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Undernews is the online report of the Progressive Review, edited by Sam Smith, who covered Washington during all or part of ten of America's presidencies and who has edited alternative journals since 1964. The Review, which has been on the web since 1995, is now published from Freeport, Maine. We get over 5 million article visits a year. See for full contents of our site

January 23, 2010


Bright Future Jobs - Senator Bernie Sanders (I-VT) and Senator Chuck Grassley (R-IA) have introduced legislation aimed at preventing companies from displacing American workers with visa staff. The legislation, called Employ America Act, bars downsizing companies from using the H-1b program to fill their US job openings with foreign workers for one year before and after mass layoffs.

Many tech companies have been reluctant to lay-off visa staff, preferring to burden the US workforce with the pain of unemployment. This legislation will ensure that visa staff share equally in mass layoffs. Visa staff will have 60 days to remain in the US, according to the proposed legislation.

Under current H-1b law, corporations laying off or firing visa staff must pay their foreign workers return flights. Despite this requirement, many visa workers aren't offered company-paid passage home and are forced to become illegal or pay for their own flight.

For almost 20 years, technology companies have depended upon federal visa programs to bypass qualified Americans.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Many of the H-1b workers work for outsourcing firms and must live communally in dorm-like conditions. Some years ago I worked for a firm that hired H-1B workers. But not directly. They worked for another firm which sold their time by the hour. The cost per hour was upwards of $100 per hour for each tech worker. The workers received something like $10 - $15 per hour each and had to pay for their group lodging out of this. This left a hefty profit for the firm which rented their services. As far as I could tell, the so-called outsourcing did little to improve the bottom line for the firm which hired the workers. But the firm which rented them out made a killing. Now I ask the ProRev readers, who do you suppose owned the firm which rented the workers out? I'm sure you can guess.
The point here is that the use of H-1b workers has nothing to do with lowering costs, but much more to do with a small few garnering huge profits through the use of serf labor. There is a big payroll service company whose former chief executive is now a senator from a big eastern state which is well known for this sort of behavior.

January 24, 2010 9:40 AM  
Blogger Samson said...

If Congress had done this five years ago, I might still have my old job today.

If you were to go stand by my old dilbert cube today, you'd hear a lot of New Zealand accented speech, but precious few American accents below the top executive ranks.

On the books it looks like an American high tech firm. Under the surface, more and more of the American employees are being kicked out the door.

And certainly in a country where unemployment keeps rising, it makes no sense at all to be bringing in foreign workers to take American jobs.

January 25, 2010 11:54 AM  

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