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Edison screws its employees, too

Tech press and politicians complain of H-1B abuses

Southern California Edison, whose electricity rates are consistently among the highest in the nation, isn't satisfied just to screw ratepayers.

Now, politicians in both houses of Congress, along with technology publications and academics, are strongly criticizing the utility for abusing the H-1B program, in which mainly mid-level foreign technologists come to the United States each year to take tech jobs. The plurality of these jobs go to workers from India.

According to Patrick Thibodeau, senior editor of Computerworld, Edison is cutting 500 information technology workers, 100 of them through voluntary departures and others through layoffs that have been taking place in phases since August.

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Computerworld interviewed Edison employees. "They are bringing in people with a couple of years [of] experience to replace us and then we have to train them," one longtime infotech employee told the magazine. "Not one of these jobs being filled by India was a job that an Edison employee wasn't already performing," said another worker at Edison.

San Diego County congressman Darrell Issa, who co-sponsored the so-called "Skills Act" that increased the number of foreign workers who can come in to take American jobs, put out a statement yesterday (February 6):

"Reports that Southern California Edison used the H-1B visa program to replace part of the company's current [information technology] workforce are deeply disturbing. Based on the information currently available, this appears to be an example of precisely what the H-1B visa is NOT intended to be: a program to simply replace American workers en masse with cheap labor from overseas. Indeed, current law requires that an employer certify that the hiring of an H-1B applicant 'will not adversely affect the working conditions of workers similarly employed.'"

Sen. Jeff Sessions of Alabama said in a speech Thursday (February 5) that Edison is hiring foreign workers who "come solely for a limited period of time to take a job, and they work for less pay too often."

Several critics of the H-1B program have been quoted in the Reader saying that the flood of H-1B workers is arranged by companies to lower the wage levels of United States–trained technology workers, engineers, mathematicians, and the like.

Ron Hira, a Howard University professor who specializes in offshore outsourcing, said Edison's program "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 worker programs."

This is just another example of self-destruction by America's corporations. About 50 years ago, enlightened companies considered that they had several constituencies: shareholders, the community, employees, customers, the environment, vendors. Beginning in the 1980s, companies began concluding that they had only one constituency: shareholders. Beginning then, the only thing important to a company was piling up profits so stock prices could rise and top management pay could be pushed into the stratosphere.

In 2013, Theodore F. Craver, chairman and president of Edison International, parent of Southern California Edison, raked in $8.9 million in pay. Ronald Litzinger, president of Southern California Edison, took in $2.4 million.

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Southern California Edison, whose electricity rates are consistently among the highest in the nation, isn't satisfied just to screw ratepayers.

Now, politicians in both houses of Congress, along with technology publications and academics, are strongly criticizing the utility for abusing the H-1B program, in which mainly mid-level foreign technologists come to the United States each year to take tech jobs. The plurality of these jobs go to workers from India.

According to Patrick Thibodeau, senior editor of Computerworld, Edison is cutting 500 information technology workers, 100 of them through voluntary departures and others through layoffs that have been taking place in phases since August.

Sponsored
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Computerworld interviewed Edison employees. "They are bringing in people with a couple of years [of] experience to replace us and then we have to train them," one longtime infotech employee told the magazine. "Not one of these jobs being filled by India was a job that an Edison employee wasn't already performing," said another worker at Edison.

San Diego County congressman Darrell Issa, who co-sponsored the so-called "Skills Act" that increased the number of foreign workers who can come in to take American jobs, put out a statement yesterday (February 6):

"Reports that Southern California Edison used the H-1B visa program to replace part of the company's current [information technology] workforce are deeply disturbing. Based on the information currently available, this appears to be an example of precisely what the H-1B visa is NOT intended to be: a program to simply replace American workers en masse with cheap labor from overseas. Indeed, current law requires that an employer certify that the hiring of an H-1B applicant 'will not adversely affect the working conditions of workers similarly employed.'"

Sen. Jeff Sessions of Alabama said in a speech Thursday (February 5) that Edison is hiring foreign workers who "come solely for a limited period of time to take a job, and they work for less pay too often."

Several critics of the H-1B program have been quoted in the Reader saying that the flood of H-1B workers is arranged by companies to lower the wage levels of United States–trained technology workers, engineers, mathematicians, and the like.

Ron Hira, a Howard University professor who specializes in offshore outsourcing, said Edison's program "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 worker programs."

This is just another example of self-destruction by America's corporations. About 50 years ago, enlightened companies considered that they had several constituencies: shareholders, the community, employees, customers, the environment, vendors. Beginning in the 1980s, companies began concluding that they had only one constituency: shareholders. Beginning then, the only thing important to a company was piling up profits so stock prices could rise and top management pay could be pushed into the stratosphere.

In 2013, Theodore F. Craver, chairman and president of Edison International, parent of Southern California Edison, raked in $8.9 million in pay. Ronald Litzinger, president of Southern California Edison, took in $2.4 million.

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