Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-AL), chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee’s subcommittee on Immigration and the National Interest, slammed Intel, the technology company, for seeking to replace the American workers the company laid off last year with cheap foreign workers via the H-1B program.
“Yet another company is demanding more guest workers while laying off existing workers,” Sessions said on Tuesday in a statement exclusive to Breitbart News. He added:
If Intel has 1,000 jobs to fill, then it should offer those jobs to American workers first – including from among the tens of thousands who have been laid off. One estimate pegs IT jobs cuts at more than 100,000 in 2014. Overall, according to the Census Bureau, more than 11 million Americans with degrees in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics currently do not hold jobs in those fields. For recent graduates in these fields, the numbers are equally stark: about 35 percent of science students, 55 percent of technology students, 20 percent of engineering students, and 30 percent of math students recently graduated are now working in jobs that don’t require a four-year college degree. It is in the national interest that these students – many who accumulated great debt to obtain these degrees – should be given priority for jobs. Unfortunately, as Professor Ron Hira testified, the H-1B visa has become “a highly lucrative business model of bringing in cheaper H-1B workers to substitute for Americans. … Most of the H-1B program is now being used to import cheaper foreign guestworkers, replacing American workers, and undercutting their wages.”
Lisa Malloy, Intel’s director of policy communications and government relations, issued a statement last week laying out how it plans to seek H-1B visas for at least 1,000 engineer jobs inside the United States.
“Next week, America’s most innovative companies will enter a lottery to keep some of the world’s brightest engineers, scientists, and programmers employed here in the United States. Many of them are familiar faces, they studied alongside their team mates, while earning advanced degrees from our top U.S. universities,” Malloy wrote on Intel’s blog last week, continuing:
But as we all know, Intel and other leading high-tech companies will have to make contingency plans due to the arbitrary congressional cap on H-1B visas. Only 85,000 applications will be accepted and the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) has already predicted they’ll exceed that cap within just five days of filing day – April 1. This isn’t surprising given that last year, 172,500 H-1B applications were received.
Specifically, Malloy noted that Intel does about 75 percent of its “advanced manufacturing and R&D” inside the U.S., despite high percentages of its revenue coming from abroad.
“This is made possible through the combined ingenuity of U.S. high-tech workers and their foreign-born team members,” Malloy wrote. “While only about six percent of our U.S. workforce is here on an H-1B visa, these individuals apply their specialized skills to the success of Intel’s U.S. operations. Intel alone has more than 1,000 job openings for engineers in the United States.” Elaborating, she noted, “The need for high-skilled immigration reform is clear. The United States has a high-skilled workforce shortage in the STEM fields critical to innovation: science, technology, engineering, and mathematics.”
Malloy advocated, on Intel’s behalf, for an increase in the H-1B visa cap, saying doing so “will help America’s high-tech companies recruit the talent they need to continue the relentless pace of innovation that sustains our national competitiveness, drives economic growth, and creates jobs in the process.”
However, what is perhaps most interesting regarding Intel’s decision to publicly push for more cheap foreign workers via the H-1B program rather than hiring Americans for those jobs is that just last year Intel laid off five percent of its global workforce – more than 5,000 workers.
Intel “will trim about 5% of its 107,600 global workforce by the end of 2014 – 5,380 jobs,” CNN Money reported in January 2014. Given the fact that, according to Malloy, about 75 percent of the jobs Intel has in its major departments of research and development and advanced manufacturing are inside the U.S., Intel could rehire the thousands of people it laid off before bringing in new foreign workers to take those jobs. Or Intel could hire American-born engineers who are by-and-large widely unemployed right now.
Intel was involved in a wage-fixing scheme with several other high-tech giants, aimed at driving the cost of labor down – so they would not have to pay employees as much.
In March 2014, Pando’s Mark Ames described the scheme in which Intel was involved as “an illegal agreement between seven tech giants, including Apple, Google, and Intel, to suppress wages for tens of thousands of tech employees” that “prompted a Department of Justice investigation, resulting in a settlement in which the companies agreed to curb their restricting hiring deals.”
An Intel spokesperson told Ames, “We don’t think we violated any laws, and we are going to continue to defend ourselves.”
But Molly Boast, the deputy assistant attorney general for the DOJ’s Antitrust division, said in a statement announcing the settlement that these agreements of which Intel was a part “restrained competition for affected employees without any procompetitive justification and distorted the competitive process.”
Intel claims it aims to hire Americans first over H-1B foreigners, and claims – via an article in trade publication Dice News – that it exhausts all efforts and avenues to do so.
“Like other technology companies, Intel faces stiff competition for talent, especially when it comes to hiring computer, chemical, materials or mechanical engineers with advanced degrees,” Dawn Kawamoto wrote for the piece, which heavily quotes Intel sources. “And while it would rather engage American workers, sometimes they just can’t be found.”
Intel’s Vice President and Director of Human Resource Enterprise Services Ardine Williams is quoted in the piece saying that everything comes down to “supply and demand” – and that there is not, according to Williams and Intel, enough labor supply.
“When you get to the Ph.D. level, the number of people who specialize in engineering gets smaller and the universities don’t produce enough people with master’s and Ph.D.s,” Williams said.
The lengthy article walks through “how Intel hires” next, making it appear as though Intel seeks American workers first.
“When it comes to finding engineers with advanced degrees, Intel’s proactive. It posts jobs on a number of websites, advertises through social networks, contacts universities and holds job fairs in the U.S. When it’s seeking to fill a position, it basically doesn’t care whether it’s a U.S. citizen or H-1B worker who fills it,” Kawamoto wrote, adding:
At college job fairs, however, the candidates with advanced degrees tend to be foreign students. In fact, most of the H-1B workers at Intel were hired through its college recruitment efforts. In some circumstances, the company isn’t able to find a suitable candidate on campus at all. In those cases, it resorts to other means.
First, it will exhaust its database of candidates compiled from conferences, career fairs, referrals, job postings and direct applications through its own website.
It then quotes Malloy, the company’s spokeswoman who wrote the blog post last week pushing for more cheap foreign labor, as advocating for more H-1Bs: “Generally, hires for our U.S. jobs come from candidates already in the U.S., even if they are experienced non-U.S. citizens,” Malloy said. “Many of our experienced non-U.S. citizens are already working at other U.S. companies on an H-1B.”
According to Williams, part of the reason why Intel will look past American workers who have been laid off to, instead, hire foreigners via the H-1B program is because American engineers’ skills – especially after a layoff – are not necessarily as up to date as foreigners’ skill sets.
“With engineering, keeping current is one thing that’s critical,” Williams said. “Where we’ve encountered engineers who’ve been laid off, many times their skills aren’t up to date.”
Chris O’Brien at Venture Beat laid out how the H-1B program – and tech companies’ use of it in conjunction with mass layoffs of American workers – makes people expendable and disposable items.
“It seems so counter-intuitive: How can job cuts be soaring when tech is booming?” O’Brien wrote in January about a Bloomberg story on how tech companies are having mass layoffs. “Everyone seems surprised, but they shouldn’t be. Tech, more than any other industry, has succeeded in convincing us over the past two decades that workers are entirely disposable.” O’Brien went on to explain, “We throw out smartphones after two years. Replace our PCs every few years when they get slow. Why can’t we do the same with people? Turns out, we can. Or, at least, we can try.”