Rubio Ducks Disney Question, Then Calls for Reform

A reader has brought to my attention this Daily Caller article on Sen. Marco Rubio. Apparently Rubio had earlier declined to answer questions about Disney’s firing Americans and replacing them with H-1Bs, but now his office says, “If the program was misused, then people should be held accountable…Senator Rubio supports reforms that would make the system stronger and less subject to abuse without unduly burdening American businesses that work within the program in good faith.”

Knowledgeable readers will notice two coded messages in that second sentence:

  • Rubio opposes requiring employers in general to certify that no qualified Americans are available for the jobs they wish to fill with H-1Bs.
  • Rubio believes that the main abuse of the H-1B program comes from the IT services firms, “rent-a-programmer” companies such as Infosys.

Presumably Rubio is not claiming that the I-Squared bill, of which he is a cosponsor, addresses the abuse. On the contrary, it is the most flagrantly pro-employer bill I’ve ever seen, vastly expanding the overall H-1B cap, setting an infinite cap on one important aspect of the program, and greatly liberalizing the employer-sponsored green card program. It contains no protections for U.S. workers whatsoever, not even the pretense of protection as some bills include.

I must say, though, that it’s hard to blame Rubio for the his views in the two bulleted items above. As I’ve often pointed out, even many H-1B critics agree with the second item (albeit quite mistakenly), and the second item essentially implies the first. Even the other statement by Rubio’s spokesperson, “The program is designed to protect, not displace, American workers,” is consistent with the second bulleted item,” as the law places special restrictions on the IT services firms, a provision whose enactment was motivated by a perception that they are the main abusers of the visa.

As my reader pointed out to me, none of the politicians calling for expanding H-1B are addressing the fact that expansion is unwarranted, as there is no labor shortage, either in STEM in general or in IT. Wages have been flat, as even the pro-H-1B researchers concede.

It will be interesting to see what the politicians will propose to counter actions like those of Disney, SCE and so on. Disney, for example, is closely tied to the major industry lobbying group FWD.us, and as the firm has a major presence in Florida, Rubio might be reluctant to do much to clip their wings. Sen. Hatch, the primary I-Squared sponsor, has proposed raising the wage floor for the IT services firms from the current $60,000 to $95,000. That is not in his bill, and I don’t believe for a minute he was sincere in that idea. And even if he were, the IT services firms would rightly howl, asking why it’s OK for the other firms to pay their H-1Bs less than $95,000.

Another reader, a Silicon Valley engineer, suggested recently to me that the tech industry is on the verge of another 2000-like implosion, and that the industry is currently scurrying to get an H-1B expansion bill passed before that occurs. He points to the fact that many of the startups are burning through funding right now with little or no positive results. This is indeed what happened in 2000, a year that culminated in both mass layoffs and legislation that increased the H-1B cap from the then-limit of 115,000 to 195,000.

In discussions of H-1B politics, this is seldom noted — a major H-1B expansion enacted just weeks before a surge of tech layoffs. The few responsible dwellers of Capitol Hill ought to keep this in mind.

As I’ve noted before, all of this is at least making for good theater.

Advertisements

22 thoughts on “Rubio Ducks Disney Question, Then Calls for Reform

    • So do the IT services firms. They are represented by Fragomen, the nation’s premier immigration law firm.
      And these firms have the best lobbyists too.

      Like

  1. Good theater yes, but it does nothing to help Displaced Americans get back to work and no amount of re-training is going to help them when the emphasis is on hiring young temporary workers on temporary visas.

    Sadly, before they got displaced, the lower paying jobs were already full, which in most cases sees the Displaced Americans working at minimum wage if somebody will actually look beyond “You are overqualified”.

    Like

    • I said “At least” it makes for good theater, meant as black humor.

      You are absolutely right about the need to really highlight the Americans in tech who are struggling.

      Like

      • If only they would speak up.
        I try and tell their story at KAAW because I believe it will turn the tide, yet those that have gone through this or those that are facing it will not speak up.

        Have they never heard that saying “The squeaky wheel gets the grease”?

        Sure, they fear being blackballed, but it is better to be blackballed than cowering in silence like a mouse.

        I recently heard from a systems admin type and for 14 years now, he has been displaced one year at a time by H-1B’s.

        Folks, there is nowhere to hide.
        We either tell our stories to try and end the temporary worker on temporary visa programs or we live a life that slowly gets worse each year as we get forced from software job to software job until we suddenly have no more software jobs that will hire us.

        It has been 5 years now since I’ve even had an software interview.

        It won’t get better if we remain silent

        Like

  2. Norm, Look at these sentences, this is the part of the WTO services deal that defines the “exception” for “services supplied in the exercise of governmental authority” usually cited as “protecting” government services like education (and public health care in many countries) from privatization.

    Here is the text: “For the purposes of this Agreement…

    (b) ‘services’ includes any service in any sector *except services supplied in the exercise of governmental authority;*

    (c) ‘a service supplied in the exercise of governmental authority’ means any service which is supplied *neither on a commercial basis, nor in competition with one or more service suppliers*.”

    —–

    Only “services supplied in the exercise of governmental authority” which are “supplied neither on a commercial basis, nor in competition with one or more service suppliers” in the widest possible sense, are likely to escape a process designed to throw them up for international bidding -a fairly small slice -are likely to escape mandatory privatization under current and pending trade deals.

    Thats what the two EU “mandate” documents (one example here http://data.consilium.europa.eu/doc/document/ST-6891-2013-ADD-1-DCL-1/en/pdf ) should be telling us.

    Potentially hundreds of thousands of jobs will be at risk. As the saying goes “everything you cannot drop on your foot”

    Not just a few IT jobs.

    Like

  3. > Rubio believes that the main abuse of the H-1B program comes from the IT services firms, “rent-a-programmer” companies such as Infosys.

    I’ve never understood how one can think that there is abuse of the H-1B program that needs to be addressed but that we should raise the cap at the same time. If there is abuse, we should address that first as that might open up enough visas to handle any supposedly valid needs or otherwise change the dynamics of the current system. Of course, I am skeptical that there are any truly valid needs since we have other visas that can be used to bring in any extraordinary talents. Still, we should be able to agree that the abuse should be addressed first.

    > Another reader, a Silicon Valley engineer, suggested recently to me that the tech industry is on the verge of another 2000-like implosion, and that the industry is currently scurrying to get an H-1B expansion bill passed before that occurs.

    That is sad to think that this push may just be in preparation for serious cost-cutting of the type seen at Disney and Southern Edison. Regarding a 2000-like implosion, there are articles on that at http://www.breitbart.com/california/2015/03/28/silicon-valley-dot-com-2-0-crash-looms-as-vc-tech-ipos-dwindle/ and https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/tech-crash-20-what-you-need-know-alex-pollak .

    Like

    • I see no inherent contradiction. I don’t mean to defend Rubio or for that matter even Hatch, but technically speaking, if one truly believes that the Infosyses are the main abusers of the system, while the Intel’ use of H-1B is creating American jobs, then it is natural, even imperative, that one support legislation that rewards the punishes the Infosyses while rewarding the Intels by expanding the program.
      And the fact is that most H-1B critics are focusing on the Infosyses, which people then take as approval of the Intels — even though many of the critics will make brief remarks in passing that maybe the Intels aren’t so innocent either.
      As pointed out by a close friend, the SCE and Disney cases are “the gift that keeps on giving,” in the sense that they have made people pay attention to H-1B. But as I’ve been saying for a long time now, ultimately that strategy will backfire.
      Wait until the executive branch investigation is done. Things will get a lot worse then, not better. Mark my words.

      Like

      • “I’ve been saying for a long time now, ultimately that strategy will backfire.
        Wait until the executive branch investigation is done.”

        Because they’re going to learn how to hide this better?

        Like

        • One of two things will come out of the investigation. One possibility is that they find that the employers didn’t quite dot their i’s or cross their t’s correctly on certain fairly minor things; Congress will respond by increasing funding for the executive branch to enforce i-dotting and t-crossing, and will announce that they have solved the problem. The other possibility is that the investigation will find some minor problem that it recommends that Congress fix; again, Congress will then declare victory.

          Like

      • > As pointed out by a close friend, the SCE and Disney cases are “the gift that keeps on giving,” in the sense that they have made people pay attention to H-1B.

        True. I tend to forget the other visas since most of the available data is on the H-1B visa. I ran across a two-year old EPI paper at http://www.epi.org/publication/bp359-guestworkers-high-skill-labor-market-analysis/ that talks about the other visas. Judging from Figure G and Table 2, less than half of the guestworker visas issued annually are H-1B. Regarding the available data, the paper states the following:

        The occupational and industry data are available only for the H-1B visa petitions approved by DHS and for the OPT-STEM extension visa, though there are estimates of the industry employment of L-1 guestworkers, as discussed previously. DHS also provides detail on the H-1B population by education and age. We use these figures to develop estimates of the total number of guestworkers entering annually into the IT workforce.

        Hence, official data for L-1, L-2, and initial OPS data appears not to be available.

        Like

        • Don’t forget the employer-sponsored green cards. These are just as important as H-1B, and figure in most of the recent bills as end-runs around H-1B caps. And the PERM data for green cards are quite useful.

          Like

  4. Dr. Matloff:

    I am one of the 100 displaced IT workers at Fossil Group in Richardson, TX. We don’t even show up on the radar in comparison to a Disney or SCE, but we’re all pushed out to make room for Infosys and their cost cutting.

    I appreciate this website for the wealth of well-reasoned, measured responses, but yearn for more direction, more suggestions what else we can do.

    I have sent emails to my senator and to each of the ten senators who signed the April letter to the Secretaries of Labor and Homeland Security. I’ve contributed to the dialog (such as it is) in the “Dallas Morning News” and the website thelayoff.com/fossil.

    I don’t really expect to be successful against the big-money, big-government axis, but one must keep trying. I will have lots of free time at the end of August (when we’re done training our replacements), but am at a loss what else I can do.

    Neil

    Like

    • Sending letters or e-mail to your members of Congress is worthless. They’ll be read by a high school student intern, who by the way may have gotten the job through connections rather than insight.

      Yes, contact your politicians, but CALL them, not write. Call BOTH their local AND their DC offices. Ask to speak to a staffer who handles immigration. (And make sure they’re not an intern.)

      Join the Programmers Guild, and push them to become more active.

      Whenever you see a newspaper article on H-1B, contact the author. Ask for more coverage of the topic.

      Whenever you contact someone in politics or in the press, make SURE you have full command of the facts. The politicians in particular have been “educated” by the tech industry’s lobbyists, and will have ready answers for you.

      Like

  5. The best primer is dont look at the H1B programs, look at the other visa programs and look at the hopefully by now familiar two lines from Article I:3 (b) and (c)

    Right there you will see what i have been saying all along which is that the entire country will likely be changed and it will be a major betrayal of the public (I mean natural persons of all kinds) by the juridicial persons and their pet politicians, and Norm, you’re wrong about Democrats, for one thing Obama is not one. At least not like any Democrats I respect. For Crissakes, he was a slumlord lawyer.

    …on a scale never seen before.

    anybody who thinks its just going to be a few IT firms paying people 2/3 of what Americans are making now is in denial. A very deep denial. Either that or is somehow being muzzled.

    Read the wiki leaks news for today.

    Like

      • Its the trade deals that are the real threat, especially GATS and TISA which will be merged back into GATS,

        Why? because they likely will soon mandate that any global services firm that wins by tendering a low bid through the WTO E-GPA system . and that will be hundreds of thousands or perhaps even millions of firms globally, it will mandate that they get to do the job, which will likely mean no caps on the number of people they can use.

        Bone up on the WTO’s “TBT” (Technical Barriers to Trade” constraints, also please look at and write about the most recent TISA leak, yesterday, which spells it all out clear as day. Its exactly as I was explaining previously. H1B is a tiny piece of a much larger puzzle.

        The real problem with these deals is only corporate workers are given these visas and they remain tied to one company. the things Americans should be fighting for are RECIPROCITY, in other words, US tech workers should be able to go overseas to work and to be able to bargain on wages from a position of strength. Foreign workers that are here should be able to switch employers. What is happening is the creation of a new slave system which is basically a government subsidy to well connected big firms that will destroy the smaller firms they compete with. You know, the ones that employ more Americans.

        Please write about the July 1 TISA documents and the analysis done of them by Jane Kelsey. It explains that the scope of these changes is huge and its not just limited to IT. the public sector, especially education and health care are going to be heavily impacted too. The GATS negotiations will likely get started up again too. Soon.

        Look at the bottom of the first page of the core document for the proposed scope and the two part test as to what parts of the public sector are being forced to privatize. What is protected? Not many services at all..

        “‘a service supplied in the exercise of governmental authority’ means any service which is supplied neither on a commercial basis, nor in competition with one or more service suppliers.” So K-12 public education in the US will likely fail the test because of the existence of charter schools. All of higher education will be forced to be privatized because there are some private colleges. This is sheer insanity that the public would NEVER go along with if they just knew.

        It’s an attack by a tiny few on public education, and science, globally. Nothing less.

        Like

  6. When mentioning compensation, it is important to consider location.

    A $60K job in Orlando is pretty good. In Sopchoppy, FL it is very good. In Tallahassee it is kind of OK depending what you are doing. But in Sili Valley (or NY), if you are not making $120K, fuggedaboudit. A starter home (at over $1M) would be out of reach, according to a recent article (by Richard Scheinin
    Mentions Collaborative Economics report, 2015-07-20 site:mercurynews.com). Mentioned 2br apts for nearly $3K/month… With median income of $57.4K.

    Of course $60K is the level at and above which several H-1B limits are set aside… as though anyone making that were living well and must, therefore, certainly be “best” or “brightest” ROFL.

    Like

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s