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Costs, Not Skills Major Driver in Guest Worker Program

The Huffington Post The Huffington Post 26/10/2015 Lance Simmens

This is the fourth is a series of articles co-authored by James Otto, an attorney representing displaced American workers, that examines abuse of the H-1B guest worker visa program that is being used by many American companies to replace American workers with less skilled, less qualified, and less expensive foreign workers all in the name of profit maximization. These abuses are contrary to the congressional intent behind the guest worker program and very likely illegal yet go unpunished and largely unseen by those not directly impacted by the jobs lost. It is a scandal and needs to be investigated and exposed and fixed.
One could make a good argument that no one company epitomizes traditional American values and the American dream than Disney. For most kids growing up a trip to either Disneyland in Anaheim or Disneyworld in Orlando is the fulfillment of a dream where upon entering the castle gates everyone reverts to the innocence of childhood. Yet that dreamlike reality is shattered by the grim reality of corporate profits and the stark realization that here too the kingdom is governed by a bottom line mentality where profits take precedence over dreams. In a world of increasing globalization it truly is a small world after all.
Most of the replacement foreign workers must be trained by those they are replacing, a further insult to those losing their jobs. Disney has fired highly skilled American workers whose job performance reviews validate "superior skills and outstanding work... that have saved the company thousands of dollars." In the last year alone Disney has fired 850 American workers and imported over 1,000 foreign workers to replace them. The company had intentions of firing an additional 150 American workers last this month but changed their plans after they received notice of intent to sue from an employee who did not want to "lay down and be stepped on" and by adverse publicity in a June New York Times article.
Furthermore, Disney may be poised to fire more American workers in 2016. There are rumors from Disney executives and supervisors that several hundred American workers who survived the "first found" of layoffs are now targeted to be replaced by foreign workers. Disney has retained Cognizant Technology Solutions, Inc., a corporation that specializes in importing only young male Indians to replace American workers. The proliferation of these so-called "body shops" is an outgrowth of the foreign replacement industry.
It probably is no coincidence that Disney Chairman Robert A. Iger chairs the Partnership for a New American Economy, a group that states in its website that its purpose is to increase immigration of foreign workers to replace American workers, reasoning that this will help the U.S. "attract and keep the best, the brightest and the hardest-working."
However, there appears to be little justification that the American workers being replaced are not in fact the best, the brightest and the hardest-working. They may be more expensive but it does not appear as though skills are the issue.
And Disney is not alone in the exploitation of American workers. As we outlined in previous articles Hewlett-Packard has been pursuing this strategy for many years, particularly under the leadership of Carly Fiorina and her successors. Microsoft announced in July, 2014 that it was laying off at least 18,000 employees and Qualcomm laid off 5,000. Over the past four years Cisco has replaced American workers with over 15,000 imported workers.
Further Congressional oversight and investigation into the charges leveled at these companies and an exhaustive examination of the H-1B guest worker and foreign student visa programs are called for. If there are legitimate concerns that American workers are not up to the task of filling these jobs, then training programs and additional financial and educational resources need to be directed to ensure that American workers have every opportunity to compete in the workforce. However, if in fact American corporations are abusing existing laws and programs aimed at alleviating problems that do not exist it is scandalous, unpatriotic and must be addressed.

The intent of these articles is to help Congress focus in on allegations and accusations of abuse of Congressional intent in Federal programs and policies that might adversely affect American workers. Corporations found to be in violation of Federal law ought to be punished and if corporate executives are found to be in violation of the law they ought to be prosecuted. The veil of cynicism that currently affords government elected officials and institutions ratings in the single digits is only exacerbated by continuing suspicions that the system is rigged in favor of corporate profits over workers' protections. It is critically important that Congress investigate and act accordingly to quash suspicions among the general populace that the public interest is always held hostage to special interests.

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