Several information-technology workers provided anonymous testimony for today’s Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on the immigration reforms needed to protect skilled workers. One former IT worker at multi-billion dollar utilities provider Southern California Edison, who chose to remain anonymous because of a non-disparagement agreement he signed with his former employer, wrote that he was recently replaced by a foreign worker with an H-1B visa. He is one of more than 400 people at Southern California Edison (SCE) who have reportedly lost their jobs to foreign workers in India.
“I’ve paid my taxes, obeyed the laws and have been a good citizen supporting the community with donations,” the former SCE worker wrote. “I voted for President Obama and was appalled that he implemented a rule change, which allows work permits to H-1B spouses. My future votes will only go to candidates that support reforms to the H-1B visa program that preserve the American worker.”
Hal Salzman, a professor at Rutgers University’s center for workforce development, testified that such guest workers are not needed to fill STEM jobs (careers in the fields of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics).
“The U.S. supply of top performing graduates is large and far exceeds the hiring needs of the STEM industries, with only half of new STEM graduates finding jobs in a STEM occupation,” Salzman testified. “Guest-worker supply is large and highly concentrated in the IT industry. It is likely a factor in the flat wage levels in the IT industry and, perhaps, for a [sic] substitution of young, entry-level guest workers for experienced, incumbent, U.S. workers.”
And while SCE has gained attention for replacing American workers with foreign nationals, other tech companies are doing the same thing. In advance of today’s hearing, the national coordinator for IBM’s employees’ union, Lee Conrad, issued a statement about the company’s decision to replace American workers with guest workers from other countries.
“In February, workers at IBM Dubuque lost their jobs as their work was off-shored to India,” Conrad said. “These tech workers are now in the unemployment line as Congress seeks to increase the use of guest workers by US corporations. This is outrageous and needs to cease. No U.S. tech worker should be in the unemployment line while tech jobs are filled with guest workers.”