More on SCE and Related Topics

After the SCE debacle, in which the giant utility laid off American IT workers and replaced them with H-1B (and likely L-1) workers, 10 U.S. senators wrote a letter to DOL and other key federal agencies, asking for an investigation and suggestions on how the law should be changed. I was skeptical at the time that the letter would have much effect, and sure enough, DOL declined the Senate request.

Here are some recent developments:

  • There is now a ruckus over an SCE-style action by Disney.
  • Senators Sessions and Durbin have issued a press release expressing disappointment that the Dept. of Homeland Security has joined DOL in refusing the Senate request.
  • A group of the SCE victims have now joined a lawsuit against the recent executive action by the Obama administration to grant work rights to spouses of H-1Bs. The linked article has some interesting details about the SCE layoff. (By the way, the suit cites the action as making U.S. work even more attractive to the H-1Bs, thus further harming American workers. But the suit seems to miss the fact that many of the H-1B spouses are also in the STEM field, and thus will have more direct adverse impacts.)
  • Interestingly, Infosys, one of the firms that supplied foreign workers to SCE, is contributing to coding education in the schools, with the message essentially being, “Don’t worry about the programmer shortage, America, we’re going to help K-12 produce more programmers.” When the firm wrote that press release last December, little did they know that its own actions with SCE would dramatize the falsity of the “programmer shortage” myth.

The Obama people seem oblivious to the growing perception that the Democrats are ceding their role as the pro-labor party to Republicans. Odd world we live in.

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33 thoughts on “More on SCE and Related Topics

  1. Ceding what to whom? From a couple of vague statements by one candidate?

    Yes, I saw PT’s article in Computerworld that mentioned your name and blog. Good ol’ Disney. If they’re doing that in one location odds are they’re doing it in several, like Burbank/Glendale, betcha.

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    • No, it’s not just Scott Walker. There is Sessions, of course, and I’m hearing interesting rumors out of DC.

      Yeah, the report on Disney is probably just the tip of the iceberg.

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      • Norm, Do you think the H4 EAD Lawsuit stands a chance? First of all unlike DACA and DAPA, this rule was out there for public comments for almost the entire year of 2014 where the disapproval didn’t even cross 4 digits. Secondly the lawsuit is based on the Naive assumption that since H1Bs are IT workers ..so will be H4.. You can say that it could be likely.. but its hard to write it in stone when in reality we have no data about H4’s work Profile

        As I have mentioned earlier DHS so far has been very shrewd in implementing this rule by not making it available to all H4’s but only a selected few who are on their road towards LPR. status. Yes I agree there could be additional competition in the market because now these H4’s are coming 2-3 years earlier then they would have originally arrived in the market. However I do not understand why SCE workers are targeting this rule.. their reasoning makes little sense to me.. It is more like “there is no other thing where we can vent our anger on.. so lets spoil this”

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          • First of all I would find a JOB. If I don’t get one in California I would go to other 49 states.. Secondly as far as dealing with the injustice, I would rather file a lawsuit against SCE or file a petition to congress regarding contracts with foreign companies… because in all the examples of displaced american workers one thing is common .. the indian bodyshops. I know your point of view is different on H1B’s and you do not want to blame solely on the Infosyses because it ignores the broader view of H1B abuse which exists at IBMs as well…….. but lets also not ignore that most of these displacements like SCE, Disney and others are because of contracts with Indian body shops….

            So If I were an SCE worker who wants to file a lawsuit.. My targets would be companies who try to use foreign companies to handle their IT work .. Filing a Lawsuit for a work permit for H4 has got no relation with an SCE worker.. the only thing it is throwing out is a message “Since our (SCE workers) well being got stolen we will not let them (H1B’s families) have the OPPORTUNITY to have a well being”.

            You might pushback saying that filing a lawsuit against companies like SCE’s will be fruitless.. But so will be this H4 Lawsuit whether they win it or lose it

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          • That’s awfully presumptuous of you, rather outrageous really, to think that the SCE victims are not looking for work. You have zero basis for saying that, and I’m sure it’s not true. You may think that they’re counting on “winnings” from the lawsuit, but if so, you are being very naive; if they did win, they’d likely get only a few hundred dollars per person, a couple thousand at most.

            Aside from issues such as immobility due to family reasons and so on, it is VERY difficult for an older ITer to find work in a region more than a day’s drive away. Employers just consider it too risky, not to mention that they won’t fund the travel in most cases.

            It’s certainly true that the prominent instances of direct displacement of Americans by H-1Bs have involved bodyshops. But there is a huge amount of indirect displacement at the hiring stage, in which employers hire H-1Bs instead of Americans.

            And it’s undeniable that those SCE victims may become double victims, with SCE etc. hiring H-4s instead of those Americans.

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          • I have fought the statement of “Why don’t you get a job” since 2003.

            My brother and I no longer speak because of it.

            It amazes me that people cannot connect the dots.

            According to the most recent “Employed” numbers, there are 162,617,000 million people working (Table B-1, Not Seasonally Adjusted, Mar 2015)

            According to the most recent “Unemployment” numbers, U-6 is 11.0%

            If you multiply 162,617,000 times 1.11 you end up with 180,504,870 that would be employed if everybody would “Get A Job”.

            If you subtract 162,617,000 from 180,504,870 you end up with 17,887,870 that are “Unemployed”

            The latest JOLT number (Jobs available) was 5 million.

            If that number is correct, 12,887,870 can not “GET A JOB” no matter what they do or the skills they have.

            Lately it seems to be those over the aqe of 45 that are being hammered.

            They even made a documentary about it.

            http://www.overfiftyandoutofwork.com/

            Yet, NOBODY SEEMS TO GET IT…

            Probably because the media spreads the U-3 numbers like manure and because they have quit counting the unemployed who have exhausted their unemployment benefits which means they are no longer eligible to apply for unemployment.

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          • I just told you what I would have done if I was one of the displaced workers …that has nothing to do what they are or were doing in searching a job for themselves … Having said that what is more presumptuous and naive is the assumption that all H4’s are and will be potential ITer’s so there should be flat out denial for a work permit to each one of them.. I am sure there are no basis for that …

            Secondly even there were some portion of H4’s that are IT’s then maybe accept the age factor they rarely possess any of the advantages of an H1B.. Unlike H1B .. H4 are not indentured to an employer and can leave or take a job offer at will.. If they don’t get a job they can start running their own small business if they wish… Even if that was still hurting, the SCE workers could have filed a Lawsuit claiming that since there is already lot of traffic in the IT market do not allow H4 EAD’s to apply in IT fields and make them file H1B’s if they wish to do so.

            There is a thin line between honesty and insecurity.. With H1B abuse there is a considerable amount of honesty but with H4 it is pure insecurity..

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          • The American democratic tradition is to seek remedy for injustice. It may not always work well in practice, but I applaud those who are joining the suit.

            The suit does not claim that all H-4s are in STEM, as far as I know, and it doesn’t have to. If the plaintiffs show harm to themselves, that should be enough. And YES, the age issue is huge. It was the primary enabler in the SCE debacle, as I’ve explained.

            You are letting your own personal stake in the H-4 issue cloud your thinking.

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          • So is the American democratic tradition only applicable to Americans? and not the ones who are in a pathway to become one. According to me, injustice is inviting dependent immigrants and then handcuffing them by not allowing them the right to work .. you might find it unwarranted but i don’t think a democratic tradition ideally would.

            You are spot on with the statement “The American democratic tradition is to seek remedy for injustice. It may not always work well in practice” In fact I applaud those who finally put forward this H4 rule.

            You are also correct I might be letting my personal stake cloud my thinking .. But frankly by now mine is already is a lost cause… However don’t you think the same applies to the displaced workers? I feel they are letting their own personal experiences cloud their thinking on H4 Issue.

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          • Does the democratic tradition extend to non-Americans? Very good question, which in my opinion has a nixed answer.

            Other than some local elections, noncitizens, even permanent residents, do not have the right to vote. I think this is entirely appropriate, and yes, even though they may be paying taxes. I do believe that one should have a commitment to the country in order to influence its policy, and even more importantly, that the person live in the country for a long enough period to really understand the issues.

            I don’t think the H-1Bs and their spouses qualify under these criteria, especially the second criterion. One for example needs to have gone through the life cycle, seeing economic tribulations of either oneself or one’s family and friends, to understand the implications of economic policy. I believe that the bar to citizenship should actually be stronger, maybe a 10-year waiting period.

            A close friend of mine, a Chinese immigrant, was talking to a group of us, all Chinese except for me, when the big recession hit in 2009. He said, “The U.S. economy has gone way down. Where should we go next?” His “loyalty” to the U.S. was conditioned on there being a good economy. I was absolutely appalled. I should add that the others in the group have no intention of leaving the U.S., but I have indeed seen many instances of immigrants who don’t really want to be an American in the sense of it being their country. This concerns me greatly, and it has major implications for voting and the like.

            Accordingly, I am not comfortable with the idea of non citizen groups meeting with congresspeople, hiring paid lobbyists and so on. I agree that noncitizens should be able to express their concerns to Congress, but it has reached a level that I find inappropriate.

            As to the H-4 issue, while I sympathize I think there is entirely too much a sense of entitlement among the H-1Bs on this. They had a choice to either come to the U.S. or not; no one forced them.

            To me, I’ll state what I said before. H-4s should have the right to work, but they should be counted in the H-1B cap.

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          • That is a very Valid point. One should definitely show a commitment towards a country for a large period of time before being granted a citizenship status but the tricky part is how long? A typical Chinese/Indian/other H1B who has previously arrived in this country as student spends at an average 3 years in school, 6 years on H1B if he/she gets a job and typically most employers file for a green card usually on the 4th or 5th year of H1B. And then another 5-6 years atleast for a greencard. And then 5 years for a citizenship.
            So I believe it makes somewhere around 18 to 20 years which I believe is way more than your suggested benchmark. Infact it is 1/4th of a healthy person’s life time. Ironically my classmate who was from Iceland is already a citizen now as she got a permanent residency in a lottery. I completely get the diversity part of it but my naive nature made me think that “Hey I think we both were here because of our credentials and not where we came from”

            What your Chinese friend suggested back in 2009 is not shocking to me because i know it is sadly true many immigrants might have such thinking. But think of it this way .. why would they bother about loyalty towards USA when they know its going to take 20 years for their loyalty to be embraced at the same time they see loyalties from other countries being embraced in a lucky draw. I am not saying this is the only reason for such a behavior but It could be one.

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          • I disagree with your numbers. A more common scenario is 2 years for an MS, immediate sponsorship for a green card and then a waiting period that depends on the type of green card. For workers from China, the current wait is 3 years for EB-2 and 4 for the EB-3 category. (India is several years worse.)

            I of course won’t go into the details concerning my Chinese friend, but his route to citizenship was through family and he was quickly eligible for citizenship.

            There is also the important issue of “quality time.” The foreign students from India and China, especially the latter, tend to keep to themselves, not mixing much with the Americans. To a very large degree, that situation carries over after they enter the workforce. In the Chinese case, which I know well, it means having only Chinese friends, dealing only with Chinese services (medicine, real estate, law, etc.), and so on. In some public schools, there are separate Chinese PTAs, which Chinese parents join instead of the mainstream one. So, they are not getting a good exposure to American society.

            Here is an incident that makes the point: I have an Indian colleague who is quite sophisticated in issues of culture etc., and yet he was under the impression that our two U.S. senators represent different “districts” of California. And he has been in the U.S. for many years.

            In my remarks to you on this subject yesterday, I spoke of the life cycle. While growing up in the U.S., one sees the life cycle of one’s parents, relatives, family friends and so on, including but not limited to economic difficulties. This is important. Being raised in the U.S. also brings an appreciation for notions of racial and gender equality, and so on, things that academic studies have shown that many immigrants do not have when they get here, and may never fully develop.

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          • Frankly , I have rarely seen companies sponsoring immediate Greencards for fresh graduates.. unless both the parties are extremely confident about each other. Up until few years ago I had been highly involved in my University’s Alumni network and I came across very few cases like that. Usually companies like Google, Amazon take such chances. Midsize firms always try to check out their hires for a few years before proceeding with the Green card procedure . Even from a candidate’s point of view its not easy to simply agree to a GC sponsorship at such an early stage because that is like locking your position title and giving the key to your employer.

            Regarding citizenship, you are right naturalized citizens might never be the same sort Americans like the American born but that might not necessarily be a negative thing . Regarding your senator Anecdote.. you might be surprised to know that many american born might not know it as well.

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          • Actually, there is data available on the green cards if you want to analyze it.

            You and I agree that immigration invigorates the country in many ways, including bringing in new ideas. I certainly don’t expect/desire naturalized citizens to be identical to natives. On the other hand, I’m not happy about the importation of racism, disdain for egalitarianism, lack of a sense of the social contract and so on. So there is a fine line here, difficult to draw properly, but I do believe that raising the bar for citizenship would ameliorate the problems to some degree.

            Some years ago, I proposed that even the granting of a green card should require an understanding of not just English but also American culture and mores. I believe in this even more strongly today.

            As to the senator anecdote, I knew what your automatic reply would be, very predictable. But come on, this guy is a PhD; you can’t compare him to an uneducated American. And more importantly, there is a big difference between problems that we already have, and importing new ones. That’s why we exclude from immigration people with criminal records; that exclusion doesn’t mean we are hypocritical in view of the native criminals we have.

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        • Companies won’t hire them for what they were making at SCE because they want to pay the ‘H-1B price.’ And they won’t hire them for that either because they think they won’t be satisfied with less money. Private companies don’t like to hire people from government-regulated companies because they think they’ve had it soft. There were big layoffs in defense contractors around 1990, but private companies pushed for H-1B instead of hiring them.

          Suing is very difficult, especially getting standing to sue, and John Miano did a great job getting that against the H-4 spouses. Standing is often arbitrarily and politically decided.

          Around 2000 John was just one of us annoyed programmers, but he became a lawyer and specializes in suing against H-1B, etc. Stopping maybe hundreds of thousands of foreign workers from getting work permits will not be trivial for American professional workers.

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  2. First time reader here, I am an ex student of Norm’s from the 80’s. I landed here from the Disney article.

    I am also Swiss, and for several years I am a non-US person in both the citizen and tax sense of the word. I have been working in IT for 35 years.

    Yesterday an American IT colleague of mine told me he has had enough with the problems the Obama administration has made for US expats. You see, as an American and due to FATCA he can only get a minimum of banking services and no chance of a home loan here in Switzerland. He has been forced to do all his banking over his wife’s private account which is illegal. Additionally he just recently realized that he had not being meeting duties as a US tax donkey and he faced a massive legal and tax bill. So he gave up, and is returning to the US with his family. This can only make things worse in the US as American IT specialists are driven away from international services markets. Eventually the US may only be able to stay current in technology, let alone get ahead, through the importation of international IT specialists since US persons and their employers now have only financial and legal disincentives to working overseas. Thanks to real patriots like Schumer, Levin, Durbin, Clinton and Obama.

    On the subject of STEM, what a load of US domestic propaganda. This fantasy of trying to solve the problems in Baltimore by getting the getto children to program computers for an hour every day makes the US a laughingstock. This is deliberate obfuscation, just like this H-1B fiasco. Now consider that Common Core and its grandfather, No Child Left Behind, have left an entire generation that has deliberately been rendered unemployable and incapable of independent thought.

    Just look at what this A&M professor was forced to do:

    https://www.insidehighered.com/news/2015/04/27/professor-fails-his-entire-class-and-his-university-intervenes

    Here is a great podcast about what is really going on in the US school system with Common Core:

    http://www.redicecreations.com/radio/2015/04/RIR-150427.php

    Americans like to think they are “exceptional” and “indispensable”. In fact they are merely peasants just like all the other subjects of the empire. What Durbin, Obama, Schumer and their comrades have been doing is deliberately against the US middle class. Marx and Lenin hated the bourgeois too, and look what they did to the Russians.

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  3. The article ” Infosys expands its CSR activities with Infosys Foundation USA” Norm linked to at infosys.com states:

    “In India, Infosys Foundation supports several programs aimed at alleviating hunger, promoting education, improving health, assisting rural development, supporting arts and helping the destitute. For the fiscal year 2015, Infosys Foundation plans to deploy approximately USD 40 Million towards these initiatives in India.”

    They are proposing a $5 million expenditure in the US. The effective expenditure based on the relatives cost of living in the two countries should be noted.

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  4. The Computer World article regarding Disney’s use of H1B visas closely describes the apparent actions that Johnson & Johnson IT is currently following. I wonder just how wide-spread this is?

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    • This has been going on for years, documented by Prof. Ron Hira. The only difference is that the SCE case, and now Disney, came at a time when there is intense pressure to expand H-1B.

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  5. Suppose, Dr. Matloff, you marry a Chinese woman and have a child who is a US citizen by birth. Now, suppose that you relocated to China (for the rest of your life). You keep your son’s (or daughter’s) US citizenship in order to allow your son the choice of being a US citizen or a Chinese citizen. The son grows up, is proud to be a US citizen and expresses a desire to live in the US for the rest of his life In this case, how would you convince your son to give up his US citizenship because he has never lived in the US and has no direct experience of political or economical issues facing the country? Do you think that the birthright citizenship should be done away with or needs to be regulated in some way?

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    • Your query is a little jumbled, and I’m not sure your last sentence is related to the rest of what you say. But it is certainly true that birthright citizenship is being increasingly abused by women who fly in to the U.S. to give birth.

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      • I was just trying to give you an example of a case where the child of parents who are not US citizens is a US citizen by virtue of the fact the he or she was born in the US (birthright citizenship). I was referring to those individuals (with US citizenship) who have not grown up in the US to have American values because their parents have moved to another country. I don’t think all such cases are a result of illegal birth tourism. I mean every couple who has entered the US legally can have a child, there is no law that prevents them from having children. The children of a native born US citizen who has married a foreigner and acquired the citizenship of another country may face the same situation. My comment was in reference to the following comment made by you
        “One for example needs to have gone through the life cycle, seeing economic tribulations of either oneself or one’s family and friends, to understand the implications of economic policy. I believe that the bar to citizenship should actually be stronger, maybe a 10-year waiting period.”
        Do you favor birthright citizenship for such individuals or do you think that the law should be done away with or regulated in some way to ensure that all US citizens have sound experience of social and economic issues facing the country before being given the right to vote. Further, do you think that such individuals should even qualify for taking out student loans.
        I heard one prominent US politician on CNN express his concern and talked about getting rid of birthright citizenship laws as it stands today. I wanted to know your views. I am sorry if my previous comment caused confusion.

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        • I’ve not studied the birthright citizenship issue thorough, so other than stating as I did that I do have concerns, I can’t say much.

          I will make this general point, though: No law, regulation or other policy is perfect, working well and as intended in all possible situations.

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        • I would point out that the current, traditional system takes five years residence as a green card, and then you have to pass a test. H-1Bs who later become green cards may have been here eight years or more before becoming citizens. Birthright citizens are not allowed to vote for at least eighteen years! LOL

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