Making an Effective Case about Guest Workers

Sample U.S. VisaWhen the House of Representatives killed the STEM Jobs Act recently, those against allowing more guest workers into the country were relieved. But they shouldn’t take the bill’s failure as a sign the tide’s turning in their favor. The only reason the measure sank was because it needed a two-thirds majority to pass. Under normal circumstances, it would have been approved with a straight vote of 257-158.

We all know the arguments for and against guest workers in IT: Proponents say we need more STEM professionals to stay competitive on the world market, opponents contend there are plenty of unemployed Americans who can fill the need. Even though the unemployment rate in tech stands at around 4 percent — far better than the national average — a strong job market means nothing if you can’t get yourself hired.

Unfortunately, many of those who oppose guest-working programs don’t bother to argue their case. They take the easy way out. They attack the visa holders, surveys they don’t like, and call public officials names. They insult anyone who dares to disagree with them. In short, they do everything but make their case.

And they have a strong case to make. Although many of those jobless STEM workers are well-qualified and have strong work histories, employers have become distressingly picky. They’ve shifted the burdens of training onto workers. Age discrimination makes them leery of experienced candidates. So do assumptions about high salary requirements, even though many job seekers are willing to compromise.

It’s hard to keep our emotions out of debates like this, especially when we’re worried about finding work, paying our bills or even just keeping the job we’ve got. But we have to. When the discussion degenerates into nothing but name calling, no one gets organized and nothing gets done. Whichever side you’re on, the people who get things done are those who convince people they’re worth listening to. And before you say the lobbies and corporations will always win, remember SOPA and PIPA. An awful lot of big names suddenly changed their minds about supporting those anti-piracy proposals, which succumbed quietly on the capitol’s floor.

Image: Wikipedia

23 Responses to “Making an Effective Case about Guest Workers”

  1. @Mark Take my case 60 years old, two degrees. Successful career , won awards for my software (Industry Week), principle in a software company for 25 years. Between the mortgage market (where I was doing a lot of software sales), and the recession, business went down the tube. It took me over two years to get a mediocre job, at a lot less pay.

    IMO it’s not the American workers, it’s not the foreign workers, it’s US corporations.

    Just 20 years ago the Chinese were our arch enemies. For the sake of a buck, CEO’s, MBA’s, and corporate boards gave all our electronic and manufacturing technology to China.

    For the sake of a buck, programmers, lawyers, radiologists have be outsourced to a country ½ way around the globe. India, a country so poor they don’t have proper sanitation. India is a country that can’t get it’s act together – if they’re so brilliant – why don’t those folks fix up their own country, and then they won’t have to come here.

    US corps think so little of us, they’re willing to ‘cut us’ in a nano-second. It has become a toxic work environment. I really think they like foreign workers cause they can easily be intimidated. They know they have more power / fear over them.

    The history books will someday tell about how capitalism (once a great idea) consumed itself.

    • Doug_B
      I do sympathize with your story and know what you’re talking about and although I am not looking for a job some people are without success. It is true that the US Corporations are the main cause, as they are for profits, but also the Federal Government as they can fix or break the economy the latter being truer than the former. Case in point regarding our government is the following:

      About 20 years or so ago, Hewlett Packard (HP) division in Germany wanted to close down their operations; however, they did not realize about Germany’s law and they were taken to court and after losing the litigation they were fined a lot of money and forced to remain in Germany. This is an example that there is something wrong with our laws regarding Corporations here in America.

      A parallel example is the one of DHL (a German company) here in one of the states (Ohio I think). They closed down with no problems what so ever and many people lost their jobs. DHL went about their business with no remorse and now the small town in Ohio is a ghost town.

      The two examples above show the difference with government laws in the USA and Germany. Which one is better? You tell me!

      • Not on H1

        The problem is that US is owned by corporations and they make the laws. Such laws can never favor a common man. Current state of capitalism is all about redistribution of wealth at a global scale because the people overseeing it are benefitting. We will never be able to compete with third world desperation until we ourselves become a third world nation, and we are well on our way. Gov’t is just a tool.

  2. Fred Bosick

    That’s exactly it! Don’t blame the visa holders. They’re only taking advantage of the opportunity they were given, just as we would. The present day H-1B and L1 holder is just like the indentured servants brought to the Caribbean islands, later to become slaves. Does business seek to bring back the old days? I wonder what the rioting Foxconn workers would say about that?

    The blame lies squarely with executives of US corporations. Apparently, 380 times the salary of the line worker isn’t enough. And don’t forget your Cayman Islands accounts.

  3. Hi Mark,

    Everything you say in your article I do agree with and specially the following: “Unfortunately, many of those who oppose guest-working programs don’t bother to argue their case. They take the easy way out. They attack the visa holders, surveys they don’t like, and call public officials names. They insult anyone who dares to disagree with them. In short, they do everything but make their case”

    However, being myself in the engineering and IT technologies for more than 30 years I have seen and experience things which most people now-days don’t even dream has happened and will continue to happen if we don’t do something about it. The subject of H1B and L1 visas is nothing knew and actually it all began in the late 70s and early 80s when Texas Instruments started to hire foreign nationals. The Federal Government sued Texas Instruments on basis of breaking Immigration laws and Texas Instruments lost the litigation. I became aware of the case through the Engineering Newspaper “EE Times”. At that time the USA economy was excellent, as other countries had not reached the expertise to compete with us, and hence jobs for everybody were abundant and most people were not even aware of the issue about foreign professional workers being brought in by companies nor they did care about it.

    Ever since that time, things have happen here for the worst and we see double digits unemployment in reality and not the 8.1% the government claims it is now days. Also, we have a debt which is far more than the $16 trillion I predicted more than a year ago, and that it will double in the next 4 years regardless whom is elected on November of this year. The educational system is one of the worst worldwide and getting worst instead of better, college and university tuition fees are out of control, people are losing their jobs on a daily basis with a grim outlook to get another job, and to top it off we have a tremendous trade deficit and will for sure get worst. So, the question arises: How can we fix the situation? For sure the unemployment cannot be fixed by bring in “guests workers” and neglect our own people. The school system cannot be fixed by allowing more visas for foreign nationals with a technical degree (STEM professionals), and we will not become more competitive either as competiveness is based on quality, productivity, and prices and we do not have those qualities any more.

    What people, and specially our politicians, do not realize is that all the problems we have started at least 40 years ago and they cannot be fixed with a band aid which is precisely what the government is doing now and if some measures are not taken now for sure our country will head in one direction only…Collapse!

    The issues above are some, not all, of the why I am opposed to H1B and L1 visas taking into account “our economic situation now”. As far as STEM visas, even if we do it we will not see any change overnight as far as being more completive as other countries won’t go to sleep either and specially China.

    What to do: Fix our economy first and pay the debt and then we can do whatever we want.

  4. James Green1

    The problem Mark is that Dice is a corporate shill, looking out for their corporate clients by spreading their propaganda. Dice(s) clients want to increase h1 and L1 visa holders so that they can cut there biggest expense, PERSONNEL.The fact that you reject the arguments of commentors make is irrelevant. Because what ends up happening is you reject our arguments and we reject yours. It looks like to me when modify or rejects someones post you are being very emotional. Unless it is offensive no post should be reject or modified.

    • With a very broad brush Mark seemed to trivialize US STEM workers’ problems.

      To Quote Mark: “ALTHOUGH many of those jobless STEM workers are well-qualified and have strong work histories, employers have become distressingly picky. Age discrimination makes them leery of experienced candidates. So do assumptions about high salary requirements, even though many job seekers are willing to compromise.

      Well that’s the whole point – there are many qalified US citizens that are just being thrown away.

      What infuriates me the most is his statement: “employers have become distressingly picky.”

      Why am I infuriated? Well Mark never tells us who these amorphous employers are? I sure can’t find out. I send resumes to blind email addresses or have to enter data in the Taleo black hole, never getting a response.

      These employers are not picky – they are stupid, crude, misinformed, ill mannered, scared, control freak, judgemental louts who lack intellect and self confidence.

      The result is that they have some twisted idea that they can manipulate / intimidate foreigners easier than US citizens.

  5. Hi BY NOT ON H1,
    Very true statement what you say; however, China and Brazil are not 3rd world countries any more (China is number 1 and Brazil number 6 in world economy) and they have overtaken us economically. In productivity we are number 5 (or worst now) in the studies done by one of the agencies of economic studies in Europe. So, the bottom line here is productivity and prices and we will never be competitive in those areas unless we devaluate our currency and people accept a lower standard of living. As the saying goes: “There is no free lunch” .

  6. I am very concerned about the current situation, and unclear about how things are going to get better. Many years ago I took responsibility for the furthering of my education. In deciding to make the change from programmer to software engineer, I became concerned with product life cycles, efficiency, reliability, and maintainability. In addition to writing excellent code, I was producing the associated documentation using clever tools that extract doc from the code using tags. I didn’t keep secrets, and took pride in the maintainability of my work products. I even set my hourly rate at a reasonable place in order to be fair and competitive.

    None of this helped me when outsourcing became the only thing on the minds of potential clients. Years of excellent service and support were forgotten, and opportunity dried up. On top of this, Microsoft declared that basic was as good a language as any for .net programming and that programming was now so easy anyone could do it.

    What I am getting at is that between the age discrimination, the dumbing down of software development in general, and the accelerated usage of outsourced resources, a large body of disenfranchised domestic engineers are either unemployed, or have left the job market.

    In my opinion, there is nothing healthy about the state of our technology (mostly based on Microsoft products) or the utilization level of skilled manpower available right here at home. It is too bad that we aren’t using the manpower available to strengthen our cyber defenses. Instead it seems we are using Chinese networking hardware and hiring outsiders to write our software. Surely that is not the best course of action.

    • I will add to your statement of “nothing is healthly”……. Nothing is healthy in this work enviornment. Not the cube farms, not the ’empty suit’ nano-managers, not the ‘status-reporter / perpetually worried project manager, not the $50 million dollar CEO’s.

      It seems the people who want to organize things ( polticians and management ) in this United States have turned into sociopaths.

      You’re right dw – no sane, thinking, aware person, wants to work in such a toxic enviornment.

  7. What I find most perplexing about the whole discussion is the lack of credible (independently researched, fact-based) evidence that can stand up to basic logic.

    For instance, if the need for STEM graduates is so great, then wouldn’t we first see salaries rise and work environments improve (and maybe hiring standards relax) as short-handed companies try to poach candidates from other US-based companies? This of course assumes the H1-B process has all of the cost and complexity ascribed to it by its’ proponents.

    And speaking of the H1-B process, why the need for sponsorship? If it’s so costly and complex, then wouldn’t that make it nonviable? Or phrased more generally, at what wage level does an H1-B become competitive, given the additional red tape?

    And let’s talk about scarce skills — assuming that the hiring standard for an H1-B is the same as a US Citizen — where a viable candidate has both training AND experience — if the source economy is robust enough to provide the proper training and experience, then why would someone want to come here?

    • Hi Ken,

      The professionals coming to the USA are from India mainly. I know a lot of people from India and in fact they are very competitive. They have been acquiring all the jobs in the technology industry. One day I made a comment to one of my co-workers from India in regard that India has very intelligent people; his reply was that what comes to the USA is the best of India and from wealthy families and that they go to the best schools in India; however, India has problems with their economy and jobs a super scarce. In India there are professionals in all disciplines without a job; so, they come here with an H1B visa for 2 years and renew their visa till they have the time to become permanent resident (5 years) then here come the catch: Their salaries, while on H1B are ½ what US permanent residents and citizens get but as soon as they become permanent residents they go to another company doubling or tripling their salaries as some of them have a Ph.D. Also, if you go to any Convenient Store you will see that the owners are people from India, the same with Motels, etc. Those are the people with lots of bread which come here to invest their money and to get a salary which they will never get in India. I have nothing against people from India actually as they are super well educated and intelligent. Companies such as Oracle, NEC, IBM, HP, etc. are inundated with people from India. That is what they come here, because in India they do not have the liberties they have here and the salaries they have here. However, if you observe, they keep their own communities and schools just like in India…Very smart people. By the way…companies here are in contact with head hunters in India and they take care of the process of getting the H1B visa for the individual in question and the USA Company gives to the H1B visa candidate the sponsorship. People from India stick together also in everything and one get a job for another and so on. Pretty soon this country will be managed by people from India and the fact is that there are Indian people even in Government in very high places.

  8. I think I figured out the USA was in trouble when I had the following series of events:
    1) At a meeting which set unreal deadlines for the development team, the Head of Development says to meet these deadlines I need more staff. Can I hire? The response from the Division VP who set the deadlines was yes as long as they are all Chinese.
    2) My contractor account manager called to beg for help. It seems my company had installed a new software package which they had to use place their local contractors for upcoming requisitions with the company. The challenge was my company had made two other rules – only 5-10 candidate submissions per position plus off-shore and minority owned companies got a 24 hour head start on US companies. Thus by the time they knew of a position the Indian placement companies had filled all the slots with candidates using Monster keyword searches. For me 90% were now unsuitable or expected sponsorship.
    3) A foreign H1B holder was promoted to manager of a team I had a great rapport with; my clients relied on and were the key team in the product shipping. They had never missing a deadline. He immediately rewrote all the roles and fired all the US workers and contractors. My team missed deadline after deadline while we waited for his friends to be granted H1B visas to populate the “new” team. After being 6 months overdue with his work he blamed the US Government for the delays.
    4) Talking with the local H-1B workers they lived frugally and expected to send over 50% of their earnings back home. This was also the case for many of them who had become Green Card holders. Thus the money was not stimulating the US economy.
    5) My company’s legal department started a service to fast track H-1B and L1 holders to Citizenship and skips the Green Card process. Within two months the company announced the biggest layoffs of its US workforce ever.
    6) I saw the YouTube of immigration attorneys from Cohen & Grigsby explains how they assist employers in running classified ads with the goal of NOT finding any qualified applicants, and the steps they go through to disqualify even the most qualified Americans in order to secure green cards for H-1b workers. See .
    7) Having also worked for companies run by management from another culture – they often have a very different set of ethics and business practice. As more of these cultures rise to management, then they will bring these with them. What is the US is seen as unethical or even illegal is seen by them as the price of doing business; just don’t get caught.

    Most of this I got from just one US company. If this is being repeated across the country then expect further increases in unemployment and the US to slide even further down the world ratings.

    • DrSteve,
      Great comment and it confirms my outlook regarding the HIB and L1 visas and how professionals from India come here and they in turn bring more H1B people and companies here in the USA sponsor them. You have hit the nail on the head!

  9. Discouraged

    “American Corporation” has become an oxymoron. There’s nothing American about what they’ve done to people in the US. My position was “eliminated” 3 years ago, and the only work I can get is freelance. And I had a dual career path! I guess all of my skills are just obsolete… yeah, that must be it.

    Companies contact me to discuss a project, I work up a bid/outline of what needs to be done, and they run offshore with it. I’ve gone from six figures per year to losing my house and barely affording a rental. Every month we cut out more and more. My wife worries that we’ll become homeless. It’s really hard, losing hope. The whole thing is so surreal, like I woke up one day and the world changed.

    • In the early 90s we had an economic situation here similar to what is happening now but not as bad; about 60% of people lost their home, especially those working in defense. Next year will be worse than this year as companies will outsource and offshore heavily. After elections companies stagnate also waiting what the president policies will be and I am afraid Iran is one of the things on the agenda no matter who wins on November. The sad thing is that Asian countries and some South American countries are doing great such as Brazil. Just to have ideas of how an economy of a country should be run go to the following link:

  10. Seems to me we ought to be helping out the unemployed STEM graduates we already have before bringing in even more. Of course if we bring them here instead of sending the work there, at least they have to spend some of their earnings in the U.S. And optimists insist that if you have more STEM graduates here, then companies will hire more, benefitting everyone.

  11. Pepper Dog

    CEO and their boards are the traitors! They have no patriotism and they worship the almighty dollar. They purport American values but are willing to shed them in order to do business in foreign, Arabic, and Communist countries. Great Firewall in China designed by Cisco, as well as routers,switches supplied by Cisco. Every packet is examined by the Chinese government. Google and Microsoft participate in censorship to operate in China. It is reported HP stated in their next big lay off of 27,000 workers, only India workers will be spared. This stated by Meg Whitman, current HP CEO and supporter of Romney. The US Chamber of Commerce has affiliate offices in Bahrain, India, and other far flung places which facilitate trade and business for the Multi-Nationals. They lobby the US government for more trade deals. Apple uses front company FoxConn to be its parts supplier with deplorable workplace conditions. It is touted as the greatest American company by the cable business news channels. Steve Jobs is a saint. Consumers line up in droves to buy the next version of its I-Phone and I-Pad. The Chinese city of Shenzen is where all electronic parts are made. The American public continues to buy their stuff and they are praised for being the “job creators” and “innovators” who must get more lower taxes for them to remain competitive. Corporate profits are at an all time high. Trillions on the balance sheets of these Big Corporations. They are traitors to their own country and once held American values. They are abandoning America to build up the middle class in third world countries so they can sell their stuff to billions of foreign citizens and skirt labor and enviornmental laws so they can get richer. Larry Ellison of Oracle just bought his own island. Bill Gates and Warren Buffet just doubled their wealth in the last 4 years. One family has 40% of the wealth of the country…Last name Walton, but their company Walmart can’t pay their workers a decent wage with health benefits. Most workers cannot afford the healthcare premium and are so low paid they qualify for Medicaid. These are our American innovators and heroes of Wall Street. You know those guys whose greed wrecked the global economy with their innovative financial products such as CDOs and CDSs. Yeah we should lower their taxes. 25% of the major US companies paid no taxes at all! In the old days the wealthy were philanthropic and had a love of country. Not anymore! They set up global foundations and let their kids run them while receiving great salaries. Good for publicity. Stop buying their stuff until they start hiring Americans and start loving their country again!

    • Well said. I tell you the US is going to go down in history books as the country that destroyed itself. We have taken the key to our sucess – the capitalistic, free enterprize system, twisted it, bent it, loaded it with fraud, and turned it against the citizens.

      The irony is that most of the citizens are fat, dumb, and happy with junk food, junk information (most of the internet), junk leadership, and junk gadgets (like iPhones).

      But hey that Steve Jobs, that Bill Gates – they’re real genius – not.