M$ to lay off 5,000 US and hire 2,000 - 3,000 H1Bs - Mercedes-Benz Forum

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post #1 of 35 (permalink) Old 02-20-2009, 10:58 PM Thread Starter
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M$ to lay off 5,000 US and hire 2,000 - 3,000 H1Bs

Bloomberg.com: Exclusive

Feb. 20 (Bloomberg) -- Microsoft Corp.’s plan to eliminate U.S. workers after lobbying for more foreigner visas is stirring resentment among lawmakers and employees.

As many as 5,000 employees are being shown the door at Microsoft, which uses more H1-B guest-worker visas than any other U.S. company. Some employees and politicians say Microsoft should get rid of foreigners first.

“If they lay people off, are they going to think of America first or are they going to think of the world first?” Chuck Grassley, a Republican Senator from Iowa, said in an interview. He sent a letter to Microsoft Chief Executive Officer Steve Ballmer the day after Microsoft announced the job cuts last month, demanding Ballmer fire visa holders first.

Across the technology industry, some of the biggest users of H1-B visas are cutting jobs, including Intel Corp., International Business Machines Corp. and Hewlett-Packard Co. The firings at Microsoft, the world’s largest software maker, came less than a year after Chairman Bill Gates lobbied Congress for an expansion of the program.

Even before Microsoft announced the cuts, its first ever companywide layoffs, comments on a blog run by an anonymous Microsoft worker angrily debated getting rid of guest workers first. The author of the Mini-Microsoft blog eventually had to censor and then completely block all arguments about visas, after the conversation “got downright nasty.”

New Hires

Microsoft is hiring 2,000 to 3,000 workers over the next 18 months, offsetting the job cuts. Some of those will certainly be on H1-B visas, said Ginny Terzano, a spokeswoman for the Redmond, Washington-based company. She declined to comment on how many workers laid off are on visas. Laid-off Microsoft employees aren’t always a good fit for new positions, she said.

“If you have a laid off General Motors engineer, that doesn’t qualify them for a job as a software engineer,” Terzano said. “It’s the same with some of the people laid off at our company.”

Microsoft fell 21 cents to $17.91 yesterday in Nasdaq Stock Market trading.

The slumping economy and rising unemployment may make it harder for technology companies to persuade the government to expand the H1-B program, designed to attract workers in areas such as science and technology. Since the annual number of H1-B visas issued dropped to 65,000 in 2004 from 195,000 in previous years, the program has been oversubscribed before each year even began. In 2008, the government reached the maximum number of applications just one week after it began accepting them.

‘Best Talent’

Asked about whether some companies may back off from lobbying for more H1-B visas, Intel Chief Financial Officer Stacy Smith said that could happen as hiring drops. Intel, the world’s largest chipmaker, is closing five older plants by year- end, affecting as many as 6,000 jobs.

“Our strategy has always been to hire the best talent we can hire anywhere in the world,” Smith said in an interview this month. “It’s the fuel that moves our industry forward.”

Companies like Microsoft, which sent Gates to persuade Congress to ease visa restrictions in March, could be forced to curb those efforts, said Microsoft Vice President Dan’l Lewin.

“People probably will be a lot more cautious about how public they are, but it’s not going to go away as an issue,” he said. “You need the people.”

Stimulus Bill

Opponents of the program are using the economy and job cuts as a way to up the volume of the debate. The Senate added an amendment co-authored by Grassley to the economic stimulus bill signed this week that restricts the hiring of H1-B visa holders at more than 300 banks receiving government bailout funds.

Even Zoe Lofgren, a congresswoman representing San Jose, California, said in an interview that U.S. companies slashing jobs should keep Americans where possible. She introduced legislation in 2008 to make it easier for foreign students studying for advanced degrees to stay in the country.

While workers on H1-B visas aren’t included in a law that protects green-card holders from employment discrimination, Grassley’s demand that Microsoft fire foreigners first may still violate civil rights laws, said Howard Chang, a professor at the University of Pennsylvania Law School.

Foreigners face severe difficulties when they are fired because their visas are tied to their employer, said Paul Soreff, a Seattle lawyer and former chairman of the Washington Chapter of the American Immigration Lawyers Association. While employers must pay for a visa holder’s ticket home, transporting other family members and their possessions falls on the worker.

Still, Grassley has supporters among groups that lobby for technology workers, such as the Programmers Guild and the Alliance for IBM. IBM has cut about 4,000 jobs, based on separation agreements dated last month. IBM spokesman Ian Colley didn’t return a call seeking comment.

“Nobody wants to be cold-hearted -- they’re workers just like us,” said Lee Conrad, national coordinator of the IBM group, which is seeking union recognition. “But IBM is making long-term employees walk the plank. The H1-B people should be cut first.”
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post #2 of 35 (permalink) Old 02-21-2009, 07:20 AM
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But Bill Gates has been strutting around as a great philanthropist for years. Start here at home, Mr. Gates. He is the one who started this cheap labor scheme at Microsoft at the expense of American citizens.
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post #3 of 35 (permalink) Old 02-21-2009, 09:00 AM
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It’s just business: Americans are too expensive a tool to keep around; find a cheaper tool to use.

American business and the free market system are our greatest strength; it’s also our greatest weakness.
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post #4 of 35 (permalink) Old 02-21-2009, 11:15 AM
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Anyone want to guess my opinion of the management capabilities of Ballmer and Gates?
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post #5 of 35 (permalink) Old 02-21-2009, 11:51 AM
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It’s just business: Americans are too expensive a tool to keep around; find a cheaper tool to use.

American business and the free market system are our greatest strength; it’s also our greatest weakness.
Not true! When these H1-B come TO THE UNITED STATES then they get the same salaries. Actually I know of several people on H1-B working in the IT industry. These guys are smart as hell. Any company would want the best talent. I know of one Indian guy who came here on H1-B and within 6 months he took the job of some guy (American) who was pretty high up in the ranks. The American had been with the company for 15+ years but apparently this new Indian guy was better so they replaced him. This happens quite often. I don't have a problem against it because if I were an owner of a company, my company would come first, and I would hire the best regardless of race, religion, or from which country they came. So we Americans need to work harder, like the Indians, and be smarter (keep current with education/training).
You know, this happens a lot in medicine also. There are American grads who get passed over in residency training because there are tons of doctors from India, Pakistan, etc that have much much superior scores in the same exams that the U S medical graduates take. Obviously you would want a more knowledgeable/superior doctor working on you because this would be more important than whether he is an American or not.
This has nothing to do with money, it only has to do with finding the smartest and most talented people (apparently WE are NOT them). The money issue only arises when a company opens up shop abroad but for H1-B who come here to USA get the EXACT SAME salary. It would be illegal and discrimination otherwise. So I guess the companies are basically saying, "keep up with the rest or hit the door." I find nothing wrong with this policy.
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post #6 of 35 (permalink) Old 02-21-2009, 11:55 AM
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So I would guess you are against.. BUY AMERICAN...
post #7 of 35 (permalink) Old 02-21-2009, 12:03 PM
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So I would guess you are against.. BUY AMERICAN...
I am not AGAINST buying American. I am FOR buying the BEST. If that means American, then I will buy American. If it means the best is from Japan, then I will buy Japanese.
My Preferences:
Sony (Japanese)
Hondas, Toyotas, Nissans, (Japanese)
Mercedes (German)
HP (American)
etc.
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post #8 of 35 (permalink) Old 02-21-2009, 12:20 PM
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Not true! When these H1-B come TO THE UNITED STATES then they get the same salaries. Actually I know of several people on H1-B working in the IT industry. These guys are smart as hell. Any company would want the best talent. I know of one Indian guy who came here on H1-B and within 6 months he took the job of some guy (American) who was pretty high up in the ranks. The American had been with the company for 15+ years but apparently this new Indian guy was better so they replaced him. This happens quite often. I don't have a problem against it because if I were an owner of a company, my company would come first, and I would hire the best regardless of race, religion, or from which country they came. So we Americans need to work harder, like the Indians, and be smarter (keep current with education/training).
You know, this happens a lot in medicine also. There are American grads who get passed over in residency training because there are tons of doctors from India, Pakistan, etc that have much much superior scores in the same exams that the U S medical graduates take. Obviously you would want a more knowledgeable/superior doctor working on you because this would be more important than whether he is an American or not.
This has nothing to do with money, it only has to do with finding the smartest and most talented people (apparently WE are NOT them). The money issue only arises when a company opens up shop abroad but for H1-B who come here to USA get the EXACT SAME salary. It would be illegal and discrimination otherwise. So I guess the companies are basically saying, "keep up with the rest or hit the door." I find nothing wrong with this policy.
Um, NO they don't get the EXACT SAME SALARY. They don't get the same benefits package and they don't work under the same conditions.

At IBM or Microsoft as two examples for which I know EXACTLY how they hire, the H1B comes in at between 40-55% pay of the equivalent US worker. They are contracted either through a company like TATA or through a subsidiary organization like IBM India. In both cases work conditions, rights and benefits are dictated by the home company, not the host company.

So IBM US can say, as an example that they are fully committed to equality in the workplace but when they bring an H1B from IBM India or TATA, and that female worker is discriminated against by their management, IBM US "defers" to IBM India.

When I make these comparisons it is via very apples to apples, equal grade to equal grade, same time with the company and the conversation is over dinner or by the pool, not based on theory or hearsay.

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post #9 of 35 (permalink) Old 02-21-2009, 12:32 PM
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Um, NO they don't get the EXACT SAME SALARY. They don't get the same benefits package and they don't work under the same conditions.

At IBM or Microsoft as two examples for which I know EXACTLY how they hire, the H1B comes in at between 40-55% pay of the equivalent US worker. They are contracted either through a company like TATA or through a subsidiary organization like IBM India. In both cases work conditions, rights and benefits are dictated by the home company, not the host company.

So IBM US can say, as an example that they are fully committed to equality in the workplace but when they bring an H1B from IBM India or TATA, and that female worker is discriminated against by their management, IBM US "defers" to IBM India.

When I make these comparisons it is via very apples to apples, equal grade to equal grade, same time with the company and the conversation is over dinner or by the pool, not based on theory or hearsay.
You may be right and I don't doubt you. All I know is that the dudes that I know are Indian Citizens and all started with extremely competitive salaries and have gone up the ladder pretty fast earning as much, if not, more than their American counterparts.
So whether this is or isn't about the money ( that they were firing Americans and hiring H1-Bs) I don't have a problem if they replace these workers with higher foreign talent. I don't believe in affirmative action nor hiring "Americans" first. I tend to side along the lines of "hiring the best". Of course, if I had a company, then given equal talent, I would definitely hire the American, however if the Foreigner was more qualified then the American would have absolutely no chance. Even with an American in my company, I would not think twice about firing him if I found someone with higher talent and more qualification. This actually goes both ways. If I found a better American, then I would fire my foreigner.
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post #10 of 35 (permalink) Old 02-21-2009, 12:39 PM
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You may be right and I don't doubt you. All I know is that the dudes that I know are Indian Citizens and all started with extremely competitive salaries and have gone up the ladder pretty fast earning as much, if not, more than their American counterparts.
So whether this is or isn't about the money ( that they were firing Americans and hiring H1-Bs) I don't have a problem if they replace these workers with higher foreign talent. I don't believe in affirmative action nor hiring "Americans" first. I tend to side along the lines of "hiring the best". Of course, if I had a company, then given equal talent, I would definitely hire the American, however if the Foreigner was more qualified then the American would have absolutely no chance. Even with an American in my company, I would not think twice about firing him if I found someone with higher talent and more qualification. This actually goes both ways. If I found a better American, then I would fire my foreigner.
The biggest problem with H1Bs is that much of the revenue goes off shore and it taxed offshore. So, besides laying off US workers and reducing the taxbase with with fewer US workers the process further pulls money out of the US revenue stream and takes it offshore, exacerbating the failing economy further.

H1B is suppose to be a program to provide talent WHEN THERE IS NOT AN EQUIVALENT US worker to fill the job. It is used most entirely as a cost cutting measure. Each year during the Bush Administration the threshold of H1Bs was allowed to be breached to allow more in than the program allowed by law.

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