All of this time people have been raising hell about the impact illegal immigrants have on the U.S. economy – they take our jobs, they say, they use our health system, they displace workers.
There's less noise being made about another new trend undermining U.S. workers that's profiled in today's New York Times
: The replacement of American workers with legal
immigrants who are brought to the country on H-1B visas
. The visas were designed to allow foreign workers with specialized skills to legally fill job vacancies in the United States, but it seems some international outsourcing companies have found a way to use them to help corporations bring in thousands of workers from other countries who'll do the same work for less than their American peers. Per the New York Times
Too often, critics say, the visas are being used to import immigrants to do the work of Americans for less money, with laid-off American workers having to train their replacements.
The story says that's exactly what's happening at Walt Disney World. In October, according to the Times
, Disney summoned 250 of its tech workers and told them that were being laid off. Their jobs weren't being eliminated – they were being replaced by workers employed by HCL America, a branch of a company based in India that contracts with American companies to hire cheap labor from overseas. HCL imports contract workers to take over tech jobs at a portion of the cost of what companies pay to hire their own employees to do the same work. HCL America has been contracting with Disney since 2012, and Disney says this most recent round of layoffs is part of a "restructuring"
of Disney's technology group. Not only were the Disney workers restructured out of jobs – the story says that they were also instructed to train their replacements, at the risk of losing severance pay and benefits if the new workers couldn't perform their new duties adequately.
According to Times, the good news is that there are currently only 85,000 H-1B visas issued each year. The bad news is that big companies like Microsoft, Facebook and Google have been lobbying hard for the United States to increase that number, claiming that there aren't enough highly skilled U.S. workers available to fill critical openings.
Something not in the story but worth pointing out: Walt Disney is one of the sponsor's of Mayor Teresa Jacobs' State of the County address, taking place at the Dr. Phillips Center for the Performing Arts on Friday, June 12. Restructuring 250 tech workers out of jobs and replacing them with contract workers from other countries – that does
say something about the state of our economy.