LA Times Sends IT Jobs to India | May 2016

Publisher of LA Times and Chicago Tribune sends IT jobs overseas

– Computerworld

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“Tribune Publishing Co., a major newspaper chain, is laying off as many as 200 IT employees as it shifts work overseas.

The firm, which owns the Los Angeles Times, The Baltimore Sun, Chicago Tribune, Hartford Courant and many other media properties, told IT employees in early April that it’s moving work to India-based Tata Consultancy Services.

Interestingly, the Tribune IT employees were notified within weeks of a similar announcement involving IT employees at the McClatchy Company, another major newspaper chain.

McClatchy, which owns the Miami Herald, The Sacramento Bee and many other newspapers, is laying off between 120 and 150 IT employees. That company hired Wipro, an IT service provider also based in India.

The impact of these IT outsourcing decision may go beyond the job losses. It could affect coverage of this controversial issue.

The Los Angeles Times, in particular, in columns and editorials, was critical of Southern California Edison’s offshore outsourcing of IT jobs. The utility hired India-based vendors, including Tata Consultancy Services, and then cut some 500 IT jobs.

“Information technology workers at Southern California Edison have found themselves in the unhappy position of training their own replacements, thanks to a plan by the utility to outsource their jobs to two India-based staffing companies,” the Times wrote in an editorial last year; the editorial focused on the use of H-1B visa workers in offshore outsourcing. Along with Tata, Southern California Edison also hired Infosys.

The editorial noted that the H-1B visa “was designed to help American businesses fill specialized positions, not to displace American workers.”

For Tribune and McClatchy reporters and editorial writers, the actions of their parent companies to offshore jobs may complicate coverage. Businesses turning to offshore outsourcing may now be able to throw any criticism back in the faces of these publications: “But you are doing it, too.”

…Continue reading @ Computerworld.com

– The comments section is quite informative./CJ

 

Verizon is offshoring jobs, records say

– Computerworld

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Verizon has been moving call center work overseas, and IT jobs may be shifting as well

A key issue raised by labor unions in their weeklong strike against Verizon is the offshoring of work. The unions say Verizon has plans to send more jobs overseas. Verizon isn’t saying what it is doing in this respect, but there is a paper trail of documents filed by its employees that point to offshoring.

The union contends that Verizon wants, in a labor contract, to shift more jobs to contractors. Nearly 40,000 Verizon workers are on strike.

“They want the ability to contract work — as much as 50% — the great majority of that is offshore,” said Marilyn Irwin, president of the Washington area Communications Workers of America Local 2108. CWA is one of the unions involved in the strike.

This complaint is getting attention in the presidential race, including from U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders, who is seeking the Democratic nomination.

“They want to outsource decent paying jobs,” Sanders said at the Verizon picket line. Earlier this month, Sanders said Verizon wants to move call center jobs out of the country to places “where people will be paid pennies an hour.”

Sander’s criticisms of Verizon prompted a response by Verizon CEO Lowell McAdam in a blog post.

“Contrary to Sen. Sanders’s contention,” wrote McAdam, the proposal that Verizon is making to the union does “not call for mass layoffs or shipping jobs overseas. Rather, we’ve asked for more flexibility in routing calls and consolidating some of our call centers, some of which employ a handful of people.”

Despite repeated attempts, Verizon did not respond to requests for comment.”

…Read more @ From April in Computerworld

 

Do dreams come true for Disney workers?

– Progchik.com

“I tossed and turned for half the night after reading this article. If I needed further reason to believe our country is going to hell in a hand basket, this is it. Here I’ll relate: (1.) A summary of the article; (2.) information on the H-1B Visa; and (3.) a case study of Tarvinder*, my mom’s former co-worker and roommate.

When Tarvinder told me last November that she’d be leaving Madison to work for Disney in Orlando, Florida, I was overjoyed for her. She’d been living in Madison for about five years and not only wanted a career change, but wanted warmer weather–similar to her native Punjab. It was shocking to discover that Tarvinder had been one of the H-1B workers who displaced 250 Disney IT employees last January.

The New York Times article focuses on a much smaller planned layoff at Disney’s offices in May, which, after delivering the bad news, the company suddenly rescinded. Disney’s plan had been for H-1B Visa holders–workers coming from abroad–to replace the current staff, as they’d done last winter.

Can you imagine training your replacement as a requirement for getting your severance package? Read Keith Barrett’s blog post about his own layoff from Disney, if you haven’t already. The only thing I would take issue with is that Keith attributed January’s mass lay-off to Disney’s new CIO, Tilak Mandadi, whereas I’m far more suspicious of long-term Disney CEO and president, Bob Iger.

Bob Iger is in a group called Partnership for a New American Economy, with the likes of Rupert Murdoch and Michael Bloomberg, that lobbieshard for expansion of the H-1B Visa program. The group claims that:

“…high-skilled immigrants create jobs for U.S.-born workers in states across the country.”

Wait, what was that, Bob? The 250 workers you laid-off at Disney had to train their replacements? Wouldn’t that imply that they knew their jobs pretty darned well?

So, what is the H-1B Visa supposed to be used for? Is it meant as a system by which foreign workers on visas can displace their American citizen counterparts? According to the U.S. Department of Labor:

“The intent of the H-1B provisions is to help employers who cannot otherwise obtain needed business skills and abilities from the U.S. workforce by authorizing the temporary employment of qualified individuals who are not otherwise authorized to work in the United States.”

….Read more @ progchik.com

 

 

Foreign competitors in the next cubicle

– San Diego UT  |   Dan McSwain

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“San Diegans already know full well that foreigners are competing for their jobs. They don’t need national politicians from Donald Trump to Bernie Sanders telling them to worry.

Consider the recent blowback from layoff decisions of two prominent regional companies, Qualcomm and Southern California Edison.

The layoffs highlighted a controversial corner of immigration policy occupied by H-1B visas, which allow companies to hire foreign workers for up to six years in “specialty” occupations such as software, engineering, biotech or even fashion modeling.

Early this year, Edison began displacing about 500 information technology workers, about 100 voluntarily and 400 through layoffs. But their functions were outsourced to Infosys and Tata Consultancy Services, two giant firms based in India.

Before they left, some workers were compelled to train their replacements, and some of them were foreign nationals working in the U.S.

The H-1B program “was supposed to be for projects and jobs that American workers could not fill,” one Edison worker told Computerworld, an IT news magazine. “But we’re doing our job. It’s not like they are bringing in these guys for new positions that nobody can fill. Not one of these jobs being filled by India was a job that an Edison employee wasn’t already performing.”

In response, 10 federal lawmakers asked the Department of Labor to investigate whether the H-1B program can be used to directly replace American workers. As of June, that probe was under way, according to Sens. Jeff Sessions, R-Ala., and Dick Durbin, D-Ill.

Indirect replacement is no better, if you’re the one losing a job.

Last month, Qualcomm said it would cut roughly 15 percent of its global workforce, about 4,700 workers (it employs 15,000 in San Diego; 31,000 worldwide). Executives haven’t released any details, yet the news lit up social media.

“There are large, multistory apartment complexes in Kearny Mesa and Clairemont Mesa full of Qualcomm engineers from India,” said Gail Anderson, a commentator on the Union-Tribune’s digital editions. “I’d say send them all back.”

Hiring amid expansion

Qualcomm, which dominates segments of the smartphone industry, has received about 2,900 H-1B visas since 2009, a period of rapid expansion. Although some are probably renewals of three-year visas — federal agencies don’t break out those numbers for individual companies — the total works out to 19 percent of the 15,000 people the company hired over the last six years.

Put another way, Anderson is correct, in theory: Qualcomm might reach its domestic layoff target simply by firing guest workers.

However, business reality would seem to rule out the simple approach. As I mentioned, executives aren’t discussing layoff details.

Still, it stands to reason that if H-1B workers were necessary to begin with, arbitrarily firing them would hurt the company. This would hurt the 26,000 or so Qualcomm employees who remain, not to mention shareholders and customers.

It’s a familiar argument. Big tech employers say they struggle to fill highly technical jobs with qualified Americans, so the program is essential to international competitiveness. And losing that competition just sends more jobs overseas.

Criticism of the program comes from two directions: Many H-1B workers don’t become U.S. citizens, so hiring them ultimately transfers skills to foreign competitors.

Some pay lower wages

Meanwhile, they tend to depress wages. Regulations call for equivalent pay, but employers often use loopholes to pay at the low end of industry scales.

Others sympathize with foreign workers, saying the program amounts to indenturement because the visas belong to employers. Workers who lose jobs generally must leave the country. Such leverage adds potential for abuse…..

Bernie Sanders, the Vermont senator seeking the Democratic presidential nomination, has said that, although some foreign workers are needed, the H-1B and other guest worker programs help business owners with cheap labor at the expense of workers.

“What right-wing people in this country would love is an open-border policy,” Sanders said last month.

In broad terms, this view is shared by Donald Trump, the Republican contender who last week issued a policy paper advocating a temporary halt to all immigration.

On H-1B visas, Trump favors boosting the prevailing wage for foreign workers until employers find it more efficient to hire Americans. He said Republican rival Sen. Marco Rubio’s bid to triple the number of such visas would “decimate women and minorities.”

…Continue reading @ SanDiegoUnion-Tribune.com

 – This excellent article is from August of last year, but the points made remain. The comments section seems based on personal experiences./CJ

Offshoring: The Next Industrial Revolution?

– Foreign Affairs

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“A CONTROVERSY RECONSIDERED

In February 2004, when N. Gregory Mankiw, a Harvard professor then serving as chairman of the White House Council of Economic Advisers, caused a national uproar with a “textbook” statement about trade, economists rushed to his defense. Mankiw was commenting on the phenomenon that has been clumsily dubbed “offshoring” (or “offshore outsourcing”) — the migration of jobs, but not the people who perform them, from rich countries to poor ones. Offshoring, Mankiw said, is only “the latest manifestation of the gains from trade that economists have talked about at least since Adam Smith. … More things are tradable than were tradable in the past, and that’s a good thing.” Although Democratic and Republican politicians alike excoriated Mankiw for his callous attitude toward American jobs, economists lined up to support his claim that offshoring is simply international business as usual.

Their economics were basically sound: the well-known principle of comparative advantage implies that trade in new kinds of products will bring overall improvements in productivity and well-being. But Mankiw and his defenders underestimated both the importance of offshoring and its disruptive effect on wealthy countries. Sometimes a quantitative change is so large that it brings about qualitative changes, as offshoring likely will. We have so far barely seen the tip of the offshoring iceberg, the eventual dimensions of which may be staggering.”

…From Foreign Affairs