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IEEE Comes to the H1-B Party about 6 Years Late

This just in on Reuters[1].  The IEEE believes that tech companies in the United States might be using H1-B visas to hold engineering salaries low.  Quoting from the Reuters artcle:

The 200,000-member U.S. chapter of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers rejects the claim of a broad shortage of tech workers and opposes more H-1Bs.

“What these companies are doing is to replace Americans with lower-cost foreign workers,” says Russ Harrison, senior legislative representative at the IEEE.

Apparently the IEEE has finally seen what many of us have been commenting on since 2007 and earlier.  There may not have been a real engineering shortage since oh… 2003 or so.  Evidence of the farce, I mean faux, shortage has been leaking out around the edges  ever more persistently for the last few years.  Take the following video clip where President Obama is let in on the secret.

The episode that keyed me into what was going on happened in 2006.  I walked out of a large semi company customer of mine one night to find one of their engineers smoking a cigarette and looking wistfully across the parking lot at another office building in the company compound.  We’ll call the engineer Ted.

“Hey Ted, you doing OK?”
“Yeah, I’m all right, but the guys in building six sure aren’t.  Every last one of them lost their job today.”

I figured a design project had been cut, the semi industry is notorious for that.  A few months later though, I found out that building six was still full of engineers.  A few inquiries brought the whole story to light.  About six months prior to the layoff, each engineer in building six had been provided with an Indian engineer to train.  Almost six months to the day later, the American engineers were led, like lambs to the slaughter, to the HR office and told they could go home after signing the documents regarding the details of their severance package.  Shortage indeed!

Write your congressmen if you got ‘em.  According to Reuters another visa expansion bill is on the table.  You might just think of sending your representative this quote from the Reuters article:

But wages in the tech industry are rising more slowly than those in the economy as a whole. For example, pay for applications software developers, a specialty in high demand, have risen just 8.9 percent in the five years through mid-2012, compared with a 12.5 percent increase for all occupations in the U.S. economy.

“It is extraordinarily unlikely for a severe shortage to happen in a way that doesn’t result in very large wage increases,” said Kirk Doran, an economist at the University of Notre Dame who studies immigration and labor.

“We know what a labor shortage looks like: there should be both much lower unemployment than other professions and much higher wage growth. If either of these are not present, then I don’t buy the shortage hypothesis.”

A closing thought, if there’s not a shortage, but Congress has been told that there is, who perjured themselves before a congressional hearing?  The answer can be found on any number of CSPAN video feeds by the way.  I wonder if Congress will have the temerity to go after semiconductor and software industry executrices with the same fervor that they pursued baseball players on steroids.

References:
1. Reuters story about the IEEE and immigration
http://www.reuters.com/article/2013/04/10/us-usa-immigration-tech-idUSBRE9390CM20130410

One Response to “IEEE Comes to the H1-B Party about 6 Years Late”

  1. TN Says:

    More than 10 years ago, I was one of the lower wage labor under H1-B visa. I was transferred from subsidiary (most advanced South East Asia country) to another subsidiary in one of the lower states in deep south.
    Prior to transfer, I had more than 5 years of senior engineering experience. They paid me 33% lesser than market value at that time (this information can be yahooed, no google yet!). I worked for them with less than 3% increment (if economy is OK) as they could “hijacked” you in the name of H1-B and Green card. But let’s be truthful, no one put a gun on my head to make me work in such situation. I could go back to my homeland to make much higher salary and position. Sometime, we have to consider circumstances. My children were born in States. Lifestyle in States is a bit less stressful as compare to Asia (before 2009 financial meltdown). You have more land to roam around and also have more times with your family. Where on this earth that you have 800 cars to 1000 people ratio? Affordable housing with $150,000 median priced for 1500 sq foot house on 1/5 acre land (before 2003)?

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