The war on the American worker is kicking into a new gear.
Microsoft is laying off an additional 7,800 U.S. workers, on top of the 18,000 it has already terminated. Meanwhile, the software giant is lobbying in Washington for an increase in H1B visas — allowing the company to replace these workers with foreigners who are willing to work for far less.
Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-AL), Chairman of the Subcommittee on Immigration and the National Interest, responded to the grim news and singled out 2016 presidential candidate Sen. Marco Rubio’s (R-FL) I-Squared bill, which Microsoft is pushing for supporting. The bill would triple the number of H1B visas issued in the United States, potentially leaving even more Americans working in the STEM and IT fields jobless.
Sen. Sessions issued the following statement about Microsoft’s agenda, especially the claim that “the skill gap is one of the biggest problems Microsoft faces:”
Microsoft has endorsed the so-called I-Squared bill to triple H-1B visas, declaring that ‘it’s critical that America address the shortage of workers with science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) skills,’ adding ‘there are high-skilled, high-paying jobs being created by American businesses across the country that are being left unfilled because of this gap.’ Mr. Gates himself testified before Congress that ‘our higher education system doesn’t produce enough top scientists and engineers to meet the needs of the U.S. economy,’ and has suggested as a remedy that we allow corporations to hire an ‘infinite’ number of H-1B workers. Last year, Mr. Gates coauthored an op-ed admonishing members of Congress who resisted his push for more guest worker labor.
Rubio launched the I-Squared bill along with Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-UT). For his part, Sessions says “any increase to the H-1B visa would only quash the dreams of more talented Americans, glut the labor market and keep pay low, and push more of our own homegrown best and brightest students out of work.”
The legislation has received immense backing from Silicon Valley’s corporate elites such as Oracle’s Larry Ellison. Mark Zuckerberg’s lobbying group Fwd.US has also put millions behind the push for increased H1-B visas, displacing countless Americans.
In most cases, laid off workers reveal the grueling process of being forced to replace their H1-B visa-holding replacements before facing termination. Such was and continues to be the case with Southern California Edison, Disneyland and Harley Davidson among other companies including Microsoft.
Sen. Sessions adds:
Microsoft even signed a letter urging passage of the I-Squared H-1B increase, asserting that ‘there are tens of thousands of unfilled jobs requiring highly skilled individuals. Four high-tech companies alone – IBM, Intel, Microsoft and Oracle – have combined 10,000 openings in the United States.’ But consulting firm Challenger, Gray and Christmas recently noted that ’employers in the computer industry saw the heaviest downsizing of the year, announcing a total of 59,528 planned layoffs. That is 69 percent more than a year ago.’ Perhaps these companies, instead of lobbying for H-1B workers, should hire some of the thousands of tech workers who are being laid off?
America is not suffering from a shortage of skilled and qualified STEM workers. Instead, there is a surplus in the number of skilled U.S. workers and not enough STEM jobs to accommodate these citizens. Sessions notes “there is no shortage of talented Americans, only a shortage of politicians willing to stand up to special interests demanding low-wage guest workers to hire in their place.”
Corporate elites have taken advantage of the H1-B visa model in order to create what is largely believed to be a “lucrative business model” geared towards advancing their own interests. Sessions notes:
Each year, universities graduate twice as many students with STEM degrees as find STEM jobs. According to the Census Bureau, more than 11 million Americans with STEM degrees are not employed in STEM jobs—or 3 in 4 STEM degree holders. Among recent graduates, about 35 percent of science students, 55 percent of technology students, 20 percent of engineering students, and 30 percent of math students are now working in jobs that don’t require any four-year college degree—let alone their area of specialty.
The truth is that, 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 guest workers, replacing American workers, and undercutting their wages.’
Any increase to the H-1B visa would only quash the dreams of more talented Americans, glut the labor market and keep pay low, and push more of our own homegrown best and brightest students out of work.