Monday, August 06, 2007


Poorly Regulated H-1B Program Hastens Outsourcing

The H-1B program and its even less restrictive sister program the L-1 are widely abused by American corporations to fill low level IT jobs with temporary foreign workers with minimal qualifications. Its effect is less to "drain the brains" of India and other developing nations than to facilitate sweat shops that, in turn, ease the transition to full-blown outsourcing. Although Bill Gates, for instance, has claimed that H-1B visas bring into the U.S. uniquely skilled professionals worthy of making $100,000 a year, the average such worker makes only a quarter of that, and the "salary" of an H-1Bs at the 75th percentile is only $60,000. This reliance on not only a cheap, but a rudimentarily skilled and fearfully compliant, labor force precludes Americans from being hired for entry level IT jobs and is used to justify the elimination of "older workers" - which, in the IT business, can mean everyone over the age of 35.

According to The American Prospect, here are three reasons why H-1Bs accelerate outsourcing:

1) H-1Bs allow outsourcing firms to bring foreign workers to the U.S. to learn their jobs - often from the same American workers they are intended to replace.
2) H-1Bs provide outsourcing firms with an "on-site" base of operations from which they can more easily coordinate activities both in the U.S. and abroad.

3) The training H-1Bs receive in the United States allows them to do their jobs back home better than they could have without American training.

Here are three loopholes in the existing legislation that allows H-1Bs to flourish.

1) Although H-1Bs are supposed to be hired only when a shortage in IT workers arises, American employers can skip over abundant U.S. labor resources to hire H-1Bs without formally demonstrating that any such shortage even exists.

2) Although H-1Bs are supposed to be paid the "prevailing wage" for their resources - which, in theory, would allow American workers to remain competitive - corporations justify paying below par salaries to H-1Bs by claiming that these are the wages the H-1Bs would "accept".

3) Requirements for documentation - the process of "labor certification" to which H-1Bs applications should be submitted, as a "safeguard" on the labor market - are rarely applied. This is a failing that "permeates nearly all aspects of the H-1B program [and] leads to a program with pages of regulations that are essentially ineffective and toothless."

Check out the excellent article at the link below to learn the rest.

"How 'Guestworkers' Promote Outsourcing" from The American Prospect

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