Tags: Immigration | foreign | workers | visas | outsource | jobs | disney

NYT: Disney Staff Had to Train Foreign Replacements Carrying H-1B Visas

By    |   Wednesday, 03 Jun 2015 05:18 PM

An outsourcing firm in India shipped over 250 data technicians with temporary visas to replace American IT workers at Walt Disney Company in Florida – including some who wound up with the humiliating task of training their replacements, The New York Times reports.

"I just couldn’t believe they could fly people in to sit at our desks and take over our jobs exactly," one laid off and now unemployed worker told The Times. "It was so humiliating to train somebody else to take over your job. I still can’t grasp it."

The layoffs at Disney and at other companies around the United States hinge on temporary H-1B visas to put highly skilled immigrants into tech jobs in the United States.

Federal guidelines say the visas are meant for foreigners with advanced science or computer skills to fill jobs when American workers with those skills can't be found.

Legal loopholes, however, let companies bypass American workers, The Times reports.

According to a contract given Disney workers on the day the layoffs were announced, the company declared it "made the difficult decision to eliminate certain positions, including yours" as a result of "the transition of your work to a managed service provider."

The contract offered a "stay bonus" of 10 percent of severance pay if employees remained for 90 days – contingent on "the continued satisfactory performance of your job duties," which for many meant training their replacement, The Times reports.

"The first 30 days was all capturing what I did," the former worker told The Times. "The next 30 days they worked side by side with me, and the last 30 days they took over my job completely."

To collect his severance bonus, he said, "I had to make sure they were doing my job correctly."

"The program has created a highly lucrative business model of bringing in cheaper H-1B workers to substitute for Americans," Ronil Hira, a professor of public policy at Howard University has told Congress, The Times reports.

With just 85,000 of the visas granted each year, they are in big demand, and tech giants like Microsoft, Facebook and Google pushing for a hike in the annual quota, according to The Times.

But the top recipients of the visas are outsourcing or consulting firms in India, or their U.S. subsidiaries, that import workers for big contracts to take over entire in-house technology units — and to cut costs. The immigrants, The Times notes, are employees of the outsourcing companies.

Infosys, Tata Consultancy Services and HCL America, the company hired by Disney, were among the top 10 companies granted H-1Bs, with each one receiving more than one thousand visas, The Times reports.

Disney executives said its 250 layoffs were part of a reorganization of technology operations, and claimed Disney opened more jobs than it cut for a net gain of 70 tech jobs.

"Disney has created almost 30,000 new jobs in the U.S. over the past decade," Kim Prunty, a Disney spokeswoman told The Times, saying the company expected its contractors to comply with all immigration laws.

Disney said of those laid off, 120 took new jobs at Disney, and about 40 retired; 90 didn't find new jobs at Disney, executives told The Times.

Ex-Disney workers told The Times a different story, saying only a handful of those laid off were moved directly by Disney to other company jobs.

The rest had to compete through the company's website, and the ex-workers said they knew of few people who were actually hired, and those who were, went in at a lower pay rate.

"I was forced into early retirement," one 57-year-old laid off worker told The Times, adding the timing was "horrible" because his wife had a medical emergency with expensive bills.

The ex-workers also told The Times the immigrant workers were younger, had limited data skills, didn't speak English fluently and had to be taught even the basics of the work.

Disney's CEO Bob Iger is a co-chairman of the Partnership for a New America group, which is seeking increases in the nation's H1-B Visa cap, which is under debate in Congress.

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An outsourcing firm in India shipped over 250 data technicians with temporary visas to replace American IT workers at Walt Disney Company in Florida – including some who wound up with the humiliating task of training their replacements, The New York Times reports.
foreign, workers, visas, outsource, jobs, disney, immigration
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2015-18-03
Wednesday, 03 Jun 2015 05:18 PM
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