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New media’s Zuckerberg employs old-fashioned politics

July 13, 2013

By Thomas D. Elias

Despite happy talk about doing what’s best for America, Facebook billionaire Mark Zuckerberg and the cadre of other Silicon Valley titans helping with his new lobbying organization, FWD.us, are looking out for their own self-interest, just like every previous political action committee or billionaires’ club.

Zuckerberg tried to explain himself the other day in The Washington Post, writing that U.S. immigration policy today is “unfit for today’s world… To lead the world in this new economy, we need the most talented and hardest-working people. We need to train and attract the best.”

What that means is that Zuckerberg and allies from Google, Netflix, Microsoft, Yahoo, Yelp and LinkedIn, along with some of the venture capitalists who bankroll many Silicon Valley high-tech startups, want to bring in more workers on H-1B visas.

They argue there aren’t enough American-born math and science majors to fill all job openings, leaving many companies starving for qualified workers.

But critics call that claim exaggerated, suggesting the real motive is to bring in workers at wages far below those the companies would have to pay equally qualified U.S. citizens. They say the H-1B program, which lets companies bring in 65,000 workers annually for six-year sojourns, trains foreign workers who often continue in similar jobs for the same companies in their home countries after the visas expire.

So the H-1B program, they say, is essentially an outsourcing system designed to save companies money and ship American jobs overseas.

One critic is Ron Hira, a professor of public policy at the Rochester Institute of Technology in New York.

“What these firms do is exploit the loopholes in the H-1B program to bring in on-site workers to learn the jobs of Americans to then ship (jobs) offshore,” he recently told National Public Radio. “And also to bring in on-site workers who are cheaper (to) undercut American workers’ rights here.”

Stunningly, three of the four largest users of H-1B visas — aimed at bringing in skilled workers to fill jobs for which no Americans qualify — last year were Infosys, Wipro and Tata, all India-based high-tech firms with facilities in the United States. H-1B workers are often paid 70 percent or less of what U.S. citizens make for the same work.

The biggest H-1B users did not answer queries about their use of the visas and the salaries they pay, but current immigration law requires that the workers get “prevailing wages.” Read the rest of the story on San Diego Source.

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From → Analysis, Commentary

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