Often, when you find language being abused, it’s being done to hide abuses of people.
Take for example, take the verb transform. It pops up a lot in corporate self-congratulations to describe the firing of successful, long-time American employees and their replacement with younger, cheaper, imported temporary guest-workers.
Regrettable, the company press release usually says, that so many of our loyal employees get pink-slipped, but necessary for the, yes, here it comes, “transformation” of Worldwide Widget Works.
This isn’t just random gas, but purposeful rhetoric meant to align mass layoffs of American workers with the program known as H-1b, which had been set up by the U.S. Congress so American employers could bring in a few “specially qualified” IT workers, not to do jobs already being done, but to open the doors to new thinking, new technologies, new competitiveness in the global marketplace. You know, to transformation. That these imported temps also bring lower wage scales and new employees who are essentially foreign hostages unlikely to make demands of, or disagree with their bosses about anything, is just a happy corporate coincidence.
A good way to understand how corporate greed at places like Disney, Southern California Edison, and Mass Mutual Financial Services has perverted the H-1b plan is to think of a flow chart. As sold to Congress and the American people, H-1b enables American companies to pull into their workforce a few uniquely talented individuals capable of cutting-edge production. The reality is, H-1b has enabled a few foreign-based labor brokers to push onto American payrolls thousands of people who couldn’t qualify for their new jobs if the Americans they were replacing weren’t forced to teach them how they are done.
Want proof on which direction the flow chart really follows? A recent Labor Department report says 64 percent of all applications for H-1b visas come, not from employers trying to attract the best talent to fill new jobs, but from five I.T. worker-suppliers pushing hundreds of ordinary workers to employers to take over existing jobs. H-1b workers do not reform processes or innovate products, they fill slots and lower costs.
A year ago, sharp reporting by our guest Patrick Thibodeau, Senior Editor of Computerworld.com, called out the Disney Company for replacing 250 I.T. workers with H-1b imports, who were being trained by the people whose jobs they would take. Thibodeau made Mickey Mouse look like Simon Legree, the awful slavemaster of Uncle Tom’s Cabin. Disney CEO Robert Iger, who heads a corporate campaign to expand H-1b, complained his company had been slimed.
And this year, when Republican primary wannabes brought up the scandal during an early debate, Disney issued a detailed disclaimer.
Patrick Thibodeau is a Senior Editor for Computerworld.com. He covers cloud computing and enterprise applications, outsourcing, government I.T. policies, data centers and I.T. workforce issues for Computerworld.