Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Senators Cantwell, Cornyn, Leahy and Hatch declare war on American tech workers

Amendment #1249 to the comprehensive immigration bill, sponsored by Senators Cantwell, Cornyn, Leahy and Hatch, is a declaration of war on American tech workers. Their bill would:

  • Authorize employers to displace qualified U.S. workers with H-1b foreign workers
  • Authorize employers to sponsor H-1b workers without first recruiting qualified U.S. workers.
  • Allow employers to fill the bulk of U.S. tech jobs with virtual indentured servants by adding 140,000 employer-sponsored greencards each year.
  • Set the base H-1b quota at 150,000 per year (Incorrect)
  • Provide Unlimited exemptions for advanced degrees from U.S. universities PLUS unlimited advanced degrees in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) from foreign universities

June 5th Correction: This bill does not set the H-1b quota to 150,000 per year. On May 30th details were sketchy, and I apparently confused the 150,000 that AeA is calling for with a provision in the bill.

Aside from a sham "prevailing wage" that allows employers to pay wages far below average and still be in compliance, the above points are the key H-1b reforms that U.S. tech workers have needed.

The fifth bullet point alone could potentially flood in several hundred thousand foreign workers independent from the 150,000 quota. Why would employers hire new U.S. BS grads when the market would be flooded with workers with advanced degrees, willing to work cheap in exchange for one of the 140,000 annual green card sponsorships?

Note that for U.S. grads the exemption applies to degrees in ANY major - including the proverbial "basket-weaving" - even in professions where Americans cannot find work.

There are about 3.5 million total tech jobs in the U.S., and roughly 200,000 of those become open each year, mostly due to attrition. (Bill Gates cites 2 million new jobs in the next decade - that's what he's referring to - mostly just replacement of people that move on - by choice or by displacement.)

In 2004 American colleges and universities awarded 233,492 undergraduate Science and Engineering degrees, according to Robert J. Samuelson in "A Phony Science Gap." The vast majority - perhaps 90% - of these were awarded to U.S. workers.

Clearly there are enough American graduates to fill all jobs. But these Senators intend to fill at least 150,000 (plus other exemptions) with foreign workers. Then employers will use the 140,000 green card sponsorships to create virtual indentured servants of these workers.

These Senators must be held accountable. Please phone them and your two state senators today! (Find them at www.congress.org)

Apparently Compete America is behind this bill. Among the companies that Compete America represents is Motorola. Today Motorola announced that it will lay off 4000 more U.S. workers. IBM also announced a layoff of another 1500 workers today.

If there were truly a tech labor shortage, then the degreed and experienced U.S. workers included in these layoffs would be quickly picked up by other Compete America member companies. But that rarely happens.

"This amendment puts U.S. immigration control in the hands of foreign and multi-national corporations whose interests are often contrary to the best interests of the United States," warns Kim Berry, president of the Programmers Guild. "The bill literally allows citizens of other countries to petition their fellow foreigners for U.S. green cards, without regard for the impact on Americans or America."

33 comments:

Anonymous said...

Just want to make sure Kim sees this - a shortage of scientists? Really?

http://sciencecareers.sciencemag.org/career_development/previous_issues/articles/2007_06_01/caredit_a0700077/(parent)/68

Anonymous said...

Add to that Dell just announced it will lay off 10% of its empoyees. Out of those 8,800 people that will be laid off, you can bet a large number will be skilled tech professionals.

Dell Layoffs

Is Dell one of those companies lobbying Sen. John Cornyn (R-TX) and Congress for more H-1Bs?

If so then our elected representatives in Congress should ask Dell why they are laying off skilled tech professionals at the same time they are lobbying for more H-1Bs.

Texas residents that work at Dell and could face layoff should ask Sen. Cornyn (sponsor of the infamous SKIL bill that he tried to slip through a lame duck Congress in December 2006) why he wants to bring even more H-1B visa workers into the country while, at the same time, skilled American professionals are being laid off.

Yev said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Yev said...

The gravest part is... H1-Bs don't help our competitiveness. Instead, they serve to discourage Americans from entering the field and will in time leave us wholly dependent on India & Co. for all our software engineering needs.

http://nullpointerfactory.blogspot.com/2007/06/h1-bs-hurt-us-competitiveness.html

Anonymous said...

And the carnage at IBM continues too.

Anonymous said...

I suggest every citizen or LPR unemployed or underemployed techie contact their representative and senators and the CCLH-coalition each week that they are searching for a job. Perhaps hearing from the victims of this H1B debacle will make an impact.

R. Lawson said...

And to make matters worse Hillary Clinton just endorses a hike in the H-1b cap while speaking with technology corporations.

These people are downright hostile towards American workers.

Anonymous said...

R. Lawson said...


And to make matters worse Hillary Clinton just endorses a hike in the H-1b cap while speaking with technology corporations.


Yes, and in return she will get campaign contributions from these wealthy companies, their executives, and the industry unions - like the ITAA, BSA, and SIA - that these multi-national corporations belong to.

Sounds like legalized bribery doesn't it? For how can any of us can give that much money, or hire full time lobbyists, to gain access and express our interests to our elected representatives?

We talk about corrupt governments in other countries but look at our own. Money buys access, power, and influence. Is that democracy - where each voter has equal representation?

The US campaign finance system is broken and our elected representatives are allowing it to corrupt them.

Anonymous said...

Where does the blogger stand on granting amnesty to 20 million people? Does author oppose the complete bill?

Anonymous said...

anonymous said:

Where does the blogger stand on granting amnesty to 20 million people? Does author oppose the complete bill?

This post shows OPPOSITION
to the complete bill.

T.Keating said...

Senate Admendment 1249 is somewhat worse that initially described.

P.S. It's getting somewhat harder to decrypt the additional delta layer of S.Admt 1249 on top of S.Admt 1150 which replaced the original text of S 1348. As usual each bill text is lists hundreds of specific delta's modifying a previous admendment and/or current federal code.

The 2008 base H-1B quota cap would jump from 65,000 to 150,000

After 2008, the new H-1B base quota would be 215,000 per year!!

I.E. At least 215K+20k+55K == 290,000 new H-1B's per year.

It would also open up an unlimited number of H-1B visa's to "has earned a master's or higher degree in science, technology, engineering, or mathematics from an institution of higher education OUTSIDE of the United States."

It also appears to allow the secretary of labor to waive the quota limits at his/her descretion.

Anonymous said...

Are Cornyn/Cantwell/Hatch/Leahy trying to pull a SKIL bill trick here where the small print of the ammendment includes an automatic 20% increase in H-1B visas each year thereafter, which could result in 1.5 MILLION new H-1Bs by 2013?


see destructive impact of 20% automatic cap increase


This type of built-in increase is just what Congress wants because then they won't have to be held accountable and go on record each year with their vote on whether to increase the H-1B visa quota.

Anonymous said...

Don't stop with just contacting your Senators contact your Representatives as well. Two years ago an attempt to raise the H-1b died in conference committee becasue the rank and file members in the House from both parties refused to back it.

Anonymous said...

I think this amendment will be deadly for American citizens and current green card holders. Looks like business may succeed to get the bill passed. This bill will complete control of high skilled immigration to Corporations. Programmers guild should co-ordinate opposition with numbersusa and other organisations.

Anonymous said...

Not everyone who was laid off at Dell was a skilled tech worker. 90% of it was supoport staff like secretaries, janitors, lawyers, legal assistants, etc. Just like everyone who works at a doctor's office is not a doctor, every one who works in a tech company is not necessarily a tech worker.

Sorry, but the fact of the matter is this has nothing do with H1b.. but I have to say this, if this is the kind of logic you show, no wonder your employers are looking for brighter people.

Mr. Kim Berry said...

I don't know where the last poster got the 90% figure for support staff at Dell, but I agree that the majority are probably not degreed tech workers. That is why I qualified in the paragraph:

"If there were truly a tech labor shortage, then the degreed and experienced U.S. workers included in these layoffs would be quickly picked up by other Compete America member companies. But that rarely happens."

We agree that several hundred of those laid off by Dell are degreed tech workers, and the poster does no dispute that no companies are lining up to hire these workers.

Anonymous said...

The post automatically assumes that all the Americans getting laid off by companies are very well qualified in their respective fields. It indirectly misleads people to think that H1Bs are not getting laid off as well.
Expecting to get paid 100$/hr for coding HTML in these times is ridiculous. The total H1B workforce in US is 0.04%. I can not understand how such a small percentage of workers are responsible for all the woes of American tech workers.

The facts make me believe that Americans lack skills necessary to compete in some fields. I'm sure there are many bright American tech workers out there. But many are in their 40s with skills like html, fortran and cobol and salary requirements in the upper 60s/hr. If it gets so expensive for companies, they will either outsource the work to India or hire H1Bs.

Its sad that instead of letting free market forces to work, American tech workers are fighting against (0.04%) H1Bs for all their woes.

I wonder if they fought similarly when all the manufacturing jobs shifted to china. Is it not the same phenomenon? With H1Bs, atleast the jobs are preserved in US. Without H1Bs, the whole industry will move to India as well.

Dean said...

Without H1-B's the whole industry will leave the country?

Well, if that is the case, I say "don't let the door hit you in the ass on the way out!"

We don't need these kinds of companies in America. The sooner they leave, the better! We can replace them with new companies that are willing to invest in the USA, and I am willing to put my money on the fact that a well run US company can compete globally, even with paying decent wages to their employees. Motivated americans are VERY productive workers, and I would stack up one american against 10 Indians any day.

Oh, and any companies that want to move out, guess what? You get to pay some special taxes to sell to the US market...

Weaver said...

Anonymous wrote:

"The total H1B workforce in US is 0.04%. I can not understand how such a small percentage of workers are responsible for all the woes of American tech workers."

41.7% of all H-1Bs are granted to the computer-related sector, which represents 3.09% of the BLS payroll survey. Additionally, L-1 visas are 90% computer related according to the OIG.

Anynomous wrote:

"If it gets so expensive for companies, they will either outsource the work to India or hire H1Bs."

Outsourcing is the free-market system, immigrant employment waivers are pure protectionism for businesses that are no longer viable.

India has a corruption rate that is identical to Mexico's corruption rate -- let's compete heads-up with outsourcing and preserve our infrastructure instead.

Anonymous wrote:
"I wonder if they fought similarly when all the manufacturing jobs shifted to china."

I apologize to the manufacturing workers, I didn't understand what Clinton's Chinagate was leading to.

I was however working to ensure impeachment for actions such as FileGate, EmailGate and Waco.

We need to close the Southern border and reduce all immigration until wages become commensurate with housing costs.

Offshoring will stop when HOUSING is reduced to a globally competitive rate. We still live in the best business infrastructure in the world -- if we can eliminate taxes on personal income, we would be the most competitive also.



Anonymous wtote:

"With H1Bs, at least the jobs are preserved in US. Without H1Bs, the whole industry will move to India as well."

Conversely, at least if the industry moves to India -- immigration lawyers will suffer with us -- instead of capitalizing on a $300million dollar indentured labor H-1B scam at our expense.

Anonymous said...

It was told that total H1b was .04%. That is highly distorted. First of all you have to calculate how much percentage in high tech workers. Still that calculation does not have any meaning. More than 50% of h1b will get green card every year. So 0.04% of H1b workers is just hiding big thing. Real calculation will be how US workers were employed 5 years back in those occupation and Now how much and How much new non immigrants(H1b,L1,B1) are working and How many H1bs were admitted for the past 5 years.

Anonymous said...

In India more than 1 million(It could be close to 2 or 3 million. Real numbers can be obtained from internet or by doing research) persons are doing Master degree in science,Engineering,Mathematicas and technology. Atleast 30 to 50% are interested in coming to USA. From India itself atleast 80000 persons are coming for MS to USA. So Cantwell amendment will have serious impact on US Jobs. It will create a heavy compettion. There are more Indian consulting companies than H1b numbers are willing to process H1b. But I think US congress may not know real impact now and they may pass(As the amendment says Advanced skills). When they come to know later after 5 years it will be too late

Anonymous said...

"Provide Unlimited exemptions for advanced degrees from U.S. universities PLUS unlimited advanced degrees in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) from foreign universities"

Trying to understand whats wrong with this?

Anonymous said...

Anonymous said...

"It indirectly misleads people to think that H1Bs are not getting laid off as well."

It could very well be that some of the layoffs are H1Bs. If not then you have the situation of H1Bs being hired followed by US citizens being fired. If so, and the company is calling for more H1Bs, you have a situation where the company is telling Congress they need more H1Bs while at the same time they are throwing out H1Bs. Neither outcome is right and this shows one of the many flaws in the H1B program.

Expecting to get paid 100$/hr for coding HTML in these times is ridiculous.

HTML authors being paid $100/hr? I don't believe it. Show some evidence. But even if that were the case, what right does the government have to intervene on behalf of business in the private labor market?

The total H1B workforce in US is 0.04%. I can not understand how such a small percentage of workers are responsible for all the woes of American tech workers.

You are misleading people again.

First of all - your .04% figure is a lie. The BLS reports 146 million people employed. .04% of that is 58,800. But there are 85,000 H1Bs being brought in just this year.

Second, you need to look at H1Bs as a percentage of the tech work force - not the entire 150 million people working in the US.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous said...

Not everyone who was laid off at Dell was a skilled tech worker. 90% of it was supoport staff like secretaries, janitors, lawyers, legal assistants, etc.

The writer never clamed that everyone that was laid off at Dell was a skilled tech worker - you are putting words in their mouth. And how can you claim that 90% of it was support staff when the layoff has not even taken place yet?

If it's just 10% of the 8,800 layoffs then that's 880 skilled tech workers.

Sorry, but the fact of the matter is this has nothing do with H1b..

Sorry, but it is relevant if, at the same time a company is laying off skilled workers, they are claiming "skills shortage" to Congress and demanding more H1Bs. Can't you see the contradiction?

but I have to say this, if this is the kind of logic you show, no wonder your employers are looking for brighter people.

Please, learn to argue with facts, not insults.

Anonymous said...


Anonymous said...

"Provide Unlimited exemptions for advanced degrees from U.S. universities PLUS unlimited advanced degrees in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) from foreign universities"

Trying to understand whats wrong with this?


1) It will flood the labor market (see post that precedes yours).

2) Flooding the labor market depresses wages and displaces US workers.

3) Most US citizens cannot afford advanced degrees. Employers will favor the advanced degree over the bachelors degree. The result is foreign workers with advanced degrees replacing US citizens with bachelors degrees.

4) Provides disincentives for US citizens to enter STEM fields. Depressed wages, poor job security, and displacement will repel, not attract, US citizens from STEM fields.

5) Discriminates agains US citizens entering STEM fields. Why not include lawyers, accountants, nurses, teachers, ... ?

...

Anonymous said...

"Provide Unlimited exemptions for advanced degrees from U.S. universities PLUS unlimited advanced degrees in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) from foreign universities"

Still trying to understand this... so what you are saying is... its ok for them to come here get educated get trained and set sailing to countries where they came from and get hired by same US companies?

Sorry! I'm an American and I would rather have them here doing the job here then getting trained and going back to their country, I M NOT AFRAID OF COMPETITION, you sound like you are? It is better for us to have more engineers/doctors/researchers then loosing out to countries that have them in abundance (hence outsourcing)... we need to educate our children and make them tough enough to face global competition.

Anonymous said...


Anonymous said...

I M NOT AFRAID OF COMPETITION, you sound like you are?


ha ha - ok tough guy, good for you.

If you really aren't afraid of competion, then I suggest you work in the field of manufacturing. There you can compete with foreign labor that earns $100 month. But hey - you can do it - you're not afraid of competition.

It is better for us to have more engineers/doctors/researchers then loosing out to countries that have them in abundance (hence outsourcing)...


Wrong again. The top users of H-1B visas are Indian outsourcers. H-1B is used as means of knowledge transfer and as conduits to overseas staff in order to facilitate even more offshoring.

Who Gets H-1B Visas? Check Out This List

Ok. We need doctors so badly lets give every doctor that wants to come to America a guest worker visa. That would flood the market with doctors. How do you think the AMA would respond to that proposal?

we need to educate our children and make them tough enough to face global competition.

Then you should be all for the proposed H-1B fee that will be placed in a scholarship fund so that all qualified children, even those that don't have the money, can realize their potential and afford to go to college.

Yeah. We gotta be tough! That's all those STEM workers need is a little toughness to compete with overseas labor that works for 10% of what they do.

Anonymous said...

"If you really aren't afraid of competion, then I suggest you work in the field of manufacturing. There you can compete with foreign labor that earns $100 month. But hey - you can do it - you're not afraid of competition."

I didnt go to school to get my masters to do manufacturing job's. To your earlier comment about doing masters is expensive... my friend you are talking to someone who has done it and done it for 1000$ a semester (thanks to all the wonderful scholarship/fellowship programs we have for us citizens), ironically there were a lot of foreign students with me doing the same course + they were paying 8-9 times more then what i was. And when it came to look for job after graduation I had 7 offers and those guys (who were not less qualified them me) were being rejected and dejected by companies that would not get into the immigration mess... guess where did they all go? to their own country working for American companies.

My argument is about retaining talent here (students that go to school get advanced degrees here). Not about H1b numbers or H1b abuses... there are a lot of companies who genuinely want to hire educated talented people but unfortunately our immigration system is turning off a lot of talent and in next decade or so you will see all "HI-TECH" jobs will be set sailing just like these talented people... reverse brain drain!

Anonymous said...

"The facts make me believe that Americans lack skills necessary to compete in some fields."

The facts make ME believe that there is a shortage of American workers with 2-3 pages worth of skills levels and having only 2-3 years of experience.

"But many are in their 40s with skills like html, fortran and cobol and salary requirements in the upper 60s/hr"

I beg to differ with you. This may have been true 15-20 years ago, but not anymore. I think you'd have to really dig to find a substantial number of tech workers in their 40's whose skills are stuck in HTML, FORTRAN and COBOL.

Anonymous said...

Doomed if you do, doomed if you don't. Its impossible to stop jobs from going where the talent is located. Lets hypothetically shutdown the H1-B program and incentives for US educated international students and guess what? There might be a brief and temporary correction in job availability but not for long. There are 572000+ international students in this country, many of them studying in tech and other high skilled STEM fields (majority paying out of their pockets and benefiting this economy to the tune of tens of billions of dollars). Not all H1-Bs are from India and the same applies to the students. Eventually these STEM students and ex-H1-B's will end up in their home countries or elsewhere. It is wrongly presumed again that any foreign worker ends up in India when they leave the US, wrong! many competing countries with realistic immigration policies in the national interest will only welcome this talent. Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Germany, Ireland, UK just to name a few have strong established or upcoming STEM opportunities not to mention the infrastructure. Attempting to shut down the H1-B program or STEM program provisions will not solve the problem. Capitalism does not follow political wishes and whims. US companies will recruit US educated talent where it costs them less to do so. And incase anyone failed to notice, TATA just opened a development center in Mexico, haven't anti-immigrationists been campaigning that Mexico needs to create jobs and stop those jobs from coming to the US ? Well its happening already, and soon Mexico and Canada will be some of the many destinations amongst over 240+ countries where supposedly saved jobs from attacking STEM graduates and H1-Bs will end up. The looser here is the future prosperity of the US and job security for the American STEM worker, the short term gainers are those who previously unable to compete against the job market suddenly find jobs falling in their laps like manna from heaven.

Anonymous said...

So in other words we should all become nails technicians and shut up?

Anonymous said...

"So in other words we should all become nails technicians and shut up?"

In other words, accept the fact that we have fewer people to do the "High-Tech" jobs, if we don't encourage US educated grads to stay in US then don't expect companies to ship the job where there are ton's of people to do those job's. Yes and also accept the fact that IT pay scale is not the same as it was back in the dot com days!

Anonymous said...

One of the most sucessful companies (Microsoft, Google, Oracle etc) are crying out loud to retain talent educated in United States. The people who are making these noise are sucessful Americans who are known for their vision and proved their worth to the world. Ignoring them will be a big big mistake which Americans cannot afford.