Microsoft, Intel Firings Stir Resentment Over Visas
Feb. 20 (Bloomberg) -- Microsoft Corp.’s plan to eliminate U.S. workers after lobbying for more foreigner visas is stirring resentment
among lawmakers and employees.
As many as 5,000 employees are being shown the door at Microsoft, which uses more H1-B guest-worker visas than any other U.S. company.
Some employees and politicians say Microsoft should get rid of foreigners first.
“If they lay people off, are they going to think of America first or are they going to think of the world first?” Chuck Grassley, a Republican Senator from Iowa, said in an interview. He sent a letter to Microsoft Chief Executive Officer Steve Ballmer the day after Microsoft announced the job cuts last month, demanding Ballmer fire visa holders first.
Across the technology industry, some of the biggest users of H1-B visas are cutting jobs, including Intel Corp., International Business Machines Corp. and Hewlett-Packard Co. The firings at Microsoft, the world’s largest software maker, came less than a year after Chairman Bill Gates lobbied Congress for an expansion of the visa program.
Even before Microsoft announced the cuts, its first-ever companywide layoffs, comments on a blog run by an anonymous Microsoft worker angrily debated getting rid of guest workers first. The author of the Mini-Microsoft blog eventually had to censor and then completely block all arguments about visas, after the conversation “got downright nasty.”
Microsoft is hiring 2,000 to 3,000 workers over the next 18 months, offsetting the job cuts. Some of those will certainly be on H1-B visas,
said Ginny Terzano, a spokeswoman for the Redmond, Washington-based company. She declined to comment on how many workers laid off are on visas. Laid-off Microsoft employees aren’t always a good fit for new positions, she said.
“If you have a laid off General Motors engineer, that doesn’t qualify them for a job as a software engineer,” Terzano said. “It’s the same with some of the people laid off at our company.”
Microsoft fell 17 cents to $17.74 at 9:39 a.m. New York time in Nasdaq Stock Market trading. The shares tumbled 45 percent last year.
The slumping economy and rising unemployment may make it harder for technology companies to persuade the government to expand the H1-B program, designed to attract workers in areas such as science and technology. Since the annual number of H1-B visas issued dropped to 65,000 in 2004 from 195,000 in previous years, the program has been oversubscribed before each year even began.
In 2008, the government reached the maximum number of applications just one week after it began accepting them.
Asked about whether some companies may back off from lobbying for more H1-B visas, Intel Chief Financial Officer Stacy Smith said that could happen as hiring drops. Intel, the world’s largest chipmaker, is closing five older plants by year- end, affecting as many as 6,000 jobs
“Our strategy has always been to hire the best talent we can hire anywhere in the world,” Smith said in an interview this month. “It’s the fuel that moves our industry forward.”
Companies like Microsoft, which sent Gates to persuade Congress to ease visa restrictions in March, could be forced to curb those efforts, said Microsoft Vice President Dan’l Lewin.
“People probably will be a lot more cautious about how public they are, but it’s not going to go away as an issue,” he said. “You need the people.”
Opponents of the program are using the economy and job cuts as a way to up the volume of the debate. The Senate added an amendment co-authored by Grassley to the economic stimulus bill signed this week that restricts the hiring of H1-B visa holders at more than 300 banks receiving government bailout funds
Even Zoe Lofgren, a congresswoman representing San Jose, California, said in an interview that U.S. companies slashing jobs should keep Americans where possible. She introduced legislation in 2008 to make it easier for foreign students studying for advanced degrees to stay in the country.
While workers on H1-B visas aren’t included in a law that protects green-card holders from employment discrimination, Grassley’s demand that Microsoft fire foreigners first may still violate civil rights laws
, said Howard Chang, a professor at the University of Pennsylvania Law School.
Foreigners face severe difficulties when they are fired because their visas are tied to their employer, said Paul Soreff, a Seattle lawyer and former chairman of the Washington Chapter of the American Immigration Lawyers Association. While employers must pay for a visa holder’s ticket home, transporting other family members and their possessions falls on the worker.
Still, Grassley has supporters among groups that lobby for technology workers, such as the Programmers Guild and the Alliance for IBM. IBM has cut about 4,000 jobs, based on separation agreements dated last month. IBM spokesman Ian Colley didn’t return a call seeking comment.
“Nobody wants to be cold-hearted -- they’re workers just like us,” said Lee Conrad, national coordinator of the IBM group, which is seeking union recognition. “But IBM is making long-term employees walk the plank. The H1-B people should be cut first.”
and what the heck is going on in Kentucky?
< JOB DESTRUCTION NEWSLETTER No. 1980 -- 2/19/2009 >>>>>
Lexington, Kentucky just hired a bunch of H-1B school teachers in Kentucky
to teach STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) classes.
Importing Filipino teachers
is nothing new as this newsletter has been
reporting about it for years. The article below calls what is going on a
Recruiting foreign teachers to fill critical shortage areas has been
a trend in American elementary and secondary education for about a
Of course as we all know there are many unemployed and underemployed STEMs
in the U.S. that are qualified and willing to teach these subjects in
school. The problem is that the schools won't hire them, even if they get
certified to teach. Schools want teachers that are young, cheap, compliant,
and of course multi-lingual.
The news article below contains a contradiction that can be difficult to
catch if you don't pay attention. Read this paragraph in the front part of
the article that says they can't find "certified teachers".
Home, for Dacles, is Manila, the Philippines. Now, however, he is
one of 16 Filipino teachers working in the Fayette County Public
Schools, all recruited from overseas to teach in subject areas
such as math, science and special education, where certified
teachers often are hard to find.
Later in the article it says the Filipinos aren't certified to teach those
subjects either! In other words, they are no more qualified than Americans
to teach the subject. In most cases the Filipinos are less qualified
because they got their educations in substandard schools and diploma mills
in the Philippines.
Kentucky shuns American teachers but it is more than happy to give
Filipinos fast track certifications so that they can get into the
As a result, the school system sometimes had to get emergency
certifications for people to teach STEM classes even though
they lacked background in those subjects, he said.
For those of you that think Indian when you hear the word "bodyshop",
perhaps this will broaden your outlook because many countries besides India
have set up shop here to import foreign labor. The bodyshop Kentucky hired
to import the teachers is called "Avenida International Consultants",
supposedly covers the cost of getting the teachers certified in Kentucky
and it pays for the other expenses related to travel and moving. What the
article forgot to mention is that this bodyshop is infamous for taking
training money and visa fees out of the pockets of their Filipino
employees. That company has had lawsuits against their blatant indentured
labor policies but it hasn't put them out of business -- in fact it appears
that they are doing better than ever.
Avenida International Consultants is owned by a slaver named Ligaya
Avenida. Her clients include West Contra Costa Unified, San Jose Unified,
Oakland Unified School District, West Palm Beach, Florida, Ravenswood
Unified, California, Memphis Unified, Columbia Public Schools, and
Here is Avenida's website, and if you want to read more about her look up
these newsletters in the archive:
2005-01-10 Baltimore Schools Circumvent H-1B limits
2005-01-11 Ligaya Avenida imports Filipino teachers for California
Posted on Thu, Feb. 19, 2009
Filipino teachers recruited for hard-to-fill jobs in Lexington
By Jim Warren
Arnold Dacles has had to make some adjustments during his first year of
teaching science at Leestown Middle School, particularly during the recent