumption that I intend to leave. I don't. And I brought a large amount of experience I gained from elsewhere (two masters degrees, 8 years experience) and finances I earned (enough for 50% of a house) with me.

    There is another purpose in the H1-B program, and it is explicitly stated by the INS. It is for permanent immigration. Not only is it intended for the purpose, but it is the only mechanism there is. That's really why I object to the characterization you wrote.

  • by jedidiah (1196) on Friday January 03, 2003 @03:52PM (#5008513) Homepage
    In some places, notably the ones where tech companies tend to congretate, a six figure salary is MERELY a decent living. Expecting to be paid 150K in LA, New York, SFO or the Valley is not at all unreasonable if you are reasonably talented.

    Perhaps companies should start moving to places where real estate isn't subject to bidding wars.

    The fastest part of the tech industry tanked because people were starting companies without giving any thought to how these companies were going to MAKE MONEY.

    As for the rest of the economy: the fat cat's just don't want to share the profit that is enabled by effective software development or IT.

  • by Tackhead (54550) on Friday January 03, 2003 @03:57PM (#5008566)
    > "Waaaa but I'm the UBERMENSCH!!!! I can negotiate my OWN condiditions I RULE THE COMPANY MUST DO WHAT I SAY IF THEY DON'T DO WHAT YOU SAY YOU'RE WEAK AND UNPRODUCTIVE AND DESERVE WHAT YOU GET QUIT DRAGGING ME DOWN!!!!!!!!!!!!!! *whacks you over the forehead with a copy of Atlas Shrugged*"

    *flips through a few pages*

    Hey, it says my mind is the source of all productivity.

    Hey, I work in IT. I use my mind to make computers do things they couldn't do before.

    Hey, the means of production, is, like, in my head. It's, like, the workers own the means of production.

    *whacks you over the forehead with a copy of Das Kapital* ;-)

  • by nero_thefiddle_playe (638263) on Friday January 03, 2003 @04:57PM (#5009175)
    The real problem is that American Software Developers have no political say. The inventors of the H1-B program the ITAA make tremendous campaign contrubutions to the sponsors of their program. Faced with this threat it is clear that American IT workers need to have political power ,as other occupations do, but how to get there. Unions represent blue collar workers well but there are problems with wage standards, corruption. Doctors are represented by the AMA, Lawyers by the American Trial Laywer association, etc. Currently there is the Programmers Guild, ( ) a potential political source of representation in the future. Today however the AFL-CIO has tremendous political power. Upon pulication of this memo many represenatives are finally given a truthful explanation of the H1-B program as opposed to the propaganda industry has painted for years. The H1-B program is destructive to the American economy. It is well known that more qualified Americans are being bypassed because of cost not skills. 750,000 American IT workers have been displaced by this program. At an average wage of $60,000/yr the American economy has taken a hit of 45 billion dollars taken out of the consumers hands. The head economist at Morgan Stanley Steven Roach has commented that cheap labor from China and India is the number one threat to the U.S. economy today. Another point is H1-B's and outsourcing are not mutually exclusive. A large number of H1-B's are facilitators for outsourcing. They work a few months in the U.S. learning the sytem in question then return to their home countries to continue the work. In sheer numbers of American IT workers displaced the H1-B program is on a factor of several to one over outsourcing.
  • by TechsUnite (617940) on Friday January 03, 2003 @05:40PM (#5009574) Homepage

    A number of postings here make reference to unions basing compensation solely on seniority, no reward for merit, etc. So why would any techie worth his or her salt want to get roped into that BS, and get paid the same as some lame non-performer with half the talent?

    Good question. Answer: When you bargain collectively as part of a union, you negotiate over the issues that you care about. If you don't want seniority-based wage ladders, you don't propose them! Simple as that. Union contracts can, and often do, include provisions for merit pay. In those cases, they establish base minimums for various categories. In many white collar unions, such as the Newspaper Guild, many union members earn merit pay well above the negotiated base for their job title.

    It's also not true that union contracts prevent non-performing employees from getting fired. If you are not, or cannot, do the job you were hired to do, you can get fired from a union job like any other. The difference is, the firing will not be random or capricious, or based on the fact that some manager does not like you. Your contract will, or should, outline a negotiated process for discpline or terminations. Any firing will therefore come as the result of a process that documents your non-peformance, and in which you can appeal or contest any unsubstantiated allegations about your performance -- not out of the blue.

    Same with layoffs -- and layoff notice.

  • by Ars-Fartsica (166957) on Friday January 03, 2003 @05:51PM (#5009659)
    This is the last refuge of a beaten culture. To characterize all Indian engineers as being "dumb" (which you were indirectly doing, just admit it), is ridiculous, wrong, and ignorant.

    Look around major tech companies and you will see people from all over the world holding various positions. Some are smart. Some aren't. By the same token, presuming that all American programmers are intelligent is equally inane. The fact that this gibberish was moderated up just shows you how ignorant and reflexive the users here are .

  • by Ars-Fartsica (166957) on Friday January 03, 2003 @05:55PM (#5009701)
    No one in the US complained about trade when the first world powers were exploiting cheap labor for huge windfalls. Now that these nations have bootstrapped themselves and are taking ownership of their own labor, Americans cry protectionism.

    Money knows no borders. Deal! If you think the wealthy feel a special affinity for you because you were born in the same country as them, forget it! You are simply naive. These people control the government so you can forget about Uncle Sam bailing you out. Why do you think free trade is at the top of every Federal agenda for the last two decades regardless of the plight of American workers????

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday January 03, 2003 @06:36PM (#5010118)
    The biggest problem was when greed set in. Greed used to be looked down upon in society....then society changed, and we got overrun by wankers complaining about others imposing their morality.

    Suddenly, without morality or a good value system...other things turned to shit. Greed became 'ok' along with just about any other generally undesirable trait and naughty pleasure.

    To those wankers who wanna cry about people imposing their morality...thanks a fucking lot. You've got yourselves to blame.
  • Silly question (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Guppy06 (410832) on Friday January 03, 2003 @07:23PM (#5010524)
    Something about out-sourcing jobs to foreign labor has been bugging me for quite a while now, and it seems obvious enough to me that I'm wondering why nobody else is thinking along these lines.

    Mattel in recent years closed down a number of US factories and moved most of its manufacturing to Asia. In laying off the US laborers, they have effectively eliminated several thousand (potential) customers. Their employees no longer have a job and can't afford to purchase Barbie's Malibu Beach House. Even if they do get new jobs elsewhere, they'll probably avoid Mattel products out of spite.

    So then we go look at the new Asian labor. They're paid a small fraction of Mattel's former employees, and the price of Barbie's Malibu Beach House resembles what each one makes in a month. Suffice to say that these new laborers are a long way off from being potential Mattel customers.

    So while Mattel's labor costs have gone down, they've also trimmed their potential customer base. They could try to compensate for the loss of sales by passing on their savings labor costs on to the customers, but then they'll end up with no net gain in profit. And this doesn't even begin to figure in loss of sales due to bad press from laying off so many US workers to begin with.

    How does this help Mattel? Even Henry Ford knew enough to pay his laborers enough to afford their own Model Ts.
  • by zogger (617870) on Friday January 03, 2003 @07:26PM (#5010551) Homepage Journal
    --coupla things about official and corporate statistics the past few years.

    First one is, the "official" unemployment stats do NOT include people who are long term unemployed and have dropped off the unemployment insurance rolls. Just this week, on january first, 780,000-3/4 of a MILLION people, bill paying, mortgage note paying, credit card holding and paying people, people who shopped locally, spent money in stores around their neighborhoods, maybe trying to put their kids through school, etc, GONE off the stats, US workers off their last incomes, those unemployment checks which were already much smaller than their "normal" pay. But officially now, those numbers aren't totalled into the 6%. They are now the economic "dissapeareds". They are gone, not counted. And the numbers also don't include people still working but in a severely reduced pay scale job and/or at much less hours a week, the term used is the "chronically underemployed".

    My best guess is, and I've seen some pundits mirror this, is that *true* unemployment in the US right now is actually almost double the official stats, call it 10% to be conservative. The US lost roughly 2 million jobs last year, that's after factoring replacement (and mostly lowerpaying) jobs, and there's a lot more coming, see the other post on the thread the lost jobs in milwaukee. And this isn't just dotcom boom years jobs, a lot of these are jobs in manufacturing that existed for generations in areas, reguylar oldsolid blue collar jobs for 'stuff" everyone still needsand wants, not buggywhips.

    If you follow the news the past year, almost daily you can find layoffs or firings or whole factories relocating offshore, it's running dozens to one on "new" factory announcements. It is literally an economic hemorrahge, to revisit the balance of trade deficit point I made earlier.

    One "quality of life" measurement-the basic consumer price index- had energy costs and food costs removed from the tally to make the numbers "look" better a few years ago. If one was to re-calculate this, it wouldn't look as rosy generally speaking.

    Your neighbor losing his job is a recession, anyone "you" losing their job is a depression, with all the ramifications of that.
  • Wow ... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by SuperDuG (134989) <be AT eclec DOT tk> on Friday January 03, 2003 @07:53PM (#5010806) Homepage Journal
    So I'm reading the +2 and above posts from highest to lowest threaded. (so you know where I'm coming from here)

    So why don't we make just bomb the hell out of the countries that jobs are outsourced to, close our borders, and purify our nation once again.

    You are all sounding a little too much like some other not so popular [] websites. If you suck at your job or someone can do it cheaper or better, then you're not going to keep your job. Blame whoever you want to, ever think maybe it was YOU who was YOUR problem?

  • by leshert (40509) on Friday January 03, 2003 @08:05PM (#5010902) Homepage
    This is a chicken-and-egg problem, at least in the Bay area. Real estate prices were high, but not stupid-high, before the tech boom. When tech people became scarce due to the tech explosion there, companies started paying silly money to qualified people from out of the area in order to entice them to move. This caused a mass influx of people with good amounts of disposable income and lots of competition for scarce housing. Low supply, high demand: prices go up. It's Economics 101.

    Now real estate prices generally (but not always) fall much more slowly in a recession than they rise in a superheated market. So now we have a situation where housing prices remain high, but the jobs are far less plentiful and you still have a large number of people chasing them. Higher supply (of labor), low demand: prices go down.

    You remark that companies should move to where real estate isn't subject to bidding wars. They are--it's just not a place in the U.S.

    Also, you could say the same things about those who complain about high real estate prices compared to their salaries: go somewhere with a decent tech economy and a non-inflated real estate market.

    Yes, there are cities in the U.S. that fit this description.
  • by benzapp (464105) on Friday January 03, 2003 @09:29PM (#5011491)
    Sorry, the revolution has already happened. And we lost. It was sown with the conservative response to the 1960s counterculture and was reaped with the election of a CIA chief and now his son. Hate the break the news to you.

    Oh yeah, I was wrong. Thanks for that important tip. What was I thinking?

    Did you not read my original post? When I say revolution, I am not referring to a bunch of pussy hippies listening to shitty music and getting stoned on weed. I am talking about the real deal.

    Guns, tanks, death, amphetamine, heroin, Wagner, Sousa. Violent revolution, real drugs, and real music.

    If you think in the entire history of human civilization, the 1960's is at all relevant you really need to read up more.

    The point of my post is the Military-Industrial complex was foisted upon the nation as a foundation of our economy, but the end result was a huge military was created. To prevent that military from causing trouble here in the United States, they were spread all around the world. That way, more guns weapons, and people could be employed by that System without fear of revolution caused by that military machine.

    Between the millions of veterans, national guardsmen, reserves, and active duty personal we have a huge cadre of personal trained and ready to wreck havoc.

    As the world economy collapses, the civilized order which allowed hippies to march freely on streets in the 1960's will cease to exist. Violent confrontation will become the norm, as it has been for virtually all of human existence.

    Revolution will come out of necessity, because the existing government will cease to maintain a civilized society.

    When that day comes, people will care more about carrying an automatic rifle than a pipe. No one will smoke marijuana, but amphetamine and morphine will be necessities. Speed to keep you fighting, narcotics to dull the physical and emotional pain of war. Souless pop music will fail to impress those who experience true bloodshed. We will return to more complex music, especially militaristic music.
  • Death Spiral (Score:3, Insightful)

    by the eric conspiracy (20178) on Friday January 03, 2003 @10:04PM (#5011716)
    It seems to me that something like the H1-B visa program is putting technological education and eventually competitiveness in the US into a situation where severe long term damage to the economy is very likely.

    If US companies are successful in using the H1-B program to alleviate wage pressure and shortages in technical jobs, there will be little or no financial incentive for US students to study engineering - short careers and pay not much different from mechanical trades is not going to attract top candidates to a difficult field of study.

    The result will be fewer graduates - and with fewer students, the institutions capabable of graduating people with these skills will decay as well. This will exacerbate the skill shortage, and trigger additional demands for more such H1-B workers. The infrastructure to support the education of these candidates in their countries of origin will correspondingly flourish. These educational institutions will be fertile grounds for great new advances in technology while the decaying US institutions will not be able to respond in kind.

    There is a great flaw in letting short term band-aids like the H1-B program drive a nation's policies - short term fixes are merely treating the symptoms.

  • by Ralman (103115) on Friday January 03, 2003 @10:34PM (#5011878)
    Reading through these comments all I see is a whiny buch of children screaming "my daddy can beat up your daddy." Send them home, we deserve it, its the only way to get a green card, fsck you, fsck me. Grow up!

    As an America born/bred/schooled worker in the tech industry, I have seen both sides of the coin. There are alot of American workers who are very good at what they do, and there are alot that suck. Same thing goes for the H1B holders, alot of them are great, alot of them suck.

    As one of the co-lead developers in our department I had to attempt to train my replacements. Yes, that right, replacements, they could hire 3 H1B holders for what I was making, and I was already making below market value for the area and technology. The only problem is, they couldn't do the job. Between all three of them they couldn't even turn on the computer, and they were college-level graduates in ComSci. This, of course, came after we let go one of the best developers, also working under H1B, who got it done, and did it right the first time around with no fuss.

    Personally, I have nothing against most of the people here under H1B Visas. The problem I have is with the idiots who are doing the hiring. Most of them are not hiring the competent workers, they are firing them and trying to get a bunch of cheap ass labor to take the place. Its hard enough for me to even get an interview since I am an American worker because they automatically assume I want way to much money. Yes, I have been told this to my face by interviewers.

    As for the problem with the rest of the H1B holders, are the ones that work in a 'system'. Nothing more than indentured servitude if you asked me. They get fired from one place, they get put into another, no questions asked.

    Oh yeah, for the commenters crying xenophobia, I have only one retort. Patriotism, where is yours?

    Alright, thats enough incoherent rambling from yet another chump for now.

  • by composer777 (175489) on Friday January 03, 2003 @11:14PM (#5012117)
    That's a good point, we are all dependent on each other. One becomes rich off the hard work of others, there is no such thing as a self-made millionaire, unless one believes that the owner of Ford Motor Company actually assembles all the cars himself or Bill Gates wrote DOS, much less windows. Given this truism, can you explain why we should support the huge differences in wealth that we have? If it's about freedom, then what kind of freedom are we defending that allows a select few vast amounts of economic power and control, and the rest of us are relegated to positions of servitude? Why should someone else's "freedom" to have 1,000 men working under him supercede our expectations of just rewards for our labor?

It is your destiny. - Darth Vader