US: Workers on visas easy to exploit

By Phil Manger

Once again cries are arising from the information technology industry that it is facing a huge and desperate shortage of qualified programmers and software engineers. To remain competitive – and to maintain America’s lead in IT – industry leaders insist they must bring in hundreds of thousands of guest workers from abroad. That’s the hype.

The reality is as it has always been: There are plenty of Americans willing and able to fill virtually every open IT position. It’s just that American employers don’t want to hire them.

Employers don’t seek to hire H-1B workers because they are desperate for programming talent they can’t find here.

What they really want, to quote Professor Norman Matloff of the University of California, Davis, is “cheap, compliant labor.”

The H-1B visa is a non-immigrant work visa and is, in fact, a form of indentured servitude. The H-1B worker is bound to his sponsoring employer much as an indentured servant in colonial times was bound to his master.

An H-1B worker who is fired must find another sponsoring employer or leave the country within 10 days.

Most H-1B workers also hope to qualify for a green card – a process that can take up to six years. But this too requires employer sponsorship, and if an H-1B worker changes employers, he or she must begin the entire process anew.

Needless to say, an H-1B worker has essentially zero bargaining power with a sponsoring employer. (He certainly doesn’t want to make his boss angry by telling him to go shove it when the boss insists he work 14 hours a day for eight hours’ pay, now, does he?)

And if the H-1B worker has no bargaining power, neither does anyone competing with that worker for the same job.

http://www.baltimoresun.com/
(The writer is an independent software developer)

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1 Response to “US: Workers on visas easy to exploit”


  1. 1 Union Review May 12, 2008 at 3:06 pm

    Please cross-post this to Union Review. Thanks for the piece, well-done.


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