Why Corporate America Has Conniptions about Trump’s H-1B Visa Reform

“This is now standard practice in the technology industry.”

US tech companies, and other companies with large IT departments, are having conniptions about President Trump’s immigration policies, particularly the leaked draft of an executive order that includes references to reforming the H-1B visa program for foreign tech workers.

In light of the 85,000 foreign tech workers allowed to be brought into the US annually under the H-1B visa program – a limit tech companies have been clamoring to raise – here’s a stunning forecast by the Bureau of Labor Statistics:

Employment of computer and information technology occupations is projected to grow 12% from 2014 to 2024, faster than the average for all occupations. These occupations are expected to add about 488,500 new jobs, from about 3.9 million jobs to about 4.4 million jobs from 2014 to 2024, in part due to a greater emphasis on cloud computing, the collection and storage of big data, more everyday items becoming connected to the Internet in what is commonly referred to as the “Internet of things,” and the continued demand for mobile computing.

That’s exciting news. So 488,500 IT jobs are to be created over ten years, so about 44,850 a year on average, which means more jobs in good years and net job reductions in bad years. But over the same decade, 850,000 H-1B visa holders would come to the US to fill these 488,500 IT jobs…. You get the idea.

Now we’re in the good years. So more IT jobs are being created. Alas, many of them are going to be filled by the 85,000 foreign workers brought in every year with H-1B visas.

Slightly different numbers, same trend: Goldman Sachs estimated in a report cited by the New York Times that 900,000 to 1,000,000 H-1B visa holders are now working in the US, accounting for 13% of US tech jobs, based on Goldman’s numbers; or up to 25%, based on the estimates of IT jobs by the BLS.

The meme that there are half a million tech jobs in the US that somehow cannot be filled by American workers doesn’t hold water. Dean Baker, co-director of the Center for Economic and Policy Research in Washington, told the Times:

“I’m sure employers might not have as much choice as they would like, but if the shortage story were true, we’d see wages rising more rapidly than they are,” he said, adding that there’s substantial unemployment even among workers in STEM fields (science, technology, engineering and math).

In theory, US companies have to try to recruit Americans first. So they put job ads out there but don’t hire anyone and then claim that they cannot find an American with the skills needed to fill the job. This gives them carte-blanche to bring in cheaper H-1B workers.

Companies that don’t want to jump through those hoops can apply for a waiver of the recruit-Americans-first requirement and bring in H-1B workers as long as they pay them over $60,000 a year – which is not a lot for IT workers – and as long as they have a degree, even if it is from a diploma-mill in India.

Tech companies, including giants like Google and Microsoft, have been lobbying for increases in the annual quota of 85,000 H-1B visas, claiming that there are not enough Americans to fill those jobs. This is ironic for at least some firms: while Google has been adding to its workforce, Microsoft’s employment has dropped from a peak in 2014 of 128,000 to 114,000 last year, after rounds of huge layoffs, globally and in the US.

Other tech giants that are struggling with morose revenues have also been shedding employees in the US, rather than hiring, including Cisco and IBM [Big Shrink to “Hire” 25,000 in the US, as Layoffs Pile Up].

What is happening time and again is that tech companies or IT departments at non-tech companies are laying off Americans and replace them with H-1B workers, often requiring the to-be-laid-off Americans to train their foreign successors. This is proof that the verbiage about not being able find Americans to do those jobs is just a pretext.

Some of these abuses of the H-1B visa program have become tangled up in Congressional investigations, including this one:

Southern California Edison, a utility, decided to lay off people in its IT Department, which had 1,800 employees and 1,500 contract workers at the time. As is typically the case, the Americans, who had to train their replacement H-1B visa holders from India, had to sign severance agreements with confidentiality and non-disparagement clauses that bar them from discussing the situation in public.

The scandal spilled into the open in 2015 when some of these affected employees talked to Computerworld. SCE then confirmed having hired Infosys and Tata Consultancy Services in India, two of the largest users of H-1B visas, to provide the H1-B workers [In Search of Cheap Labor in Tech: Behind the H1-B Visa Scenes].

Or last year, Dell-EMC announced that it was seeking efficiencies that might save $1.7 billion, and so it would lay off 2,000 to 3,000 US workers after requesting 5,000 H-1B visas and Green Cards to import foreign workers.

This has been happening all over the place. The latest scandal involves the University of California, San Francisco, which has laid off 80 American workers in its IT department last year. Among them was Audrey Hatten-Milholin, who’d worked there for 17 years. The New York Times today:

Along with eight others, she filed a complaint in November with California’s Department of Fair Employment and Housing, charging that replacing her and others with “significantly younger, male” workers “who will then perform the work overseas” was discriminatory.

“We are at a disadvantage as Americans,” Hatten-Milholin told the Times. “They look at it like, where can we get it cheaper? And for U.C., it’s not here.”

Soon after the lay-off notices went out, there were “knowledge transfer sessions” with employees from HCL Technologies, an Indian tech services company. Among the laid-off employees was Jeff Tan, who’d worked there for 20 years. He had to train HCL employees on how to do his job. Some of the HCL employees he trained were still in India, handled via videoconference; others had been brought to the US on H-1B visas.

“I thought the purpose of H-1B visas was to give America a competitive edge, not help companies ship American jobs abroad,” Tan told the Times. “This is now standard practice in the technology industry.”

With these strategies, U.C.S.F. expects to save $30 million over five years. That’s why they did that.

So now “tech” companies and companies with IT departments are fretting that a reform of the H-1B visa program might put some additional limits on the cheap-labor gravy train. The leaked draft of the executive order (image) included references to reforming the H-1B visa program to “ensure that beneficiaries of the program are the best and the brightest.”

Few people would have difficulties seeing the benefits of truly great minds coming to the US to do their magic. But there are not many of them. Yet this is constantly trotted out by tech employers as the reason to propagate the abuses of the H-1B visa program.

But even desperately needed reforms of the H-1B program still would not stop the outsourcing of IT jobs to cheap-labor countries – which is “the endgame,” Sara Blackwell told the Times. She is a lawyer representing former employees of Disney, Abbott Labs, and other companies in discrimination claims concerning tech-job outsourcing. It’s just too hard for corporations to resist the lure of cheap labor.

But hubris in Silicon Valley knows no bounds. Read…  There’s a Lot More at Stake in this IPO than Just Toxic Financials

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  170 comments for “Why Corporate America Has Conniptions about Trump’s H-1B Visa Reform

  1. subunit says:

    “I’m sure employers might not have as much choice as they would like, but if the shortage story were true, we’d see wages rising more rapidly than they are,” he said, adding that there’s substantial unemployment even among workers in STEM fields (science, technology, engineering and math).’

    “Even” among workers in STEM fields, LOL- go look at the stats for how many North American trained PhDs end up working in their fields after their training. In many disciplines it’s less than half. The funny part is, “knowledge economy” jobs were supposed to be the compensation for selling our manufacturing infrastructure to the PRC, and we’ve been training hordes of domestic advance degree holders to fill them at great taxpayer expense, but we’ve been filling those positions with foreigners instead.

  2. West says:

    It’s simply about cheap labor. To those who say “it doesn’t matter”, just wait until it comes to your industry as well. For your sake, I hope that it doesn’t.

    Accounting/finance, legal, HR – will be the next targets of the H1B visa program (or it’s successors).

    • What you said. Times two !

      And what you said is one part — a BIG PART, imo — of the reason that the Donald’s message resonated so well with working Americans.

      A lot like how the Big O’s message resonated really well among Mitt Romney’s automatic 49% — you know, the 49% permanently on the take ( I am one already, drawing Social Security from age 62 ) .

      The Big O gave his chosen crowd free Obamaphones, almost free healthcare if they had little enough income, and well-subsidized food ( if they qualified ) for 49 million SNAP recipients.

      There is a tension between the workers ( what I used to be ) and the takers ( what I am now ) and, for now at least, the makers and producers revolted against the desires of the takers. Point being you can’t keep stealing jobs from the makers or the whole thing will just collapse. Ultimately ya gotta work to eat. Well – – – – someone’s gotta work to produce the food that you eat.

      Pretty simple stuff.

      Ayn Rand had a point and she made it well in Atlas Shrugged.

      At some point the producers and makers will stop willingly supporting the takers.

      I suppose my millennial kid will eventually want to stop giving me MY SOCIAL SECURITY ! ! LOL


      • Kent says:

        Yeah, my kids keep taking what I’m making! Time to cut the little boogers off and put them on the streets to work and buy their own damn diapers!

      • Intosh says:

        Disturbing to see someone label retired and low income people as “takers”. If they are takers, then what should we call the bankers, tax-evading corporations and the multinationals selling out Americans?

      • Michael Fiorillo says:

        And do you count people whose wealth is entirely based on rents, monopoly control, interest, fees, licensing and extreme intellectual property rights, etc. to be “makers?

        What exactly does Martin Shrkeli “make?” What did Angelo Mozilo “make?”

        Mazel tov on your retirement.

        • BradK says:

          What exactly does Martin Shrkeli “make?” What did Angelo Mozilo “make?”

          Lots and lots of money?

        • Michael Fiorillo says:

          Indeed, they did, by “taking” it from others, which kinda undermines the old bag lady’s take on things.

        • BaritoneWoman says:

          BTW, Ayn Rand took Social Security checks in her last years.

        • Michael Fiorillo says:

          Yes, she did, and Medicare as well.

    • Frederick says:

      It’s NOT only about the salary it’s also the fact that these H1B visa holders are less likely to make waves and will basically do as they are told more readily than US citizens Same thing is true of illegal low skilled workers Hopefully things will change now that Trump is in but I have my doubts about his sincerity

      • Mike G says:

        Last week we watched Trump gut financial industry regulations (so his buddies would have an easier time borrowing money, he says) as the former COO of Goldman Sachs looks over his shoulder, I wouldn’t hold out much hope for anything that isn’t designed to pump up corporate profits at the expense of everyone else.

        • Raymond Rogers says:

          This president has challenged the pharmaceutical companies, the military industrial complex, and now silicon valley, yet the left pretends that Democrats are the champions in this field. Where was you lord and savior Obama on any of these issues?

        • Smingles says:

          “This president has challenged the pharmaceutical companies, the military industrial complex, and now silicon valley”

          LOL, did he? I guess it’s all a matter of perspective and willingness to interpret facts in “alternative” ways.

        • TheBloomIsOffTheRose says:

          Smingles. Bingo!

    • John Bailey says:

      My company hired an accountant on an H1-b visa.

      Evidently, there is a huge shortage of accountants.

    • Ed says:

      Accounting/finance, legal, and HR have long since passed H1B visa’s and gone to outsourced to India.

    • Intosh says:


      And there are lots of people who say “it doesn’t matter” or “well, they should have “re-branded” themselves for another (better) career or work harder to stay relevant and indispensable or yada yada yada”, to basically say it’s the worker’s fault. These people used to throw these kinds of blame to the low-wage workers (restaurant or hotel workers, for instance) who have been fighting abuse by employers for decades.

      Now, it’s happening to the more “educated” and higher-wage workers. Well, that’s too bad. We all deserved this because we let this happen when it was happening to others. This is our selfish judgemental attitude coming to bite us. This is capitalism; we loved it and we ignorantly abused it.

      • Mary says:

        Most workers are dumb anyway. Smart people figure how ways not to be a worker as soon as possible. :)

      • JerryBear says:

        Revolutions start happening when the Ruling Classes start f**king over the Middle Class, especially the well educated, well paid , professional Upper Middle Classes. They regard themselves as sincere loyalists to the system and their fury knows no bounds when they realize they have been betrayed. I am seeing a fierce revolutionary spirit developing among the Liberal elements even now.


    • DSB says:

      All of Big Four accounting firms are in the top 30, with their consulting arms also represented. Link to top 100 with average salary is here http://www.myvisajobs.com/Reports/2017-H1B-Visa-Sponsor.aspx?P=2.

      Also, a discussion of H-1B visas should also include the High-Tech Employee Antitrust litigation.

      • Jerry Bear says:

        Henke, who started the American Revolution? The rift raft and lowlifes at the bottom of society? I think that is the more appropriate example.

    • anonymouse says:

      Its NOT all about low wages. If you’ve seen the other articles that show on average over 100k for H1B. Plus I’ve worked in this industry for so long…most of them are less skilled and not as good as the stock that originated here. How do they get these jobs? Well if the manager is Indian or 1/2 the team is Indian, what is the likely hood they will hire a non-Indian? You can’t hire people from a Cast system and expect them to act American.
      Well you just have to look at those discriminating companies… Cisco being the biggest American discriminating company in the tech industry. They should be banned from ever hiring another H1B…

      • Shawn says:

        Throw out all the Indian H1Bs from this country. Problem solved.

      • Aaron Kulkis says:

        Nobody is paying entry-level IT workers $100,000/year, but H1-Bs are being used to fill these slots in droves.

      • JR says:

        I have always enjoyed working with diverse international teams. And I’ve been hired by Russians, Chinese, and Vietnamese. But any time an Indian is in the loop, I never get the job, EVER. I’m “not qualified”, or undercut on the rate. To be honest, I can’t help but resent that deeply. It is not an honest competition. And with Google and Microsoft CEO’s now, it looks to get worse. I’m not an economic nationalist, but other countries offer at least some benefit to their citizens. I cannot blame the Indians for trying to improve their lot. But I sure blame my own government for their shameless pimping. Maybe I’ll just let the H-1B’s pay my social security retirement.

      • TC says:

        I feel so sad about all of this! I must say we have to do something. I’m not sure exactly what and how, but the American STEM and skilled workers need a sort of revolution.

    • Cyrus says:

      They don’t just want cheap labor, they want even more option so that they can exploit even more. We have become like slaves; if you don’t stay and work till 8:00 PM, the manager starts to give you a hard time. It’s called 9:00-5:00, not 5:00-9:00. H1-B contractors have to and are willing to work those hours, and even on the weekend since if they don’t, they could easily be replaced by others who say “Yes Sir” faster and louder. So, we have to compete with people who work like slaves.

      In a difficult field that you have to kill yourself to learn all these complex systems and complex abstract concepts, you’d think that you don’t have to work like a slave. But India’s population is 1.3 billion with annual income of $1600. Out of that 1.3 billion, if just one percent is smart, then you have 13 million smart people. So, we have to compete with such a huge population who are more than ready to work for $10,000 a year.

      All these big companies just want more H1-B employees so that they have more option and can treat us even more as slaves.

      • Mary says:

        Population doesn’t matter. What matters is the developed world entitlement.

        • JR says:

          So WTF has either India or China invented in the last 500 years? Honey, our people invented this stuff: cars, computers, airplanes. The Japanese contribute a lot, the Koreans contribute some, China and India are free riders who are not pulling their weight.

      • Intosh says:

        Exactly. Make supply larger so to increase competition between workers and would-be workers; while the demand (the companies) colludes to keep wage artificially low (see high-tech wage collusion lawsuit) .

        • George McDuffee says:

          Technical name for this is “threat labor.” For example knowing that 10 people want your job and are willing to do it for less, particularly when this is used by “management” as a tool for extortion.

          A variation of this is the management threat to move the plant to some low wage country.

      • Jerry Bear says:

        I am a (amateur) mathematician and on various discussion boards dealing with theoretical math issues, I often find these people from the sub continent. They are terrible! Their understanding is fearfully limited and not up to any kind of professional standard. if the tech industry thinks they can make America “competitive” by hiring inferior tech people just because they are cheaper, then they are completely delusional.

      • Jeremy says:

        Couldn’t have said it better.

        • JerryBear says:

          Ummmmmm…….. Are you saying they can, on average, program as well as any Americans? I am not discussing certain individuals but the group as a whole.

  3. Big John says:

    Thanks for clarifying the “can’t fill IT Jobs with American workers” excuse…I had no idea…once again the American worker gets the shaft.

  4. Rudran says:

    There are two categories among H1B visa applicants. Satya Nadella, Sunder Pitchai, Vinod Khosla and several others came to the US for advanced degrees. Then got jobs and the rest is well known. They competed on smarts, ability and drive. Not lower salaries.
    Then there are the outsourcing firms that compete on costs. These companies (Infosys, Wipro, TCS, HCL …) get most of the H1B visaa for their existing employees in Asia who are paid a lot less. These employees get a raise (from their in-country compensation) but a lot less than market here.

    This second category of H1B needs to be differentiated from the first category. The first category helps the US by attracting talented folks. The second category just makes CEOs and CFOs happy about saving a few bucks. Hopefully Congress can refine the laws so the first category is favored (for Google, Facebook etc and ) and the second reduced to a trickle (say less than 1000 a year).

    • jgo says:

      “Hopefully Congress can refine the laws so the first category is favored (for Google, FB etc and )”

      Their products certainly do not support the notion that the people working there are brilliant.

      The article makes a mistake. Yes, the “cap” may be 85K/year, but there are broad exemptions which have resulted in 130K-175K H-1B visas being issued in recent years, based on State Department annual reports.

      Meanwhile, the Department of Education has been reporting that 210K-380K USA citizens have been earning STEM degrees each year, 2.1M-3.8M/decade. And 28K-66K USA citizens have been earning computer & information sciences degrees per year. According to NSF some 50K-118K USA citizens have been rendering themselves able and willing C&IS practitioners each year, or 500K-1.18M/decade.

      Hal Salzman, Daniel Kuehn, B. Lindsay Lowell, Michael Teitelbaum have reported that only one-third to one-half of USA citizen STEM grads have been getting STEM jobs, and this has been going on for quite a while. It might be understandable for maybe 0.5% to be not quite sufficiently competent, or 1% to get STEM degrees as a background for becoming patent lawyers or science & tech writers, or investment advisers, but this is way beyond that.

  5. unit472 says:

    Even if there was a ‘shortage’ of US IT workers US companies have had more than enough time to train or partner with our universities to train the workers they need.

    In 1941 there weren’t many pilots in the US. In fact, if you were an experienced pilot, it was hard to get a combat assignment overseas. You were more valuable as a flight instructor. 3 years later, the miiitary had trained thousands of pilots to fly aircraft that had only existed on paper in 1941! If Apple, Microsoft, Alphabet have a shortage of technical people they have only themselves to blame.

    • John Bailey says:

      Part of the shortage is due to ageism, especially in Silicon Valley.

      Hi tech companies do not hire anyone over 40.

      As Mark Zuckerburg famously said – “people under 30 are just smarter”.

      • Maximus Minimus says:

        What he meant is that people over 30 have better morals, and wouldn’t steal someone else idea.

        • ALBERT CHAMPION says:

          inaccurate, i think.. what he meant is that younger workers keep the insurance costs down.

      • robt says:

        Or as Mark Twain famously said (something like): My old man used to be really dumb, but he learned a lot as I got older.

    • Intosh says:

      “US companies have had more than enough time to train or partner with our universities to train the workers they need.”

      In an ideal world yes, but why would they spare money to contribute back to the community? Isn’t it the government job to do that? The government receive plenty of money by taxing these companies… oh wait, Never mind that last part. Anyway, their shareholders wouldn’t have liked this idea.

      Also, after the tech bubble burst in 2000, the promise of getting rich fast disappeared and the young no longer found high-tech an attractive. Bankers and financiers sounded much more “interesting” (read “lucrative”) career-wise.

  6. John Elder says:

    I remember back 15 years ago when my brother worked as a hiring manager at microsoft. I had friends with computer science and IT degrees handing me there resumes. But I would have to tell them, unless your from Eastern Europe or Asia, Microsoft will not give your resume an honest look.

  7. michael says:

    Trump has this one correct. The objections of the tech companies that employ this fraud betrays their intent. I hope he turns the screws tight.

  8. akiddy111 says:

    I’m glad you wrote this. It extends beyond H1b visa to h4 visas (entire family members) and l1 visas.

    I am shocked and disheartened that there are not mass protests outside the HQ of these IT firms. It’s a travesty.

    Student debt for US citizens stands at $1.4 trillion, yet tech billionaires lobby our congressional leaders to find workarounds and loop holes to avoidhiring Americans. Pure abuse. Sad !!

    • Ethan in Northern VA says:

      The schools are full of foreign students, and IT departments end up with Indian managers who are more likely to choose their own.

      On the flip side, being in interviews it can be hard to find really good people.

      • Kent says:

        Yes, and it’s impossible to know if someone is really good just from a few interviews. “Really Good” doesn’t just mean technical talent, but leadership among peers, creativity, hard work, an enjoyable personality and everything else that makes one a member of a great team.

        You only find this out after about 6 real months of employment. The technical talent can often be taught. If you’re willing to spend the time.

  9. Nicko says:

    Resorting to nationalism and protectionism isn’t going to save jobs…indeed it will have the opposite effect. Canada (and probably even Mexico) are exploring ways to attract American tech companies (and their workers). The sucking sound will only grow louder.

    • c smith says:

      Good riddance…

    • Cyrus says:

      This is not about nationalism and protectionism; this is about fraud. It might be 85,000 H1-B visas per year, but these visas have been accumulating since 1995. I don’t even agree with the numbers. As I see it, a huge majority of employees in every single high tech company that you go to are Indians.

      The bulk of revenue of all these companies come from America; they have to be here. If they could move to Mexico or Canada, or India, they would have done it already.

  10. DH says:

    Well, this is great news. This doesn’t affect me personally, and I wasn’t a Trump supporter, but I’m willing to give credit to a good idea when credit is due. These tech companies have been using this H-1B program to great affect against the America worker, and I believe it must stop.

  11. Petunia says:

    It seems that the H1Bs not only get lower salaries, but being younger, they are also less costly to insure medically. A stable workforce translates into higher and higher medical costs for companies and this is a big driver of the demand for H1Bs. They can employ a worker for the duration of the visa, up to six years, then send them home. By the time the visa holder is in their 30’s, they are also unemployable due to higher medical costs.

    • Kent says:

      And that is purely a political issue that the American people are unwilling to resolve. No other advanced nation has this issue.

    • Cyrus says:

      I doubt they provide any kind of insurance or medical to H1-B visas. You don’t provide insurance or medical for your slaves. That’s why they are called slaves.

      • p says:

        Everybody has to be on Obamacare or they pay a fine. Either way the H1Bs are cheaper for the company than a long term aging employee.

    • JerryBear says:

      And medical costs wouldn’t be an issue at all if we had a single-payer medical system……. nor would ageism.

  12. rivereddy says:

    The H-1B visa scam against American workers has been going on at least since the early ’80’s. I remember attending ACM (computing machinery society) meetings back then with many complaining about how they lost their jobs to foreign workers. California state government is loaded with people from China, India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Mexico, etc., who came to the U.S. to earn an advanced degree at an American university, then stayed on and got jobs in government. As they advanced up the management ladder, they preferentially hired workers from their former country. If you’re a lefty who believes in cultural diversity this is wonderful. If you’re a native born American looking for a job, you’ve been betrayed by your own country.

    • DH says:

      I’m a “lefty who believes in cultural diversity,” but I still don’t think this is a fair system to Americans.

      • JerryBear says:

        Shucks, I have to agree with you on this though, to get an idea of my orientation, I might mention that I speak fluent Esperanto…….

    • Markus says:

      There was no h1-b program in the 1980’s. Correct me if i’m wrong.

      That being said, the 85k h1-b figure cited is far lower than the reality. Non-profits and educational institutions have no limits on h1-bs.

      Not sure if the net figures are all released but as the below link shows it’s at least about 160,000 per year.


      • rivereddy says:

        H-1B visa started in 1990, but there was prior law for H-1 visa for ‘temporary’ workers that was abused by employers to the same effect as current H-1B law. If there is no law preventing it, employers will always seek ways to get the work done as cheaply as possible, because labor is looked down upon as an expense, not creativity and business creation, which management arrogates to itself.

  13. Paulo says:

    There is one simple way to stop this from happening. Unionize.

    But no, IT and other professional designations like to think of themselves as above such a thing. Unions, are for blue collars, not for me. I know quite a few engineers and draftsman whose work is now done overseas. For some reason they seem to accept it. I don’t know why?

    Well folks, I got news for you. Everyone is taken advantage of these days, so why would your position be any different? Are you special? No, you are not. The meme of ‘being a professional’ is designed to hold down your wages and working conditions. You can’t take home a puffed out chest or use it to put money in the bank. Unless you own the company, all of us work for a pay cheque. All of us are employees. All of us are workers. I have always taken great pride in my work as an employee; worker. I am sure you folks do, too.

    I had an aunt (long since passed away) who used to work for the Canadian….Imperial Bank of Commerce (CIBC). She used to tell people she was in management, and that is why she stayed late and worked irregular hours, on someone’s whim I might add. In actual fact, she was basically a ‘teller’ with a few extra duties. After about 30 years of this she finally realized her take home pay was no more than anyone elses. And nowadays, these big banks are even worse….getting rid of people as fast as they can in order to increase profits and dividends.

    People, all people, like to feel part of an organization and that their presence and work is appreciated. I get that. In some companies this is certainly the case, particularly in small ones. But large organizations are simply too powerful for one person to stand alone for themselves, and/or for what is right. In those cases you need negotiated rules and standards that both sides agree on ‘in contract’. The contract, is for both parties and everyone knows where they stand.

    I know many, if not most of you in America, will disagree with me. I accept that and respect your opinion. But sometimes at work, as an example when a new manager is brought in, you might disagree with a change in policy or a new company direction. In a non-union organization you voice a difference of opinion at your peril. Often, if you disagree, or even are thought to disagree, you will be ‘gotten rid of’. It happens all of the time. It might take awhile, but it happens. In a unionized environment you have the right to voice your opinion without fear of losing your job or being ‘reassigned’. Good organizations know this and actively recruit your opinion/input. It is called, engagement. Engaged employees who are not always in fear of losing their jobs can use their energies to do their absolute best; because they want to. I have always believed that most people want to do a good job, nay, an excellent job, if they are allowed to do so.

    In the Candian Oil Sands they get around employee autonomy by having ‘company unions’, the main one being CLAC. (Christian Labour Association of Canada). If an electrician is a ‘clackie’, he/she will be laid off as per the foreman’s whim. Or, they can be contracted out. It basically means, ‘are you liked more than someone else’? But if you are IBEW, you are laid off as per job seniority. Last to be hired are the first to go, provided all required skills and designations are equal. This is just one example of negotiated fairness. And yes, the senior employee is paid the same as the junior employee. The term is ‘equal pay for work of equal value’.

    In BC, where we have our version of single-payer health care, even our Doctors are unionized. While they might individually be a professional corporation and work for an umbrella clinic, every procedure and fee is set a negotiated rate, by their union. And, (I might add), they even used ‘job action’ a few decades ago to negotiate for all doctors a pension…a defined benefit pension. This helps ensure that patients know there is no undercutting, and that quality is not sacrificed for financial gain.

    A unionized company can certainly shut down and move to Mexico, or China. Obviously, it happens. But one thing you will never see are unionized workers replaced by foreigners holding work visas, on site. The company would be shut down and ostracised. Or, has it already gotten to that point in ‘right to work’ States?

    At the very least, IT workers (of all people) could ensure the transition to someone else taking their job does not work out well. If you’re getting canned, anyway, what have you got to lose? Loyalty works both ways, and management sets the tone. The best Union organizer is company management, the saying goes. It’s a cliche for a reason.

    Best of luck if you are in this vulnerable position. My heart goes out to you.


    • mikey says:

      They classify us as management so we cant form a union or get overtime.

    • Kent says:

      It is almost impossible for employees to unionize in the USA anymore. Not that it can’t happen, just that it is so rare because there is no legal support anymore and corporations have too much power.

      • Imre says:

        It’s not just because there is no support. It is also the choice of union. Unions tend to be monolithic. Understandable. Unfortunately when a cohesive group tries to form a union their local problems have to be solved with industry wide answers. To my knowledge a while back a smallish (~40) group found out that executive benefits were untouchable retroactively since they were in individual contracts. They thought that they would like to preserve benefits already earned. Just put each one to a contract under existing conditions. No collective bargaining and other union practices. Just don’t take away what has already been earned if the place goes under a new boss. They called in an organizer. All kinds of stuff they didn’t want was promised. Their request was consistently blown off. Repeatedly in both open meetings and one on one. No explanation on why this was not possible. Much blather on work rules and free uniforms etc. etc. Not surprisingly, the union was voted down.

    • kitten lopez says:

      …and americans don’t have many people who truly fight back anymore. maybe march once in awhile, but we don’t have much community anymore.

      and americans are taught to sit still in indoctrination school to be taught american exceptionalism, or be drugged and behave or they will be imprisoned or rendered insane by being an unemployable outsider. and with iphone addictions and social media, young people are taught to talk b.s. and work on the resume or veneer of their lives and not actually be skeptical or question anything.

      the middle class were taught to wear helmets for everything and it’s in how they are about being afraid of everything. and some here have said the new generation can’t fix anything and they can’t. they’re passive and afraid.

      fighting for unions took bad asses who lost lives. and we’re sooo far from that now, anyhow.

      yeah. we’re fucked over here, Paulo.

    • Michael Fiorillo says:

      Work union. Live better.

      • Steve says:

        I would love to see some data. But I don’t believe Unions are the answer. With their seniority system the under 30 would still be looking for work as the old timers simple are not retiring fast enough and with automation there simple are not enough jobs to go around.

        The mistake that in the analysis, I believe, is that we are a capitalistic country. We stopped being capitalistic the day Corp discovery congress, yes with a lower case c, was open for business.

        What we’ve received is government sanctioned monopolies. Stop allowing the mergers that have happened over the past 40 years and the US would have 2-3 times the employment, better quality products and a more diverse set of products. Better wages, not sure on that one. And negotiate sound trade deals, not these garbage deals we’ve signed over the past 30 years.

        Oh and stop voting the dumb asses back into congress if you want to stop this. I swear we Americans are the dumbest lot on the planet. Bitch and complain about everything and then keep voting the same morons back in office.

        • Petunia says:

          Tech jobs are very hard to categorize, which you need to do, in order to organize a union. Software developers tend to move across job categories, coder, tech writer, designer, IT, etc. You could never work a real tech job while being a union member and I’m not even talking about the overtime.
          I would never work a unionized tech job, too confining.

        • Michael Fiorillo says:

          Yeah, being an at-will employee with 90-hour workweeks is so liberating.

    • Intosh says:

      Reagan’s heritage is now clearer than ever, after 30 years. Americans elected him, right?

    • JerryBear says:

      The big American unions are overwhelmingly corrupt and basically “company” unions. They make great efforts to exploit the workers on behalf of management. The only union I know of that is completely clean, actively organizing, and making an impact is (believe it or not) the Industrial Workers of the World, the Wobblies. Their orientation is far to the Left but I think that may be needed in today’s world. The Preamble to their Constitution starts:
      “The working class and the employing class have nothing in common. There can be no peace so long as hunger and want are found among millions of the working people and the few, who make up the employing class, have all the good things of life.”
      What is happening now seems to support this.

  14. Seattle Cranes says:

    I’d be motivated to work my butt off to move away & prosper, if residing in a 3rd world country. It would be interesting to know the % of H1B tech workers at Amazon, minus the mundane warehouse jobs. I would love to see more training programs & cooperation within the universities & tech companies to hire domestic…

    • mikey says:

      When I started, companies gave aptitude tests and trained those who passed for three months. No college required. Lots of routine jobs in IT, testing and such

      • Cyrus says:

        Now, people have to go through 4 different interviews to get a job; and in the interview you’d be asked the most difficult questions, and asked to write the most complex programs right there in the interview.

        I always ask in advance about their hiring procedure, and if they ask for more than 2 interview rounds, I don’t even bother. But plenty of people go through 4 rounds of interview, and then get a message that says “Get lost”.

        I don’t believe in these average salaries that big companies post either; such as Facebook paying $140,000 per year. I think it’s all about getting people to think they can earn such salaries at these big companies so that they all apply, and then hese big companies can have a huge pool of applicants to choose from.

  15. Tom Kauser says:

    I believe that its management who should unionize or at least circle the wagons. Its just a hunch but with at least 6 of them for one of me, the environment is too target rich to throw anyone a line! #managerfounde

  16. George McDuffee says:

    The article and the comments have defined the problem, and to borrow a phrase “What Is To Be Done?” Whining among ourselves accomplishes nothing. Where are some practicable solutions?

    I’ll go first.

    As the H1b visa abuse seems to be mainly driven by profit, it would appear that quickest way to eliminate it would be to eliminate the “profit.” One possible approach would be to allow unlimited H1b visas, but require the companies to pay a special wage equalization tax of the difference between the H1b visa employee’s compensation and the median American citizen compensation for the same employment category. The employer would also be charged the employer and employee FICA tax on the compensation difference. To prevent unlimited unpaid overtime abuse, make the H1b visa workers subject to the 40 hour work week/time-and-a-half compensation requirements, with treble damages for employer violations to the employees, and heavy fines for the employers.

    This may well put some of the high-tech sweat shops out of business, but this was the same argument against the abolition of slavery in the 1860s.

    • mikey says:

      The median has already been shrunken by this and overtime pay will not be enforced and still dodge health care. Minimum should be 200k.

    • Kent says:

      Interesting idea. Take it one step further: if the purpose of H1Bs is to attract the top talent, then mandate pay to be in the top 10% of US income.

      • Cyrus says:

        No; increasing the pay for the H1-B is not a good idea at all; it only invites more cheating on the part of Indian outsourcing companies. But making it expensive for the company as George has mentioned would get rid off a lot of the abuse.

    • Cyrus says:

      I second that; 2 very good ideas.

  17. HudsonJr says:

    Companies are complaining because of all the “benefits” H1B’s provide them. The majority of them come from Indian staffing/consulting companies. This means the US tech companies hire these workers by-proxy and they don’t have to pay benefits, don’t have to give stock, the workers can’t leave for greener pastures, and they can get rid of them at any time. Recruiters and HR complain they can’t find anyone to fill positions. It’s usually they can’t find anyone at the salary they want to pay.

    To me this is just blow back from the the “permanent” temp litigation in the 90’s. Consulting and staffing companies became the workaround to prevent the legal issues around people working as temps for years.

    I would say there is some difference in H1B’s. Some of them in Silicon Valley are recent grads educated at decent US universities, and are looking for a way to stay and work. From what I can see these are the ones that the larger companies hire directly. However, across the board there are a lot of degree mill, narrow focus workers brought in by the consulting companies.

  18. interesting says:


    oldie but a goodie……a seminar on how to NOT hire an American.

  19. Big John says:

    Seems to me the unemployable American IT people should band together and start their own IT consulting firms to compete with their foreign counterparts

    • Cyrus says:

      You can NOT compete with people from a country whose annual per capita income is $1500. Here, in Bay Area, you have to pay more than that to rent just a miserable little apartment. Over there $10000/year makes you a king, here, it makes you a homeless.

  20. LeClerc says:

    Are H1Bs renewable? If so, do the renewals count against the yearly pro-forma quota?

    If you have 85,000 H1Bs/year, and they are good for up to five years, then you can have 425,000 of them after five years. The actual number might be less, but no matter how you slice it, that’s a lot of Indians.

    • Wolf Richter says:

      My understanding is that H-1B visas entitle workers to remain in the US for six years (not including time spent outside the US and some other exceptions), after which they can extend their stay via extensions or by applying for a different type of visa or a green card.

      • 2GeekRnot2Geek says:


        Don’t forget that spouses are now eligible to work on an L1 visa. Over a rolling 6 years that’s 600,000+ IT positions ((85000 * 6) * 1.25) I used 1.25 to extend out about 25% f the spouses will also have jobs in IT. (developer, business analyst, or QA) When you add in green cards and extensions the number jumps over a million quickly.

        IMHO only the O-1 and EB-1 visas should remain unchanged. H1B visas should be significantly reduced. Reduce the number of visas 75% (roughly 22,000 a year) with an enforced parity to US workers pay.

        On a different note: IT wages have stagnated over the past decade (IT professionals today make less in real dollars than we did in 2002.) This really gives lie to the “Shortage” argument. If the “shortage” was real, I’d be making twice what I make today.

        The actual purpose of H1B is for a low-paid immobile work force. For a minimum of 6 years (10+ years if a green card is in the works) with significantly lower wages than American workers. This means more “Shareholder Value” and bigger bonuses/options in the C-Suites.

        • Cyrus says:

          Totally agree. I was making more in 2005 than I make now, and back then my knowledge and skills were a fraction of my present knowledge and skills. I keep learning expecting to get higher paid jobs, and I keep getting less and less pay.

          And as a an incing on the cake, I get to work even longer unpaid overtime hours; oh goodie!

        • HoardMaster says:

          It’s all about having bigger yachts. Having bigger yachts by screwing your fellow man – priceless.

  21. michael engel says:

    On graduation day, in top schools, the biggest platoon come from
    the computer science department, mostly non of them American.
    They look Indian, Chinese, Middle East…Those top schools also have branches to transfer knowledge, overseas .
    The mood in the tech labor force is similar to the one in the middle of the
    country, where president Trump got most of his voters.
    In the tech industries, the brightest kid in their class, now can be tossed aside by the global/ giant companies which previously hired them.
    They have moral of Lady Gaga. They can spin in the air, do marshal art,
    but have no grace or taste. They are good only for themselves.
    If the tremors in Silicon Valley fault line continue, those big companies
    will be clipped and smaller companies will replace them, more nimble
    , without multi systems, that increase over head, that make them
    inefficient, unprofitable in the long run.
    The anti globalization trend will gain power, because recent
    immigrants, who became US citizens, or those who are on green card,
    will try to protect themselves from their global/ international employers.

  22. mvojy says:

    These are the top 10 college majors right now in America so there is really no reason to import labor that requires these degrees.
    1. Engineering
    Number of international students: 201,145 (9% increase)
    2. Business Administration
    Number of international students: 200,312 (1.5% increase)
    3. Computer Science
    Number of international students: 107,682 (29.4% increase)
    4. Visual & Applied Arts
    Number of international students: 59,736 (5.2% increase)
    5. Social Sciences
    Number of international students: 52,568 (6.5% increase)
    6. Liberal Arts & Sciences
    Number of international students: 50,360 (10% increase)
    7. Intensive English
    Number of international students: 40,887 (17% decrease)
    8. Biological and Biomedical Sciences
    Number of international students: 40,184 (2.3% increase)
    9. Mathematics
    Number of international students: 33,969 (14.3% increase)
    10. Health Professionals
    Number of international students: 33,947 (1.2% increase)

  23. Doug says:

    You are making a huge error equating Google and Facebook hiring practices with those companies that hire cheap h1b’s. They are two totally different things with totally different motivations.

    Top tech companies pay top dollar for the best talent and they want a clean shot at the best of the world. That’s *good* for our country.

    UCSF is *not* a high tech company. Dell is *not* a software company. How did you make that leap that they are comparable to silicon valley stars?!

    By all means, let’s put tata and the other body shops out of business, but try not to confuse the two different uses of h1b. That really displays ignorance.

    • Wolf Richter says:

      Was I comparing any company or hiring practice to Facebook? NOPE. That’s your imagination. I didn’t even mention Facebook – though I should have!

      Was I comparing a company to Google? Yes. I pointed out that Google was actually adding jobs rather than shedding jobs, unlike Microsoft – that was the comparison.

      If you read the article a little more carefully, including in the very beginning and throughout, you would have discovered that it distinguishes between “tech companies” and “companies with IT departments.”

      The article said nothing about Dell being a “software company.” Where do you come up with this stuff?

      If you read the article most of the way down, you would have also seen the reference to the “truly great minds coming to the US.” But nope, you didn’t read that far.

      So yes, “by all means,” as you said, read a little more carefully next time before shooting yourself in the foot again.

      • interesting says:

        for some reason people want to play “gotcha” all the time and attack everything one says by using half truths, wild interpretations, or ones intelligence and if they can’t gotcha with that then it’s on to grammar and spelling.

        AKA trolls.

      • d says:


    • Mike Bryamt says:

      Oracle was sued a couple of weeks ago by the Dept of Labor for paying women and minorities less then White employees.

      Funny strategy for a top Silicon Valley company.

    • Cyrus says:

      Totally wrong; I’ve worked at both Google and Facebook. No difference between them and any other companies. If anything, they are even worse when it comes to hiring cheap, cheap H1-B that treat them like slaves, and expect to treat American employees in the same manner. Google as a company is so rude to American employees just cause they can replace them with cheaper labor in an instance. The only other company that I can say is worse than Google and Facebook is Cisco; as far as I know Cisco is the king of hiring cheap H1-B slaves.

      You should get your facts straight.

  24. Blank Reg says:

    I just get tired of seeing the horror stories of rock solid tech guys, with a couple decades experience, being fired, and having to train their own H-1B replacement before leaving. That makes me so goddamn angry I’d like to see the whole H-1B completely suspended for at least 5 years, or until all those displaced people get their jobs back. This is a travesty.

    Google alone makes $73B a year, but 90% of their workforce are long-term contract “temps”, with no bennies and crappy pay.

  25. JoeKidd says:

    I work for a fancy Silicon Valley company. Not a household name – but everyone in the tech industry knows us. We have about 150 or so engineers. At least half of them are H1Bs, mostly from India but also China, Pakistan, etc.

    Some of them are great programmers.

    But most of them are average.

    Let me tell you firsthand – the idea that suitable programmers can’t be found in the US is BULLSHIT!

    At the risk of repeating what’s been said above, tech companies like H1Bs because:

    1. They’re cheap. (So they depress my salary)
    2. They’re essentially slave labor. Don’t want to work weekends or late nights? They’ll cancel your visa and you have two weeks to pack your bags and head home if you can’t find another job in that time.

    A related issue – the ageism. I’m WAY over 30 and I can hold my own with most of the youngins. But they don’t have anything else to do, or else they don’t know better, so they’ll work late nights and weekends. Again, the idea that you can’t program after 30 is absolute nonsense. What you can’t do is work 60-80 hours a week for months on end. Not that I’d want to even if I could…

    So first you hire H1Bs. Then you hire kids fresh out of school. And then you hire guys like me with 20+ years experience. And you wonder why so much software is so crappy?

    Limit H1B visas to those who are absolutely essential – otherwise, hire American.

    Tech workers need a union. Time and half for over 40 hours or weekends. None of this “at-will” employment. It’s not like the companies and their owners can’t afford it.

    • Intosh says:

      Thanks for testimony. I totally agree. I’m in high-tech as well — on the same boat.

    • HudsonJr says:

      I’m someone in-between the serious vet and the less experienced, though more toward the vet. I will say “can’t find people to do the job” is indeed bullshit. A lot of that comes from HR and recruiters and what they mean is they can’t INSTANTLY find people AT WHAT THEY WANT TO PAY.

      I don’t necessarily hate the kids fresh out of college. At least where I work they don’t seem hell bent on working 80 hours a week, but right now is “good times” and we’ll see if that lasts through any sort of economic downturn. My main pet peeve is that they don’t seem to have energy toward figuring things out. Research seems to be “check the first page of google” max. And I think that probably comes from not having lived through the days of a binder of documentation being all you had to work with. There were no internet forums, often no one to call or e-mail, you just had to keep trying until you found an ugly hack to keep going.

      • Intosh says:

        As JoeKidd said, most companies value cheap over quality. So most software indeed suck.

        In the tech company I work for, a tech veteran with a customer-facing role, working in the west coast, retired recently. Higher Management specifically forbid to hire a person from the west coast to replace him. So the team ended up hiring 3 guys from India in the hope they can fill that person’s shoes. But here’s the kicker: before they even considered hiring new people as replacement, management had the nerve to ask team members located in the east coast to do a rotation working west coast hours as a permanent solution to this mess. The backward thinking and lack of respect is just incredible. In an email updating the team about the hiring situation, the manager said it was an “exciting time”, referring to having Indian folks in the team for the first time.

    • JerryBear says:

      I might suggest contacting the I.W.W. about starting a Communications, Computer, and Software Workers Industrial Union 560
      They give excellent guidance about how to start your union under difficult and hostile circumstances, quietly and inconspicuously grow then finally with high level I.W.W. representatives, confront management with a faite accompli and demand a contract. It might be worth trying.
      The motto of the Wobblies: An injury to one is an injury to all!

  26. NotSoSure says:

    Are the complaints valid? Some are, but some aren’t. If you get hired as an H1B into Google, Facebook, etc, and not Infosys, etc, then I can guarantee you that those people will be paid on the same level as Americans. That’s the thing that most people here (and the article) are missing out.

    The trick then is to ban those Indian outsourcing firms altogether AND limit the pay of Tech Executives (heck ALL Executives really). American managers are overpaid, heck even that garbage publication The Economist says so.

    • Dan Romig says:

      The Economist has been published since 1843, and is controlled by the Rothschild and Agnelli families. What is published in The Economist certainly has an agenda, but so too does the CIA mouthpiece Time magazine. And, don’t forget about the NY Times and Washington Post, as they both have an agenda which is as far from honest reporting as can be.

      Judith Miller worked at the NY Times, and helped sell the war in Iraq based on lies. I say, “Know your enemy.”, eh?

  27. Emanon says:

    There is one big problem here that nobody has mentioned

    H1B visas do not automatically transfer between companies.

    If a H1B worker wants to get a new job, he must convince a second company to request a transfer of the H1B visa.

    IOW, the tech companies control whether or not the H1B visa holders can transfer jobs.

    This represents a *HUGE* opportunity for silent collusion in the tech industry to simply not allow H1B transfers, or to limit them severely, in a “gentleman’s agreement” to not pilfer each other’s serfs.

    Similar things have been documented – look here, for example:


    If the new company does NOT request a transfer, then the visa holder is at the mercy of his original employer for six years. One misstep and he’s sent back to his home country. He can, in effect, be deported by corporate fiat. Why is nobody protesting this??

    We have outsourced control of our tech visa program to multinational companies, and there’s no practical recourse for the poor tech worker if he gets screwed by his employer.

    It’s practically indentured servitude, and the companies have found that they like employing serfs – they don’t get uppity, as free citizens do.

    The same companies that are wildly enthusiastic about free trade in goods and services are conspicuously silent about allowing a free trade in labor.

    • NotSoSure says:

      It’s not a transfer. It’s a new application entirely. And I agree with you entirely about the servitude thing. But hei, it’s the land of the free :)

      What was it someone said about doing no evil?

    • kitten lopez says:

      “One misstep and he’s sent back to his home country. He can, in effect, be deported by corporate fiat. Why is nobody protesting this??….It’s practically indentured servitude, and the companies have found that they like employing serfs – they don’t get uppity, as free citizens do.”

      you’re kidding, right?

      • RD Blakeslee says:

        kitten, I believe the truth behind these horror stories is that Corporations have no soul and humanity is of NO concern to them.

        For me personally, the adaptation to this reality is avoidance – get away from them. Find a niche where you can sustain yourself without serving them.

        • d says:

          ” kitten, I believe the truth behind these horror stories is that Corporations have no soul and humanity is of NO concern to them.”

          Corporations don’t have to have a soul. They should however be nationally loyal, and socially responsible.

          America is currently the domicile of convenience of a group of globalized vampire corporates, currently allied with china, that are loyal only to their profits and neither ecologically or socially responsible.

          These entity’s are much greater threat to humanity than nuclear weapons as they literally eat their own young, and food supply.

  28. roddy6667 says:

    Stopping the immigrants working the tech jobs will do very little. An IT worker can be at the next desk 5 feet away or in Bangalore. With Skype type interfaces, he can communicate with co-workers just as well as being in the same room.
    A lot of tech jobs are leaving, so people need to stop whining. An IT worker in India making $11,000 has a good life that would take over $80,000 to match in America.
    The same is true in manufacturing. An auto worker in China makes $5.75US an hour. This is a good job withs good working conditions, job security, health insurance, home ownership, lots of consumer goods–an upper blue collar lower middle class lifestyle measured by Western standards. And he has enough cash left over to save 36% of his pay. All on $9400 US a month.
    What would Detroit have to pay to match this?
    The game is over.

    • JoeKidd says:

      “With Skype type interfaces, he can communicate with co-workers just as well as being in the same room.”

      Nah, doesn’t work – they tried that 15 years ago with offshoring. All the big companies were hiring agencies in India, Vietnam, Russia. For *some* things it does work – but there are issues of quality control, cultural differences, communications and time zones. That’s why we’ve seen the massive shifts to H1Bs in the past 5 years or so – bring ’em over here. And they do NOT get the same pay as Americans – they’re overjoyed to be here, and the minimum pay for H1Bs is 60k/year. That’s what most of them are paid. Keeps everybody else underpaid…

  29. Dan says:

    One easy way of seeing how bad things are in IT fields is just go to almost any large to mid-size company. I bet if you average all of them, you’d have a 90% Indian employee pool. Are these companies telling us that for 90% of their work, they couldn’t find educated US employees who could do those jobs? Honestly some of the Indian workers are a joke not a talent. They do have some good ones, but at least 60% have below average skills, and yet here they are taking American jobs.

    I interviewed a few who had master degrees, and each had about a dozen certificates, and they could hardly write any program in the interview. They get hired not only because they are cheap, but the industry have become so full of Indians that they just keep hiring each others regardless of skill levels.

  30. raddy says:

    One thing that used to happen here in the UK: When looking for work manyadvertised positions had a skill set requirement so great that I wondered how anybody could fit the bill. So I never applied for those jobs – and I don’t think anyone who had worked in the profession ever would – which I think was kind of the purpose. The hiring company,or the agency it was using, would then “legitimately” hire from abroad – typically the sub-continent – as no suitably skilled domestic workers had applied. Of course the skill set of the successful candidates couldn’t match the requirements either, but that wasn’t the aim.The cheaper resource was imported – which was the aim.

  31. Brett says:

    If you protest against this the Liberals call you a racist, the only silver lining is many skilled Liberals are going to find themselves training their replacements. I would love to ask them how they feel about the situation then considering there are no jobs for them to go too.

    • Thorny Rose says:

      Brett plenty of all types of personnel have been laid off. Including Liberal. So have another drink and maybe provide an insight into how the new Supreme Leader will fix this. Other than that take a hike. No silver lining here when people of any background politically lose out in a system run by Corporations that will not stop until literally forced to. This is independent of political labels. Feel better now buddy?

      • kitten lopez says:

        go ahead with your bad self, Thorny Rose.

        good morning Rose and all.

    • Petunia says:

      The liberals all think they will be the elites over the worker bees. The tech industry is in for a major bust due to all the under qualified imported labor. I’m still waiting to see all the innovation coming from all these imported workers, so far, I’ve been waiting more than 20 years.

      • Nicko says:

        Being liberal has nothing to do with it. Democratic run states subsidize Republican states. It’s been like that for nearly two centuries. Sure, a downturn is due, but the unjustly maligned ‘liberal, educated, and global elite’ will continue to thrive.

  32. gadi says:

    I’ve have a 14 year old, and I strongly discourage her from entering STEM. What’s the point of her competing with millions of people who are willing to work for 1/3 salary? I’ve been encouraging theater. Can’t outsource acting, or stage crew. I’ve also been encouraging law. They have a pretty good association that is limiting competition.

    • Wolf Richter says:

      Just to give you some additional food for thought: research how big law firms outsource a lot of their legal work to India – the part of the legal work that hasn’t been automated yet (much of it has). The legal industry is in upheaval right now.

    • Michael Fiorillo says:

      If your daughter does theater/film tech, she can get a unionized job that pays well, at least for the foreseeable future. Some of the larger cities have arts-based high schools that have started theater tech programs, and they are highly sought after.

      However, if she’s an actress, her career, if she’s lucky enough to have one, is effectively over at thirty-five, at which point she will be considered “old.” If she waits another ten years and is lucky, she might get some roles playing the female lead’s mother.

      As the child of a “successful” character actress – meaning she was busy enough on Broadway to earn a miniscule pension, despite spending most of her working life as a restaurant hostess or secretary – who worked when the field was far less crowded, I can assure you that it’s a brutal, brutal business.

      Yeah, they can’t really outsource the work, but 90% of SAG or Actor’s Equity members are unemployed at any given time. Feast or famine, and mostly the latter.

  33. Kit says:

    Is our American workforce overpaid and/or inadequate? If not, why are companies demonstrably firing Americans for H-1B visa workers? If so, how do we compete without a period of starvation for the American masses?

    I know MS pours a lot of money into the University of Washington and other schools to cultivate top tech degrees. I also don’t know many people who have tech degrees who are unemployed/underemployed, so I want to say that it truly is an inadequate local force and no one is overpaid as the supply of talent is low.

    I ask this working in the tech industry with a stem degree surrounded by various degrees (business, design, cs, etc.), so biases abound, but what do y’all think?

    • Kit says:

      Oh, and my other piece of anecdotal evidence is just how much poaching goes on – I’m in UX and I get something monthly. Fiance is a programmer and he is bombarded with recruiters.

    • Wolf Richter says:

      Compared to wages in Bangladesh, India, and the like, every worker in the US is “overpaid,” as you said. But the US is not Bangladesh! (not yet, at least).

      So put 2 and 2 together: workers who are paid Bangladeshi salaries make Bangladeshi consumers. In other words, if workers get paid $10 a day, that’s all they can spend a day. Is that the kind of economy you want?

      • Kit says:

        The confusion for me (sorry, I know little economics) is this idea of purchasing power in a global economy. I get that $50 USD goes way further in the local economies of the H-1B recipients which are disproportionately from India. What I’m trying to understand is whether America needs to adjust to a lower cost. I don’t know how this works – it seems like it would lead to a lot of negative standard of living adjustments, but is there a proper way to have deflation? Or is this basically just “stop the wealth gap” by blending capitalism with bits of socialist policies?

        • d says:

          “Or is this basically just “stop the wealth gap” by blending capitalism with bits of socialist policies?”

          Look at the failing infrastructure and services in America then look at the size of the US government and then look at the same in india.

          The American worker has to be paid big, so he can spend big, in an expensive environment.

          Globalised Vampire Corporates, allied with china are driving wages down in the US, with the assistance of the P44 state, that will not shrink its footprint or costs.

          The US Govt is going to have to take, and spend, a lot less, or workers will have to be paid more.

          You can not run US State and National Govt expenses, on the tax take, from Indian level wages.

          Something will have to change in the America wage, tax, corporate tax, relationship soon, or America will implode, at the infrastructure, and state service level.

          You dont have deflation in America.

          You have unregulated, excessive, corporate downward wage pressure. Aided by very poorly regulated immigration policy’s that favour corporates in their onerous downward wage pressure policy’s.

      • d says:

        What the Corporates want is a 3rd world standard of living for their employee and a 1st world US standard of living for themselves.

        this is have you cake and eat it to.

        The corporate are destroying their own consumer base.

        Only when they have made the world Bangladesh will they possibly realize this.

        Henry ford was a bigoted bad thing, however he was not completely stupid, just financially inept.

        He understood that the car assembler, should be able to afford to buy the new basic model of the car he built. In the country he built it in.

        Bangladeshi wages belong in Bangladesh not California.

        California workers need California wages, or they can not afford to live and work in California.

        The American middle class was the consumption engine of the world.

        The American middle class was destroyed by a discriminating president who hated it, P44. With the aid globalised vampire corporates allied with china, who simply wanted to suck it dry.

        It took over 50 years to build that post WW II US consumption engine.

        The horrific damage done to the US and global economy, by P44’s destruction of the US middle class, and so global consumption engine, will take a long time to fully play out.

        There are Economic short term shock’s (08) at work in the long term economies. P44’s actions will have serious long term effects.

        china wants to be THE global consumer economy, on chinese term’s.

        These chinese terms, are even worse than those of the globalised vampire coprporates, currently allied with it.

        Actions taken by p44, have made the future insecure and unpleasant for a long time, for most of the planet.

        It was simply a matter of timing, wrong person in the office, with discriminatory undeclared private agendas, at a critical time for the world.

        And now there is P45 America has made itself irrelevant but a danger to the rest of the planet with out first anointing its replacement.

        A very American way of doing things, have a big party, then stagger out with some street girl, leaving everybody else the mess.

        • JerryBear says:

          Ah! d! You are failing to give credit where it is due! You are quite right of course but Obama was merely faithfully continuing policies begun under W. Obama did his best to roll over and play dead for the Repubs but he was just the wrong color and could not be forgiven for that…….
          Even now, when the white is finally back in the White House.

        • JoeKidd says:

          Actually, the wholesale destruction of the middle class began with union-busting, offshoring, financial deregulator Ronald Reagan. Every P since has just been following the same game plan. P45 seems to want to do it on steroids – a cabinet of billionaires, lowering the top tax rate to 33%.

        • d says:

          “lowering the top tax rate to 33%.”

          Sort of like consistent with a lot of other places, that don’t have huge tax evasion issues, and treat their wealthy people as assets, not charity’s.

          Even Gordon Brown, a huge wealth person’s HATER proved, high taxes on wealthy people, are counter productive.

          English tax rates are still to high in the top brackets and the thresholds for the brackets are to low. Same in the US.

  34. RD Blakeslee says:

    “But hubris in Silicon Valley knows no bounds.” – Wolf (out of context)

    Politics can’t set the bounds, IMO.

    Ultimately ?


    • George McDuffee says:

      Those whom the gods would destroy, they first make mad. [or proud]
      Greek tragic dramatist (484 BC – 406 BC)

      • d says:

        “Thou shalt not make a machine, in the image, of a mind, of a man”

        There may be something in that piece of SF.

        • JerryBear says:

          d, I have to agree! Either we put some kind of control on Artificial Intelligence or we will become extinct. Humanity will have been but a temporary stepping stone leading from an organic planet to a machine world….. or maybe we end up combining the two as the Borg Collective. Has it ever worried you just how attached our young people are to their smart phones? I wonder how long till they start installing them in our skulls?

        • R2D2 says:

          At this rate we are going, it is almost guaranteed that we would create a machine that has the same characteristic of a human mind; but with the difference that this new intelligence will be able to learn what takes us years to learn in minutes or even seconds. Despite all the crap we are brainwashed by religion that god created perfection when he created man, human’s body is mostly crap. So, either we will extinct ourselves since these new intelligence we’ll see us as a some lower life form, or we start putting those chips in our brains to give us a chance to compete.

        • d says:

          “or we start putting those chips in our brains to give us a chance to compete.”

          Ceasing to be “Human”.

  35. Paid Minion says:

    Reading the comments leads me to believe that they must have “how to s##t on the workforce” in biz schools.

    Want to see the endgame? Look at the aviation business. Tech people and aviation maintenance techs have a lot in common. Its just that the IT guys are experiencing the same things the aviation guys were getting zapped with 20 years ago.

    After 30 years of treating maintenance techs like shit, the suits are complaining about “not being able to find qualified people”. The only problem? Most of the licensed mechs are in the USA, and the rest of the world treats experienced techs better, so no H-1b problem.

    You would think that this set of circumstances would lead to pay increases, especially for experienced help (you know, that old supply and demand/free markets fairy tale). You would be wrong.

    Instead, the “job creators” are lobbying governments at all levels for a bailout. Specifically, government (and student) funded tech training, so they have an over abundance of “qualified” people that will work for the desired payscale.

    Basically, techies of all types are viewed as “overhead”, and costs to be reduced……at least until cutting corners on the help creates a disaster. Then its all “we didnt see it coming”.

    Look to January 1, 2020. The mandatory “ADS-B” mandate goes in effect. On that date, a significant portion of the general aviation aircraft (including a bunch of jets) in the USA turn into scrap metal. Even with unlimited money (which no one has) there arent enough engineers to design the equipment and installations, not enough orders to tool up to build parts, and not enough people to install the equipment between now and that date.

    Whats really funny, is that there are a shitload of people blissfully tooling around the skies as we speak, who dont even have this issue on their radar screens. Or think that the mandate will be defered/delayed, if enough people drag their feet.

    The only thing left to do is figure out who the big winners will be when the SHTF (and invest accordingly)

    • Intosh says:

      “Instead, the “job creators” are lobbying governments at all levels for a bailout. Specifically, government (and student) funded tech training, so they have an over abundance of “qualified” people that will work for the desired payscale.”

      Basically, it is a subsidy to these “job creators” since they don’t pay back nearly enough in tax or otherwise finance enough training/education.

      In fact, the vast majority of true innovations come from public-funded research. Noam Chomsky said that’s mainly the reason why many companies set up shop in the vicinity of university campuses.

      The little guys subsidize these companies and multinationals and when they screw up, the little guys subsidize them some more in the form of bailouts or free money.

  36. Intosh says:

    Another example of “high-tech” hubris and arrogance: Uber.

    Gutted an university’s research group largely funded with public money.

    Taken advantage of Pittsburgh’s largess, without giving much back but rather has been demanding more.

    Suing Seattle for pro-union law.



    Example of uncontrolled capitalism and its travesties.

  37. Blackbox says:

    I have experienced the same. Almost 20 years in the IT world, exceeding expectations every year on a “merit” scale that tracked inflation. A resume full of all the buzzwords and applications that are in “high demand”. Started job hunting two years ago as my current gig is under “cost pressure” while the c-suite remains remarkably immune to cost cutting. So I send resumes out, hear crickets. Dropped in on one recruiter at a random jobfair for unrelated positions, surprisingly he talked to me and seemed interested, but never heard a word back.
    Talked to two different staffing head hunters who had jobs posted that sounded good but (surprise) “that posting was filled but we will keep you in mind for any that come up.” So now I’m in their resume farming database. ATS systems screen you out based on “previous pay rate” so recruiters never even see your app. To bad ATS systems can’t screen for competence. Meanwhile we have an h1b that just joined our team a year ago and after much enthusiasm has proven average at best. Around that time they also took away our genuinely exceptional manager (moved to a team that was imploding) and left us reporting to an empty slot. That doesn’t do much for employee engagement but it sure looks great on a department budget! I guess my best hope now is some h1b’s eff things up so bad as to give the c-suite a bad hangover and rethink their lives. Ok, rant off.
    In the end its all just a downward global spiral to some lower equilibrium of pay (or subsidy maybe?) The trick seems to be to get out of the rat race, organize yourself to have multiple streams of income, trust no “employer” with your future, learn to invest in real assets (not paper) and learn to be happy by helping others as that’s about the only true path to happiness in the grand scheme of things.

    • Intosh says:

      “applications that are in “high demand””

      Can you give examples? I’m curious.

  38. RD Blakeslee says:

    “The trick seems to be to get out of the rat race, organize yourself to have multiple streams of income, trust no “employer” with your future, learn to invest in real assets (not paper) and learn to be happy by helping others as that’s about the only true path to happiness in the grand scheme of things.”

    Except for the “multiple streams of income” (not necessary, IMO – see the URL), You’ve got it!


  39. mike says:

    Good article, but I don’t think this is a good year for IT jobs. I think silicon valley has been laying off a lot more than it’s been hiring the last year.

  40. Shawn says:

    Caterpillar and Disney, both companies swapped out their entire IT departments with foreign workers, forcing the American workers to train their foreign counterpart under the threat of loss of severance pay.

    The H1-B program in irredeemable. It’s a visa system of rampant
    corporate abuse and constitutes corporate welfare for big tech companies
    and their foreign suppliers.

  41. Intosh says:

    Here is a 2015 TV documentary from french investigative journalist about the Silicon Valley giants, called (translation) “Giants of the Net: Enemy of the State”:


    Some highlights points from it:

    – Google has private security roaming outside its campus discouraging and preventing any strangers (especially journalists) from talking to its employees.

    – There are more and more home eviction in SanFran and many of the victims are teachers, nurses, ambulance truck drives, firemen.

    – An army of private shuttle buses use public infrastructures (public bus stops) every day, which is illegal, for the exclusive benefit of SV employees. Meanwhile public buses have to wait for their turn to use the stops.

    – Facebook has practicall privatizes the police near their campus. They financed the construction of the police station and the police chief of that station is fully paid by Facebook. The police chief has devised a special emergency evacuation plan exclusively for Facebook, on request from Facebook. (Perhaps Facebook leaders thought that was necessary for the day when the ordinary citizen rise up against their high-tech overlords?)

    – Twitter threatened to leave SF if the city did not grant them full payroll tax exemption for next six years, which the city did of course. No wonder SF’s public coffers are empty. City officials says Twitter’s presence is great for the local economy while the journalist argued that it’s maybe not so since most employees live virtually in seclusion within the company’s campus/offices.

    – Meanwhile there is 120 nurse positions left vacant since SF has no money to hire and pay for them.

    – No documentary of this kind is complete without mentioning tax avoidance. Of course, Apple is the posterboy of abuse. Around $30 billion in profit (2013 numbers, IIRC) allocated to their AOI branch in Ireland, which employs a single person.

    – A pirate flag can be seen on top of Facebook’s HQ to represent a world with no borders because borders are harmful to their business.

    – Mark Z. of Facebook created FWD.us, a lobby group headed by Todd Schulte, who worked for Obama, promoting fewer borders, more immigration (=work visas). Bill Gates and Marissa Mayers (Yahoo) are part of this group.

    – The journalist showed a study from a US think-tank illustrating that only half of qualified US engineers are employed. This visibly caught Todd Schulte off guard.

    – Tim Draper, a investor who made his fortune with Skype and Hotmail, is trying to convince people that they are slave working for the government. His solution: Silicon Valley’s independence.

    – Patri Friedman, google employee and grandchild of Milton Friedman, advocates floating islands called “seastead” occupying international waters, outside of any government juridictions, therefore free of tax. Peter Thiel is backing his idea/project.

  42. JerryBear says:

    “Workers of the world arise! You have nothing to lose but your chains!”

    Quoted from You Know Who……………..

  43. LeClerc says:

    This thread is depressing.

    tl;dr: There are more of them than there are of us. Wages fall.

    • JerryBear says:

      Not true at all. They are a tiny minority and we are the vast majority. We can overthrow them if we have the will and the organization.

  44. a short article I wrote today at keep america at work discussing the real numbers for computer and mathematical jobs.

    It can be viewed at


    I am copying the main portion below this line

    olks, we are all analysts – some of the best that america has to offer – lets look at why – there are 4,005,250 computer and mathematical jobs in america – from 1990 to 2015 we issued 2,756,469 H-1B visas, NOT applications filed and anybody that thinks the majority have not applied for a green card, well Paul has a bridge with an ocean view in dallas texas that he can sell you – 65% of these go for IT jobs based on everything I have seen since 2007 – This means that as of 2015 one million 791 thousand 705 of the computer jobs are held by non-immigrant guest workers waiting on their green cards which is why the line is decades out from what Kumar has told me – this means that there are 2 million 213 thousand 545 american citizens holding those computer jobs – each and every one of them think that their skills are the best just as I did, and just as you do and that is why they will NEVER be forced out – Until they are forced out. – Using these figures we find that 55% of all computer and mathematical jobs in America are held by Americans – Now that we know this, the question becomes how do we format this in a video that they will understand that will make them realize their head is on the chopping block and make them realize that all of us need to band together, AND more importantly, how do we fund that? The answer quite simply is to multiply 20 dollars by 2,213,545 – we still have the numbers to make it happen, but we have to step up to the plate to make it happen

  45. Okney says:

    Very sad how many American careers have been destroyed by the H-1B visa program. Smart, hard working, Americans have been betrayed by their very own government representatives. Our pathetic Congress are shills for corporate interests and the hardship they have caused their very own constituents is simply beyond belief.

    • BradK says:

      “Our pathetic Congress are shills for corporate interests and the hardship they have caused their very own constituents is simply beyond belief”

      Yet they themselves enjoy a 97% retention rate. Talk about job security.

  46. BradK says:

    Computerworld national correspondent Patrick Thibodeau:

    How the H-1B visa affects American workers (5:33)


    Every worthless drone in Washington should be made to watch this, not that it would do any good.

  47. john reed says:

    Cheap labor is good labor, especially when it has no bargaining power. However, companies do not realize that they are handing over control of their core business processes, IP, and competitive edge to foreign nationals with a post-colonialist grudge who do not necessarily have the company’s best interests at heart…until it’s too late.

  48. PRice says:

    Speaking of Google, here are the questions I asked last night of my tech support contact “Alexander” when I contacted Google to straighten out the mess their Android 7.1.1 February update made of my Nexus 6P phone.
    – What’s your birth country and city?
    – What’s your birth name?
    – Where do you physically sit when you do your work?
    – How long have you worked at your present job?

    I forgot to ask if he was a Google employee. I’ll post his answer if I get one.

  49. JohnGalt83 says:

    H1Bs are to technology workers as illegal aliens are to blue collar labor.

    Same tactic, different audience.

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