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Sun Microsystems Government The Courts Your Rights Online News

Sun Sued Over H1-B Workers 1382

Posted by michael
from the revenge-of-the-nerds dept.
heli0 writes "The Boston Globe is reporting: 'A lawsuit filed yesterday in California alleges computer giant Sun Microsystems Inc. laid off thousands of American high-tech workers in order to replace them with younger, lower-paid engineers from India.' Could this be the straw that breaks the proverbial camel's back?"
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Sun Sued Over H1-B Workers

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  • Unlikely (Score:5, Interesting)

    by saikou (211301) on Wednesday March 19, 2003 @11:55AM (#5544741) Homepage
    One of the suits already got dismissed.
    If, on the other hand, Sun looses this one, then bye bye US jobs and hello nice fat contract for Sun India. Which would be even worse.
    • No big deal (Score:4, Insightful)

      by siskbc (598067) on Wednesday March 19, 2003 @12:02PM (#5544794) Homepage
      bye bye US jobs and hello nice fat contract for Sun India.

      I don't see this as being so evil. I have always been of the opinion that if someone else (or a machine) can do your job better and cheaper, have fun at the unemployment line. If this is the case, then, sorry for the unemployed, but I doubt they would have taken a pay cut. Hell, they're lucky that Sun took so long to figure out that there are a lot of highly trained Indian coders.

      Then again, maybe Sun will regret firing such a huge experience base. That may be.

      I will say one thing - I don't hear people complaining about when overpaid middle-management types get canned for a new batch of college grads (from this country). I hope we're not indicating that we're bitter about foreigners taking American jobs? Because that would be a bit silly.

      • Re:No big deal (Score:5, Insightful)

        by Cereal Box (4286) on Wednesday March 19, 2003 @12:13PM (#5544923)
        Clearly you don't understand the situation. It's not like programmers are saying "boo-hoo, these damn Indians are willing to work for $60K/yr, I can't live like that!", they're saying "these damn Indians are willing to work for $6K/yr, there's no possible way I can live on that". Yes, there is exaggeration in those figures (but when it comes to outsourcing... not really), but it is NOT a matter of Indians working for just a little bit less than Americans are willing to work -- they're working for significantly less than we could comfortably live with. Programming is not akin to working at McDonalds -- it's skilled, technical work. Why should programmers have to settle for an unskilled laborer's wages simply because there are poor workers willing to work for unlivable wages?
        • Re:No big deal (Score:5, Informative)

          by Probashi (206838) on Wednesday March 19, 2003 @12:26PM (#5545076)
          Well, there are lot of false accusations thrown around this issue. If the foreign worker is in the US working on H1B, the salary the worker is getting is NOT going to be less than the median salary earned by the US workers for the same type of job. Also, the company has to prove that they could not hire a US citizen/green card holder for the same job before they tried to hire the foreigner. Are there companies out there who are falsifying salaries to get cheap labour? Sure there are - but those are not the norm, espcially in the fortune 500 companies.

          I myself being a H1B worker can attest to that fact is that I get pretty good amount of money - well above the average salary (even compared to time when the market was hot) for the given position. This despite the fact my bargaining power was considerably less because 1) I was in a hurry to switch my last job for personal reasons 2) most companies did not (and still don't) want to hire H1Bs (more than 60%). 2) has been true from the time I was looking for jobs after graduation from a US university (1995).
          • Re:No big deal (Score:5, Insightful)

            by joshmccormack (75838) on Wednesday March 19, 2003 @12:50PM (#5545289) Homepage Journal
            If you managed to get a good salary on an H1-B you're quite fortunate. While some may, many do not. I've known a couple of companies that you'd recognize by name that have been contacted by the US government b/c their salaries to H1-B visa holders was so low.

            I think H1-B visa holders should be paid more than others at the same company with the same position - like 25% more, to insure that companies are filling those positions with qualified foreign workers, not low cost foreign workers.
          • Re:No big deal (Score:5, Informative)

            by YeOldeGnurd (14524) on Wednesday March 19, 2003 @01:34PM (#5545728) Homepage Journal

            If the foreign worker is in the US working on H1B, the salary the worker is getting is NOT going to be less than the median salary earned by the US workers for the same type of job. Also, the company has to prove that they could not hire a US citizen/green card holder for the same job before they tried to hire the foreigner.

            Both of these statements are false. See this FAQ [ucdavis.edu] from Norm Mattloff (UC Davis professor and leading H1-B antagonist).

            • Re:No big deal (Score:5, Interesting)

              by Probashi (206838) on Wednesday March 19, 2003 @02:49PM (#5546463)
              Well, my personal experience (along with a lot of my friends) does not confirm Norm's assertion. I have said it before and I will say it again - there are abuses of this system (just like any system) and H1B has a lot issues I can speak of. But, in general, neither I or a lot of the comptetent H1Bs in the fortune 500s do not get any less money than our American counterparts. I have had friends who started with 70K/year straight out school in 1996. That my friend was way above the market rate. I have seen US citizens (good ones too) from my school start out with much lower salaries that I started with.

              I have gone and read the FAQ you linked. A lot of those are partially true. When the tech boom was there, a lot of H1bs regularly changed jobs, especially in the parts of the country where it did not take too long to get the green card. I myself have changed job once. My experience, and I am repeating, is that there are more companies out there who would not touch an application with H1B status with a ten feet pole. I still remember when I graduated (from US university, 1995), majority of the companies coming to the school's job fair had the requirement that you either had to be either a green card holder or a US citizen. Same experience when I changed my first job. Both these were at a time when the tech boom was at its full swing.

        • Nice numbers (Score:5, Insightful)

          by siskbc (598067) on Wednesday March 19, 2003 @12:39PM (#5545196) Homepage
          "these damn Indians are willing to work for $6K/yr, there's no possible way I can live on that"

          First, please back up these numbers. As someone BEARING an H1B replied to you, you're not even close.

          Second, not that it's even relevant, but if an Indian can live on it IN THIS COUNTRY (remember, Sun's not shipping the work overseas), you can too.

          Third, I love this "them vs. us" crap. The racist overtones in this thread are nauseating, especially for a site that is (supposedly) nice and liberal. Seems people tend to get a little more conservative when it's they who are threatened by the foreigners. Or did you also complain when low-end service jobs went to Hispanics?

          • Re:Nice numbers (Score:5, Insightful)

            by jasonisgodzilla (591252) on Wednesday March 19, 2003 @01:24PM (#5545638)
            It has nothing to do with race, it has to do with nationality. I dont give a damn what color the person is, I just dont want US jobs being given to people who are not citizens and haven't paid taxed, or contributed to this country in anyway. Furthermore, I wouldn't have a problem if the H1B people spent their money here, but the fact of the matter is that an overwhelming majority send most of their money back home to support family. This results in two problems, less jobs at lower pay for American workers, and capital flight. We have enough skilled laborers in this country and we don't need to import anymore. If your such a highly skilled foreigner then you should have no problem findning good work in your country. If not, then go into politics and change the system there. Regardless of what color you are, we have a surplus of workers here and we dont need or want anymore from other countries.
            • Get real (Score:5, Insightful)

              by tjwhaynes (114792) on Wednesday March 19, 2003 @03:38PM (#5546892)

              It has nothing to do with race, it has to do with nationality. I dont give a damn what color the person is, I just dont want US jobs being given to people who are not citizens and haven't paid taxed, or contributed to this country in anyway.

              That sounds like ill-informed claptrap to me.

              I'm an immigrant living in Canada. I'm pretty certain that most people who have never worked in another country, let alone moved their entire lives to a new country, have no idea how hard it is.

              Most immigrants in a technical field have moved to a new country either for personal reasons (i.e. my wife is Canadian) or for the opportunity to work on a project not available in their own country.

              And you know what? Immigrants pay taxes too. Most immigrants actually have to bring a sizeable amount of cash with them as well to get setup. At a minimum, any new immigrant is going to be buying furniture, a car and putting two months rent down up front. That ignores the cost of actually landing legally in a new country ($1500 for Canada). All that money goes straight into the local economy.

              And countries are not islands without contact with the rest of the world. The days of living in a bubble are gone.

              Cheers,

              Toby Haynes

          • Re:Nice numbers (Score:5, Insightful)

            by coupland (160334) <dchase@@@hotmail...com> on Wednesday March 19, 2003 @01:28PM (#5545677) Journal

            You are completely and absolutely correct. The fact is that the west (USA in particular but not exclusively) has been sloughing off unwanted jobs on minorities or immigrants or offshore for years. However nobody complains (much) about Chinese sweat shops or Indian taxi drivers. But an Indian programmer? Well that's a different story.

            In fact I think it's one of the most troubling stories I've read in many years because the fact of the matter is it says America can no longer compete on its strongest front: technology. As this [cnn.com] article points out, 88% of companies that move technology jobs offshore find they get better value and a mind boggling 71% feel the foreign work is better quality than if it was done by Americans. This is no longer a matter of Mexicans making our VW bugs for us, it's us not having the skills we need to compete in our strongest industry.

            To make matters worse you now have people complaining that "people shouldn't be able to come to this country to take our jobs for half the pay" -- well, they also do them better than we do so obviously the problem isn't merely economy. We essentially have a request for welfare here: I don't do as good a job and I cost a lot more but please legislate to have me stay in work. But really the current cure is worse than the problem. Kick all the H1B holders out of the country? Great idea, train them for free at America's best companies and once they're the best minds in the industry hand them their papers and send them home to bolster foreign business. Rather America should be looking to steal great minds from other countries, not shun them. Personally I think this is an issue of titanic proportions, if America is destroying its technology sector by mandating stupidity and _literally_ telling its best minds to "go back where you came from" then I really think the ship has already sailed on American technological dominance.

          • Re:Nice numbers (Score:3, Informative)

            by Slime-dogg (120473)

            The racist overtones in this thread are nauseating, especially for a site that is (supposedly) nice and liberal.

            Haha! Whatever gave you the impression that /. is liberal? I'd say it has a libertarian tone, given the views of most cyber-addicts. Most of us are intelligent, peaceful, and wary of our rights being taken away.

            Liberal, in the American sense of the word, is all for increased Government spending, and decreased social regulation. Libertarian is all about decreased Government spending, and d

          • Re:Nice numbers (Score:4, Insightful)

            by HamNRye (20218) on Wednesday March 19, 2003 @04:29PM (#5547265) Homepage
            "Too much and too long, we seem to have surrendered community excellence and community values in the mere accumulation of material things. Our gross national product - if we should judge America by that - counts air pollution and cigarette advertising, and ambulances to clear our highways of carnage. It counts special locks for our doors and the jails for those who break them.

            "It counts the destruction of our redwoods and the loss of our natural wonder in chaotic sprawl. It counts napalm and the cost of a nuclear warhead, and armored cars for police who fight riots in our streets. It counts Whitman's rifle and Speck's knife, and the television programs which glorify violence in order to sell toys to our children.

            "Yet the gross national product does not allow for the health of our children, the quality of their education or the joy of their play. It does not include the beauty of our poetry or the strength of our marriages, the intelligence of our public debate or the integrity of our public officials. It measures neither our wit nor our courage, neither our wisdom nor our learning, neither our compassion nor our devotion to our country; it measures everything, in short, except that which makes life worthwhile. And it tells us everything about America except why we are proud that we are Americans."

            Bobby Kennedy - June 6,1968

            Te strength of our society lies not in our GDP, but in the health of our communities. When American work is outsourced in this way, it weakens our communities here in the states.

            The difference between a First World Country and a Third World Country is essentially the existence of a large Middle Class.

            We should restrict H1-B Visa's to protect American jobs just like we use trade tarrifs to protect American producers of Lumber, Steel, etc. Those of you who advocate the H1-B would soon make every job pay what the most oppressed person would accept with conditions that reflect that. Hence, we shall become oppressed people.

            Wonder what happened to Allentown?? Flint? The same thing that will happen to the tech industry soon. "Solaris 10.2 - assembled in Toluca, Mexico".

            By the way, "them vs. us" is not racist, it is nationalist. I have not seen a post saying that Native born brown folks should not get these jobs. I do not complain about low-end jobs going to Hispanics, but I did when they all got shipped to Mexico.

            Slashdot is not liberal. Libertarian, perhaps, but not even Democrat in the liberal spectrum. If anything, they would be considered arch-conservative if the Republican party hadn't been busy in the back room re-defining conservative as neo-christian war hawk. Oddly, the conservative viewpoint would traditionally be to let the market decide. The liberal view would be to enact regulation.

            The effects of the H1-B are most accutely felt by the American poor. Here, racism plays a part because the Indian H1-B holder is a far more attractive target for "Tech Worker with a background of poverty whom I can exploit" than are our own Blacks, and Hispanics looking to better themselves. Since Blacks do not have an equal field when looking for employment, you have companies composed of White Guys and H1-B workers.

            Finally, a point overlooked by most in this thread, the true benefit of H1-B visa holders is that the employment is temporary. No retirement, no annual raises, no vested employees. So, even if these employees are paid comparably, they are still cheaper because of the lack of accrued benefit.

            American workers fought and died for the work standards we now enjoy. Sacco and Vanzetti fought so we could not be forced to work 80 hours a week, that we could have safe working conditions. Immigrant and H1-B labor have been the two major factors rolling back the progress that our - OUR - forefathers extracted from the corporations with blood and determination.

            ~Hammy
        • Re:No big deal (Score:3, Informative)

          by battjt (9342)
          School teachers with 4 year degrees work for $20k-$45k. Inexperienced programmers should not pout about getting $35k.

          Joe
        • ...and they're paid about 40% of their onshore equivalents. Which by local standards (Bangalore, India) is a good salary. Not a sweatshop.

          w.r.t "programming is not like working at mcd's", this is increasingly less true, relatively speaking, given the huge number of unemployed skilled developers. it's supply and demand -- when there are a large number of skilled programmers/QA engineers/etc able to live comfortably on less than 1/2 their western counterparts, economics101 says, that's who will get the jobs.
      • Re:No big deal (Score:4, Insightful)

        by arkanes (521690) <{moc.liamg} {ta} {senakra}> on Wednesday March 19, 2003 @12:14PM (#5544938) Homepage
        From an econimic standpoint, have foreigners doing your work is a bad thing. It means that you're reducing your own self-sufficeny - it's one of the major arguments against globalization and for things like import tariffs. Not caring about the people who're losing jobs to automation or overseas workers will eventually come around to bite you in the ass.

        I'd be alot happier with globalization if I, as a consumer, saw some more of the benefits. As it is, it's mainly the to the advantage of large corporations, not the consumer. Look at things like region coding for examples.

      • Re:No big deal (Score:5, Insightful)

        by CrypticOutsider (615336) on Wednesday March 19, 2003 @12:21PM (#5545005)
        I don't see this as being so evil. I have always been of the opinion that if someone else (or a machine) can do your job better and cheaper, have fun at the unemployment line. If this is the case, then, sorry for the unemployed, but I doubt they would have taken a pay cut. Hell, they're lucky that Sun took so long to figure out that there are a lot of highly trained Indian coders.

        It's not so simple though. You can berate the U.S. for it's general consumption, etc, but if you're an individual, how can you compete with foreign labor that's earning less than the poverty line in the U.S.? Should you emigrate to another country just to be able to compete with their much lower cost of living.

        I realize that competing in a global market has its cost, but the people making the big money only make more from the short term gains.

        So my concern isn't so much with foreign workers (I think everyone should be able to play on a level field), but with the erosion of the middle class that's inherent in such a system (and when Country X's engineers start to demand more, then Country Y will have its resources grown and allocated)... if you repeat this long enough, and assume that all resources can be tapped, then you'll have a global lower class with an elite upper class. I think increasing the economic conditions for people in (e.g.) Ethiopia is a very good thing, but I think that the consolidation of wealth for a very few (typically corporations) in an age where we have thing like the DCMA being passed etc is a bad thing. I'm just not sure if this is the best tradeoff.

        And I really hate even touching on arguments like these, because it's very easy for other people to throw ethnicity out there, etc, but I'm not concerned about U.S. Citizens (who can be of any ethnicity) but about foreign citizens (possibly also the same). So it's not about race, at least directly.

      • Re:No big deal (Score:5, Insightful)

        by nomadic (141991) <nomadicworld@nOSpaM.gmail.com> on Wednesday March 19, 2003 @12:23PM (#5545033) Homepage
        I don't see this as being so evil. I have always been of the opinion that if someone else (or a machine) can do your job better and cheaper, have fun at the unemployment line.

        When you lose your job that way your opinion is gonna change reaaaal fast...
      • Re:No big deal (Score:3, Insightful)

        by saikou (211301)
        Several things.

        1. H1B can't earn less than average salary. So while people would complain they can't get $60k/year any more, they still can compete in terms of salary by asking for average (while average, certainly, can slowly spiral downwards, a few high paid positions usually don't let it collapse)

        2. When position is transferred to another country, there's no average. So it effectively turns into $10k/year for the company, which makes it think "Hm... now THAT's how we'll make our investors happy!".

        3. W
      • by Tablizer (95088) on Wednesday March 19, 2003 @01:08PM (#5545466) Journal
        I don't see this as being so evil. I have always been of the opinion that if someone else (or a machine) can do your job better and cheaper, have fun at the unemployment line.

        Then flood different professions equally! Allow auto mechanics, doctors, etc. to just flood in also, then things will be more even.

        Also, the gov should have given people time to switch careers rather than just ruin their life over night. First it should issue formal warnings that it intends to kill IT careers with cheap foriengers so career planners can give better advice. Right now the gov predicts *more* IT jobs in the future because they did not factor cheap foreign labor.

        Second, an H-1B is essentally an indentured servant. H-1B's cannot job shop in the US. If they are fired, they have to go back to India. Thus, they work their tail off to keep their job.

        Nobody should have to compete with slaves!
      • Re:No big deal (Score:3, Interesting)

        by scoove (71173)
        Then again, maybe Sun will regret firing such a huge experience base. That may be.

        Not if you're shifting to a maintaining phase as the principals exit out of the company, eliminating their equity and dumping out of the slowly dying entity.

        Not that anyone would claim this strategy, but some analysis on Ford indicates this may have taken place and may limit their ability to survive. Years of slashed reinvestment, shifting revenues to payouts to shareholders, and the loss of most of the competent decision m
    • Re:Unlikely (Score:3, Interesting)

      by FeloniousPunk (591389)
      If, on the other hand, Sun looses this one, then bye bye US jobs and hello nice fat contract for Sun India. Which would be even worse.
      I doubt it. Besides the fact that Sun already has one foot in the grave, Sun does a lot of business with the US government. If something like your scenario plays out, it could kiss future contracts goodbye.
  • Illegal???? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Bob Abooey (224634) <bababooey@techie.com> on Wednesday March 19, 2003 @11:58AM (#5544759) Homepage Journal
    Is this illegal? Isn't that sort of the way business has been done for a million years now? (letting go of expensive help and hiring cheaper help) It's not like the auto industry hasn't been doing this for years by building plants in other countries to take advantage of their cheap labor.

    I have to wonder if the USian labor force isn't partly to blame by pricing themselves out of the market.
    • Re:Illegal???? (Score:3, Insightful)

      by outsider007 (115534)
      Isn't that sort of the way business has been done for a million years now? (letting go of expensive help and hiring cheaper help)

      yes but if your cheaper help is an immigrant who is here under false pretenses, you just might be going to jail.
    • Re:Illegal???? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by infinite9 (319274) on Wednesday March 19, 2003 @12:18PM (#5544972)
      Is this illegal?

      Yes.

      Isn't that sort of the way business has been done for a million years now?

      Yes.

      It's not like the auto industry hasn't been doing this for years by building plants in other countries to take advantage of their cheap labor.

      It's exactly the same thing. Except that now it's white collar jobs that are leaving. A better analogy would be like Ford firing all the factory workers and importing Mexicans to have them work in factories here, but paying them half. They can't do that though. It's illegal. They don't have an h1-b program because anyone can be trained to be an auto worker. So they moved the factories elsewhere. Ultimately, that's what will happen to IT. So it's a losing battle. I plan to get out of IT.

      Unfortunately, IT workers don't have a labor union or trade organization to defend us. Doctors are numerous all over the world. Why don't they come here and charge half? Because of the AMA. It's extremely difficult to get your medical training in another country, then come here and practise medicine. IT workers require no licensing, have no organization, and can be trained anywhere. Hindsight is 20/20. It was sort of inevitable.

      I have to wonder if the USian labor force isn't partly to blame by pricing themselves out of the market.

      This is more like shit happens. IT workers don't set the rates. Wouldn't they make it higher now if they could? The rates are set by the market.
    • Re:Illegal???? (Score:3, Interesting)

      by rkischuk (463111)

      It's not like the auto industry hasn't been doing this for years by building plants in other countries to take advantage of their cheap labor.

      It's not at all the same thing. The equivalent is software shops that outsource their development to a foreign contractor or subsidiary. Even then, the cars are subject to significant transport costs and import tariffs. Neither of these constraints apply to software.

      I have to wonder if the USian labor force isn't partly to blame by pricing themselves out of the m

  • Um... (Score:4, Insightful)

    by jmb-d (322230) on Wednesday March 19, 2003 @11:58AM (#5544761) Homepage Journal
    How exactly does this fall under the category "Your Rights Online"?
  • by tshak (173364) on Wednesday March 19, 2003 @11:58AM (#5544765) Homepage
    As long as they are compensated and treated the same as Americans. Humans are not a commodity. H1B's generally come from desperate situations so of course they _will_ work for a lot less than Americans, but that doesn't mean that it's ethical to exploit the desperate situation in which they came from.
    • H1B has to change (Score:5, Insightful)

      by bill_mcgonigle (4333) on Wednesday March 19, 2003 @12:14PM (#5544933) Homepage Journal
      Right now H1B workers are basically indentured servants to the corporations who hire them. Corporations can make them work in tiny cubicles for 80 hours a week and the workers' choice is basically to suck it up or to quit and risk being sent back. The corporations are not upset with this situation.

      The reason for getting an H1B is that the worker supposedly has skills that cannot be found in America. In reality, most of the time this skill is the ability to work for meager pay. If we follow the spirit of H1B, the worker is valuable to the US economy because of his special skills, not just to one corporation.

      It's time to let H1B recipients have the right to change jobs, demand more pay, and be treated like [american] humans. US workers should not fear this unless they lack skills themselves - all it will do is dry up the pool of conscripted foreigners. US corporations should not fear this, unless they intend to treat H1B workers poorly - good corporations should be able to retain American and H1B employees.
    • Here are some things I perceive to be misconceptions about H1B's:

      1) H1B's can work for a very low wage
      A) FALSE: The dept of labor has a prescribed minimum wage for H1B's.
      Anecdote: A company that I know had a paycut, but did not cut some of the H1'B salaries because they would then fall under the dept of labor's limit.

      2) H1B's are equivalent to slavery
      A) FALSE: They come on their own wish. They can leave to their country whenever they want to (often much richer, 'cuz the spare money saved here equates a la
  • Good! (Score:5, Insightful)

    by xchino (591175) on Wednesday March 19, 2003 @12:00PM (#5544779)
    I don't see why they should enjoy the protection import taxes and such bring them against global competition when they have no penalty for exporting jobs. Tax imported goods, tax exported jobs. Don't tax exported jobs, don't tax imported goods. You can't have it both ways.. corporations want protection from countries without labor laws becase they can't compete with sweatshops or massively underpaid workers, but they also want to reap the benefits of those same workers. I don't see why my employers job should be any more protected than mine.
    • Re:Good! (Score:5, Insightful)

      by swb (14022) on Wednesday March 19, 2003 @12:36PM (#5545166)
      Moreover, the consistant argument CEOs and top officers make for their huge salaries and generous bonuses (in spite of drops in profits) is that they posess talents that are in short supply (leadership, strategic thinking, etc), and that the short supply demands large wages.

      If that's the case, why isn't Americas marketing and executive class full of H1-Bs? If India is competant at generating engineers then I'm sure they're highly skilled at generating MBAs and marketing people, too.

      The fact is that H1-B is solely an excuse for corporations to keep engineering pay low. There's just no other logical conclusion you can reach.

      I've had this discussion with numerous marketing execs before and in the final analysis they have the idea that engineers are ALWAYS worth less than marketing and must always be paid less, and that much of their motivation for seeking H1Bs has been driven largely by the fact that they can't justify driving marketing salaries any higher in response to market-driven increases in engineering salaries.

      The market-driven reality should have been that marketing salaries went lower than engineering salaries, simply due to market demand. But this didn't happen, due to some weird class system that values the marketing/executive class above all others, even when the market will not sustain it!
  • Umm... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Telastyn (206146) on Wednesday March 19, 2003 @12:02PM (#5544792)
    So what? It's not illegal to fire people last I heard. And it's certainly good business to make the same stuff cheaper.

    I don't see how this is wrongful termination because it's done for business reasons, and I don't see how it's racial discrimination, as Sun probably has hundreds of employees of different races working for them.

    If the cheap workers were (white) Americans this wouldn't even be news. Sure worker visas are being exploited, but it's not illegal. American workers are pricing themselves out of jobs more than anything else.
  • Reason for H1B Visas (Score:4, Interesting)

    by mlrtime (520968) on Wednesday March 19, 2003 @12:03PM (#5544803)
    I thought one of the contingencies of hiring an H1B worker is that the employer has to prove that they cannot find a worker of equal skill in the US job market. If they US workers have the same skill set but are just more expensive then this is a violation of the H1B processes.

    That being said, my wife is currently here on an H1B, and I am fairly sure that there are not many people that can do her job and I believe she is working via an H1B on all legal issues.

    • by dbc (135354)
      Let me tell you how this works. I've been a hiring manager with H1-B holders on my team.

      1. Employer is requred by law to advertise the position, a job already filled by an H1-B holder. These ads are easy to identify, they are very, very specific, and are low-cost small-type ads. They specify US citizenship required.
      2. Clueless folks that can't smell these ads send in resumes.
      3. Employer is required to document why each and every respondent doesn't qualify.
      3a. Some resumes are so far off that an HR drone c

  • by kipple (244681) on Wednesday March 19, 2003 @12:07PM (#5544848) Journal
    this would be the right time for it.
    • I am not normally pro-union but I agree that a union would be a good defense against this move.

      The problem is that the corporations have been using every tactic to keep unions out of the skilled engineering field. Employees are fed propoganda that unions are counter-productive and that employees already have the benefits that unions have historically fought for for decades (health insurance, disability insurance, vacation time, retirement funds, etc). Corporations screen applicants for any history of un

  • by Blackwulf (34848) on Wednesday March 19, 2003 @12:11PM (#5544890) Homepage
    Not the lawsuits, but the hiring of H1B's over US Citizens. I work in a small company (no, not the one linked to in my URL) and there are maybe 15 coders in our office.

    Three of them are US Citizens. I am one of them.

    We will see job postings go up in our break room, and submit the resume's of people we know who need jobs, but the job listings are basically a reprint of the resume of the H1B that the company has selected. So, they have all this extraneous stuff that you wouldn't use in that job, but they are considered "job requirements" and THAT is how they can tell the INS that "We can't find an equally qualified citizen."

    I guess it wouldn't be so bad if we didn't work for clients and have to travel on site, and many of our clients will ONLY want US Citizens. So, that leaves the three of us to do ALL of the travelling, even if there has been a personal tragedy in our life. (And one of us has a newborn child, so she's not travelling either...)

    I guess I can look at this a few ways. A) My life is a wreck right now because I can't stay home, but B) I have insane job security, something that is a very good thing to have in today's economy.
    • by Skyshadow (508) on Wednesday March 19, 2003 @12:29PM (#5545102) Homepage
      This sounds *very* framiliar. I used to work at an office in San Jose that was 95% Chinese nationals.

      Besides it being a tough environment to work in (almost all communication was in Chinese, most of the engineers spoke little to no english and my Manderin sucks except for curses), it also meant that I ended up doing all the traveling even though it wasn't in my job description. It made me miserable -- I'm just not the sort of person who enjoys flying to client sites on 24 hour notice, working in someone else's machine room, being away from home alot and etc.

      I stayed for the same reasons as you, but was eventually laid off for not coming in on Christmas day. Trust me: keep the job for now, but start looking around heavily. There are other jobs out there if you're willing to put in the work to look (aka, don't just hit Monster). I spent five months unemployed and burned through 98% of my savings, but it was worth every second and every penny to be happy at work again and have stabilized my relationships with my family.

  • by Gaetano (142855) on Wednesday March 19, 2003 @12:11PM (#5544895)
    When I call sun for support over the last few years, it seems that they are more often indian and difficult to understand. I really can't stand having to ask for the same instruction 5 times to be able to understand what they are telling me. I think perhaps this is why an indian speaking support engineer is 75% more likely to email me the procedures they are asking me to perform.

    I would hang up and try to get someone who speaks english more clearly if I had the time to do so when the raid array on the oracle server is acting up and I have lots of people pissed off.

    My opinion of the (very expensive) support sun offers has taken a turn for the worse because of this. I don't mind speaking to an indian or any other person as long as they speak english clearly when I call the english support line.
  • by TheRealStyro (233246) on Wednesday March 19, 2003 @12:14PM (#5544935) Homepage
    The H1B visa program should be suspended and/or severely limited due to the current state of the economy and unemployment. Any time the local labor is being replaced by foreign labor something illegal must be happening. Sure, if the locals are a bunch of lazy and strike-prone union members, and no other local will cross the picket lines, then hire whoever is available. Otherwise skilled local labor should always be hired first.
    • by MightyTribble (126109) on Wednesday March 19, 2003 @12:40PM (#5545203)
      I'd argue that the H1 program should just be *enforced*. H1Bs, as written in law, *require* the visa holder to be paid prevailing wages, and *require* something called 'Labor Certification', which supposedly proves that there are no available native workers in the local market who can perform those functions.

      Fees are paid by the hiring company that supposedly pay for enforcement. However, it's clear that the Dept of Labor (that handles the labor certification process) is woefully underfunded and unskilled, and that imigration lawyers can (legally!) game the system just by writing the applications in a certain way. DoL sees language they recognise, and rubber-stamps the application because they don't have the resources to check it out.

      If the legislation was properly enforced, this would be a non-issue. The H1-B laws are actually pretty good.
  • Why it's illegal (Score:5, Insightful)

    by (54)T-Dub (642521) <tpaine.gmail@com> on Wednesday March 19, 2003 @12:20PM (#5544990) Journal
    as found on this [doleta.gov] [doleta.gov] site. Foreign labor certification programs are generally designed to assure that the admission of foreign workers to work in the United States on a permanent or temporary basis will not adversely affect the job opportunities, wages and working conditions of American workers.
  • by ocie (6659) on Wednesday March 19, 2003 @12:29PM (#5545103) Homepage
    By the many arms of Vishnu, I swear it is a lie.
  • by Baldrson (78598) on Wednesday March 19, 2003 @12:30PM (#5545107) Homepage Journal
    Companies that are using H-1B visas are being put out of business more than companies that aren't using H-1B visas and it is becoming apparent that H-1B visas are contributing to their problems rather than resolving them. Suits like this will be used to confuse this issue. H-1B proponents are already claiming, as did the headline of this /. story, that such law suits are "the straw that broke the camel's back". We can ignore the fact that it is obvious to the most casual observer that the use of H-1B visas has, indeed been to lower wages in the US -- in direct violation of the H-1B provision under existing statute.

    It is of most vital importance that it be made clear to Joe-six-pack that heavy users of H-1B visas are going out of business during the economic down-turn faster than their rivals who did not rely so much on H-1B visas -- and that the use of H-1B has not been the solution -- it has rather evolved into the problem.

    H-1B visa opponents are not savvy politically and therefore have to meet extraordinarily impressive standards of evidence that H-1B visas are destructive -- the standard of evidence they must reach to show their case is vastly in excess of the standards that are applied to convince executives to displace their US employees with H-1B visa programs. All the H-1B advocate has to say is "The H-1B programmers don't cost as much." Those H-1B advocates never have to answer for the destruction wraught on the companies by the H-1B visa employees then hired. They're protected by political favoritism toward those that promote "diversity", "anti-racism", "global markets", etc. The corporations destroyed by executives who are so shallow as to presume H-1B visas will raise profits need to have no excuses handed to them at the last minute.

  • American Idiots (Score:3, Interesting)

    by dnoyeb (547705) on Wednesday March 19, 2003 @12:32PM (#5545132) Homepage Journal
    Why are so many Americans of the impression that America has a greedy Labor force just because somebody in taiwan will work for beans???

    The company is selling the product for the same price, regardless of where the labor is. The only difference here is how much money the American CEOs et al. can squeeze out of their own people. If they can not squeeze enough to buy that extra fleet of jets, fire the Americans and hire elsewhere.

    How does one come to blame the Labor force for this level of greed???

    Why dont we fire the CEOs and hire some from China? We'd save a lot more money...

    I here that people like working for Honda in Ohio assembly plant a lot more than they like working for the Big3...
  • by PatSand (642139) on Wednesday March 19, 2003 @12:37PM (#5545185) Journal
    Interesting consequences either way:

    1. Sun loses suit...

    US companies have to hire us folks; competitive pressures force innovation to stay competitive or they die/merge/go bankrupt...

    2. Sun wins suit/has it dismissed...

    As more jobs move overseas, domestic markets dry up (who is working? who can buy?). Watching the US market die is not good for a company...will lead to global unemployment...

    I have no qualms with new jobs being created overseas (hey, that's capitalism at it's best), but reducing headcount (and hence customers) in your biggest market is not too swift...

    My vote: first option for existing jobs and get innovative. The US didn't get this dominant (economically) simply by copying what others do...we figured out how to do it better and new ways to do it (quick nod to Britain and the EC members for various technologies-like radar and jet engines-that we licensed and enhanced)...

    And if a company can't innovate, should they be left to die? Maybe...

    But one thing that must happen is that company need to focus more on their long-term survival instead of always pushing to improve short-term profits. This is a major driving force behind this exodus, and it will continue to kill many companies until this unhealthy view stops. Profit is essential for a company, but not at the expense of it's future.

    How to change focus, you might ask? More R&D but also have management really monitor it; and have marketing do real market analysis, not sales and sales support.

    Look back in the pre-80's business and economics textbooks...they had it right and it still is right...

  • Well... (Score:3, Interesting)

    by autopr0n (534291) on Wednesday March 19, 2003 @12:38PM (#5545192) Homepage Journal
    This seems to be more about blatant racism then immigration issues. I mean, the cofounder is Indian and said that sun favors Indians. That's totally illegal under US law. On the other hand, it does make some sense 'protect' H1-B visa holders from being fired, since they would then need to find another job or leave the country, while americans can just go on unemployment for a while.
  • by mcmonkey (96054) on Wednesday March 19, 2003 @12:49PM (#5545288) Homepage
    Howdy,

    Most of the comments so far are from the point of view of the displaced worker, but the H1-B program has a lot of pit falls for the foreign nationals who come to the USA.

    First, H1-B is a temporary visa. People come here, settle down, buy a home, start a family, become part of the community. But unless they take steps to achieve a more permanent status, such as citizenship or having a green card, they can be kicked out of the country at a moments notice. And with the current political climate, I wouldn't recommend overstaying your visa in the USA right now.

    Second, H1-B is sponsored by a company. The worker only has the legal right to work for that company. Don't like your working conditions? Don't think you're getting a fair wage? Fine, then leave your home, family, and friends and leave the country. H1-Bs can't quit a job and look for other work. It's hard not to get settled in and used to a place after a couple years, so there are plenty of stories of people who thought of themselves as permanent residents getting shipped off.

    Third, part of the requirements for H1-B is workers get paid prevailing wages. One of the ways companies get around that is bringing in people with little experience. "Sure, the H1-B doesn't get paid as much as the citizen engineer. But one has 1 year experience and the other has 10, so you can't make a direct comparison." But what happens as the years go by as the worker with the visa gets more experienced and worth more in the marketplace? As the disparity between the prevailing rate and the H1-B's salary grows, the company as two choices. They can give the guy a raise. Although if they wanted to do that, they could of kept the original citizen worker that got laid off.

    The other option is to ship the guy or gal back to India and replace with a fresh new import. I'm not knocking India, but remember, this worker has spent years in the USA. May be married. May have kids who are citizens. But if that worker is H1-B, and the sponsoring company says buh-bye, then worker is taking a little one-way trip.

    Abuses of the H1-B program hurt the native workers here in the USA AND the foreign nationals who come here.
    • by forkboy (8644) on Wednesday March 19, 2003 @01:25PM (#5545647) Homepage
      Which is exactly why companies that heavily rely on H1Bs are so evil...not only are they depriving our own citizens of jobs, they're also mistreating and exploiting the foreign labor that comes to replace us. They do it because they can. Indians will let themselves be worked 60-70 hours a week for the same salary that the cute white little administrative assistant is getting (hell, probably less) because, well, it beats the alternative which is sitting in a pile of your own filth in India hoping to get a job that pays enough so you can eat.

      After world war II, there was a big grassroots movement to buy only American made cars and such. I'd like to see it taken one step further and only buy software, hardware, or services from tech companies that replace thousands of american workers with cheap exploitable foreign labor.

  • by wayward_son (146338) on Wednesday March 19, 2003 @01:14PM (#5545536)
    The H-1B fiasco is not the problem, it is a symptom of the problem. This is yet another reason massive immigration reform is needed.

    The INS wants to deport Hitesh Tolani [wofford.edu], but gave renewed the 9/11 terrorists visas - AFTER 9/11! The whole system is bad and needs to be reformed from the ground up.

    Then we can talk about solving this problem.

  • by teetam (584150) on Wednesday March 19, 2003 @01:36PM (#5545755) Homepage
    Many of the comments in this thread really disappoint me. On various other topics, post after post deals with freedom in someway on /. Freedom from monopolies, freedom from buggy, closed source software, freedom from restrictive patents, freedom from any kind of government activity that restricts freedom of technology.

    It is perhaps a sign of the times that the same principles do not apply when it comes to immigrant workers.

    It is astonishing to me that the same people who want free, open markets when it comes to selling American products abroad (including software), want a protected, closed market for employment in US alone. Why this hypocrisy?

    For those who argue that every foreign worker who gets a job is taking away an American's job, can I say the same thing about American exports? Everytime a foreigner (individual or company) buys software from America, many jobs are taken away from that country! After all, if the same software had been written in that country, many of them would have been employed!!!

    Let us do this - let us stop all immigration and close the borders completely. All jobs will go only to (native-born) Americans. Hooray! However, we should also stop exporting software to other countries so that they can enjoy the same benefits. How about that?

    Seriously though, if you want foreign workers to demand a higher pay, abolish H1B visas and other such bureaucracies. Give a green card to anyone who comes to work in America. This way, without the noose of H1 visa, foreign workers will also demand a higher pay as per free market dictates.

    • by darkov (261309) on Wednesday March 19, 2003 @03:08PM (#5546615)
      It's called American hypocracy:

      - We want free open markets, except our agricultural markets
      - We want to stop maniacal leaders having the option of using weapons of mass distruction, but we'll keep our nukes, thanks.
      - Competition and free enterprise is the one true way, as long as it doesn't threten our jobs or our standard of living even if we can;t be bothered to get off our fat, lazy arses and work harder and/or innovate.

      And by the way, you're either with us or against us, so don;t try and point out our hypocracy, otherwise you'll be in the axis of evil before you know it.
  • Labor Gripes (Score:4, Insightful)

    by geomon (78680) on Wednesday March 19, 2003 @01:52PM (#5545915) Homepage Journal
    You white collar workers sound amazingly like the blue collar labor of 20 years ago. American workers were losing jobs to Asia and Latin America while many of you were still crapping your diapers. Tech workers have avoided substantive discussion of labor rights anywhere on this board unless it affects you and your skill set.

    Why? Because you like to get cheap electronics, automobiles (relatively speaking), and food.

    Where were you when Kenworth shipped their jobs to Mexico? Where was the outrage from tech workers when automotive assembly jobs were being shipped overseas?

    Face it: Your skills have become a global commodity that can move to regions of lower wages just as easily as the employee working the assembly line. The only way you can preserve your jobs for Americans is to purge yourself Free Trade rhetoric and start signing the song of protectionism.

    But that would eventually end up costing you more of your annual income. When you get protection for your profession, other industries will be lining up to get theirs. Pretty soon you are paying $8US for a head of lettuce because you have to pay minimum wage to a US citizen rather than $2/hr to an illegal.

    And as has been already been pointed out by other posters, these people need to make a living too. The money they send home improves the standard of living in their own country which stabilizes their society and lessens the possibility that the US will have to intervene with foreign aid, or worse, the military.

    When you push on one side of the balloon, the other side starts to bulge.

    There are no easy answers to globalized labor.
  • What is dismaying... (Score:5, Informative)

    by Naum (166466) on Wednesday March 19, 2003 @02:27PM (#5546256) Homepage Journal

    ...here is a good deal of the comment content defending the H1B program that simply skirts reality.

    1. H1B visa holders are displacing American IT workers, regardless of whatever legal bullet point you wish to flash at me. It is a fact I can personally attest to it - twice, my job as an application support/develoopment programmer was supplanted by an H1B visa holder, and in one case my job was to train my replacement.
    2. H1B workers replacing American programmers is wrong. How can anyone justify adding an American worker to the unemployment queue for the sake of a cheaper, more captive immigrant worker is beyond me. Nothing against the visa holder who are motivated to advance and excel in a profession they desire, but not while skilled Americans are shuffled out of jobs and/or forced to work for lower wages due to the addition of a contrived, more captive, more restricted IT worker poll.
    3. The job advertisements for IT help reflect the sneaky, underhanded manner in which H1B holders are solicited to replace American workers. Instead of looking for bright, industrious individuals who are skilled and are eager to learn and tackle any task, a laundry list of skill set requirements and platform experience is dictated. Meanwhile, resumes and references from offshore can claim the H1B applicant possesses all of the necessary checklist prerequisites but there's no real way to authenticate it's indeed the truth. Again, from first hand experience, I can't tell you how many times the Indian offshore firm's pimp, er marketing guy, touted a prospective hire but then after seeing the guy/gal work for a while, it would be quite evident that the extent of this person's relevant experience was being handed a manual on the plane trip to America.
    4. Once upon a time, way back when, before dot-bombs and the ubiquitous prevalence of Microsoft on the desktop, employers would recruit programmer talent from the business side to address shortages. Aspiring wanna-be coders who arduously studied for a new company role would be given a chance to break in and serve the company in a higher position (many coming from customer service roles). They would endure cumbersome training sessions on their own time, and only a few would be chosen from the pool of hopeful applicants. It was a win/win deal for both employee and employer. After the implemenation of H1B, this is no longer done. In fact, it's had the effect of dissuading those who've already trained extensively and would otherwise be automatically drawn to fulfill a beneficial role in a computing discipline.
    5. Offshore migration of development/support work and importing of H1B temporary visa holders are not mutually exclusive trends. Any offshoring strategy, from the recent experience I've had in multiple instances, is heavily dependent upon immigrant liason agents, which utilize the H1B (or the L-visa) to augment the offshoring strategy. These lead level H1B holders interface between customer service/business user departments in the states and the team of juinor level members who remain in India (or the Phillipines, Malaysia, Mexico, etc. ...)
    6. You can quote immigration law or cite study statistics about how H1B are paid prevailing wage and such, but the truth is that while for some this may be, for many others it is not - as other posters have detailed in comment posts here, enforcement of H1B stipulations is lax and/or non-existent -- many visa holders are raped wage wise as Company A contracts to Company B which serves as "the bodyshop". Company A spokesman can simply say how much Company B individual is paid is up to Company B. Company B may likely not even be U.S. based, or if they are, they've engaged in repeated violations of U.S. labor law (see Syntel history) without paying much of a penalty for their misdeeds. Perhaps many will discount my anecdotal experience, but I came across a number of Indian H1Bs who "disappeared" in the states because of their restrictive employment
  • by An dochasac (591582) on Wednesday March 19, 2003 @03:42PM (#5546926)
    H1B if enforced is actually a very good law. But we also need something which gives U.S. employees the same flexibility that H1B gives their employers. That is, if my job is exported overseas, I should have the right to follow that job and have a work visa in the target nation. Nations which export employees to the U.S. should be willing to import employees. The idea exchange which would take place would be benificial to all. You might think Americans wouldn't work in "sweatshop conditions", but working conditions can actually be better overseas. Ask a French employee how much vacation they get or how much notification is required before a layoff. The answer would make most Americans cry. Gross pay is the only benefit where American companies can compete globally, and then only companies in large U.S. cities. Vacation, flexibility, family friendliness, telecommuting and other worker right issues are better in almost every other first and second world nation. True capitalism would allow workers to flow to where they receive the best benefits to match their needs.

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