Microsoft Threatens to Move (More) Work Offshore

The opening of this CNBC report on Microsoft and immigration policy says it all:

Microsoft does not want to move jobs out of the United States but certain decisions out of Washington could potentially force its hands, the company’s President and Chief Legal Officer Brad Smith warned.

This of course is an age-old threat by the industry: “Allow us to bring more foreign workers here, or we will move the work abroad!” This always resonates with Congress, conjuring up images of shuttered factories in the Northeast and South. But its one of the more deceptive lines in the H-1B debate.

First, of course, is that pesky little fact that Microsoft is overwhelmed with US job applicants, plenty of whom are well-qualified. The notion that Microsoft’s work won’t get done without foreign workers is just plain false.

But more interestingly, the two-faced nature of Microsoft’s statements like this has been exposed in the past. Back in 2001, for instance, a Microsoft employee smuggled out an internal slide presentation which contained the exhortation, “Pick  something  to  move offshore today!” In other words, instead of being forced to offshore work, the firm was actively seeking to do so. Microsoft has also been caught asking its contract workers to take a furlough, and admitting that most of its jobs are not open to older workers. All this, of course, while continually claiming they need foreign workers to fill their jobs.

The CNBC reported here should have been a little less trusting.

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15 thoughts on “Microsoft Threatens to Move (More) Work Offshore

  1. > All this, of course, while continually claiming they need foreign workers to fill their jobs.

    This doesn’t surprise me. A while back, I looked at a claim that I kept reading online, that “by 2020 there will be 1.4 million computer-science-related jobs available and only 400,000 computer science graduates with the skills to apply for those jobs.” As explained at http://econdataus.com/claim400k.htm , this claim appears to have originated with a paper at https://news.microsoft.com/download/presskits/citizenship/MSNTS.pdf which was released by Microsoft in 2012. The paper came up with projections for 2010 to 2020 which have since proven to be very inaccurate. Despite this, numerous organization continue to blindly quote these 6-year old projections with nary a change. It appears that the only thing that will stop them from quoting them is the eventually passage of time beyond 2020. Then, they will likely just switch to another old projection that has already been proven to be false. In any case, the Microsoft paper also suggested “Bridging The Gap With High-skilled Immigration Reform” by establishing a new and supplemental allocation of 20,000 H-1B STEM visas and recapturing 20,000 unused employment-based green card numbers annually to reduce the green card backlog.

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  2. While I agree that MS prefers outsourcing, how much of this do you suspect is due to Seattle’s apparent dislike of business? (Of course, if so, why outsource overseas rather than move out-state as Boeing did?)

    On the other hand, if MS likes out-sourcing so much, why not “out-source” the entire company?

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  3. They don’t hire Americans. They don’t hire older workers. They are just taking up space and straining our resources. My come back to them… Either hire US workers or we’ll kick you out. Almost a Trillion dollar company has no regards and created virtually no value for the community that made them into behemoth evil.

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  4. Considering how much innovation is coming out of MS, if they keep staffing with H1Bs, they will be irrelevant soon enough.

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    • Related comment on HP:

      I spent over an hour on the phone this morning with HP customer service. The first 45 minutes was on hold, the rest was on my problem. If they are going to outsource customer service to India, they could at least hire enough cheap workers to cut back the wait times to less than 45 minutes.

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