For the last several years, corporations have been illegally abusing H1-B visas to send American jobs overseas for a fraction of the pay. Now, both Congress and the laid off employees are starting to challenge the practice as well as the attempts to cow ex-employees into remaining silent.
If you’re not familiar with H1-B visas, they exist so corporations can temporarily bring in highly skilled foreign workers. The idea was to allow companies to fill in sensitive positions that they were having trouble finding qualified American workers for as a stopgap measure. But being as Corporate America is run by greedy assholes, they’re using it to permanently outsource American jobs instead:
According to federal rules, temporary visas known as H-1Bs are for foreigners with “a body of specialized knowledge” not readily available in the labor market. The visas should be granted only when they will not undercut the wages or “adversely affect the working conditions” of Americans.
But in the past five years, through loopholes in the rules, tens of thousands of American workers have been replaced by foreigners on H-1B and other temporary visas, according to Prof. Hal Salzman, a labor force expert at Rutgers University.
What corporations have been doing is bringing in foreign workers, having the original worker train them and then firing the original worker. Often, these newly trained workers go back to their countries and do the same job there but sometimes, the “temporary” workers simply replace an American worker here. In both cases, the foreign worker can be paid a fraction of what an American would work for, funneling all the extra money into corporate coffers, making H1-B visas an enormous, and illegal, drain on the economy.
Then these corporations force the people they just fired to keep their mouths shut. They do this by making them sign “non-disparagement agreements” in order for them to receive a much-needed severance package. This might sound like they’re bribing the laid off workers but many of them need the money or, in the case of some, they need the medical insurance guaranteed in the severance package:
It is very frustrating that you can’t share your story with the public,” said one former Abbott manager, who had worked for the company for 13 years, rising to an important supervisory position. He had prepared a 90-page manual for his foreign replacements showing how to perform every detail of his work. With a disabled child who requires medical care, he said he had to take his severance and its nondisparagement clause, since it extended his medical benefits. So he asked to remain anonymous.
Curiously, there is a bipartisan effort in Congress to put a stop to the highly unethical practice:
Leading members of Congress from both major parties have questioned the nondisparagement agreements, which are commonly used by corporations but can prohibit ousted workers from raising complaints about what they see as a misuse of temporary visas. Lawmakers, including Richard Durbin of Illinois, the second-highest-ranking Senate Democrat, and Jeff Sessions of Alabama, the Republican chairman of the Senate Judiciary Subcommittee on Immigration, have proposed revisions to visa laws to include measures allowing former employees to contest their layoffs.
Actually, I suppose the bipartisanship isn’t really all that curious. This is literally the “immigrants taking American jobs” that Republicans and Fox News rail about all the time.
It remains to be seen if Congress will be able to stop the drain of American jobs or if Corporate America will spend enough
bribe money campaign donations to make the investigation go away.
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