Hire American Citizens - by Richard Armstrong

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Replace H-1B Workers With Citizens!

Qwest Replaces American Citizens with Foreigners

By Richard Armstrong

In the late 1990’s, the deep pockets of the computer industry intensely lobbied Congress to significantly increase the number of foreign workers employers could import through the H-1B visa program.  The computer industry had fabricated an elaborate lie about high-tech worker shortages, and they used this lie and significant campaign contributions to get the H-1B program expanded to their liking.

The H-1B visa program was originally “sold” to Congress as a program that would allow companies to hire foreigners when no American citizen was available.   However, the bottom line is that the computer industry just wanted to pay computer people less.  There never was a shortage of American workers.  The H-1B visa program gives American employers free-reign to hire as many foreigners as they desire without any proof that American citizens are unavailable, and no penalty for abusing the program.

Qwest is just one of many major abusers of the H-1B visa program.  The number of foreign high-tech workers the company has directly hired since 1999 is estimated at 2,000.  The IT department at Qwest employs roughly 5,000 workers.  As the company continues to layoff American workers by the thousands, they are replacing them one-by-one with foreign workers.  They are doing this by hiring H-1B workers directly through the H-1B program, and employing foreign-based body shop firms that have H-1B workers here in the U.S., and foreign workers in IT shops overseas.  To determine the real number of American citizens Qwest has replaced, start at 2,000 for the number of H-1B workers Qwest hired directly as employees, and add the number of foreigners from the body shop firms contracted to work on Qwest projects both here in the U.S. and from overseas.  The first 2,000 are only the tip of the iceberg.

Qwest’s predecessor, USWest started replacing American citizens with foreigners when they signed a contract in 1995 with TCS Consultancy, also known as TATA Consultancy (an all-Indian H-1B body shop).

Since mid-2001, Qwest’s information technology director has been Al-Noor Ramji, who is also reportedly an H-1B worker himself.  According to reports from employees, contractors, and contract firms, when Ramji was hired, his first order of business was to cancel all of the existing projects, fire all of the American contractors working on those projects, and then hire TATA Consultancy to restart those same projects under new names.  Ramji also hired WebTek, a British-based company with operations in India, and close ties to Ramji.  Ramji was once WebTek’s vice chairman.  Ramji claims that he resigned from the board before WebTek got business from him, but this resignation is for all practical purposes irrelevant, and the conflict of interest is quite clear. 

Qwest has not ruled-out that they will ultimately replace their remaining American IT workforce with foreigners.  When asked about this, Qwest spokesman Michael Tarpey said, “We still haven’t made a decision.”

Qwest hired foreign body shop firms such as TATA consultancy and WebTek to replace many of their American workers indirectly, but Qwest has also been busy replacing their American citizens directly through the H-1B program.  The use of a firm such as TATA or WebTek is an indirect method of replacing American citizens with the H-1B program.  The H-1B workers of these firms are employees of TATA and WebTek, and not employees of the company that hired the foreign body shop firm.  The damage done to American citizens is the same, but companies that hire body shop firms such as TATA or WebTek do not get listed on immigration records as requesting those H-1B workers.

Immigration records show that Qwest applied to bring in nearly 2,000 foreign workers under the H-1B program to fill various technology positions nationwide since 1999, although it is not known how many visas were actually issued.  A look at Qwest’s IT organizational charts shows a preponderance of foreign workers in many areas.  Qwest claims that they are paying prevailing wage to these workers, but one must ask why then are they replacing American workers with foreigners if it is not for monetary reasons?  Even abusers of the H-1B program and pro-business publications admit that H-1B workers are paid far less than American workers, and the immigration records also show this to be a fact.  Why would Qwest bother to replace American workers with foreigners if it was not a cheaper alternative for them?

Ramji has brought in his own people to “populate all the key positions… which means that the whole organization is cloaked in secrecy… virtually all of IT is horrendously demoralized,” said one employee who said she feared for her job.

Curtis Kennedy, a Denver attorney who recently filed a lawsuit against Qwest alleging a pattern of discriminatory layoffs, said he expects the IT department to be an integral part of his case.  “They want to dismantle it,” Kennedy said, and move the jobs offshore. “We’re going to get a complete picture of the destructive mess of Qwest’s downsizing.  It’s nothing but an example of corporate greed, shattered lives, and shattered communities.”

American citizens need to write their representatives and demand that they abolish the H-1B program.  Americans need to demand that employers not be allowed to replace American workers with foreigners.  You can learn more about the H-1B program and how to stop it by visiting http://www.HireAmericanCitizens.org

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