By Wayne Lutton on February 6, 2015
Southern California Edison (SCE), Southern California’s largest utility with 14 million customers, is replacing approximately 500 information technology employees with ‘temporary’ H-1B visa holders provided by India-based Infosys, based in Bangalore, and Tata Consultancy Services of Mumbai (Bombay).
Some SCE employees are training their own H-1B replacements. SCE announced that the “transition” to using a revolving number of foreign work-visa holders began last August and will be completed by the end of March. One longtime IT worker told Computer World, “they are bringing in people with a couple of years’ experience to replace us and then we have to train them. It’s demoralizing and in a way I kind of felt betrayed by the company.”
Before the layoffs and “voluntary departures,” SCE had about 1,800 employees, plus an additional 1,500 contract workers. The H-1B program is supposed to fill jobs for which American workers are not available. Instead, as with SCE, they are bringing in people from India to fill jobs Edison employees were already performing.
According to a SCE press notice, the transition to Infoys and Tata “will lead to enhancements that deliver faster and more efficient tools and applications for services that customers rely on. Through outsourcing, SCE’s information technology organization will adopt a proven business strategy commonly and successfully used by top U.S. companies that SCE benchmarks against.”
Professor Ron Hira, a researcher on offshore outsourcing at Howard University, observed that the SCE outsourcing “is one more case, in a long line of them, of injustice where American workers are being replaced by H-1Bs. Adding to the injustice, American workers are being forced to do ‘knowledge transfer,’ an ugly euphemism for being forced to train their foreign replacements. Americans should be outraged that most of our politicians have sat idly by while outsourcing firms have hijacked the guest workers programs … .The majority of the H-1B program is now being used to replace Americans and facilitate the offshoring of high-wage jobs.”
The Chamber of Commerce and a galaxy of high-tech companies are spending millions of dollars to lobby Congress to expand the H-1B and other ‘temporary employment’ visa programs. These initiatives will kill the American Dream, both for young people entering the labor market and older, experienced workers being replaced by foreigners.[See: Patrick Thibodeau, “Southern California Edison IT Workers ‘Beyond Furious’ over h-1B Replacements,” Computerworld, February 4, 2015; Gene Nelson, Ph.D., “Shattering the American Dream,” in the special issue on “Whatever Happened to the American Dream?” The Social Contract, Vol. XXIV, No. 2 Winter 2014, pp. 41-44.]