Toys “R” Us is the latest in a string of U.S. companies that has been caught forcing their American employees to train foreign college-grads to take the Americans’ jobs, via a process known as “knowledge transfer.”
An expose by the New York Times revealed in detail how the renowned children’s toy-chain brought in eight workers from the global outsourcing company Tata Consultancy Services (TCS). The Indians shadowed employees, mainly in accounting, and produced intricate manuals for TCS workers in India to take over these jobs. By late June, the jobs had been transferred overseas and 67 employees had been laid off from Toys “R” Us, many of whom had reportedly been at the company for over a decade.
One accountant, age 49, who had been with Toys “R” Us in New Jersey for over 15 years, explained how she was shadowed, for four weeks, by a young woman on a temporary visa from India.
“She shadowed me everywhere, even to the ladies’ room,” said the accountant.
“We were asked to cooperate and show them respect and train them to do our individual job functions… If you didn’t cooperate, you would be asked to leave,” said another former company accountant, age 36, who worked there for nearly 12 years.
She said the young Indian “was watching me like a hawk… It took him a while to learn what I did.”
She told the Times, “I felt like, ‘Why am I sitting here showing this man how to do my job when they are taking it away from me and sending it to India?’”
Although under federal guidelines employers are required to sign a declaration that these foreign employees “will not adversely affect the working conditions” or lower their wages, thousands of American workers are being laid off, replaced by foreign workers and even forced to train them for their own jobs.
Many interviews with former employees reveal their view that foreign H-1B visa workers don’t necessarily have exceptional skills compared to their American counterparts. The Times also points out that the layoffs at Toys “R” Us and other companies are growing examples of how global outsourcing companies are using temporary visas to bring in these foreign workers to help ship out jobs, mainly to India.
Corporations and lobby groups such as Mark Zuckerberg’s FWD.us, falsely claim that these H-1B visa workers create more jobs for Americans. In fact, there are far more U.S. graduates with STEM and IT degrees than there are jobs available.
This past May, Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-AL), who chairs the Senate Judiciary Committee subcommittee on Immigration and the National Interest wrote, “Each year, the U.S. graduates twice as many students with STEM degrees as are hired in STEM occupations. Contrary to the suggestion that these students are finding better, higher-paying jobs, the opposite is true.”
Poor regulation of the wages paid to foreign-workers is causing the H-1B abuses, Howard University professor Ron Hira said during his March hearing before the Senate Judiciary Committee. Paying H-1B visa workers that same as American STEM and IT workers would truly even the playing field and determine a person’s skills based on merit, he says.
H-1B guestworkers are cheaper than American workers and don’t have much bargaining power, and any company would be foolish not to take advantage of this highly lucrative business model that has been inadvertently created by Congress and multiple presidential administrations. Of course, this business model is paid for by destroying the livelihoods and dignity of tens of thousands of American workers. The costs are also borne by American taxpayers, through foregone tax revenue and the additional social services that need to be provided for those newly unemployed American workers.
Other companies that have displaced American workers in favor of H-1B visa laborers include Disney in Florida, Southern California Edison, Harley Davidson Wisconsin, Cargill in Minnesota, Pfizer in Connecticut, and Xerox in New York.
More than 8 in 10 H-1B workers are paid beneath the median wage and only 6 precent of H-1B visas are issued to workers that the Department of Labor categorizes as “fully competent.” In fact, many of these replacements are paid anywhere between $10,000 to $30,000 less per year than U.S. STEM and IT workers.
Right now, temporary H-1B visas are supposedly capped at 85,000 each year. But H-1B workers at non-profits, such as universities and many hospitals, don’t count against the annual 85,000 limit.
However both Republican and Democratic legislators such as 2016 presidential candidate Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) are pushing for the passage of their I-Squared bill (Immigration Innovation) which would triple the number of H-1B visas in America, allowing these corporations cut even more labor costs in what many are referring to as corporate greed.
Other co-sponsors of the bill include Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-UT), Sen. Jeff Flake (R-AZ), Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), Chris Coons (D-DE), and Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-CT).