Just when 60 Minutes did a report on Americans hurt by H-1B visas, I had a very frustrating customer experience with workers brought in under H-1B visas.
Two nights ago, 60 Minutes ran an episode about the H-1B visas that allow companies to fire long-time technical workers and replace them with cheap technical labor from India. To add insult to injury the outgoing employees, if they want severance pay, are required to retrain the Indian employees replacing them. Ironically enough, the tech companies that take advantage of this program are, as often as not, possessed of hard Left management — that is, companies such as Disney, the University of California system, or just about all of Silicon Valley.
As the 60 Minutes video makes plain, back in 1990 when the law was first enacted it was intended to bring in only the highest echelon foreign employees to truly add value to the American marketplace. The law barred foreign employees from replacing Americans earning less than $60,000 per year, which was a high-end salary back in the day.
In the intervening 27 years, however, $60,000 no longer means “highest echelon, hard to find American worker.” Instead, it means ordinary, middle-class tech specialists who have spent years, or decades, on the job, only to be replaced by some 23-year-old guy or gal from India. Legal? Definitely. Principled or even legislatively intended? Most definitely not.
While I believe in the free market, I also believe that the free market functions best when it has as its underpinning a sort of bottom-line fundamental fairness, as well as corporate ethics. Looking at the companies playing the H-1B game, one consistently sees the highest level management fashioning huge bonuses and golden parachutes for itself even as it systematically destroys the livelihood of ordinary Americans. (This is true for the UC system, too, by the way. To attract the “best” at the leadership level, it digs deep into taxpayer pockets for funds.)