Monday, June 12, 2006

A Plea for Justice, A Call for Integrity on June 13

My name is Sona Shah. I'm an Indian-American computer programmer, an American citizen, and a victim of unjust laws and unjust business practices. I lost my middle class technology job to Harris Miller’s vision of the “competitive global economy” -- “business visa” abuse and offshore outsourcing.


I have witnessed widespread abuses of both American and foreign white collar workers. (Indeed, I have personally experienced such abuse.) This continuing injustice and the lies which enable it must be confronted and brought to an end. Harris Miller is comfortable with the present system of corporate controlled trade and labor policy. Harris Miller excuses or ignores abuses of American and foreign workers. This is unacceptable under any circumstances but especially so in a candidate seeking the U.S. Senate nomination of the Democratic Party.

In 2004, I
testified before Congress regarding my first-hand experiences of abusive labor practices – practices which were very much a part of the Harris Miller’s lobbying activities on behalf of his “high tech” corporate clients.

During this Congressional hearing, I confronted Harris Miller. I presented him with hard facts -- irrefutable evidence of the abuses in various guest worker programs and asked Mr. Miller to support reform. Harris Miller refused. Mr. Miller refused to accept facts. Mr. Miller refused to support reforms. I pointed out that these reforms would not harm legitimate businesses. Harris Miller wouldn't hear anything we had to say.

I was not alone in presenting these views. Members of Congress presented him with evidence of abuses. Mike Gildea, Executive Director of the AFL-CIO, DPE union presented Miller and the Congress with
evidence of abuses. Other IT workers also recounted the systematic abuses they had suffered. None of this had any effect on lobbyist Harris Miller. Harris Miller's only concern was to represent his CEO clients’ insatiable desire for cheap, indentured labor. Mr. Miller would not even answer direct questions from members of the Congressional Committee before whom he was testifying. Truth and justice were obviously irrelevant and insignificant to Harris Miller.

If this conduct was typical of Mr. Miller while he was employed as a pro-offshore outsourcing and pro-“business visa” corporate lobbyist, I believe it reasonable to wonder what he he will do should he become a United States senator? Whose interests will he represent and what manner of justice will he uphold?

Mr. Miller's career is based on aiding unscrupulous business interests in their efforts to replace American workers with less costly alternatives. This could only be accomplished with lies and laws based on lies. Mr. Miller has proven adept at propagating lies and suppressing the truth. This stands as the anti-thesis of truth -- a cornerstone of our system of justice.


The foreign guest worker “business visa” (H-1b and L-1) programs so critical to Mr. Miller were ostensibly created to satisfy a short term need for skilled labor in America but they are based on a lie. That need for non-American labor never existed; it was a perception created by business lobbyists for the purpose of lowering labor costs. Qualified American workers were available to do the work and the flow of educated workers had actually increased to meet demand.

Yet, Mr. Miller and his CEO allies stated that Americans couldn't do these jobs. They claimed that Americans weren't sufficiently skilled. Mr. Miller and his CEO clients stated they needed foreign workers to do this work. Most of these guest workers came from India. As an Indian American with ties to the Indian community and culture, I witnessed what Mr. Miller and his CEO clients truly wanted - and that was cheap, indentured foreign labor. It's what happened at my company.

Essentially the guest worker "business visa" programs such as the H1B and L1 are dysfunctional. Study after study concludes that they are broken beyond use. The language of the law is riddled with loopholes and for what little legal provisions do exist - there is no enforcement. I have tried for 8 years to commence an investigation of my employer with no results. If you watch the webcast of the full hearing you will wonder how Harris Miller has found the gall to run for Senate after such a clearly established career of one-sided loyalty to his CEO clients. At best it is a conflict of interest for him to run for Senate.

Harris Miller heard my testimony but he barely acknowledged the injustices done to both Americans and foreign workers at my company. Was it due to the paycheck from his clients that Mr. Miller refused to accept the evidence that I presented? Was it Mr. Miller’s loyalty to his paying CEO clients that has also resulted in Mr. Miller's consistent refusal to support any reform?

On Friday morning, I listened to Mr. Miller speak on the Mark Plotkin radio program on the Washington Post Radio station. Miller said, as he did during my Congressional testimony, that employers who violate laws should be sanctioned. I heard Harris Miller’s ludicrous comments calling for enforcement. But Mr. Miller knows the laws are deeply flawed, inviting abuse and permitting it; there is very little to enforce and no interest in investigations.

In Mr. Miller's call for enforcement he ignores the gaping loopholes in the guest worker programs which allow employers such as mine to degrade both the guest workers and American citizens with no recourse. For example, the H1B program on which Miller based his entire career, has a wage requirement provision that the guest workers be paid a prevailing wage to Americans similarly situated. But where do you get the salary numbers? Answer - anywhere. There is no establishment of the source of that prevailing wage so it is an empty provision. Thus employers can pay anything they want to and get a way with it. There's nothing to enforce.


So, what enforcement is Mr. Miller calling for? None. Harris Miller stands for such empty provisions. He knows it protects his CEO clients who are now also his campaign contributors. It is unbelievable. With Harris Miller running for the Senate we have a situation similar to Jack Abramoff running for Senate. (Would you vote for Abramoff?)

Harris Miller steadfastly ignores overwhelming evidence of systematic abuse. He refuses to acknowledge the desperate need for reform. When I heard Miller was running for the Senate at first I believed it was a sick joke. I couldn't imagine, a career lobbyist with a clear and blatant public record of being one-sided for industry CEO's seeking elected office (as a "Democrat", no less). At best this situation could be described as a "conflict of interest".

But here he is. If Miller is elected, he will return to the “culture of corruption” of which he is so much a part and so much a contributor. It would be little different than giving Jack Abramoff a Senate seat.

Jim Webb offers a clear alternative to Harris Miller. I've met Jim Webb and believe he has the honesty, integrity and the right ideas. Jim Webb is ready to fight for justice and real economic fairness. Jim Webb has publicly stated his opposition to offshore outsourcing and the replacement of American workers. Jim Webb understands that the American Dream of a middle class life is under threat and effective political action is required.

On Tuesday, June 13, I urge Virginians to vote for Jim Webb for U.S. Senate.


[Note: According to an InfoWorld article entitled, U.S. lawmakers: Worker visa program needs changes, "The ITAA's Harris Miller called the stories from Shah and Fluno 'isolated cases'"!!! The article's subtitle is L-1 visa program makes it easy for U.S. companies to move jobs overseas, lawmakers say.]

5 Comments:

Blogger Troup said...

Please Virgina, vote Jim Webb.

We in the other 49 states don't want to feel any more harm from Harris Miller.

I am one of 20+ Americans ordered by corporate management to TRAIN our foreign replacement workers; Harris Miller's H-1b and L-1 "guestworkers".

When Harris Miller was interviewed by our local CBS station WKMG Orlando, Miller stated that Americans just weren't skilled enough.

But, we were the ones training H-1b and L-1 guestworkers. Lucky for me, I only had to spend 5 months training my 3 replacements. Yes, 3; each learned a different facet of my job. After 5 months of training, I left on my own when I found another job.

It is not about a lack of skills, it's a desire for cheap labor.

Many of my ex-coworkers spent years training their foreign replacement workers.

Despite all the information we provided regarding the abuses of these programs Harris Milller continues to push for unlimted H-1bs. Unlimited foreign guestworkers for the businesses which he lobbys congress for.

Why not get more American citizens in these jobs/positions?

Send Harris Miller packing on Tuesday June 13.

Mon Jun 12, 11:26:00 AM GMT-5  
Blogger spankthatdonkey said...

I beg your pardon, I am no "Chicken Hawk" :-) My goodness, and we have never been even introduced!!!

Tue Jun 13, 12:12:00 AM GMT-5  
Blogger ITwoman2 said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

Sat Jun 24, 06:51:00 AM GMT-5  
Blogger ITwoman2 said...

I too am an Indian-American IT professional. Although I don't have direct experience of being laid off due to H1B abuses, I have suffered because of the H1B program in two ways: my pay scale is lower because of it and there are fewer jobs for which I am able to qualify.

For instance, I have applied numerous times to jobs with various insurance companies. I get rejected because I don't have the right insurance background or some specific keyword in my resume. On this background I am surprised that they keep hiring H1B workers who have neither of the two skills and in addition don't have simple English language skills or knowledge of local US business practices.

A couple of years ago I responded to an ad on monster.com. It turned out to be an Indian middle contractor. He had the gall to tell me this:
- "We are looking or a young guy for this job" (I am a woman with 20 years experience)
- We are looking for someone who can work with international teams (I have lived in the US and worked in the UK - but that's not enough)
- We are looking for somebody with a manufacturing background - the ad said nothing of the sort.

Finally, here are anecodotes about the type of people who are continuing to stream in from India: a friend's son who had to repeat 12th grade and speaks hardly any English (but has an MCA degree from some small degree-mill in Hyderabad) has paid an NJ company $2600 so that they can apply for his H1. They will train him in India for 2 months and then he will come here. Another friend's son (with a fresh degree in Architecture), also in India, is going to come to the US to do a 1 year course by taking out a $25k loan and *knows* that he will get an H1 and a job that pays about $45K. A third friend who lives in Boston told of how the company that she briefly worked for doctors resumes based on the job requirements.

We, the American IT workers are under seige. We have to work together to stop this. It takes great courage to come out in the open in the way that Sona Shah
has done.

Thank you for posting on this issue.

Sat Jun 24, 06:55:00 AM GMT-5  
Blogger Vinayak said...

Your post and the comments, also left me with thoughts on history of India ... thoughts of Indians aboard, the diaspora and in particular Indian American community ... our own brothers who have "..made it .." in America

What distinguishes the community from the rest of the immigrants around the world ?

are there some compelling reasons and singular traits that make them different ?

or... are these Indian Americans slowly merging with the Americans like most economic migrants do ... sooner or later ?

what have they learnt at America ? does it add flavour to the curry ??

more at
http://tinyurl.com/lff55

regards
Vinayak

Tue Aug 08, 07:41:00 AM GMT-5  

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