The shameful exploitation of foreign and U.S. workers: Scamming the H-1B program.

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NY Times graphic.

Mike is a friend, the husband of a retired teacher and a tech guy.

But he can’t get a full-time job with a tech company other than as a consultant. He is part of what is now called “the gig economy.” Like a musician gets a gig. Little money. No benefits. No job security.

I had lunch with Mike just before I went to the NEA Representative Assembly in Orlando. He explained the situation with the tech industry where giant corporations flood the government for permits to hire H-1B workers to fill job positions that he is qualified for.

At the time the Disney Corporation, where we were staying for the RA in Orlando, was making headlines doing exactly the same thing.

I wrote:

When the now-former Disney employees were told they were being fired and replaced by temporary guest workers they were also required to train their replacements.

The scam use of H-1B is a shameful exploitation of foreign workers who cannot complain about working conditions or join a union. And it serves to expand the exploitative gig economy.

The NY Times writes about it today.

Théo Négri, a young software engineer from France, had come up with so many novel ideas at his job at an Internet start-up in San Francisco that the American entrepreneur who hired him wanted to keep him on.

So he helped Mr. Négri apply for a three-year work visa for foreign professionals with college degrees and specialized skills, mainly in technology and science. With his master’s degree from a French university and advanced computer abilities, Mr. Négri seemed to fit the bill.

But his application for the H-1B visa was denied, and he had to leave the United States. Back in France, Mr. Négri used his data skills to figure out why.

The answer was simple: Many of the visas are given out through a lottery, and a small number of giant global outsourcing companies had flooded the system with applications, significantly increasing their chances of success. While he had one application in last year’s lottery and lost, one of the outsourcing companies applied for at least 14,000. The companies were squeezing out American employers like his boss.

You might be surprised to learn that jobs that were once out-sourced to other countries because it was cheaper to exploit workers there are now being brought home, where the H-1B program makes it cheaper to exploit foreign and U.S. workers.

6 thoughts on “The shameful exploitation of foreign and U.S. workers: Scamming the H-1B program.

  1. You may recall that my NBI on this issue was defeated at our Orlando RA. Leadership warned of “unforeseen consequences”. We do have members who were originally foreign teachers with H1Bs. Thanks for reminding me that I need to figure out how to get this to the floor next RA.

  2. Not only are foreign workers filling some of our better paying positions their accompanying spouses are now able to take jobs as well. Until very recently only the visa holder was allowed to work. What a loss all around for American workers.

  3. With SB7, Tier 2, Rauner-like school boards, Pearson hoops, endless meaningless testing, and student loans, a shortage of new teachers is imminent. Many present teachers are tired of being mistreated and are leaving teaching to go into other lines of work. Instead of trying to improve conditions to retain their teachers, school boards are bringing in foreign teachers. Most times these foreign teachers are unable to pass the tests for a teaching certificate, and the school district gets a special temporary permit for the foreign teacher good only for that school district. They also pay them much less money then a regular teacher. The exploited foreign teacher CAN’T leave their employment, or they get sent back. The school districts get cheap labor, and weaken the regular teachers and unions bargaining positions at the same time. The abuse of HB-1 should be stopped.

  4. Thanks for reporting on this. I first read about this scam in “The Betrayal of the American Dream” by Donald Barlett and James Steele which describes how laid-off workers are going back to school to be retrained for IT jobs, but then they can’t get hired because the jobs are going to HB-1 applicants.
    The big IT companies keep complaining about a shortage of STEM workers and that’s how the media covers it, but if you google “STEM worker shortage” there’s a huge controversy over whether or not there’s a real shortage.
    And if there IS no STEM worker shortage, why are our high schools emphasizing STEM training over the humanities and everything else?

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