I am an American tech worker, a refugee created by a broken social contract after decades of building the wired field of high-tech dreams. Increasingly it seems you only know us as "going postal" but now, we are going political.
As the US pays dearly to educate science and technology graduates, universities continue to over-produce them for jobs these industries can't create. Meanwhile, a global tech junta secretly carries out its "Dirty War" -- 20 years now -- against American scientific and technical professionals, continually inventing domestic laws to disappear us.
The stories are overwhelming: tech professionals experience massive layoffs only to discover later that their boss recruited the year before -- to fill their job from overseas. In 2009 Microsoft, Intel, Ernst & Young, and Goldman Sachs have all increased their hiring abroad for U.S. job openings, even as they laid-off thousands at home. These reprehensible practices are perfectly legal through corporate visa programs. Mischaracterized by beltway insiders as "guest worker" programs, this misnomer camouflages the ugly truth: these visas are for companies -- not workers.
As modern-day hobos, IT professionals ride the airlines for jobs lasting only 3-6 months. They comb through job sites, humiliated by "H-1b Only Want Ads" for jobs that won't be available for 8 to 10 months. Even government contractors can be found soliciting abroad. As recruiting is increasingly offshored to India, we now face insulting and comical ads like "No Arrogant Americans Need Apply" -- for job openings in Chicago.
Corporate visa laws, written by lobbyists, have digitally re-mastered Jim Crow. According to the DOL's Strategic Plan, Fiscal Years 2006-2011, "... H-1b workers may be hired even when a qualified U.S. worker wants the job, and a U.S. worker can be displaced from the job in favor of the foreign worker."
IT pros reporting for work are astonished by the few Americans working and offended by the open segregation that's now pervasive. They hear the whispered stories: "high-tech braceros" de-plane, only to discover their bosses don't have jobs for them. They are then put up in guest houses--essentially camps for the unemployed. H-1b workers will receive three months training, but no pay. Signed bondage contracts deny their legal right to change employers. As "benched" employees they dial for dollars seeking a temp gig. Only then will they get paid.
Segregated recruiting and hiring assures Indian bodyshops that these third world labor standards are accepted, even defended: A regressive social contract is being planted firmly in our cubicles. The routine intimidation faced by Indian techies from their bosses has now been aimed at American techies, with the spreading buckshot threatening the privacy and internet freedom of every American.
It is largely a story shielded from the American public. One tech put it, "we are Dead Men Walking, forced to train our foreign replacements, outsource our own jobs and those of our co-workers."
The tech junta even disappear our children's math and science performance. American 4th and 8th graders matched their classmates in Denmark, Germany, and the Netherlands in the latest round of TIMMS, the prestigious international test. But India and China, the two countries where tech companies recruit most from, don't participate in TIMMS. Silicon Valley now has fewer Black, Hispanic and female IT professionals than in 2000, despite Black Computer Science graduates essentially reaching parity in 2006; no longer can they be dismissed as an "underrepresented minority".
Political observers have long advised me that Congress would never respond to techies' concerns. But I, and Rajiv Dubhadkar, an Indian former H-1b, stood up and proved them wrong.
We successfully lobbied Senator Durbin (D-IL) to introduce H-1b and L-1 Reform legislation (S.887). It will stop the legal discrimination by requiring companies to seek local talent and force them to post their job openings on DOL's web site. S.887 promises to end the displacement of Americans and the outsourcing of American jobs. If the Indian government can stand up for its citizens by quashing corporate visa use, why can't Congress put their big-boy pants on and do the same for us?
Two federal agencies have used their muscle to stop H-1b body shops from farming out unemployed visa workers. In 2009, the Department of Justice filed criminal charges against an Indian staffing company for visa fraud and wire tapping, also arguing that the company "substantially deprived U.S. citizens of employment." The DOJ argues "the total number of workers employed in IT under the H-1b program substantially exceeded the unemployed U.S. citizens in the same occupation."
USCIS is showing up at corporate offices to stop the devious high-tech labor debacle from spreading with corporate visas. They're even implementing a key provision of S.887 -- no visas to high-tech labor contractors that sell visa workers to corporate America.
But the Schumer-Graham framework for Comprehensive Immigration Reform calls for easing restrictions on these visa programs. Manufacturing CEOs, long envious of the tech junta's power to crush the American social contract, have been granted their wish: these programs will be adjusted to include blue-collar jobs if Senator Schumer and Graham have their way.
Science and technology professionals can no longer afford to deny the human tragedy we've been trapped in so long. We must show the nation -- and ourselves -- that we have the power to end the third world social contract pervading American high-tech that is now perched to devour all of our American dreams.