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AFL-CIO Proposed Reforms for the H1B Program

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  • 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?
    • Don't worry, I'm sure other countries will start getting so full with our jobs that they'll send theres over here. Then we'll all be haaaaaaapppppyyyy
    • Re:I might be ... (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Malicious (567158)
      Canadian companies make a lot of money, supporting Compaq, IBM, and AOL products.

      Canadian Dollar=Cheap
      Out of work Canadian Technicians=Plentiful

      It's good business

      • Actually if I were for free trade Canada would be one of the nations that would be ok. While the loon might be weak they have a high standard of living..
      • And also (Score:3, Funny)

        by phorm (591458)
        A tendancy to have better english speaking skills than other countries where english is not the primary language.

        Welcome to tech support, eh! - phorm
    • Re:I might be ... (Score:4, Insightful)

      by override11 (516715) <cpeterson@gts.gaineycorp.com> 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?
      • Re:I might be ... (Score:5, Informative)

        by EricWright (16803) on Friday January 03, 2003 @02:04PM (#5007499) Journal
        Define economically sound. I left my last company in part because they were starting to ship a large portion of the development tasks to India. That left fewer positions in the US, and those positions were turned into "analysts" and "customer interaction specialists", in other words, requirements gatherers and writers of tedious documents.

        I saw some of the work that came back from India, and frankly, it sucked. GUI design was non-existent, as were coding standards. There was a distinct lack of understanding of any non-M$ developement tool/language. Many of "sys-admins" had no idea what a port was, much less how it could get hijacked, broken into, etc. One of our US admins did a port scan on one of their main servers and found an unknown program listening on port 31337. Uh huh... good job guys.

        Furthermore, we had significant communication issues with the Indian offices due to the 14 hour time differential. The requirements people in the US could interact with our customers on a given day, it would take until the next day for the overseas "developers" to get the requirements. Issues, misunderstandings, etc. took one or more days further to resolve, etc. Time wasted is money wasted.

        My point is that, although Indian labor may be cheaper on an hourly basis, how many more man-hours does it take to get the job done? By the time I left, the amount of money saved through overseas development was little to none. All that had been accomplished was a 50% staff attrition through layoffs or people, like myself, who saw the impending doom and jumped ship before the axe fell.
        • Re:I might be ... (Score:5, Interesting)

          by Tackhead (54550) on Friday January 03, 2003 @02:29PM (#5007727)
          > My point is that, although Indian labor may be cheaper on an hourly basis, how many more man-hours does it take to get the job done? By the time I left, the amount of money saved through overseas development was little to none. All that had been accomplished was a 50% staff attrition through layoffs or people, like myself, who saw the impending doom and jumped ship before the axe fell.

          Economic Darwinism in action. It's what happens whenever a company abandons the merit principle in hiring.

          If we had easier permanent immigration ("green card"), employers wouldn't need the H-1B as a stepping-stone to being able to bring a talented worker in on a permanent basis.

          Also, if we didn't have the H-1B stepping-stone mentality, employers wouldn't put up with the hassles. They'd hire the best person - American or otherwise.

          Likewise, wage devaluation wouldn't be a factor, as foreigners would be able to demand wages comparable to Americans, because any employer that failed to pay real market wages would soon find itself unable to hire.

          Americans win. Foreigners win. Companies win. Pity that free labor markets will never happen, but hey, it's nice to dream.

        • 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.

      • 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 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 Billly Gates (198444) on Friday January 03, 2003 @01:53PM (#5007394) Journal
      Programmers too. I had to leave the tech field when I lived in New York because all of the finaincal companies(yes the ones who hold the majority of the worlds money) are outsourcing all of the programming jobs to India and Indonesia for 7/hr! I guess the CEO's do not have enough money.

      I was even willing to work for 7/hr like the Indians because I became so desperate and was ready to work at a McDonalds or retail store. I guess I was still viewed as too expensive or not dispensable enough. I ened up moving back in with my parents, selling all of most of my stuff in my apartment, lossing my girlfriend because she wanted a man with money, and working at a staples for 7/hr.

      Infact go read this [com.com]article here on how sun is under investigation for firing half of its staff and replacing them with Indians. Its disgusting and this really pisses me off! What the f*ck did we do to deserve to be treated like this? I advise most workers to work for a small bussiness who actually care about there workers. Big companies just want to rape us. I am back in tech working for a small consulting company outside of the big cities. I advise those who are looking for work in New York, Silcon Valley, or San Fransico to leave and move to a place like Phoenix, Las Vegas or Ohama where small bussinesses are rampant and rents are low.

    • We need more H1B's (Score:4, Interesting)

      by EccentricAnomaly (451326) on Friday January 03, 2003 @01:54PM (#5007404) Homepage
      There are very few good aerospace graduates coming out every year, especially on the space side. It really sucks when you know a guy whose really good but he can't get hired because he's a foreign national, so box-of-rocks gets hired instead and your stuck babysitting box-of-rocks to try and get some useful work out of some clown who must have cheated his way through school.

      And the really good guy who's a foreign national goes back to his home country and can't get a job in the space industry because his country doesn't have a space program or he's european and ESA has stupid nationality-based hiring quotas.

      As a nation we benefit greatly from being able to brain-drain other countries and get as many of their talented engineers working here as we can.

      I do agree with one of these proposed reforms though... foreign nationals should get paid the same as us-citizens. We should be importing people because their really good... we shouldn't be importing some foreign box-of-rocks because he's cheaper than some american box-of-rocks.
      • 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 [com.com] 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!

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

      by Maudib (223520)
      The story of the American economy is based on innovation at home and route production overseas.

      When all this tech stuff was new and in development, it was natural for it to remain in the states. Leading edge development and the first round of sales is a high margin education intensive thing. However, as the product difuses throughout society and more and more individuals obtain the necesary background to produce a given product, then the margins fall. At this point the U.S. has historically exported the production to other nations, as our high standard of living and the nature of our economy depends (a) On high margins and (b) on the exploitation of education versus the exploitation of masses of people.

      Summary:
      Complex research, manufacturing, and development remains at home. Simplistic labor intensive manufacturing gets moved overseas.

      I would be more concerned if we werent relocating these help desk jobs to India. That would be a sign of our economy abdicating the forefront.
    • Re:I might be ... (Score:5, Interesting)

      by artemis67 (93453) on Friday January 03, 2003 @02:02PM (#5007475)
      Yeah, but how do you propose we stem the tide of projects going overseas, while at the same time maintaining superiorty in the tech industry?

      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. Sure, you might be able to stop Missouri from farming out their services overseas (at the expense of the taxpayer, who's paying for the increased cost), but you can't stop privately owned firms without some sort of draconian lockdown on software production.

      It's not entirely a bad thing, though. A US company may spend capital overseas to produce a package, but the revenue on the sale of the product is taxed in the good ol' US of A, and taxed again when those US employees receive their paychecks, and again when they spend it.

      Trying to lockdown the export of projects in the US will have two effects. The first will be to force companies that are able to to move overseas, where the US won't be able to tax them. The other is that, for those companies that aren't able to go overseas but have to stay in the US, they will have to pay much higher rates than the rest of the world for software engineering, forcing them to be less competitive, and the long term effect is that the US would fall far, far behind in technology.
      • 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.
        • 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:3, Insightful)

      by afidel (530433)
      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.
    • 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 usaworker@hannatroup.com http://www.hannatroup.com:81/USA/tata/MyStory_2002 0918.html -- The Siemens ICN, Lake Mary, FL displacement program http://www.hannatroup.com:81/USA/tata/TimWright_20 020901.html --The JP Morgan, Tampa, FL displacement program http://www.hannatroup.com:81/USA/tata/ http://www.hannatroup.com:81/
      • Re:I might be ... (Score:3, Insightful)

        by NDPTAL85 (260093)
        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.
  • 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?
    • 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.
    • Re:Prevailing Wage? (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Glock27 (446276)
      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?

      What it means is that, in a very narrow range of professions, you get to compete with hundreds of thousands of people who'd be THRILLED to be making $20,000 a year in their homeland.

      There was never any meaningful shortage of labor if the employer was willing to pay enough. Its called "supply and demand". And guess what, if tech jobs paid more, more graduates would go into tech jobs! What a concept. The entire point of H1-B visas is cheaper labor. Funny how CEO positions are never filled with H1-B folk though...

      I have to say its disgusting that the AFL/CIO is the one doing the whistleblowing rather than, oh, say, the current executive branch! Strange bedfellows indeed...

    • by NDPTAL85 (260093)
      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.
    • 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?
      • 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 EnderWiggnz (39214)
          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.

      • 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 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.
      • 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:BINGO! (Score:3, Interesting)

          by GreyPoopon (411036)
          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.

          Absolutely agreed. And what the greedy companies who follow this practice don't seem to realize is that they are effectively taking money out of the hands of the very people who would be buying their products. Look at the current trade deficit for the United States. The vast majority of consumers of US products live in ... the US. If you stop handing them the money they need to buy your products, you'll eventually start losing money. I'm not sure how long that process takes, but it's virtually guaranteed happen.

        • Re:BINGO! (Score:3, Informative)

          by swillden (191260)

          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.

          I may be naive, but I think you *should* say otherwise. I'm an American and I like my lifestyle, but I don't think that I should be entitled to it at the expense of the rest of the world (and, no, I'm not implying some sort of zero-sum game crap, and I don't believe that our wealth comes from exploiting the rest of the world, but I do think that we shouldn't artificially restrict their opportunities).

          My attitude is pretty atypical, and I didn't always feel this way. It was during the two years I spent living in Mexico, when I met and became close friends with a great number of intelligent, educated, hardworking and severely disadvantaged people that I began to realize that I'm human *first* and American *second*. I don't believe in giving people handouts; experience shows that just makes the giver poorer without really helping the recipient and, in fact, it's not necessary -- if you just allow people the opportunity to compete, many of them will. That's the whole basis of the American Dream, in fact: let 'em in, let 'em work, let 'em fight their way up the ladder. Open, free, fair competition.

          Not that the H1B program provides open, free, fair competition; I agree with that part of your post.

    • While negotiations are a good idea in theory, the reality is that most H1B's are "captured" by their employer. It is far from uncommon for an H1B's salary to be negotiated down after the H1B is in place and proven to be a satisfactory employee. The crux with H1Bs is that they're willing to take a lower rate than their American counterparts, because they're either used to a lower quality of life, or because they're willing to put up with it while their Green Card is in process.

      I've tried twice to get my Green Card in the US, working through TN/TC visas for the first year, with a subsequent upgrade to an H1B. As a Canadian, I am not willing to work for an insulting salary, so both times the GC has been abandoned before completion.

      I won't be trying again. If I opt to take any more US-based contracts, they'll be under 1-year TN/TC visas. I am no one's slave, and permanent residency is not worth allowing myself to be treated as one.

      Unfortunately for the H1B and GC processes, there are hundreds of thousands of workers out there who are quite willing to put up with insulting pay rates to get their residency. If companies and consulting agencies were forced to pay equivalent salaries to H1Bs that their American counterparts receive, you'd soon find they weren't anywhere near as interested in getting H1Bs on staff.

  • What is H1-B ? (Score:4, Informative)

    by Gorphrim (11654) on Friday January 03, 2003 @01:42PM (#5007283)
    ripped from visanow.com :

    The H-1B visa is for workers in specialty occupations (as defined below).

    An H-1B specialty occupation must meet three requirements:

    - Require theoretical and practical application of a body of highly specialized knowledge;

    - Require attainment of a bachelor's or higher degree or its equivalent in the specific specialty; and,

    - Any one or more of the following:
    -- A bachelor's degree or its equivalent is normally the minimum entry requirement for the position;
    -- The degree requirement is common to the industry or, the position is so complex or unique that the work can be performed only by an individual with a degree
    -- The employer normally requires a degree or its equivalent for the position; or,
    -- The nature of the specific duties is so specialized and complex that the knowledge required to perform the duties is usually associated with the attainment of a bachelor or higher degree.

    An H-1B visa applicant must have one of the following:

    - A state license to practice in the occupation, if such a license is required to practice;
    - A bachelor's degree or higher degree in the specialty field; or
    - At least 12 years experience in the specialty field

    Examples of areas of H-1B specialty occupations are:

    Accounting
    Architecture
    The Arts
    Business Specialties
    Education
    Engineering
    Law
    Mathemat ics
    Medicine and Health
    Physical sciences
    Social sciences
    Theology
  • by oldstrat (87076) on Friday January 03, 2003 @01:45PM (#5007308) Journal

    I currently work for a VERY large, VERY well known, almost universally hated telecommunications company, which for obvious reason I cannot name.

    The sooner H1B gets put under control the better, not only is it preventing upward movement within the company, increasing domestic unemployment, and brain drain from developing countries... It hurts development efforts within the company.
    In a project ended several months ago, only 2 of the 30 plus people involved spoke english as a native language, the non english speakers, spoke 7 different languages, with only english in common.

    The two who spoke english were the process manager, and an end user.

    My estimation is that a project that should have taken 3 months instead took 3 years (and produced a product that should have been retiring at the time it was introduced).

    The bottom line should not be in dollars, it should be in results.
    • 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.

      • Re:Hunh? (Score:2, Insightful)

        by EatHam (597465)
        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 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.

    • 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?
  • 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 akintayo (17599)
      Lawyers do not earn six figures straight out of school, neither do MBAs. Most of these people are hard pressed to find jobs that cover the cost of their education.

      Also, the H1B program does apply to these fields. It applies to all professional fields, with special consideration due to some e.g. nursing.

    • by seichert (8292)
      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.

    • When are we going to see an H1-B program for lawyers and MBAs?

      The H-1B program is not limited to technology. Law is pretty rare since the law is specific to the United States (or even individual states). Only 0.5% of H-1B visas were law-related in 2001. But there were almost 24,000 visas for "Occupations in administrative specializations". Admittedly, that's still pretty small compared to the 191,100 for "Computer-related occupations.
      See Report on Characteristics of Specialty Occupation [usdoj.gov]
      Workers (H-1B)
  • 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.

    • What kind of workers? System administrators? Network administrators working with Ciscos? Anyone in these fields long enough knows how silly the idea that these jobs will get farmed out soon is. Hell, in some cities PNAP's have trouble getting outside of one BUILDING, never mind T-3's and whatnot going to India or through the great firewall of China. How much you have to worry about this depends on your job - as a sysadmin, I have very little to worry about this, and very much to worry about H1-Bs.

      Of course people can listen to your idea and cringe like babies at the thought of jobs moving elsewhere and bending over and taking whatever is given them. Having known many IT workers who were probably dorks who were beaten up through high school, it doesn't surprise me they carry this wimpy attitude into adulthood. Norm Matloff responds to your question in a very detailed manner [ucdavis.edu], as well as other H1-B questions for anyone interested.

  • 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 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.

    S
    • 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.

      • 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.

        It may not have been designed as a method of immigration, but the fact of the matter is it is used as a transitional method for skilled workers to immigrate. I know, because that's what I'm doing. I have a current H1-B, and an almost-complete green card app.

        I am a skilled, well educated, English-as-native-language IT worker, with both US and UK degrees. I want to live in the US. The fact of Green Card immigration is simple: unless you win the lottery, marry an American citizen, have $500,000 around to buy one (a green card, not a US citizen, although I hear senators are pretty cheap), or are a Nobel prize winner, you cannot just ask for a green card. H1-B is a necessary first step. I'd like that to change.

        By the way; despite the fact that I'm a 'temporary worker', and can make no claim against Social Security or Medicare, I still must pay SS and Medicare taxes. I wouldn't mind paying if I could claim, or not paying if I couldn't, but the current model is precisely the worst solution. Very unfriendly, if you ask me. ;-)

  • 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.
  • 3 years ago, companies were starved for specific talent and they filled those gaps with H1B visa workers that they brought to the US.

    Today, there is no US talent shortage, and H1B is not nearly the issue it used to be... US Companies are hiring skilled foreign nationals in their country of origin as opposed to bringing them to the US.

    It works out to be good for the companies, but bad for US workers (many of whom are still caught up in H1B visa issues and haven't realized that our beloved corporations are shipping the "US jobs" overseas at a rate that makes the H1B visa hires look miniscule.)

    As a shareholder for some large tech companies, I fully support the reduction of costs by moving jobs outside one of the most expensive places to do business in the world (the bay area).

    I do have to wonder wonder what jobs will be left in the bay area for the next generation of workers, though
    • Today, there is no US talent shortage, and H1B is not nearly the issue it used to be... US Companies are hiring skilled foreign nationals in their country of origin as opposed to bringing them to the US.

      thank you very much. the flip side of this is that we also have at least a half million unemployed geeks who cannot get work, and who wind up working out of their field just to put food on the table.

  • 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 [techsunite.org], 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 [radiofreenation.net], 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.

  • reciprocity (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward
    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.
  • Reply to this if.... (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Gannoc (210256) on Friday January 03, 2003 @01:50PM (#5007370)
    Your company, after recent layoffs or making up for attrition after ending a hiring freeze, has hired technical employees who were mostly H1Bs. Out of the 5 engineers hired over the past 9 months, 4 are H1Bs.
  • by exp(pi*sqrt(163)) (613870) on Friday January 03, 2003 @01:55PM (#5007408) Journal
    I work near Silicon Valley and have many friends working in and around SIlicon Valley in high tech jobs. Many have H1B visas. They all seem smart, often much smarter than the Americans around them, and this is reflected in the fact that they often become promoted fast within their companies. In fact many high tech companies (employing Americans) seem to be built on technology developed by immigrants. They all seem to be paid damn well to me. I frequently have to recruit workers on H1B visas because many US schools seem more interesting in boosting people's self esteem than teaching students anything useful. I wouldn't entertain, even for a second, the idea of paying them less than Americans.
    • I work near Silicon Valley and have many friends working in and around SIlicon Valley in high tech jobs. Many have H1B visas. They all seem smart, often much smarter than the Americans around them, and this is reflected in the fact that they often become promoted fast within their companies.
      Your experience doesn't match mine, then. I'd say about 1/4 to 1/3 of the H1Bs I know (or at least that I recognize as likely to be such) are some of the best and brightest that I know. The others are strikingly inept, with knowledge that comes nowhere near the experience that it seems they should have according to their resume. (There's also a correlation between language skills and level of ability(there's a chance that that lack of strong English skills makes me think they're less skilled than they are, but I have at least tried to compensate for that by giving them the benefit of the doubt.))
  • by MalleusEBHC (597600) on Friday January 03, 2003 @01:55PM (#5007415)
    I think the whole idea of the H1B should be rethought seriously. I guess some people would say we need them to cover a shortage of workers, but especially considering our economic times right now we don't need 200 thousand of these people taking jobs from Americans. The H1B program should be scrapped to almost nothing. Make a provision allowing for a temporary allowance of a limited number of H1B's when unemployment is at a certain low level, but other than that cut them all off. You want to come to America? That's fine, do it like all the other people who immigrate, get green cards, etc. Don't do it by coming over, taking an American's job for a few years, then taking that money back to your homeland when your 3 or 6 years are up.
  • 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.

    • 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.

  • This is great news (Score:2, Interesting)

    by 0123456 (636235)
    As a non-American, this is really great news. If the American companies aren't allowed to bring foreigners to America to do the job for less than pampered American workers, they'll export the job to cheaper nations, which means more jobs for us and less taxes for the US government.

    This is just brilliant! I'd like to give a big thank you to the US government for putting the welfare of us foreigners over that of your own nation.
  • Sweet (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Pinball Wizard (161942) on Friday January 03, 2003 @01:58PM (#5007437) Homepage Journal
    Its nice of the AFL-CIO to take a stand for us largely non-unionized geeks. It used to be the prevailing wisdom was, the manufacturing jobs would be replaced by computer jobs, so if you lost your job at GM, with some retraining you could work in IT. Perhaps thats why they are taking up this issue?

    Its too bad there isn't the level of unionization in the IT industry as there is in other trades and professions. Only in a booming economy do you(individually) have any real bargaining power with big corporations. In today's market, a widespread union would be a big help. The practice of hiring cheap foreign labor and shipping jobs overseas is quite damaging to our social fabric, and I would think would dissuade those who are considering entering the field. A union could make sure corporations are hiring qualified individuals within the community before looking outside for help.

  • 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.
  • I was already aware that CESO [cesounions.org], a confederation of engineering labor unions, has been pushing against high H1-B caps and other bad legislation that hurts IT workers.

    In my view, any type of organization of IT workers to fight against this stuff is good. And the AFL-CIO technical unions have been fighting for it from the beginning, and have actually been doing the type of stuff that gets results, including lobbying in Washington DC and so forth. I know people who want IT workers to organize to work on issues like this or certification but are anti-union, and not much have come out of their efforts thus far. At least they're better than people who don't want to organize at all and be "independent". The employers are of course much smarter than those people, Microsoft, IBM, Intel etc. have been well-organized and well-financed for a long time, funding organizations like the ITAA to do away with overtime for IT workers (the FLSA revokation), bringing in tons of H1-B workers which even government reports admit depress wages - which is why IT wages fell for the first time in a decade recently, changing section 1706 tax laws so that IT workers have mroe difficulty contracting independently. The people running the show are more organized than anybody, funding the ITAA to the tune of millions a year, which then goes and lobbies in Washington, puts out bogus reports that even get reported on Slashdot as verity, and blitzing the rest of the press that there is a shortage of IT workers, and nowadays forever releasing papers saying there is going to be an upturn in IT right around the corner so no laws changing the H1-B visa need to be done. These socially retarded programming "geniuses" are seeing industry wages depressed in the midst of employer organization, but they are way too brilliant to become organized themselves, and thus industry wages have fallen as a result. Be smart - hook up with one of the technical unions. And if you don't want to organzie in a union, at least join a professional association funded by members (not by the employers like the IEEE is funded - which shows in how they do things).

  • Unions already have enough power in the United States. We don't want to see our economy crippled with high unemployment and low GDP growth due to a company's inability to fire people when necessary like what happens in Europe and Japan.

    Lets continue to value US Job Availability over Euro/Nippon Job Security.
  • 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.

    Sincerely,
  • by Ironica (124657) <pixel@[ ]ndock.org ['boo' in gap]> 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?
  • by terrymr (316118) <terrymr@noSPAM.gmail.com> 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.

  • 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.

  • by InterruptDescriptorT (531083) on Friday January 03, 2003 @02:22PM (#5007663) Homepage
    People complaining about the H1-B quota being so high mention that in today's badly bruised IT economy, so many American IT professionals are out of jobs, so the H1-B program should be scaled back to give these people jobs.

    Bullshit.

    I'm a Canadian on an H1-B visa and I've conducted recent interviews for software developer-style positions. The US talent is embarrassingly bad. I saw no less than five candidates who could not write a simple C routine to traverse a linked list. And this was one of the simpler questions.

    This is why they can't find work, not because of foreign competition.

    I'm tired of poorly-qualified or schooled native IT people complain that they ought to get the job because they're citizens or permanent residents. It doesn't work like that! If you don't know how to code, or explain the difference between an abstract base class and a regular class, then you don't deserve the job.

    Stop blaming H1-B candidates and start brushing up on your skills, because it's your lack thereof holding you back.
    • 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?
  • 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 Rimbo (139781) <rimbosity@@@sbcglobal...net> 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 raehl (609729) <raehl311.yahoo@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? [slashdot.org].

    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 ?
  • by t0qer (230538) on Friday January 03, 2003 @03:17PM (#5008166) Homepage Journal
    Yes folks, I have realized, as an american citizen I stand NO chance of getting a tech job right now. So I put my plan into action.

    I'll renounce my american citizenship, fly to india, marry a native woman (to gain indian citizenship) and change my last name to Ha-beeb. Then, and only then will I apply for an american job under H1B visa laws. AND I'LL GET THE JOB WOOHOO!!! Oh and let's not forget, I'll need to bring 8k with me for that phony CS degree.

    Boy will my bosses be surprised when they see toqer Ha-Beeb is really a white dude that speaks perfect english! They might even sponsor me to become an american citizen again! /end satire

  • 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.
  • Wow ... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by SuperDuG (134989) <be.eclec@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 [kkk.com] 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?

  • 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.

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