Senator Demands Abbott Labs Reconsider 180 Layoffs, Foreign Replacements

Buildings are visible on the campus headquarters of Abbott Laboratories February 10, 2004 in Abbott Park, Illinois.
Tim Boyle/Getty Images

A Democratic senator is demanding answers from a company in his state said to be laying off 180 workers and replacing them with foreign workers.

In a letter this week to Miles D. White, the Chairman and CEO of Abbott Laboratories, Sen. Dick Durbin (D-IL) pressed the company to rethink the mass layoff and “retain these U.S. workers, who have dedicated years of loyal service to your company.”

“I am deeply concerned about reports that Abbott Labs is laying off 180 Information Technology (IT) employees and replacing them with temporary foreign workers who, after they are trained, will then do these jobs outside the United States,” Durbin wrote.

In his missive, the Illinois lawmaker laid out what he understands Abbott’s plans are:

-You have given 180 U.S. employees 60-days notice, and their last day of employment at Abbott Labs will be April 22, 2016.

-To add insult to injury, the Abbott Labs IT staff who will be laid off will first be forced to train their replacements.

-You have awarded Wipro Ltd, a large Indian outsourcing firm, with a contract to take over the jobs of these American workers.

-You are offering the U.S. workers severance of a week’s pay for each year they spent at the company, but in order to receive this severance you are requiring these employees to sign away their right to sue or disparage the company. The severance packet you gave your workers contains a full-page ad listing jobs at Wipro.

-The people you are laying off have stellar experience, credentials, and performance reviews, and some have been with your company for 15-20 years.

Durbin further recalled hearing about the layoffs from witness testimony during last week’s Senate Judiciary Committee hearing examining the impact H-1B visas and other high skilled immigration have had on American workers.

“Just yesterday, we learned — and the senator might be interested that Abbott Labs in the Chicago area has — yesterday announced to its employees that it was canning 180 Americans and replacing them with H-1B workers,” John Miano, a Center for Immigration Studies expert, testified Thursday after reeling off a list of other companies, such as Southern California Edison and Disney, that have terminated U.S. workers for foreign replacements.

Durbin’s letter and request for reconsideration, as Miano pointed out, follows a long line of companies that have similarly engaged in this practice. Durbin and a bipartisan group of senators including Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-AL), have been voicing concern, calling for investigations and offering legislation to address the ongoing “abuse” of high skilled guest worker programs.

“I will continue to push for legislation to reform the H-1B and L-1 visa programs, but the gaps in current law are no excuse for your company to treat your employees so unfairly,” Durbin added. “It should go without saying that such harsh and insensitive conduct is not justified by whatever marginal financial benefit might accrue to your company, which is already making billions of dollars in profits every year. Once again, I urge you to restore the jobs of these 180 American IT employees who have served your company with skill and loyalty for many years.  I look forward to your prompt response.


In a statement provided to Breitbart News after publication of this story, spokesman John Koval did not address Dubin’s letter but rather explained Abbott’s recent actions as part of its common business practices.

“Abbott regularly evaluates its competitive position and makes changes that reflect the strategic needs of its business,” Koval emailed. “We recently outsourced some IT capabilities.  We’re retaining the vast majority of our U.S.-based IT jobs.”


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