Layoffs up – for you and me

2009-Feb-17

A year ago I said that American workers would suffer huge layoffs…but that the guestworkers replacing us would not be laid off. We, I was right.

And once again, American workers are being laid off by the millions. But not the guestworkers being brought in to replace us.

Infosys has no lay off plans

CHENNAI: IT major Infosys has no plans to lay off its employees and is going ahead with placement of all the 18,000 candidates who were extended offer letters.
….
Asked about the US Government’s decision on restriction of H1B visas and the stimulus packages, he said, “Right now, I see there is no impact…” he said.


Baby Boomer Retirement? We Wish!

2008-Jun-30

I’m a baby boomer. After 18 years with one company I was forced into “early retirement” when I was still in my 40s. Obviously I couldn’t actually retire since I’d have gotten a pension of about ten dollars a month. So I became a contract programmer, no job security, no benefits, just money. Which was OK until the Fortune 500 began replacing all of us with guestworkers and then offshoring. So for the last eight years I’ve been making a quarter of what I did before, mostly getting short term jobs fixing what the guestworkers screwed up.

Well, eventually I will have to actually retire. Or will I?

Every year, when it comes time for the next H1B guestworker lottery, we get weeping and wailing from the Fortune 500 about how they need an infinite number of foreign guestworkers because when my fellow boomers retire there will be fewer American workers replacing us.

But they are lying, because I will never be able to retire, and neither will many of my fellow boomers. We will have to work until we die in our tracks, because we are being forced out of jobs with retirement benefits into jobs with no benefits, being forced to take jobs that pay half to a fifth of what we used to get paid, if we can find jobs at all.

I have friends who used to be computer geeks who are now nurses, truck drivers, or working at grocery stores. They could still do the jobs that are now being done by guestworkers or offshores, but no one wants to give them medical or retirement benefits, and no one wants to give them any training (they’d prefer to hire someone who lies on their resume).

So we are doomed to have a huge number of unemployed or underemployed older workers being a drain on the economy rather than a boost. And all the cost savings from hiring cheap foreign labor go to the upper management., not into lower prices for consumers, nor higher dividends for stockholders, nor better wages for remaining workers.

Is there now a significant lack of skilled IT workers in the U.S.?

Executives are being told by their hiring managers that there are not skilled workers in the U.S. and they must seek H-1Bs to fill positions

How economic conditions affect retirement decisions

Younger workers struggling to find a job now have something else to worry about: older workers with little choice but to keep working, even in a weak labor market.

Comfortable retirement a fading dream for many

She’s already put off retirement several years. Now, she says she may have to stay on the job four or five years more.


H1B Auction

2008-Mar-18

Congress is about to try to repay all that corporate cash they are receiving by trying to give the corporations as much cheap labor as possible to lower our wages. Bill Gates just testified before Congress that the world will end if he doesn’t get a massive increase in H1B guestworker quotas:

Congress’s failure to pass high-skilled immigration reform has exacerbated an already grave situation. … Last year, for example, Microsoft was unable to obtain H-1B visas for one-third of the highly qualified foreign-born job candidates that we wanted to hire.

He claims he would be able to hire more Americans if only he could get those “highly qualified” foreign candidates. Of course those Americans might not be paid as much as the H1Bs:

These jobs are very, very, very high-paying jobs.

Wow! We must be paying H1Bs a whole, whole, whole lot for them to be “very, very, very high-paying”! (If he is telling the truth. Otherwise he is lying through his teeth.)

Let’s assume Bill is honest. One problem with the H1B program is that it is a lottery. If there are more applications that slots, then the slots are given away by random chance instead of allowing Bill to get the H1Bs he needs so desperately. And by random chance too many of those slots are given to H1Bs who are low-paid and untrained instead of to those who are “highly qualified” and “very, very, very” highly paid.

We can fix that! Easily. Just turn the H1B lottery into an auction. And I think we can simplify the process so that even poor Americans could administer it.

  • Each H1B application has an LCA (Labor Condition Application) filled out, many by email. This becomes the official application after the Department of Labor certifies it after looking for obvious errors.
  • Each H1B LCA must be placed online by the Department of Labor in a publically available place prior to the auction.
  • The LCA will have an Rate of Pay that will constitute what the employer is willing to pay the H1B.
  • The Rate of Pay must match or exceed the Level IV (Fully Competent) Wage Rate as determined by the Foreign Labor Certification Online Data Library. No other source for wage rates will be allowed. The FLC Data Center library has an updated list of prevailing wages for all appicable job classifications for all areas of the country. (It drastically understates wages that major employers actually pay, but it is a minimum standard until a better national standard can be determined.) If an H1B candidate is truly “highly qualified” and “very, very, very” highly paid, then surely they can reach the lesser standard of “fully competent”.

The only thing new so far is the demand that LCAs be made publically available before the H1Bs are given out, in order to make the process publically transparent to the taxpayers and voters. We now have all the information we need (Employer ID number, date of application, Level IV prevailing wage, offered wage, work location) to conduct an H1B auction. The auction part is the simplest part. I can write the code to conduct it automatically in five minutes:

-----------------------------------------------------------------------------
UNTIL quota reached or run out of valid applications
    for each occupation_code
        eliminate occupation_code if no more applications left for occupation_code

        for each area_code
            eliminate area_code if no more applications left for area_code

            the winner is MAX(offered_wage above prevailing_wage)
             
            if there are ties
                winner is employer with fewest wins so far

                if there are still ties
                    winner is employer with earliest application_date

REPEAT until done
-----------------------------------------------------------------------------

Benefits:

  • Easy: Little needs to be changed in the current process. The code to conduct the auction is incredibly simple and transparent.
  • Diversity: Currently the system is being gamed by IT groups flooding the process with applications and getting most of the H1Bs simply by filling up the lottery. Now each occupational category has a fair chance, and proportionately fewer IT jobs will be taken. And each geographical location will have a fair chance instead of just the major areas that pay most. So more of the country can see the wonderful benefits of H1Bs instead of just IT folks in major urban areas.
  • Transparent: With LCAs visible, anyone could duplicate the process to ensure it is operating correctly. With LCAs visible, anyone can see by auction time if an LCA is for a job where there are tons of available American applicants, ensuring that the Microsofts of the world are speaking the truth about the lack of Americans in that category, and whether the job classification and offered wage are appropriate. Even more transparency could be obtained if the resume of the H1B candidate were included with the LCA…)

If this modest suggestion were adopted, I wonder how many H1Bs would really be found to be needed.


Stealth Immigration

2006-Jun-02

The Senate passed the immigration bill and it’s off to the House. Bet you think it’s actually about illegal immigration and amnesty and walls. Sorry, but that’s just the cover story, allowing Congress to throw a little meat to those voters who have to work for a living and are afraid they won’t be able to.

The real voters–those who don’t have to put their votes in the ballot box because they put their votes into congressional campaign funds–they don’t care one way or the other about giving illegal aliens amnesty to do low paying jobs, they care about getting rid of highly paid white collar workers and replacing them with low paid workers from other countries. And they will get what they want no matter what the House does to the Immigration bill. And you will never hear on the news what is really going on.

If you have a white collar job, or if your spouse or parent or child has one, expect for them to have to give it up or have to take a fifty or seventy percent pay cut to keep it over the next decade. If you read the blogosphere, you may have a chance to find out what is happening…

From OpEdNews:

H1-B Visa Foreign IT Workers and the Immigration Bill
IT Unemployment Is About To Take A BIG Jump UP!
….
From the very beginning of the Bush Administration U.S. companies have lobbied Congress and President Bush extensively to obtain greater freedom in hiring cheaper foreign technology workers via H-1B and L1 visa programs. Concurrently, U.S. companies have also been busy relocating many technology jobs offshore to India and China where salaries are a fraction of U.S.-base technology salaries and where there is no health insurance cost – because the governments of those countries provide social health care for their citizens.
….
President Bush and Congress are about to greatly expand the H1B and L1 “guest worker” visa programs via the giant Immigration Bill, now pending before US Congress.

There are proposals that would expand the annual H1B limit from 65,000 to 115,000 by excluding dependents which are now are counted against the cap from the total, it could mean the entry of as many as 300,000 people a year, with an option of raising the cap 20 per cent more each year.

If you don’t know what that means, try calculating 20% compound interest on 115,000 for ten years, for 20 years… A clue: by year 25 it comes to 11 million a year…and we only have three and a half million IT workers total and that has been declining due to the current influx of guestworkers. By then they will have been able to replace any white collar job currently being done by an American citizen. That means you and anybody you love. And all the money they save on your salaries goes into their bonuses.

So what is going to happen? They will work it out in committee. They will give the House some meat so the voters will think they are getting “tough on immigration” and the House and Senate will quietly allow all the guestworker provisions to sail on through. And you will never know what happened until you get laid off. And your kids come back to live in your basement.