“New bill [in] the US House of Representatives mandates minimum wage of H1B visa holders at $130,000,” reads the headline of an Indian business publication.
“India’s information technology (IT) sector will face temporary setback to move workers from India to the US with the bill …” it starts.
But the devil’s in the details which are still a bit unclear.
The problem with the tech industry and the granting of H-1Bs in the US is not that there haven’t been enough American workers with the skills. The argument was a lie.
The tech industry uses H-1Bs to hire younger foreign nationals, primarily from India, to replace older more experienced Americans who are paid more.
A few cases became notorious last year in which a big company, like Disney, used an outsourcing firm to hire H-1Bs to replace their American workers who were then compelled to train them for the jobs they were being severed from. Essentially, use of H-1Bs has always been about getting rid of American workers for cheaper labor as to improve the bottom line.
“Why do such low proportions of US STEM graduates land STEM jobs?” the man asks.
By boosting the salary to 130,000 this bill purports to stop that. The caveat is in the finer details which today’s stories don’t get at. Are there loopholes?
For example, for this to work I’d assume the 130,000 salary requirement would have to be applied across all categories of IT and Infosystem jobs which would mean no downward exceptions or wiggle room for entry level positions or jobs tortuously defined to select only for the young and foreign.
Anyway, the point is you’ll be able to sort of tell if it’s a good bill if the tech industry becomes seriously unhappy and lots of stories start showing up about how “Trump” or Zoe Lofgren, a Democrat (who’s generally been in the industry’s pocket), are throwing away the nation’s competitiveness because, again, there are supposedly NOT ENOUGH Americans with “skills.”
The bog standard swelled head tech industry cant
Posted originally to my Facebook page, here are some comments from the pro-outsourcers.
Having worked at this industry I have noted that barring a few American Universities, [the] rest dish out pretty average graduates. Silicon Valley can still afford $130K for average engineers while the rest of the country cannot. Does that mean that companies will stop eroding profits?? The answer is NO they will ship the job offshore. Trump should NOT have messed with the Tech industry. Tech industry is the only domain which keeps US ahead of the rest. He has to think of other ways to curb the body shoppers.
Personal experience, but I interviewed ~30 candidates at an engineering fair a couple of years ago. 29 were foreign nationals, and the one American by far had the worst skills. There absolutely is more foreign-born talent than American, if nothing else simply by the numbers of China+India graduating a far higher number of engineers than we do.
H1-Bs, always young and smart, just looking for a great life in the land of the free
Here’s where it gets ugly. The story that will predominantly feature in the mainstream will be on how the lives and/or dreams of H-1B applicants and current holders may be upended/ruined/spoilt by a revision of H-1B granting rules.
The Guardian story, ‘My worst nightmare’: high-skilled tech workers fear Trump visa crackdown, is a good example.
Karthik Sridhar and his wife recently sold their car and other assets in India, eager to start a new life in Silicon Valley. The founder of an artificial intelligence startup, who moved to Palo Alto, hasn’t seen his spouse and five-year-old daughter since last summer and was hopeful they could reunite this month in California …
“I’m trying to create jobs here,” the 36-year-old said on Tuesday, sitting inside a busy co-working building in San Francisco where tech startups share office space. “Everything is up in the air now … We didn’t know there was going to be complete disdain for existing rules and regulations and policies.”
Here is his company. It’s typical tech industry/start-up pitchman’s stuff: “We send out a deeply personalized e-mail … super-intelligent backbone for e-commerce.”
But it isn’t until you get deep into the Guardian piece that you read about another kind of disdain for existing rules and regulations:
Critics of the H-1B program, including Democrats, have argued that reforms would be welcome given that research has shown that large contracting firms have exploited the program to deploy lower-paid contractors, which can hurt wages and displace US jobs.
And then it’s back to the “worst nightmares.”
The problem, as it exists, is that the US tech industry, corporate America, has very much made employment a zero-sum game. For someone to win, others must definitely lose. In fact, the Silicon Valley philosophy has always been some variation on it: Someone else must always lose for innovation and disruption.
And the story they have been allowed to program is that it is the American worker who is made to lose.
Yes, there are “worst nightmares.” They’ve been experienced by thousands, even millions, of Americans already. They’ve had their lives boiled down, assets liquidated, their futures blighted. When you include all the fine details, the Guardians’ subjects, although presumably good people, suddenly don’t seem the tragic figures after all.