Importing Workers For Pennies on the Dollar

By Uniongal

So, you go to school, get an education and become an engineer, computer systems engineer, scientist, etc… Looks like you might be looking for a new, lower paying job soon.

There are a number of companies out there ready to use immigration laws to bring in new immigrant workers who will be paid less than their American counterparts. Some would say this is good for the economy since American workers are fat , lazy and over paid, personally, I don’t agree.

Due in most part to unionized teachers all over the country (my brother included, he's a high school Physics teacher), we turn out highly qualified and immensely capable scientists, engineers and mathematicians every day. But if companies like IBM, MicroSoft, HP and Oracle have their way, these highly educated and skilled workers will be competing for jobs with immigrants who have an H-1B visa or now, a L-1 non-immigrant visa, both of whom are willing to work for peanuts /. E-week.com has the story

Proponents of overseas recruitment, such as Bill Gates and other large technology companies continue to argue there are an insufficient number of American engineers and that a shortage of available H-1B visas makes the United States less competitive in the global economy. Opponents, however, argue that the system is rife with abuse and that foreigners put U.S. workers out of jobs.

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Introduced in the 1970s, L-1 visas are non-immigrant visas, which allow companies operating in both the United States and abroad to transfer certain classes of employees into the United States for up to seven years. The L-1 visa is more limited than H-1B visas in several ways: the L-1A is only for managers and executives, or for employees with specialized knowledge that cannot be found in the U.S.
"One regulation is that you'd have to have worked for the company outside the U.S. for at least a year—this will not help people right out of school," Robert Meltzer, an immigration attorney and CEO of VISANOW, an online immigration processing company, told eWEEK.

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"With H-1B visas, there is no requirement that you have to prove you aren't displacing a U.S. worker. You only need to assure regulators that you're paying them a fair wage. But the L-1 visa doesn't require this and I've heard of situations where an H-1B visa holder might be paid $42,000 for a job, but the L-1 visa [holder] only making $12,000," said Meltzer.


Not only are American workers competing on un-equal footing with immigrant scientists and engineers, they now are also competing with their own overseas co-workers for jobs in the states. A competition to fill jobs in America at a fraction of the current market rate for that job and with no governmental requirement for the companies to even provide a scrap of info on the income or justification for the exceeding low pay. More from e-week.com

Though they receive less media coverage, usage lists show that L-1 visas have not flown under the radar of large tech employers. According to the U.S. Senate, IBM was the third biggest user of L-1 visas in the 2006 fiscal year, receiving 1,237. Intel received 394 L-1 visas; HP received 316; Oracle received 176 and Microsoft received 169.

Seven of the top 10 largest users of the L-1 were IT outsourcing firms. Tata Consultancy was first with 4,887; Cognizant Technologies came in second with 3,520 and Satyam, Wipro Technologies, Hindustan Computers, Patni Computer Systems and Kanbay filling out the top 10 spots. Six of the seven also appeared among the top 10 biggest users of H-1B visas the same year.


Now, let’s not worry our pretty little heads about the H-1B visas, they usually only last a day. Last year, they were available on April 3rd and gone before the next morning. L-1s, of course, have no limit. Personally, I think that’s just great, because now, instead of shipping our jobs overseas to India, down to Mexico or into Indonesia, we can now just import those workers and pay them pennies on the dollar. Some might say this is just grand, I don’t. Do you?

Cross posted on Women, Unions and Our Stories

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