California Public University Fires 79 IT Workers; Replaces With H-1B Visa Holders

It seems that a group of 79 recently fired IT workers at the University of California San Francisco, whose jobs have been replaced by H-1B visa holders from India, may have finally found an issue on which they can agree with Trump.  According to the University Professional and Technical Employees CWA Local 9119 this mass firing is the first time a public university has offshored American IT jobs. Per ARS Technica:

In a statement sent yesterday, UPTE-CWA says the layoffs could spread, since the HCL contract can be utilized by any of the 10 campuses in the University of California system, the nation's largest public university. "US taxes should be used to create jobs in the US, not in other countries," said Kurt Ho, a systems administrator who was quoted in the union's press release. Ho was required to train his replacement as a condition of getting his severance pay.

Meanwhile, the laid off IT workers from San Francisco, who almost certainly backed Hillary, have suddenly had a change of heart on immigration, at least as it relates to H-1B visa issuance which is primarily utilized to attract IT talent from India.

Ho, who earns about $100,000, told the LA Times that he spent two days training his replacement in a process that UCSF called "knowledge transfer."

 

"He told me he would go back to India and train his team and would be sending me e-mails with questions," Ho said.

 

Audrey Hatten-Milholin, who earned $127,000 at her job, says other replacements were around for two weeks. "What was shocking is that the system is so complex there’s no way you can learn it in two weeks," she said.

 

Thirteen of the workers are considering filing a lawsuit, saying the way they were fired amounts to discrimination, Computerworld reported.

 

"There’s talk about fixing things, and no [one] has done it yet,” laid-off worker Bizhan Tabatabaian told Computerworld. "And I’m the proof."

Of course, this latest mass firing follows calls from the Trump administration to restrict the H-1B  program which Trump described as "neither high-skilled [labor] nor immigration; these are temporary foreign workers, imported from abroad, for the explicit purpose of substituting for American workers at lower pay."

Now, a draft of a new Trump executive order related to the issuance of H-1B visas, viewed by Axios, reportedly directs the Secretary of Homeland Security to consider ways to "make the process of H-1B allocation more efficient and ensure the beneficiaries of the program are the best and the brightest."

 

While that directive could be accomplished in a variety of ways, one likely solution would be to replace the current lottery system with one that prioritizes visas for those earning the highest salaries.  And while such a solution will have wide-ranging impacts on various companies and industries seeking foreign workers, one key takeaway is that it will pit India's large IT-staffing firms against Silicon Valley's tech giants.

 

Per the graphic below, large Indian consulting firms are by far the largest users of the H-1B visa program.  That said, most of the jobs created by those companies tend to have lower salaries than those created by the likes of Microsoft, Google and Facebook.  

h-1b

 

Of course, the University of California San Francisco downplayed the firings by saying that their efforts to outsource their IT work would save taxpayers $30 million.

In its statement on the matter, UCSF says that it was pushed to hire outside contractors due to "increased demand for information technology and escalating costs for these services." The university says it will save more than $30 million by hiring HCL, after seeing IT costs nearly triple between 2011 and 2016, "driven by the introduction of the electronic medical record and increased digital connectivity."

 

The university says 49 UCSF employees were laid off, and it will eliminate another 48 jobs that are currently vacant or filled by contractors. "UCSF will not replace UCSF IT employees with H-1B visa holders, nor will HCL," the university wrote in a statement e-mailed to Ars.

 

Of the 49 laid-off UCSF employees, 34 have either secured other employment or are retiring, the university said.

Seems that the left's love of open borders only extends right up to the point that it impacts them personally.

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