Date: Wednesday, June 25, 2003 9:12 AM
JOB DESTRUCTION NEWSLETTER
Once again we have a situation where the Indian press does a good job
reporting about the organizations that oppose H-1B while the U.S. press
remains silent. I have never seen an article in the U.S. press with
such a complete listing of organizations.
The Indian press seems to have more freedom than ours to report on the
H-1B/L-1 issue. In the U.S. the media is owned by just a few corporate
giants who all support H-1B. Surely they must have similar constraints
in India, but their companies don't seem to mind this kind of
reporting. Perhaps they think that stories on outsourcing and
nonimmigrant visas tends to strengthen their position.
Go online to read this article if you want to link to the sites
mentioned. There are also some comments at the bottom of the article.
Anita Bora | | June 23, 2003 | 12:13 IST
American citizens use the Web to protest against outsourcing and
Outsourcing and non-immigrant visas seem to be sore topics for
Americans right now. More than a dozen sites have sprung up to protest
against the practice of outsourcing IT jobs to India and employing
Indian professionals for software jobs in the US by issuing the H-1B
and the L1 visa. In fact, the protests have grown quite vociferous
James Pace (vice-president and chairman) and John Bauman (president and
vice chairman) began The Organization for the Rights of American
Workers (TORAW) in November 2002. After building the site, they sent
out email invites, researched data, created literature and held their
first public awareness presentation in December 2002.
Michael T Emmons who had 12 weeks left at Siemens (ICN Lake Mary,
Florida) in September 2002 (according to their replacement program)
decided to stand up and be heard. Americans were mandated to train
foreign replacement workers. "I did not think it was fair," says
Emmons. He took up the cause with the Florida Representative John L
Mica and when he did not get a response, Emmons documented the
communication and put it up on this site.
The mission of these sites: To gather support for the abolishment of
the H-1B visa and all non-immigrant visas (NIV) by bringing it to the
attention of leaders, decision makers and US citizens. The Web has
proved effective not only to spread the word but also to get more
people to sign online petitions that are then forwarded to the
legislators concerned and decision makers.
The word has spread mainly through message boards, says Emmons. In
fact, a search for 'Tata Siemens' now returns his site as the first
result. The administrator of zazona.com says he started the protest
site in 1999 when H-1B was "adversely affecting" his career. Using
method like getting press coverage, registering with search engines,
site optimisation, email and word-of-mouth campaigns, he spread the
word and traffic has increased significantly to his site.
There's more. "We are here to save American jobs. We are not racists,
xenophobes or bigots. We are displaced American workers. Displaced by a
little known immigration visa approved by congress at the request of a
large US corporations. These visas known as H-1B and L1 are used to
import foreign workers to replace American workers with cheap foreign
labor," claims h1bprotest.com.
h1bvisasucks.com suggests solutions to the H-1B visa, including sending
emails in support of a New Jersey Assembly bill to stop outsourcing and
starting an IT market war. "Where have all the good jobs gone" asks
nomoreh1b.com, claiming that approximately 800,000 highly skilled US
workers are now unemployed as a direct result of the Congress H-1B visa
Hireamericancitizens.org is not mincing its words. It has been set up
for the "protection and promotion of the American Citizen professional,
the best, the brightest, and the most innovative workers in the world".
The site also provides counter arguments to the practice of issuing
Statistics reveal that outsourcing remains a popular choice. According
to an IDC study conducted this year, fewer than 15 per cent of US IT
firms are opposed to using offshore workers, 20 per cent prefer to use
US resources, and about 65 per cent are open to using resources outside
An official from a leading Indian business process outsourcing
operation says that these protests are not going to make a serious
impact. He feels this issue is "more political in nature and does not
affect the private sector". He goes on to say the industry in India has
only touched the tip of the iceberg and the scope is tremendous.
PV Kannan, CEO of Bangalore-based call centre, 24/7 Customer, is of the
opinion that in the long term these protests will have "no significant
impact to the fundamental value proposition of offshoring".
Protests from the work force of companies who outsource and elected
legislators is expected, says Kannan. "After all we are talking about a
fundamental shift for people in the US/UK. But as in the case of IT,
their fears are overblown."
A very small percentage of jobs, according to Kannan, is going
offshore. Also, most companies take their employees into confidence
regarding outsourcing and their reasons. "One of our UK clients took
their union into confidence and told them no more than 20 per cent of
the positions would be outsourced," he shares.
B G Mahesh of bpoindia.org, a leading information source on the Indian
outsourcing industry, adds: "I think it is difficult to stop offshore
work. However, these sites will have an impact on the visas (H-1B)
O J Audet, senior program manager, in the help desk division of a US
BPO, currently assisting with the growth of its Chennai subsidiary,
says that Americans are losing jobs to outsourcing. "But I don't
believe Americans (or others) are justified in claiming the jobs as
"theirs". Anyone in the BPO space knows that the market is global, a
function of growing telephony sophistication and the Net." Also,
according to Audet, most Americans understand that outsourcing goes
beyond India to currently include the Philippines, Ireland and Mexico.
The feedback to these sites from the public is also divided.
Emmons, who feels that the L1 visa will be changed in 2003, because of
all the pressure that they are exerting, is trying to get more exposure
for his campaign through 60 Minutes, Dateline, Evening News and Fox
News. With increasing publicity, Emmons admits to getting hate and
Traffic to zazona.com also continues to increase and the administrator
says he gets as much inputs from H-1B visa holders about their concerns
as US workers. "The majority of H-1B visa holders do not like what I'm
doing but some realise what I'm saying. There are also few diehard
trade globalists that don't agree."
Membership to TORAW has grown with exposure in the media. "We've
received a huge response. In six months out membership has grown in 16
states and we've been interviewed by several newspapers, radio stations
and cable channels," shares Pace.
TORAW hold regular public awareness meetings and says they usually have
support when they explain the facts. "We don't want NIVs of any country
to become targets of hatred. We want US corporations to be held
responsible for unjust labour laws and practice resulting in high
unemployment," reiterates Pace.
In addition to the Internet campaigns, Pace informs that they hold
regular meetings, participate in protest meets and hand out printed
literature. Emmons too is planning an offline campaign to support his
Discussion boards like slashdot.org have heated debates adding to the
fire. "As opposed to the previous commentors, I see nothing wrong about
this trend. Typically, people that b***h about globalisation are the
ones losing jobs because they are too expensive relative to the global
market price for their particular skill," a reader writes in response
to this article.
Another reader counters, "As an IT developer whose job is threatened by
such a move, I must whole-heartedly disagree. The companies offshoring
these jobs seem to forget that for majority of their products their
target market is the middle class."
Techsuntite.org is another forum that is organising emails to be sent
in support of the New Jersey bill. The site claims their Web action
generated nearly 150,000 total messages to 120 NJ legislators and one
assembly representative, Gary Guear, reports that the online campaign
set a one-day record for the number of emails received by his office.
This petition goes a step further. They are asking leaders and decision
maker to stop not only H-1B visas, but all kinds of immigration.
Kannan feels that these protests are not justified, "Given the job
creation ability of these economies, it is sad they do not see the
advantage of having countries like India develop and move to the next
level. The fact of the matter is: India has less than 4 per cent of the
combined GDP of US/UK and three times the population."
"I think the petitioners will have a minimal effect on the Indian
market. I believe smart Indian business-persons are entrenched in the
American market and their savvy "lobbying" will counterbalance the nay
sayers," expresses Audet.
Ends Mahesh, on an optimistic note, "American understand numbers very
well. At the end of the day they want to see good numbers on the
balance sheet. So I doubt these sites will have an adverse effect on
outsourcing." Pace, Emmons and all those others who are working
overtime to gather support on their online and offline campaigns will
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