Remember when farm workers were imported en masse to California? Today tech workers are being imported en masse to California, and for much the same reason:
The current system to bring in high-skill guestworkers — on H-1B, L-1, and OPT visas — has become primarily a process for supplying lower-cost labor to the IT industry. Although a small number of workers and students are brought in as the “best and brightest,” most high-skill guestworkers are here to fill ordinary tech jobs at lower wages.
The most recent firing of 500 Southern California Edison IT workers, after they trained their guestworker replacements (as a condition of receiving their severance package), is being repeated by the tens of thousands across the country — Disney, Harley Davidson, Home Depot, Pfizer, and Xerox are just a few among the many companies that have all been doing the same thing.
The practice of using the H-1B program to replace American workers is widespread. In fact, currently as many as two-thirds of new IT hires are guestworkers; not because there aren’t enough skilled Americans but instead because guestworkers are cheaper. And if current bills … become law, the number of guestworker visas will be over 100 percent of new hiring needs — if it so chooses, the IT industry can legally hire only guestworkers without even having to look for an American to fill all new IT jobs.
Congress, of course, thought it was clever enough to ward off this easily predictable situation by requiring the Labor Condition Application with each H-1B, which must certify that the incoming worker is being paid no less than the prevailing wage. Now if everyone is on an H-1B, guess what? They’re being paid the prevailing wage by definition.
So I expect the new expansion to pass: Big Tech wants it, and Big Tech is willing to buy the allegiance of Congress to get it. I’m betting it passes by 31 March — which, in California, is César Chávez Day.
(Via Will Truman.)