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Senator Prods Microsoft On H-1B Visas After Layoff Plans 574

Posted by Soulskill
from the checking-their-priorities dept.
CWmike writes "US Sen. Charles Grassley (R-Iowa) told Microsoft this week that US citizens should get priority over H-1B visa holders as the software vendor moves forward on its plan to cut 5,000 jobs. 'These work visa programs were never intended to allow a company to retain foreign guest workers rather than similarly qualified American workers, when that company cuts jobs during an economic downturn,' Grassley wrote in a letter sent Thursday to Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer. The letter asked Microsoft to detail the types of jobs that will be eliminated and how those cuts will affect the company's H-1B workers." Reader theodp adds, "On Friday, Microsoft coincidentally announced it would postpone construction of a planned $500 million data center in Grassley's home state of Iowa, although work on data centers in Chicago and Dublin will continue."
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Senator Prods Microsoft On H-1B Visas After Layoff Plans

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  • Republican? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by DoofusOfDeath (636671) on Saturday January 24, 2009 @09:25AM (#26587931)

    Surprised a Republican did this. These guys are more likable when not in power, I guess.

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Yeah, I was surprised too. Mostly because, though IANAUSACitizen, I had always assumed that the party which supposedly supports less government regulation and more free markets would... You know... Think that what kind of labor a company must keep should be left to markets (who works for cheapest compared to their skills) instead of government regulation.

      • Re:Republican? (Score:5, Insightful)

        by calmofthestorm (1344385) on Saturday January 24, 2009 @10:03AM (#26588189)

        1) Everyone is more likeable when not in power.
        2) Neither party actually practices what it preaches to any reasonable degree. If you want to vote for a balanced budget, exactly who do you vote for? Tax and spend democrats or borrow and spend republicans? (feel free to translate to non-depression times to make the question fair)

        Of course that's a gross oversimplification, but balance is always in the middle, so we see parties break with their stereotypical views on issues from time to time. If anything I'd be more worried if we didn't.

        Also not every single member of a party is in complete alignment with the party. I lean left, but I'm still in favor of guns, free markets (to the degree that this is possible while keeping them competitive), and against racism by any name. I fail to see why politicians should be any different, except perhaps more tacit on their views.

        • Re:Republican? (Score:5, Insightful)

          by SwedishPenguin (1035756) on Saturday January 24, 2009 @02:15PM (#26590387)

          If you want to vote for a balanced budget, exactly who do you vote for? Tax and spend democrats or borrow and spend republicans?

          Obviously, if you want a balanced budget, you have to vote for those willing to raise taxes along with increased spending. Though as an outsider looking in, it appears to me that both parties wants to borrow and spend, neither party really seems willing to raise taxes to pay for increased spending, or for existing spending for that matter.

      • Re:Republican? (Score:5, Insightful)

        by Curien (267780) on Saturday January 24, 2009 @11:07AM (#26588737)

        Many Republicans and other economic conservatives profess to believe in free markets and deregulation. Hypocritically, they staunchly support (and often demand) labor market regulation.

        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by Maxo-Texas (864189)

          If Microsoft wants to move to india (or better! China) and live with their business laws then I applaud them.

          However, if they wish to live in nice safe houses in seattle, then I think the voters in america have a say in how they do business.

          Executives in india and china do not make as much as executives in the united states and they are not sentenced to death for selling tainted products.

          You take the good with the bad.

          Of course, another solution would be to allow them to use foreign labor and set a 90% tax

      • Re:Republican? (Score:5, Insightful)

        by commodore64_love (1445365) on Saturday January 24, 2009 @12:27PM (#26589375) Journal

        >>>Think that what kind of labor a company must keep should be left to markets (who works for cheapest) compared to their skills) instead of government regulation.

        That's true, but since it was the *government* who brought the foreign workers to the U.S., it's no longer a free market. It's entirely reasonable to say to Microsoft, "If you layoff American workers, we the government will take a hands-off policy and no longer help you with your future labor shortages. Figure it out on your own." The Republican policy can best be described as non-interference (sounds like Star Trek).

      • Re:Republican? (Score:4, Insightful)

        by htnmmo (1454573) on Saturday January 24, 2009 @01:48PM (#26590163) Homepage

        The free market doesn't work without consumers.

        The reason it's profitable to use cheaper labor is because you're selling to higher earners. If you make sneakers at $1 a pair, you make a profit by selling them for $60.

        If you outsource a large number of your workforce and don't have other jobs they can do at the same pay, they won't be buying lots of $60 sneakers.

      • Re:Republican? (Score:4, Interesting)

        by peektwice (726616) on Saturday January 24, 2009 @05:37PM (#26592461)
        The point of the H1-B visa was not to get cheaper workers. It was to address a (falsified) shortage of qualified workers.
    • Re:Republican? (Score:4, Insightful)

      by Opportunist (166417) on Saturday January 24, 2009 @09:51AM (#26588083)

      I guess every politician who one does not agree with is more likable when he's not in power...

    • Maybe you missed something. At the bottom of the summary, it says that Microsoft it would postpone a data center in his home state. That will cause unemployment in his home state to rise and his hopes of reelection to diminish. It's all about getting reelected. It's never too early to think of your chances the next time you face the voters in a poll, especially if your popularity is waning.

    • About Chuck Grassley (Score:3, Informative)

      by rjh (40933)

      ObDisclosure: Charles Grassley is a family friend. I haven't had a conversation with him in several years, though.

      Grassley is a vanishing breed. He's a small-town Iowan who still runs his own family farm. He's a child of the Depression and stretches a buck like it's nobody's business. He's the stereotype of Republicans from old Frank Capra movies: you can easily imagine him in a green-tinted eye visor making quiet, forlorn grief over how he forgot to get a receipt for lunch at McDonald's.

      He was part of

  • Hey! (Score:5, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday January 24, 2009 @09:31AM (#26587963)

    Dey tuk our jerbs!

    • Re:Hey! (Score:5, Insightful)

      by aliquis (678370) <dospam@gmail.com> on Saturday January 24, 2009 @09:35AM (#26587983) Homepage

      Yeah if they accept giving them the right to work in the country then why shouldn't they work at the same merits as everyone else? I'd assume Microsoft knows better which people they need and want and which they can get rid of than this guy..

  • awesome (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday January 24, 2009 @09:32AM (#26587967)

    What's really going to be awesome is when Microsoft, IBM, et al go to Congress for their annual request for increased H1B visas after laying off thousands of American workers.

  • by matt4077 (581118) on Saturday January 24, 2009 @09:34AM (#26587975) Homepage
    I can understand that the well-being of american workers is more important than that of visa-holders to an elected politician. However, the impact of losing the job is much higher for H1Bs, as they usually have to leave the country (within 1 week I think). Considering the fact that these are humans, too, maybe it would be acceptable to lessen these restrictions somewhat, i. e. allow these people to stay in the country for a year if they have the financial means.
    • by c0nst (655115) on Saturday January 24, 2009 @09:37AM (#26587993)
      actually, laid off h1b workers are allowed a 2 month "grace" period to either find a new job or leave the country
      • by Nicolas Roard (96016) on Saturday January 24, 2009 @09:46AM (#26588039) Homepage
        Care to give some links about this ? All I read about the H1B "grace" period is that there is none. (random recent link http://www.isss.umn.edu/H1BEmployment/GracePer.html [umn.edu]). There's apparently an unofficial 10 day grace period, but that's about it.
      • by melstav (174456) on Saturday January 24, 2009 @09:47AM (#26588053)

        They don't just have to find a new job.

        They have to find an employer who is willing and able to sponsor them for either an H1B or a green card.

      • by bahbar (982972) on Saturday January 24, 2009 @10:23AM (#26588385)
        Having been in this situation a while back, no, there is officially no grace period. As far as I know, it just happens that the administration lets people transfer anyways. I have heard 10 days, 2 months, nothing... I personally had my H1b transfer initiated in the couple of days after my company closed. Technically, you can apply for transfer, start at your new job, and have your transfer denied (or so they say, I never actually heard about a denied transfer). fun stuff!
        • by Splab (574204) on Saturday January 24, 2009 @11:58AM (#26589109)

          In Denmark we have a fixed grace period, however foreign workers do have a hard time getting a job since there is a minimum required pay for keeping the green card (which in effect puts the foreign worker in the top 50% payment), this severely reduces the gain for companies when hiring foreigners.

          On a side note, I thought the US was build on people coming from bad situations to live the American dream, you guys sure have changed your mindset lately.

          • by Eevee (535658) on Saturday January 24, 2009 @12:22PM (#26589325)

            On a side note, I thought the US was build on people coming from bad situations to live the American dream, you guys sure have changed your mindset lately.

            If that was the case, there wouldn't be any complaints, because then they wouldn't be getting paid less. It's the fact that they're only temp workers that get paid up to 23 percent less [ddj.com] than Americans in the same positions that cheeses people off. Level playing field--fine. Unfair playing field where management lies about not being able to find qualified personnel and then turns around and pays substantially lower salaries--not good.

            • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

              by Alinabi (464689)
              It's not an unfair playing field. Somebody is WILLING to work for less pay than you. You are the one who has to adapt. That's how a free market is supposed to work.
            • by Trailer Trash (60756) on Saturday January 24, 2009 @02:40PM (#26590631) Homepage

              On a side note, I thought the US was build on people coming from bad situations to live the American dream, you guys sure have changed your mindset lately.

              If that was the case, there wouldn't be any complaints, because then they wouldn't be getting paid less. It's the fact that they're only temp workers that get paid up to 23 percent less [ddj.com] than Americans in the same positions that cheeses people off. Level playing field--fine. Unfair playing field where management lies about not being able to find qualified personnel and then turns around and pays substantially lower salaries--not good.

              And, to continue, the "lower pay" part is illegal. I have actually looked into it (from a business standpoint) before, and, as a business owner, I have to basically sign an affidavit that I will pay the same rate to the foreign worker as a similarly qualified US worker, and I have to swear that I can't find anyone in the US to fill the job.

              My wife came over on an H1A originally as a nurse, and it was the same story. The nursing home was getting Filipino nurses to come over so they could pay them shit wages that Americans wouldn't even consider. The Filipinos also put up with *anything* because they could be sent back to the Philippines with a signature from the director.

              I have a friend who's in the same shitty position now as a computer programmer - the company illegally didn't pay him for 8 months while he was "benched", but he won't sue them because he wants to be in the US so bad. They owe him tens of thousands of dollars. He ended up finding the current contract that he's working by himself, but still is working through the agency that dicked him over. Looking them up on the internet, he's not the only one they've done this to.

              Anyway, it's a mess, but if the US simply enforced the law, particularly the "equal pay" part, the problem would go away.

              • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

                by An dochasac (591582)

                ...I have to basically sign an affidavit that I will pay the same rate to the foreign worker as a similarly qualified US worker, and I have to swear that I can't find anyone in the US to fill the job.

                Employers who abuse the H1B system [slashdot.org] should be heavily fined (revenue going to H1B employee backpay and unemployment compensation for displaced citizens.) HR managers who authorized the abuse should find themselves out of a job, if not in jail. We can turn a blind eye to such abuse during boom times but now that the economy is damaged, the blame should not pass on to the abused foreign worker. Blame lies squarely with the abusive company. H1B is designed to backfill specialized skills. Two decades in th

      • by fartrader (323244) on Saturday January 24, 2009 @10:36AM (#26588509)

        actually, laid off h1b workers are allowed a 2 month "grace" period to either find a new job or leave the country

        That is completely and utterly untrue. You have a 10 day period to leave the country - if you do not have another visa in process with the USCIS BEFORE YOU GET LAID OFF you are considered to be "out of status" after those 10 days and a USCIS examiner is likely to refuse you another visa if you apply for a new job without leaving the country. Being out of status is bad because it will count against you if you ever decide to get another visa or apply for a green card - even ONE day can result in a refusal.

    • by betterunixthanunix (980855) on Saturday January 24, 2009 @09:37AM (#26587995)
      We are in the midst of a major economic crisis, and the more Americans who lose their jobs, the worse it is going to get. If a foreign national loses his job and goes back to his country, then his country will take care of him. The US government needs to focus on the US and US citizens right now, and not allow the needs of H1B guests to trump the needs of Americans.
      • by matt4077 (581118) on Saturday January 24, 2009 @09:46AM (#26588041) Homepage
        These H1B holders are well-educated. They'd be able to take of themselves. They'll return home and be a huge benefit to their home country. The US, meanwhile, will lose these talents after probably having spent lots of money in educating them.

        Remember: the number of jobs is not fixed. A million unemployed but well-educated nerds will probably lead to the next google, Apple or whatever. If you throw these people out of the country, those companies and their jobs are just created elsewhere.
        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          "A million unemployed but well-educated nerds will probably lead to the next google, Apple or whatever."

          Funny, thousands of highly skilled nerds lost their jobs in 2001, yet...the next Google did not form. Neither did the next Apple. The unemployed nerds just found new employment.
        • by bsane (148894) on Saturday January 24, 2009 @11:09AM (#26588767)

          These H1B holders are well-educated.

          Except for the ones that lied about their education and experience: http://www.businessweek.com/print/bwdaily/dnflash/content/oct2008/db2008108_844949.htm [businessweek.com]

          When I worked for FNMA I wondered how most of my H1 coworkers had no previous knowledge of computers, and why even though they supposedly had degrees in EE they had no knowledge of any basic principles of that field. They were very popular with management because they always said yes, and were continually afraid of 'causing problems'. The ones I talked to also made 20-30% less than I did.

          Certainly not the case everywhere, but I'd say H1B1 visa holder = undereducated indentured servant in far too many places.

      • by Rakshasa Taisab (244699) on Saturday January 24, 2009 @09:49AM (#26588069) Homepage

        So you're kicking out talented and resourceful people so that you can keep some fat lazy Americans in work?

        Yes, that sounds like the best way possible to prepare for bouncing back after the recession.

        Oh... I guess stereotyping never works well, yet the H1B are mainly high-skilled workers. Sending them back home only gives their home country, or what ever country they decide to relocate to, an invaluable resource.

        • by darkstar949 (697933) on Saturday January 24, 2009 @10:19AM (#26588353)
          The whole purpose of the H1B program was to bring foreign nationals into the country to work because the company said there weren't enough Americans who could fill the positions. However, if a company is now downsizing then it make sense that if you have a technical position that you need less people for, that the guest workers should be the first ones to be downsized. Logically, you can't claim not being able to find people to fill a position if you just laid off two people qualified for the position.
        • by DoofusOfDeath (636671) on Saturday January 24, 2009 @12:24PM (#26589345)

          So you're kicking out talented and resourceful people so that you can keep some fat lazy Americans in work?

          There's so much wrong with your characterization of the issue that it's hard to figure out where to start...

          H1B workers can be paid significantly less than native workers. If you're carrying $100k in student loans from having been educated in America, and the H1B program brings in someone who can afford to work for $30k/year, you're screwed. Being undercut by inexpensively educated foreign workers makes one neither fat nor lazy.

      • Re: (Score:2, Redundant)

        by Opportunist (166417)

        Well, I guess we'll now see what H1Bs are really used for. IIRC, the idea behind those Visa was to hire abroad when you can't find qualified workers at home. It would be logic to fire H1B holders and retain the local workers if this was really the basis for hiring those people. Hell, it would be anything but illogical to force companies to fire H1B holders if there are US people looking for jobs and they qualify for the jobs the H1B holders have.

        I guess we'll now see whether it really was so impossible to f

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        The laid off personnel was good enough to be hired by MS, meaning that they have the necessary qualifications. H1-B allows foreign workers to work only if there are not enough qualified US citizens for the same positions.

        If MS keeps H1Bs and fires Americans that would be not only illegal but unethical too. After all MS would be nowhere if the predecessors of US citizens they fire did not struggle to build this country. There are limits to open
        immigration policies!

        PS: I am a foreign student, soon to graduat

    • by gnasher719 (869701) on Saturday January 24, 2009 @10:21AM (#26588363)

      I can understand that the well-being of american workers is more important than that of visa-holders to an elected politician. However, the impact of losing the job is much higher for H1Bs, as they usually have to leave the country (within 1 week I think). Considering the fact that these are humans, too, maybe it would be acceptable to lessen these restrictions somewhat, i. e. allow these people to stay in the country for a year if they have the financial means.

      The entire H-1B process is reliant on the fact that there are people who have more rights (in this case, American citizens) and people with fewer rights (in this case, non-citizens of the USA). The American citizens have for whatever reasons the right to get jobs ahead of the others. Microsoft is allowed to hire non-citizens if they can prove that American citizens can't fill all the needed positions. Microsoft _wants_ to hire non-citizens because they have fewer rights, so they are willing to work for less money. If these people coming into the USA through H-1B didn't have fewer rights, they wouldn't be willing to work for less money, and Microsoft wouldn't want to hire them.

      Whether the situation is fair or unfair is surely worth a discussion, but with H-1B you are only allowed into the USA because Microsoft couldn't find Americans to fill the job. Clearly if Microsoft fires American citizens, then that argument would be moot.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by ClosedSource (238333)

      Of course there are lots of people in the world that would love to legally work in the US even temporarily . The H1Bs are among the luckiest ones.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday January 24, 2009 @09:47AM (#26588055)

    I was laid off from my programming job and I have been looking for a job for a year now, and I keep getting passed on. I've even lowered my wage expectations and my references, former managers and coworkers, have a lot of good things to say about me. I am constantly applying through newspapers, monster.com, dice.com, etc. Why is a H1-B holder getting precedence over me? And, why are these companies laying off Americans in favor of keeping the H1-Bs? We have a problem, Houston.

    • by SerpentMage (13390) <ChristianHGross.yahoo@ca> on Saturday January 24, 2009 @10:29AM (#26588435)

      Have you actually thought about WHY you are not getting hired? And fixing those issues?

      My wife is a manager and I get to see the other side of things. They don't explicitly go out with the notion, "oh let's not hire X, but hire Y."

      They are just thankful that they can get anybody with skills.

      Right now there is a REALLY big problem, and a friend of mine says it best.

      "Those that you want to hire are not hirable, but those that are hirable you don't want."

      He said this because he noticed that there are many who calls themselves programmers, but are 2000 leftovers who got into it because you could make "lots and lots" of money. Hiring a programmer that you want to keep is these days very difficult.

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by M1rth (790840)

        Bullshit.

        "Those you want to hire" for a skilled job, have responsibilities (family, mortgage, student loans, etc) that mean they can't work for the shit wages that you can pay to an H1-B holder.

        Both the Republicans and Democrats are to blame for this, by the way. Democrats got us into the whole "free trade" bullshit (GATT/WTO/NAFTA/etc) that made it far cheaper for businesses to relocate overseas AND made it easier for big "multinational" corporations to snap up US companies. Republicans pushed economic pol

        • Stupid argument (Score:5, Insightful)

          by yabos (719499) on Saturday January 24, 2009 @12:00PM (#26589131)
          Why do you think every single H1-B holder is some loser without anyone to care for and has no obligations except to themselves? How do you know if they have family back home they're sending money to? Seriously that's a stupid argument and you're assuming some foreigner is working for less money than a native. From my experience the foreigner will make the same as a native at a company like MS.
        • by aaarrrgggh (9205) on Saturday January 24, 2009 @12:34PM (#26589457)

          Oh Bullshit! I own a small engineering firm and have interviewed over 40 people in the past 12 months. Made offers to about five, and hired three. Still have about five unfilled positions.

          We contemplated hiring a few H1Bs, because those were the only people that responded to us through Monster (well, other than recruiters wanting 30% first year salary). Some were actually citizens or Canadians, but all of the same ilk-- will work for anything, but difficult to divine what skills they really had.

          As for the 87% of remaining candidates, they were awful. Send a freaking thank-you letter! Research the company in advance! Understand what they do and how you think you might fit in.

          As for the Entitlement Generation-- you better get over it quick. Hoping to make 10% more starting than last year's graduates isn't a very logical strategy. Figure out what you need to make starting to survive, and work up from there. If you are as good as you think you are then you will get rewarded in time... and you will gain valuable experience.

          As for firing H1Bs first, that is just the dumbest, most protectionist idea ever. You need to keep the people with the best value when you are cutting back, independent of national origin. Since many H1Bs are underpaid, they do have an advantage on the denominator but not necessarily on the numerator.

          Granting new H1Bs now is pretty stupid politically, but doesn't make much of a difference in the real world. Deny them to companies that are laying people off or to the independent contractor job shops, but keep the only viable immigration option for talented people that actually want to move here open!

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by miguel (7116)

          It is worth pointing out that the real problem is not really the democrats or the republicans but with the system that has allowed anyone with deep enough pockets to make government do whatever they want.

          The NAFTA agreement was not really aimed at helping any of the people in the three participating countries, NAFTA was always designed to help the big corporations reduce their cost of operations. At the same time, NAFTA contained enough provisions that it undid a number of constitutional guarantees and lo

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by Skuld-Chan (302449)

        "Those that you want to hire are not hirable, but those that are hirable you don't want."

        Having a hard time wrapping my head around this one.

        Interesting to see the manager mind at work here though. Wouldn't it make sense to hire the person with the correct skillset? You know - like actually read resumes, and talk to people and make decisions based on that?

        I send my resume off to apply for various jobs, but I highly doubt anyone even reads it. They probably just look at how well I filled out the application,

  • What a joke (Score:2, Interesting)

    by WindBourne (631190)
    The H1B's that are here are pretty bright. More importantly, the ppl being let go, many be just OK. In the end, MS will start hiring overseas anyhow. Watch what happens with the MSFS group. Just laid off. I am betting that they will hire in CHina for a whole new team.
  • by moteyalpha (1228680) * on Saturday January 24, 2009 @09:50AM (#26588073) Homepage Journal
    All those laid off workers can help with Open Source development while they're on unemployment. It sounds like a win to me.</humor>
  • What's the point? (Score:2, Interesting)

    by ANCOVA (1175953)
    Let's be clear here. We are talking about H1B program, not outsourcing. Companies outsource entire department to save costs, because they can pay less to equivalent workers overseas. On the other hand, when sponsoring a H1B visa, the employer has to show that the guest worker gets the prevailing wage, on par with all the "similarly qualified" U.S. citizens in the same business. On top of that, the government increases the application fee every now and then to make it costlier to hire H1B workers. In general
  • H1Bs are wrong (Score:5, Insightful)

    by mlwmohawk (801821) on Saturday January 24, 2009 @09:55AM (#26588111)

    The "guest worker" program is nothing more than a gift to large corporations to get cheap labor that is almost an "indentured servant."

    Seriously, what employer wouldn't want to be in the position to employ reasonably killed labor that *HAS* to work to to say in the country. They are a lot easier to intimidate. They can't raise labor issues for fear of having to leave the country.

    H1Bs come to the US. Work for less than the prevailing wage. Are not "citizens" and do not have the same rights. Can be easily intimidated: "Don't want to work on the week-end without pay? Your fired, now go back to your own country."

    Then if they lose their jobs, not only do they have to leave, but they have to pay to leave. Lose their last month's security deposit on their apartment because they have to break the lease.

    H1Bs reduce the prevailing wage, exploit foreigners, and are generally bad policy for middle class.

    As for Microsoft, or any employer, *all* H1Bs should be dispensed with *before* any american gets laid off.

    • by mbone (558574) on Saturday January 24, 2009 @10:18AM (#26588339)

      Seriously, what employer wouldn't want to be in the position to employ reasonably killed labor that *HAS* to work...

      In my experience the dead do not work whether they need to or not.

    • Re:H1Bs are wrong (Score:5, Insightful)

      by bahbar (982972) on Saturday January 24, 2009 @10:30AM (#26588441)
      Funny, during my H1b days, I always thought I was paid at least as much as my colleagues. I went through my company closing, and had support of everybody around me. I worked for 3 different companies in 5 years (a couple of big ones), and never once was felt pressured as an H1B. What do I know, maybe I am the exception?
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by sledge_hmmer (1179603)

        Being an H1-B that works for a Fortune 500 non-IT company, I have to second your comment. I get paid on par with my colleagues and even right now with our business being severely affected, I have not faced a single incident of intimidation tactics to make me work harder.

        From all the comments I have read on /. when H1-B related articles come up, it seems like the IT industry in particular has problems with H1Bs being hired at lower wages and being underqualified. If I recall correctly, companies like Tata

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by cOdEgUru (181536)

      Yes, that will teach them!!! Err.. wait, who are we punishing again? The employers who will merely outsource the whole division or to the families of those H1-Bs who just got laid off. Or do we care?

      The concept of a global workforce is not one that goes away as the global economic tail winds shift. Regardless of whether politicians all of a sudden grow a conscience or not.

      I am on an H1-B. I have been here for the last 9 years, and though I have seen poverty that is far more dire than that around me currentl

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by drsquare (530038)

      As for Microsoft, or any employer, *all* H1Bs should be dispensed with *before* any american gets laid off.

      That assumes that all workers are seamlessly interchangeable. Let's suppose you have 5,000 H1Bs doing complicated work on the kernel of Windows 7. Then you have 5,000 Americans inventing catchphrases for the talking paperclip. If MS decide to cut costs my abolishing the paperclip division, they can't move those workers over to the H1B work because they're just not qualified for it.

  • by htnmmo (1454573) on Saturday January 24, 2009 @09:58AM (#26588143) Homepage

    Some of these companies didn't want to hire Americans in the first place according the Programmer's Guild.

    Here's a video showing Immigration Attorney's explaining what companies need to do to get around the laws and hire more H1-Bs.

    Basically, create impossible job descriptions and then go oversees since no American would qualify.

    I've worked with and managed a few H1B programmers. Some where very talented. Some were hired just because they were cheap. They were no better than any random American college grad. They were just cheaper.

    Both the American and foreign born developers worked hard and there were good and bad in both. It all boils down to money.

    Most of these companies depend on American consumers to survive, but if everyone decides American workers are too expensive to hire, they're not going to have American consumers to buy their products and services.

    Here's the video.
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TCbFEgFajGU&feature=channel_page [youtube.com]

  • by hey! (33014) on Saturday January 24, 2009 @10:35AM (#26588499) Homepage Journal

    I think bringing in foreign tech workers is fine. The problem is sending them back home.

    By the logic that says that bringing foreign tech workers into the US is bad for US tech workers, a software engineer would be better off looking for a job in Flint, Michigan than San Jose, California, because there are so many software engineers in San Jose. The problem with this reasoning is that the number of software engineers in San Jose attracts companies there, and those companies create jobs. Having other engineers around means you get a smaller proportion slice of a much, much larger pie. And the very best engineers don't just consume jobs, the create new industries.

    The real fault with the H1B program is that it is structured in a way that encourages companies to offshore jobs. You bring a cohort of junior engineers in from India, have them gain experience in your field and product, then you kick them back to Banagalore, a ready made outsourcing team. Making employers shed H1Bs will only accelerate the loss of US jobs, giving US workers a larger proportion of a much, much smaller pie.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by 0xdeadbeef (28836)

      The real fault with the H1B program is that it is structured in a way that encourages companies to offshore jobs.

      No, the real fault with the H1B program is that it is nothing more than a scam to undercut the market rate for specialized skills and to depress all salaries by keeping guest workers beholden to their sponsoring corporation.

      Instead of keeping those skilled workers under the gun of deportation, give them green cards, put them on the road to citizenship, and that solves all problems. They are able

  • How about... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Hurricane78 (562437) <(deleted) (at) (slashdot.org)> on Saturday January 24, 2009 @10:58AM (#26588665)

    ...keeping those people that are the most competent?

    Makes more sense than keeping incompetent lazy Americans or incompetent lazy foreigners.

    Oh well... why do I expect business decisions of a big company to make sense?

  • by Ralish (775196) <ralish@gmai l . com> on Saturday January 24, 2009 @11:09AM (#26588759)
    I always twitch when I read these stories, because I always see it as hypocrisy and double-standards.

    You constantly hear about free market economics, capitalism, the global economy, etc... from America, but what it really boils down to as always is supporting the above ideals when it's good for America, and then moving them to the side when things get tough. It's the age old "America does what is best for America" mantra.

    Microsoft is going to hire and fire the best worker for the job, according to their qualifications; nationality and citizenship should be entirely irrelevant. Not only does this make sense ethically, it makes sense economically (from a corporate perspective). Why hire an inferior worker who holds citizenship when I can hire 'x' H-1B worker who is superior (and, make more money as a result)? Making money is what drives companies.

    When you're willing to advocate preferential treatment for an American citizen not because they are better equipped to do the job but purely because they are an American, you're throwing away your ideals of free-markets and global economics. Coming from a republican I find this especially amusing, as it tends to be the republicans that are the strongest advocates of pure-free market economics.

    This is potentially a great move from a PR perspective. Most Americans aren't going to call someone out for taking a position that strengthens their ability to gain employment, but from an ideological perspective, it's flimsy at best.

    Disclaimer: America isn't the only country that does this kind of stuff, but as arguably the most vocal advocate of the above economic philosophies, it's probably the most hypocritical for doing so.
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by Ritchie70 (860516)

      Background: I am an American. I have usually voted Republican but not always. I am a Senior Programmer/Analyst by title, a development team lead by actual assigned task, at a Fortune 500 company.

      Our company has a mandate to bring in technical consultants people from Patni or HCL. There is no interest in the best and the brightest, or the best for the job; they want the cheap body count. Of the three interviews of Patni folks we've had, two were great and the third couldn't tell me what "static" meant as a C

  • Good luck with that (Score:4, Informative)

    by rlp (11898) on Saturday January 24, 2009 @11:09AM (#26588763)

    Obama has stated that he wants to RAISE the H-1B cap.

  • by thirty-seven (568076) on Sunday January 25, 2009 @03:01AM (#26596261)

    I worked at Microsoft in Redmond with H1B work status for four years. Last year I left MS because I found job opportunity that was better for my family. (This new job happened to be back in my country.)

    I can't comment about the overall H1B program in the US, or the overall US labour market, or even on any new changes at MS over the past year, but I do definitely know about the experiences of H1B employees in the developer and testing roles at MS.

    I (and all other non-US-citizen employees) were treated exactly the same as every other employee. We had the same job descriptions and responsibilities as other employees and the same opportunities for promotion. We were integrated in teams that included US citizens, other H1B-status workers, and people with other immigration statuses. We were certainly paid the same as any other employee with a similar job and similar experience.

    I also know that Microsoft has very high hiring standards for developer and tester roles. I was not in a management/lead position, but I occasionally reviewed resumes and took part in interviewing applicants. Interviews were tough all-day affairs, including questions that required the use of logic, math, programming, and testing methodologies. The point wasn't to see if the applicant could regurgitate the knowledge, but to view his or her thinking process, creativity, and problem solving abilities as they tried to come up with a solution, and handle complications or restrictions that the interviewer throws at the candidate after they come up with an initial solution.

    During the time I was there, my group and most others were always trying to hire more people. The major bottleneck was waiting to get any resumes for candidates that seemed worth interviewing. Most interviews ended with frustration that the candidate wasn't up to standards. Just because you applied to MS and didn't get a job or even an interview is not proof that Microsoft didn't need to look outside the US to find candidates up to their standards.

    So, you might have valid criticisms about the quality of Microsoft software, but MS really does have very high standards for their employees, and employees with H1B status are treated the same as any other full-time employee there.

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