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The rules and etiquette expected and required for participation. Please read.
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Your Privacy

Will your privacy be honored and respected? Do we sell or share data with Facebook, Google and other third-parties? How much do we know?
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Free For All

What's on your mind?

Open topics for discussion
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6/20/2016 12:08 AM - anonymous

Hero's and Villians

Has someone done something to make us proud? Or brought shame on our country?
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4/27/2016 10:32 AM - Cancun

Money, Politics and Corruption

Money, Politics and Corruption

Is American government corrupt? Are corporations people? How can we reclaim government for the people?
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9/20/2016 11:55 AM - Connelly

Banking, Traders and Financial Corruption

How deep are the crimes? Will anyone go to prison? Does Wall Street control our government?
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6/25/2016 10:16 AM - anonymous

Electricity Pricing and Markets

Does the conversion from regulated to free markets work? Who wins? Are these markets manipulated?
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7/30/2013 11:47 AM - libby

Fast and Furious

Did our justice department sell guns to the Mexican Drug Cartels, resulting in deaths several people in a plot to further gun control laws?
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8/9/2012 2:12 PM - NoSir


Jobs and the Economy

Is the economy in recovery or recession? Has enough been done? Are we on the right path?
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9/10/2016 3:54 AM - Onward

Oil and Gasoline

Are prices too high? Are markets manipulated? Why not natural gas?
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9/17/2013 1:31 PM - Connelly

Income Inequality

Should there be limits on capitalism? Have the wealthy been unfairly critized?
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9/30/2015 9:29 AM - libby

Poverty in America

Do the rich get richer while the poor get poorer?
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2/7/2014 1:37 PM - libby

Welfare/Food Stamps

Should we have a social safety net? Is our's in humane or has it gone too far?
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2/3/2014 3:07 PM - anonymous

Housing Crisis

With more than 20% of American mortgages underwater, should government intervene?
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8/9/2012 10:00 AM - anonymous

Food Prices

Are your salary and wages keeping up? Have prices affected the way you eat?
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6/1/2013 12:54 PM - libby

Credit Availability

Is credit too tight? Do you quality for loans? Are you being charged usury? Why the explosive growth for payday and title lenders?
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9/12/2012 12:12 PM - Onward

Minimum Wage

Should we have a minimum wage? Should the current rate be raised? Will America lose more jobs?
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6/20/2013 3:00 PM - Chandler


Immigration Reform

Does the US have a shortage of skilled labor? Should illegal immigrate be granted citizenship
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9/10/2016 3:46 AM - Onward

Voter Registration and Fraud

Do Voter ID laws target fraud or intented to block certain voters?
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10/19/2014 1:36 AM - Cancun

Role of Government

What is the proper role of government? Is ours too big or too small? Do we have sufficient government or is our nation threaten?
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2/5/2014 1:00 AM - Cancun


Are Private Prisons Moral? Should Wall Street control Social Security? Should schools be managed "For-Profit"?
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8/7/2012 1:58 PM - anonymous

Taxes and Spending

Do we pay too much or too little tax? Should taxcuts be extended? Invest in infrastructure or is the spending brankrupting our country?
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4/15/2015 12:27 PM - anonymous

Supreme Court

Thoughts, comments and opinions on the US Supreme Courts
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9/18/2012 5:21 PM - anonymous

US Senate

Will Democrats hold a majority or Republican own both houses? Should filibuster rules changed?
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8/21/2012 10:06 AM - Hiyall

US House

Is the House the protector of American democracy -- or its bain? Will the Republican majority be overturned?
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1/4/2013 4:31 PM - libby


Too much regulation or too little? Should fracking be exempt from the Safe Drinking Water Act? Should we shift to natural gas?
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11/28/2012 5:59 PM - anonymous


Student Loans

How much is too much? A lifetime of debt? Discharge in bankruptcy?
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10/23/2013 10:17 AM - Cancun

Education, K-12

Is education a government responibility? Do we adequately funded? Should Public, Charter, Private and Religious Schools be funded?
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9/30/2013 3:02 PM - libby

Higher Education

Is college a good investment? Should the costs of higher education be subsidized?
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9/24/2013 11:57 AM - libby


Healthcare / ObamaCare

For or against? Help for the needy? Or new taxes on the middle-class? A sell-out to big insurance?
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6/16/2015 8:55 AM - anonymous

Obesity in America

Why are 30% of Americans obese? Should government intervene or is this an issue of personal responsibility? Do we need more nutritional education? Bring back physical education?
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Prescription Drug Addiction

A rampant issue for America? What can or should be done?
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Legalization of Drugs

Should drugs be legalized? Or too risky to society? Is government legislating morality or keeping America safe?
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ADD / ADHD Medication

Are these drugs overprescribed? Or key to productive citizenry?
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Privacy and Domestic Spying

Is internet privacy an oxymoron? Does privacy exist? Can it be protected? What are the implications of lost privacy?
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2/10/2015 5:41 PM - Suzie

Propaganda and Media

Propaganda and Media
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4/5/2016 12:15 PM - Cancun


Are religion and evolution irreconcilable? Capital punishment? Private prisons verus profit motives? What else is on your mind?
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1/21/2014 5:19 PM - anonymous

Recent posts

9/20/2016 11:55:59 AM
New Leak Exposes Threats of Lesser-Known TISA

Posts: 198
TTIP 2.0? New Leak Exposes Threats of Lesser-Known TISA Trade Deal
by Nika Knight, CommonDreams.org, September 20, 2016

Greenpeace Netherlands exposed the threats to democracy and climate action contained within the little-known Trade in Services Agreement (TISA) on Tuesday with new leaks divulging several chapters of the clandestine global trade agreement.

"It's a sad day for democracy when ordinary people are dependent on leaks to learn about the far-reaching consequences of toxic trade deals that are being cooked up behind closed doors," said Nick Dearden, head of the U.K.-based Global Justice Now.

And TISA is perhaps the least well-known and most highly protected of the imminent agreements: "Somehow TISA is also even more secret than the notoriously covert CETA, TTIP and TPP deals, with parties unable to release details of negotiations until five years after it has taken effect," Greenpeace observes.

These latest leaks "confirm what civil society groups, trade unions, and consumer watch dogs across the world have been warning against, that TISA is a turbo-charged privatization and deregulation deal that will enormously benefit corporations at the expense of ordinary people and democracy itself," Dearden added.

Indeed, the leaks from the highly secretive deal—currently being negotiated by 50 nations around the world—affirm that with the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) on the ropes, other such "democracy-wrecking" deals are looming.

"The deal, a spiritual and practical sibling of the much-maligned TTIP and TPP free trade agreements, is designed to drive deregulation across the vast global services sector," observes Greenpeace, "increasing international trade in everything from banking to energy services."

In its analysis (pdf) of the TISA leaks, Greenpeace explains that the deal's emphasis on deregulation presents a grave threat to countries' ability to adhere to the terms agreed upon in the Paris climate accord:

Countries that sign up to TISA will be required to lock-in liberalization and could be prevented from rolling back failed policies due of two key clauses—the 'standstill' and 'ratchet' clauses.

The standstill clause freezes the extent of liberalization in certain sectors, which means the markets of TISA state can never be less liberalized than they were at the time they signed the deal.

Meanwhile the ratchet clause—which sometimes appears in other trade agreements—stops countries from reintroducing trade barriers that had been previously and unilaterally removed.

Together these two clauses undermine the ability of governments to ever reverse the liberalization of services, even if elected on a mandate to do it. That means they could be stopped from testing liberalizing policies, since there would be no way to reversing them if things went awry.

In order to make the objectives of the Paris Agreement a reality and in order to cut greenhouse gas emissions to the point where the worst impacts of climate change can be avoided, governments must be allowed to interfere and use all policy tools available to them. Arbitrarily locking governments into deregulation could have hugely negative impacts on their capacity to implement the kind of climate policies we need to stay within 1.5 degrees.

Greenpeace also notes that while going "[w]idely unnoticed by the public, TISA could be finalized by the end of this year."

"We now know that TISA will undermine COP21, further deregulate the financial sector, stop failed privatizations being brought back into public hands, and undermine data privacy laws," commented Rosa Pavanelli, general secretary of Public Service International. "What else are our governments keeping secret from us?"

Link to Source
9/10/2016 3:54:53 AM
So much for the STEM shortage?

Posts: 288
So much for the STEM shortage?

By Patrick Gray, TechRepublic, September 7, 2016

In November of this year, freshly promoted Cisco CEO Chuck Robbins delivered a keynote at the Cisco STEM Innovation Challenge, an event that assembled high school students, teachers, and Cisco engineers to promote the importance of STEM-related fields and the "lucrative careers" available to those with a STEM background.

Add this to the chorus of political calls for more STEM education, from the President of the United States down to local school boards, and STEM careers were are being presented as the perfect path to a secure future, with high pay, interesting work, and lifetime employment for anyone entering the field. Less than a year later, Cisco is ending 5,500 of those careers, or about 7% of its workforce. This follows large cuts by other companies that routinely fly the STEM banner, including HP, Intel, and IBM.

A question of definitionPart of the challenge with promoting a so-called STEM shortage is that STEM covers an overly broad spectrum of disciplines, from mechanical engineering to marine biology. These fields are also generally non-transferable. If a biomedical engineer finds limited job prospects upon graduation, he or she has about the same ability to switch to software engineering as someone with a degree in American History. While there's a fair case to be made that the STEM fields teach a broadly-applicable mindset and methodology, the HR departments run by the CEO's preaching the STEM shortage do little to recognize mindset versus laundry lists of technical credentials, and a bias toward dismissing obsolete skillsets rather than retraining.

Following the moneyClearly, there's a significant disconnect occurring when some of the most vocal advocates of STEM training are culling significant portions of their STEM workforce. After all, if the STEM shortage were as acute as the rhetoric implies, massive layoffs of STEM staff would be akin to removing your liver to lose a bit of weight. When one looks at the STEM "crisis" objectively, however, an ongoing "crisis" offers significant benefit to its proponents at a fairly minimal cost.

There are, in fact, many skills in short supply in the technology space. Beating the STEM drum ultimately results in a larger talent pool for the technology industry to draw from, lowering their ongoing talent costs, either by creating a talent surplus and lowering wages or increasing the quality of talent that's available. Aside from some program funding and the occasional "STEM Day" where students interact with technology companies and learn about careers in technology, it costs the technology industry very little, as most of the cost of mitigating a STEM shortage is borne by students and the educational system. The educational system becomes a happy co-conspirator in the process. Whether there are actually STEM careers available to graduates or not, a STEM "crisis" means more funding, more computers, and more value placed on its services and teachers.

What's a student to do?

While there's lots of nice talk about "following your dreams" and ignoring the financial aspects of your career choice, the financial prospects of your chosen field should come into consideration, both in the short and longer terms. STEM is too large a field to provide any meaningful insight into career prospects, since it includes everything from Advanced Mathematics to Mechanical Engineering, fields that are diverse and subject to variable job markets. At the same moment, one STEM field might be burning hot, while another is ice cold. For example, a recent mantra among technology companies is that "hardware is dead," reducing the need for Mechanical Engineers, while Data Scientists are still a hot commodity. Looking for broader skills and themes that will help advance your career is a better approach. Clearly, technology will play a role in most fields, so a basic understanding of the process behind technology, whether it's coding or very basic engineering, will likely serve one well regardless of their ultimate career choice.

Advice for technology leaders

The great risk of the incessant STEM shortage talk is that students and employees are smart enough to notice the waves of layoffs in the technology sector, and likely have a friend, parent, or relative who offers a very different perspective on a technology career than the happy talk about vast riches and near-lifetime employment. Additionally, the technology sector itself has vastly more options than pure engineering roles. An artist or designer can have a rich career in technology in fields ranging from consulting to user experience design, just as much as a software engineer focused on coding, and frankly each could benefit from some exposure to the other's discipline.

Rather than endlessly beating the STEM drum, it would serve the field and our bottom lines better if we articulated specifically what STEM skills were most relevant to the technology sector, with a focus on those that transcend specific technologies that may become obsolete. The hundreds of hours I spent learning C and Pascal did little to aid my career, but perhaps a course in basic software development methodologies and process would have better served me.

Finally, the logic cited in many of the mass layoffs is a changing technology environment necessitating new skills. If flexibility in adapting to rapid change is the key skill we need in our workforce, advocating deep study in a tiny subset of STEM fields is not a recipe to build that type of workforce, nor is hiring primarily based on knowledge of a basket of specialized technologies. Before waving the STEM flag, consider the long-term prospects a bunch of engineers with outdated technology skills and significant depth in a narrow slice of STEM, fresh out of university would have at your company. Would you rather our educational system produce well-rounded, flexible learners who use technology as a tool, or the next crop of engineers you need to dismiss when technology changes?

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9/10/2016 3:46:52 AM
“Tech” Paid $5 Billion to Wall Street in 2016

Posts: 288
“Tech” Paid $5 Billion in Fees to Wall Street in 2016, and Look What it Got for it

By Wolf Richter, The Daily Coin, September 9, 2016

Most often it just leads to more shut-downs, write-offs, and layoffs. Investment banks have not been very lucky in extracting fees from Corporate America so far this year, and overall fee income has plunged 18% from the same period last year. But there was one standout: technology companies.

Nowadays “tech” includes non-tech companies such as shopping sites, home-delivery apps for beer, anything having to do with the new gig economy, anything that takes place on a device, rather than inside a brick-and-mortar location.
These tech companies have handed Wall Street investment banks $5 billion so far this year in fees related to Mergers & Acquisitions – up 5% from the same period last year – for advice on M&A and handling the associated debt deals, equity underwriting, and syndicated loans.

That’s the highest amount paid since dotcom-year 2000 when they’d paid $8.3 billion, according to Dealogic.

The tech M&A boom came into full bloom last year and is continuing this year. Since January 2015, tech companies have announced $1 trillion in deals, according to Dealogic, cited by the Wall Street Journal. Investment banks make money on numerous aspects of these deals, coming and going. Advising on deals alone generated 42% of the fees. But there are also bonds, syndicated loans, and, sometimes peculiar, equity offerings involved.

Dell’s highly-leveraged $67-billion acquisition of EMC has captured the wildest dreams on Wall Street. It’s the new “largest tech deal ever.” Dell is privately held, so paying for the acquisition, announced in October last year, by just issuing more shares wasn’t in the cards. This complicated things, and generated massive fees, including for advisory work, a $20-billion bond offering, syndicated loans, and the issuance of Dell’s iffy VMware tracking stock where potential investors don’t know what they’re getting, only that it’s not anything real, and are clinging by their fingernails to the hope that this, unlike other tracking stocks during the dotcom bubble, will work out somehow. Dell’s EMC deal closed on Wednesday. Ka-ching.

Growth-challenged Microsoft, which finally finished sloughing off its botched Nokia purchase – After Losing $11 Billion on $9.4-billion Nokia Acquisition and Axing 27,650 Jobs, Microsoft Dumps Consumer Smartphones – went out again and this time is acquiring struggling LinkedIn for $26 billion, which also generated a bonanza of fees for Wall Street, including from a $19.75 billion bond offering to fund the acquisition.

Then there was chipmaker Avago Technologies’ $37 billion acquisition of Broadcom, at the time “the biggest tech deal ever,” $17 billion in cash and $20 billion in stock. Announced last May, it closed earlier this year. Getting this cash entailed arranging a very lucrative $16-billion loan that was syndicated to other banks.

Softbank is acquiring chip-design firm ARM Holdings, which had $1.5 billion in revenues, for an astounding $31 billion (so 20 times revenues!), hoping to boost its “Internet of Things” future, and paying investment banks out of its nose for this sort of advice.

Walmart is buying online retailer Jet.com. Everything is tech these days. Even old-fashioned credit bureau Equifax, founded in 1899, now uses the newfangled moniker “FinTech” to boost its shares in hopes for a big buyout offer from Microsoft.

In the startup space, Intel – after announcing 12,000 layoffs earlier this year, and after requesting 14,523 H-1B visas and green cards to bring in foreign workers – is chasing after Artificial Intelligence as the next big thing. AI has been the next big thing for decades. So in August, it agreed to acquire 48-employee Nervana Systems for around $408 million.

Apple bought AI outfit Turi for $200 million in August, after having bought AI outfit Emotient, which is trying to recognize and react to facial expressions, a capability your iPhone 7 desperately needs after you lost another $159-AirPod – the umpteenth in three days. Google, Amazon, Facebook, they’re all going after AI.

Outside of tech, M&A in the US has been a dismal year to date, according to Dealogic. Despite the rise in tech deals, acquisitions by US companies in the US have plunged 40% from last year at this time, to a measly $702 billion, the lowest since 2012. The number of deals plunged 18% to 5,177, the lowest since 2009. Mega-deals of $10 billion or larger are also drying up, with only 12 such deals announced so far this year, for $203 billion, down from 23 deals and $606 billion last year to date.

That’s bad news for investment banks. The only saving grace for them: $311.5 billion of inbound deals by foreign companies of US companies, up 7% from last year to date, and an all-time record. This includes the announcement on September 6 by Canadian oil & gas company Enbridge that it would buy Spectra Energy of Houston for $43 billion. Inbound US M&A reached a 31% share of all US M&A, another record.

In Tech, however, M&A serves a special role. Some of the biggest players, such as Microsoft and IBM, can’t figure out how to grow or develop new technologies on their own. For them, M&A is seen as the solution – a way to grow faster, or to grow at all, or at least to not be left behind too far, though it rarely works. For others that are still growing, like Google, M&A is a way to chase after the latest and greatest, even if they blow a lot of money on something will then just disappear.

While there are some examples where M&A actually worked and produced results for the acquiring company and did some good for the overall economy – I can’t think of any at the moment, but there are some – most often it just leads to more shut-downs, write-offs, and layoffs. But that doesn’t matter to the executives. They’ve already been paid their bonuses and stock options and got their ego boost. And some of them have moved on. And it doesn’t matter to Wall Street investment banks because they’ve already pocketed the billions of dollars in fees.

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9/10/2016 3:41:55 AM
Caterpillar Hires H-1Bs, Fires 300 Americans

Posts: 288
Caterpillar Hires H-1B Foreign Graduates, Fires 300 American Professionals
by Neil Munro, 6 Sep 20160, Breibart.com

Caterpillar is firing 300 American employees in Mossville, Illinois, even though it is continuing to recruit and pay foreign “H-1B” guest-workers to do the white-collar jobs sought by American professionals in the United States.

Caterpillar’s combination of white-collars layoffs and H-1B outsourcing matches the much-criticized decision by Carrier, a company in next-door Indiana, to outsource 1,400 blue-collar factory jobs to Mexico.

Outsider GOP candidate Donald Trump has vigorously denounced the outsourcing by Carrier’s air-conditioning business. His opposition has helped him get a nine-point polling advantage in the state. But Trump’s support for major reforms to the H-1B program to reduce the outsourcing of professional jobs is raising his support among upper-income professional-class voters in many other states.

The Caterpillar outsourcing “is all the same thing happening over and over again,’ said John Miano, a lawyer and software expert who has sued the federal government to reduce or stop various outsourcing programs, such as the H-1B visa. “What we see is that companies ask for more [H-1B visas] while they’re laying off the same kind of [American professionals] … this is going to be an election that decides whether this continues,” Miano said.

Early in 2016, Caterpillar asked the federal government for 71 H-1B visas needed to hire foreign white-collar college-grads. At least 30 of the requested H-1B visas are for engineers and other skilled professionals in Mossville, which is suffering the most layoffs.

At least 44 of the visas requested in 2016 are for foreign graduates who are already working at Caterpillar in the United States. These “continuation” visas are automatically approved, and do not count against the much touted annual limits on H1-B visas.

Another 22 of Caterpillar’s H-1B request visas are for new hires.

Since 2012, Caterpillar has requested 768 visas for H-1B workers. Roughly speaking, companies get one-fifth of the new-hire H-1B visas they request, suggesting the company has outsourced at least 100 U.S.-based jobs to lower-wage foreign graduates.

Companies are not required to interview Americans, or even announce job openings, before asking for H-1B visas.

The H-1B visa allows the foreign college-graduates to stay for at least three years, and some manage to stay permanently. For example, the company has also helped get green cards — the precursor to citizenship — for roughly 70 foreign college graduates. Most of these green card employees have replaced Americans software graduates.

Caterpillar has not responded to emails from Breitbart.

While Trump has promised to reform the controversial H-1B program as part of his plan to ensure that immigration law helps Americans before companies or foreign workers, Hillary Clinton has been a strong supporter of the H-1B program, and her foundation has tried to hire more than 130 foreign professionals in place of young Americans.

That political difference over white-collar outsourcing may become critical in the new few weeks when Trump tries to raise his support among college graduates.

Trump is already doing well among blue-collar families, party because of his promise to start enforcing existing laws that bar the hiring of illegals. But Trump is doing poorly among college-graduates, partly because few white-collar workers yet recognize the pocketbook impact to them of federal immigration practices. Fewer still know that states are also allowing illegal immigrants to work in professional jobs.

American professionals prefer to ignore the threat from the government’s H-1B program, said Miano. “They all all think ‘I’m good… if I keep up my skills, I don’t have anything to worry about’ — but they don’t know these [hiring] decisions are being made by accountants who have no idea what their skills are,” he said.

That outsourcing process is a huge threat to the middle class because it is “cutting off the ability of people to rise up,” he said. “The whole thing of the middle class is to send your kids to college, get professional jobs and move up — but now that is being destroyed” by outsourcing, Miano said.

Many companies outsource U.S. white collar jobs to foreign professionals — Disney, DeLoitte, many hospitals, Facebook, Intel, Qualcomm, Microsoft, plus many smaller companies, such as the Toys R Us retailer, Cengage publishing firm, and New York Life insurance company. The scale and details of the outsourcing movement can be tracked at websites, including MyVisaJobs.com.

Virgil Bierschwale, a displaced software expert, has posted details of the H-1B program and maps showing the locations and employer contacts for H-1B requests.

Much of the 2016 H-1B outsourcing at Caterpillar is for engineering jobs held by Americans.

Commercial job search boards show many Americans are qualified for those jobs. Indeed.com, for example, offers the resumes of 2,445 engineers within a 25-mile distance of Mossville, including some recently posted resumes of Caterpillar’s soon-to-be-outsourced employees.

These engineering jobs are in the so-called STEM field, which the federal government — and the private sector — has long declared will provide a secure upward path for American college grads.

However, even as young Americans study to earn places in colleges, the federal government is helping companies employ a population of roughly 650,000 H-1B professionals in the United States.

The resident population of around 650,000 H-1B professionals include roughly 100,000 professionals at U.S. universities. The outsourced university jobs include tens of thousands of jobs for professors and lecturers, doctors and therapists, scientists and researchers.

Most of the 650,000 outsourced H-1B jobs are in the information technology sector, where the imported professionals have lowered wages throughout the industry and forced middle-aged Americans into new, lower-paying careers — such as journalism — at just the time when they need good pay to help their children get a good education.

Many additional outsourced H-1B jobs are in business and finance, architecture and design, p.r. and media, health care, and teaching.

The wide variety of jobs shows how the H-1B outsourcing is reaching far beyond Silicon Valley. For example, companies such as CVS are increasingly using foreign college graduates to replace American pharmacists in Washington D.C., New York, and across the nation.

“If American professionals don’t stand up soon, they’ll be going the way of the auto workers and the factory workers in just a few years,” said Miano.

Link to Source
9/10/2016 3:33:55 AM
Dell to Layoff 3,000 Requesting 5,000 H-1B Visas

Posts: 288
Dell-EMC to Lay Off 2,000 – 3,000 US Workers after Requesting 5,000 H-1B Visas & Green Cards to Import Foreign Workers

By Wolf Richter, WolfStreet.com, September 9, 2016

Trying to find efficiencies and synergies to save $1.7 billion.The ink was barely dry on Dell’s acquisition of EMC, the largest technology deal ever, valued at $67 billion when it was announced in October last year – and already the layoff rumors are oozing from the woodwork.

“People familiar with the company’s plans” told Bloomberg that Dell will cut 2,000 to 3,000 jobs.

Dell spokesman Dave Farmer refused to comment specifically on the report on Thursday but said instead, as sort of a confirmation: “As is common with deals of this size, there will be some overlaps we will need to manage and where some employee reduction will occur.”

On Wednesday, the day the deal closed, CEO Michael Dell gave some clues in an interview: “There are some overlapping functions and that sort of thing – that’s not the primary feature of this, but there is some of that.”

These “overlaps” or “overlapping functions” are terms in corporate speak for real people, and these real people are mostly working in the US, according to the report: supply chain, marketing, and general and administrative positions.

Dell is trying to find some efficiencies and synergies to save about $1.7 billion in the first 18 months after the deal closes, so starting from Wednesday. They’re not dilly-dallying around cutting costs and laying off people.

Combined they have about 140,000 employees. So the trimming might have a long ways to go, especially if the cloud and the Internet of Things are not as fun as imagined. But that doesn’t mean that the headcount will come down – they’re bringing in foreign workers, mostly from India.

Between 2014 and 2016, Dell applied for 2,039 H-1B visas and 256 Green Cards. EMC applied for 2,347 H-1B visas and 453 Green Cards, for a total of 5,095 applications.

These are just applications. Not all of them will be certified, and of those that are certified, not all beneficiaries will be hired. But the data for 2016 isn’t complete yet either.

It’s the hot thing to do for tech companies: laying off existing workers in the US, and bringing it foreign workers on H-1B visas. The Senate has been looking into some of the abuses. In February, Senator Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) sent US Attorney General Loretta Lynch a letter requesting a Justice Department investigation. But the tech lobby will likely get the Senate back on track soon.

But Dell needs to save some money, one way or the other. Dell’s corporate credit rating is at the upper end of junk. It’s loaded to the gills with debt, stemming from when it was taken private. Now the EMC deal has piled new debt on the company, including $20 billion of bonds it sold in May, followed by a $5-billion leveraged loan.

It needed this pile of cash to pay EMC shareholders $24.05 per share. They also got a “tracking stock” linked notionally to EMC’s interest in VMware, but in reality they get no real ownership of anything. Tracking stocks were hot during the dotcom bubble, with disastrous results for investors.

The combined company is also trying to boost sales, which they’ve been trying to do individually for years. All old tech companies, including IBM and Microsoft are trying to boost sales, and particularly those in the withering PC ecosystem are having the hardest time.

They need to find a new niche for growth, and so they’re all piling into the “cloud” and the adjacent “Internet of Things” that links even the fridge to the cloud. But this is precisely where Amazon, Microsoft, Facebook, Apple, and Google dominate.

This is the situation Dell and EMC are in. Both have a large part of their products scattered around the PC ecosystem, Dell with servers and PCs, and EMC with storage devices. A match made in heaven. And so they’re going to innovate their way out of it! As Michael

Dell said in the interview:

“We’ve got the ability to innovate at scale and invest – not for next quarter, but we have the agility and speed of a startup, but the scale and reach of the largest company in the industry.”

Alas, Dell became successful by building the same boxes everyone else was building, but it was building them on order, marketing and selling them directly, and getting customers to pay before their computers were even assembled, which was a new approach to supply chain management and working-capital financing in the 1980s: For the first time in history, accounts receivable were a negative amount, and working capital was funded entirely by customers, free of charge. Credit cards made that possible.

That was Dell’s big invention. It gave it a huge cost advantage, until everyone started doing it. But it wasn’t technological innovation. EMC is a different animal. But now it’s under Dell’s control, and they’re carrying a lot of debt, and cost cutting is going to be the big strategy going forward.

Link to Source
9/10/2016 3:29:46 AM
University of California’s outsourcing is wrong

Posts: 288
University of California’s outsourcing is wrong, says U.S. lawmaker

By Patrick Thibodeau,Computerworld, Sep 9, 2016

A decision by the University of California to lay off IT employees and send their jobs overseas is under fire from U.S. Rep. Zoe Lofgren (D-Calif) and the IEEE-USA.

The university recently informed about 80 IT workers at its San Francisco campus, including contract employees and vendor contractors, that it hired India-based HCL, under a $50 million contract, to manage infrastructure and networking-related services.
The university employees will remain on the job until the end of February, but before then they are expecting to train their foreign replacements. The number of affected employees may expand. The university's IT services agreement with HCL can be leveraged by any institution in the 10-campus system.

"How are they [the university] going to tell students to go into STEM fields when they are doing as much as they can to do a number on the engineers in their employment?" said Lofgren, in an interview.

Peter Eckstein, the president of the IEEE-USA, said what the university is doing "is just one more sad example of corporations, a major university system in this case, importing non-Americans to eliminate American IT jobs." This engineering association has some 235,000 members.

"Profit before people will continue to be their goal until Congress stops them," said Eckstein.

HCL, and other firms in the offshore industry generally, use H-1B temporary visa workers. HCL was one of the contractors at Disney, which cut around 250 workers last year. Two former Disney employees filed a lawsuit in January in federal court challenging HCL, a second contractor and Disney over the use of foreign workers.

"I think it’s the wrong thing to do," said Lofgren, of the university’s offshoring effort.

"The H-1B program was not devised to replace American workers with less highly paid foreign workers who are then going to take all the jobs offshore," said Lofgren, who represents part of Silicon Valley and has sought visa program reforms.

"That's not the intent of the [H-1B] law, and Congress has done nothing to reform the law to prevent this from happening," said Lofgren.

The university is "misusing the visa program, and one likes to think that the University of California would be wanting to be in conformity with the intent of the immigration laws," said Lofgren.

The H-1B visa program was intended to provide people for specific workforce needs. But over the last 20 years, the program’s major users have been IT services firms that use visa workers to help outsource work overseas. U.S. IT workers have complained repeatedly about having to train workers on temporary visas as a condition of severance, and often accuse the U.S. government as being a party to their layoff.

Lofgren said she is not an opponent of the H-1B program, "run properly," nor does she fault its original goal. But she said it sounds that "what the university is doing is a misuse of the program" similar to Disney and Southern California Edison, she said, "where they are not getting the best and the brightest, they are just basically using it as a way to cut American engineers, which they shouldn’t do."

Lofgren had been working with U.S. Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) on H-1B reform legislation. A key aspect of the proposal, primarily drafted by Lofgren, would distribute visas on a system based on the willingness of employers to pay.
But their joint effort didn't bear fruit and Issa introduced his own bill in July, the Protect and Grow American Jobs Act (HR 5801) with a narrow goal compared to what Lofgren sought.

Issa's bill raises the $60,000 salary threshold that creates an exemption for H-1B-dependent firms -- a designation for large visa users that are mostly IT services firms that offshore work -- from having to attest that they aren’t replacing U.S. workers. That salary level was set in 1998 with no provision for changing it. Issa's proposal would raise it to $100,000, and set a mechanism for hiking it over time.

Lofgren called Issa's bill “outrageous” and said it wouldn’t do a "damn thing" to stop outsourcing because engineering salaries are already more than $100,000.

"I tried to work with Issa for months -- in all honestly dealing with him is just chaos; it would take his staff weeks or months to get back to my staff -- they didn't know what they were doing," said Lofgren.

Asked for a response, Calvin Moore, Issa's spokesperson, said that Issa approached Lofgren about introducing a bill before the August recess, but she "told us the ‘the door was closed," he said, in an email. "So we moved ahead with the rest of our colleagues on a bill we could actually get done before the end of the year."

Moore defended the bill and said "it raises the exemption limits to be more in line with current American salaries in these positions to remove the incentive that has been abused to displace American workers."

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7/4/2016 11:40:28 AM
Why Guest Workers Are Easily Exploited

Posts: 364
Why Guest Workers Are Easily Exploited
By The Editorial Board, NY Times, July 1, 2016

So far this year, employers in the United States have hired some 80,000 foreign guest workers for low-skilled nonagricultural jobs. If a bipartisan group in Congress gets its way, the number could soon rise as high as 264,000.

Employers say they need to import these workers — called H-2B workers after their visa category — because no comparable American workers are available. That claim does not stand up. When labor is scarce, unemployment falls and wages rise. But unemployment is high in all of the top H-2B fields, which include landscaping, groundskeeping, construction, hospitality and seafood processing, while wages in those fields have long been flat or declining.

Even if there were a labor shortage, the H-2B system would not be an acceptable solution. The Government Accountability Office has found that H-2B workers, who typically work for nine-month stints, have been abused; news reports support these findings. These workers are yoked to their employers. If they protest unsafe conditions, wage theft or other mistreatment, they risk dismissal, deportation and financial ruin.

Why would Congress expand the H-2B system? Because businesses that profit from cheap and subservient labor are demanding that it do so. Employers are supposed to recruit American workers before they hire H-2B workers. They are also supposed to pay guest workers the prevailing wage Americans would earn. Legal loopholes and lax enforcement have allowed them to sidestep those rules.

One attempt at reform was short-lived. In April of last year, federal regulators issued tough new rules to monitor recruitment and ensure fair pay. The backlash was swift. Later in 2015, in riders to a budget bill, the new rule on fair pay was undone, the annual cap on H-2B visas was effectively quadrupled, from 66,000, and the Labor Department was denied funds to audit employer compliance with visa and labor laws.

Budget riders normally expire at the end of a fiscal year. But lawmakers have now begun to attach last year’s H-2B riders to spending bills for next year.

All workers, American and foreign, deserve fair pay. Wages are depressed by the lack of labor law enforcement coupled with a broken immigration system that creates pools of exploitable labor, including nonimmigrant guest workers under H-2B. The first step toward change is to stop the riders that are derailing H-2B reform. The next, more difficult step, is comprehensive immigration reform.
6/28/2016 9:38:55 AM
Indian Mega-Companies Behind the H-1B Visa Crisis

Posts: 115
Beyond Zucked: The Indian Mega-Companies Behind the H-1B Visa Crisis

by Lee Stranahan, Breitbart.com, 30 May 20160

While the candidacy of Donald Trump has brought some light to the abuse of immigration “guest worker” programs, most Americas still aren’t aware of the issue and few know about the Indian companies profiting behind the scenes.Until Donald Trump changed the election conversation last year, H-1Bs were the immigration crisis that nobody was talking about. The middle-class suffered as educated U.S. workers were being pushed out of jobs through immigrations programs like H-1B and L1.
As The Economic Times reported:

The majority of the work done by H1B employers is really not specialist work. Most of them have between three to eight years of experience and they go on to do work for large IT departments for US banks, insurance companies, telecom operators.
While many well-meaning conservatives spent their time talking about the low skill workers coming over the border illegally from Mexico and Central America, they ignored the wage stagnation caused by the planeloads of H-1B workers flying legally into the country from India.

Indian-owned and connected companies are at the center of the H-1B controversy, but most Americans aren’t even aware of who these companies are.

If you take a look at the list of the top companies spending money lobbying for immigration reform, you’ll see a lot of instantly recognizable household names in the world of high tech and consumer electronics like Intel, Microsoft, and Facebook. However, one name won’t be familiar to most Americans: a company called Cognizant.

Cognizant Technology Solutions is a New Jersey based company that delivers IT, consulting, and outsourcing services. Even though most people have never heard of them, Cognizant is a significant player in the world of H-1B and the politics of immigration reform … and its stock just received a “buy” rating from 17 of 19 brokerages.
Cognizant isn’t the only big player in the outsourcing world: other major companies include Infosys, Wipro and Tata.

These are big companies. Wipro had revenues of $7.3 billion dollars in 2014. Infosys has revenues of $8.25 billion and Cognizant brought in a cool $8.84 billion. Tata is a nearly 150-year-old conglomerate that is involved in many areas other than outsourcing and their combined revenue for 2014-2015 was near $109 billion dollars.
Cognizant, Wipro, Infosys, and Tata all profit by supplying foreign workers to American companies via the H-1B visa program and almost all the workers are Indian. Wipro, Tata, and Infosys are Indian companies and even though Cognizant is in New Jersey, over half their workers are Indian and 64% of all H-1B Visas go to Indians.

Cognizant alone spends millions of dollars lobbying politicians on immigration policy; nearly $3,000,000 in the last two years. A look at Cognizant’s lobbying and contribution numbers show the bipartisan nature of the push for comprehensive immigration reform. They cover the table, supporting both Democrats and Republicans. On one hand, one of their lobbyists is Heather Podesta, the powerful Democrat known as the “It Girl” of Washington. On the other hand, they were big donors to the National Republican Congressional Committee.

Why are companies like Cognizant spending so much on lobbying? It’s simple business: they make a lot more on the H-1B Visa program than they spend on lobbying.
These big outsourcing companies actually hold more H-1B visas than anyone. As India’s GlobalPost reported:

Getting an H-1B visa has become a major career step for many IT graduates, and a major source of profit for the outsourcers.

For Indian workers, a job in the US means opportunities and money. For the outsourcing firms, the Indian IT workers are significantly cheaper than their American counterparts — by about 25 percent.

Tech companies have been lobbying to increase the cap — Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg set up pressure group FWD.us to campaign on immigration issues. Microsoft founder Bill Gates has been a long-time advocate of making it easier for foreign-born high-skilled workers to immigrate.

The lobbying investment that the outsourcers and high-tech firms have to American politicians in both parties has paid off. Just last year, the new Republican Congress was ready to expand the H-1B Visa Cap.

Some criticism came from surprising sources. In April 2014, Illinois Democrat and comprehensive immigration reform advocate Sen. Dick Durbin brought up the subject of H-1B abuse by the Indian outsourcers. Durbin alleged:

These outsourcing firms like Infosys, Wipro, Tata and others — Americans would be shocked to know that the H-1B visas are not going to Microsoft; they’re going to these firms, largely in India, who are finding workers, engineers, who will work at low wages in the US for three years and pay a fee to Infosys or these companies.

I think that is an abuse of what we’re trying to achieve here. Most people would think, well, Microsoft needs these folks, and they’d be shocked to know that most of the H-1B visas are not going to companies like (Microsoft); they’re going to these outsourcing companies,

Even after that spanking, the media has continued to ignore the H-1B issue. There have even been major settlements over H-1B abuse by outsourcing companies, but still the issue has gained no traction in the noisy debate over immigration. GlobalPost wrote about one settlement in 2013:

In October, Infosys paid a $34 million settlement to the Federal Government — a record for an immigration case — over allegations of “systematic visa fraud and abuse of immigration processes.”

Unable to get its cheaper Indian employees to the US to work on short term contracts, Infosys used a different visa — the B-1, normally given to foreign businessmen who need to travel to the US to complete deals.

According to an official from the Department of State’s Diplomatic Security Service, special agents spent two and a half years examining the records of 6,500 foreign Infosys employees on B-1 visas.

“Instead of attending ‘business meetings and discussions’ … many of these individuals … were working for Infosys in the United States, in violation of the conditions of their B-1 visas,” the official told GlobalPost via email.

Infosys employees were even given lists of words and topics to avoid when applying for the B-1 visas, including “implementation, design & testing, consulting” and “work, activity.”

Sometimes, it’s not just jobs being lost…it’s valuable U.S. trade secrets. As Reuters reported in April:

Epic first sued Tata in 2014 with allegations that it illicitly downloaded documentation for software it had been hired to help install at Kaiser Foundation Hospitals, accusing the Indian company of “brazenly stealing” confidential information and trade secrets in order to help its competing healthcare software provider, Med Mantra, according to court documents. It filed an amended complaint in 2015.

The jury in federal court in Wisconsin on Friday found in Epic’s favor on seven claims including breach of contract, misappropriation of trade secrets, unfair competition and unfair enrichment. It awarded $240 million in compensatory damages and $700 million in punitive damages, court documents said.

The traditional GOP approach to immigration has been paying lip service on the southern border, while largely ignoring H-1B Visas.

Meanwhile, the wages of U.S. workers has remained flat for a decade. For years, Republicans and Democrats were ready to come together to make things even worse. Politicians, lobbyists, high-tech companies, and outsourcers have all made money at the American worker’s expense.

Political outsider Trump may be the only hope American workers have to shake up the system.

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6/28/2016 9:29:57 AM
Americans Fired, Foreigners Employed

Posts: 403
Americans Fired, Foreigners Employed -

Some 450,000 Americans were fired by the big capitalist corporations in 2014—while at the same time, almost every one of those companies applied for H1-B visas to employ foreign nationals—mostly from the Third World.

The three largest offenders—Hewlett Packard, Microsoft, and Cisco Systems Inc., have together axed more than 45,000 American workers, while at the same time applying for thousands of H1-B visas, which are designed to allow foreign nationals the right to work and settle in the US.

According to a survey of job cuts published earlier this year by the 24/7 Wall Street financial news service, job cuts among US companies in 2014 totaled 450,531 through November.

Technology companies were the largest downsizers, 24/7 Wall Street said. Hewlett-Packard, Microsoft, and Cisco Systems announced the most job cuts, not only among tech companies, but also overall. That industry as a whole announced more than 58,000 job cuts in 2014, the highest number among all industries.

No company announced more layoffs in 2014 than Hewlett Packard, which reported a total of 21,000 job cuts.

However, according to the website Myvisajobs.com, which tracks the number of H1-B visa applications made by each company using data provided by the US Department of Labor and various immigration services, these three companies in particular are also some of the highest ranking H1-B visa sponsoring companies.

For example, Hewlett-Packard filed 2668 labor condition applications for H1B visa and 815 labor certifications for green cards, and was ranked number 30 among all visa sponsors.

The citizenship of those who applied through Hewlett Packard were, according to the data, as follows (listed in order of highest number of applicants first): India, Canada, Mexico, United Kingdom, China, Brazil, Spain, Singapore, Czech Republic, and Israel.

This pales in significance with Microsoft, however, which filed 15,998 labor condition applications for H1B visa and 10,500 labor certifications for green cards. Microsoft was, not surprisingly, ranked third among all visa sponsors.

The citizenship of those who applied through Microsoft were, according to the data, as follows (listed in order of highest number of applicants first): India, China, Canada, Russia, Mexico, Australia, United Kingdom, Israel, Pakistan, and Egypt.

Cisco Systems, Inc. filed 1920 labor condition applications for H1B visa and 1428 labor certifications for green cards, and was ranked 34 among all visa sponsors. The citizenship of those who applied through Cisco Systems were, according to the data, as follows (listed in order of highest number of applicants first): India, China, Canada, Pakistan, Israel, South Korea, United Kingdom, Mexico, Brazil, and Australia.

The 24/7 Wall Street report added that the industry with the second largest number of layoffs in 2014 was the retail sector, where nearly 42,000 job cuts were announced.

Financial companies, too, were among the top companies cutting jobs. JPMorgan Chase, for example, cut 5,500 jobs in 2014—but also has filed 4530 labor condition applications for H1B visa and 509 labor certifications for green cards, and was ranked number 24 among all visa sponsors. The nationalities of those who applied for H1-B visas through JPMorgan were India, China, Canada, France, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Mexico, United Kingdom, Brazil, and South Korea.

Meanwhile, most US states reported overall job losses in September 2015. Missouri lost 16,500 jobs in September, the most of any state, followed by Pennsylvania, which reported a drop of 16,400. Michigan shed 9,800 jobs, the third largest decline, followed by Hawaii, where jobs fell 8,100. West Virginia lost 11,400 jobs in the past year. It also has the nation’s highest unemployment rate, at 7.3 percent. Even North Dakota has shed 7,300 jobs in the past year, media reports revealed.

At the same time, the nonwhite invasion of America continues unabated. Mexico’s former ambassador to the US, Arturo Sarukhan, recently told MSNBC that there were actually 30 million “undocumented immigrants” living in the United States.

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6/28/2016 9:22:39 AM
More IT Jobs Sent Overseas

Posts: 403
More IT Jobs Sent Overseas

By Patrick Thibodeau, June 24th, 2016

The outsourcing of IT functions has caused a stir in many industries with stories of
IT pros forced to train their replacements and controversy surrounding the H-1B visa. Recently, major newspaper chains have moved a great deal of IT work overseas, which raises a question—could this affect news coverage of the issue?

Patrick Thibodeau writes, “Tribune Publishing Co., a major newspaper chain, is laying off as many as 200 IT employees as it shifts work overseas.

“The firm, which owns the Los Angeles Times, The Baltimore Sun, Chicago Tribune, Hartford Courant and many other media properties, told IT employees in early April that it’s moving work to India-based Tata Consultancy Services.

“Interestingly, the Tribune IT employees were notified within weeks of a similar announcement involving IT employees at the McClatchy Company, another major newspaper chain.

“McClatchy, which owns the Miami Herald, The Sacramento Bee and many other newspapers, is laying off between 120 and 150 IT employees. That company hired Wipro, an IT service provider also based in India.

“The impact of these IT outsourcing decision[s] may go beyond the job losses. It could affect coverage of this controversial issue.”

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6/25/2016 10:16:58 AM
Merrill Lynch, $415M for Misusing Customer Cash

Posts: 403
Merrill Lynch to Pay $415 Million for Misusing Customer Cash and Putting Customer Securities at Risk


Washington D.C., June 23, 2016 — The Securities and Exchange Commission today announced that Merrill Lynch has agreed to pay $415 million and admit wrongdoing to settle charges that it misused customer cash to generate profits for the firm and failed to safeguard customer securities from the claims of its creditors.

An SEC investigation found that Merrill Lynch violated the SEC’s Customer Protection Rule by misusing customer cash that rightfully should have been deposited in a reserve account. Merrill Lynch engaged in complex options trades that lacked economic substance and artificially reduced the required deposit of customer cash in the reserve account. The maneuver freed up billions of dollars per week from 2009 to 2012 that Merrill Lynch used to finance its own trading activities. Had Merrill Lynch failed in the midst of these trades, the firm’s customers would have been exposed to a massive shortfall in the reserve account.

According to the SEC’s order instituting a settled administrative proceeding, Merrill Lynch further violated the Customer Protection Rule by failing to adhere to requirements that fully-paid for customer securities be held in lien-free accounts and shielded from claims by third parties should a firm collapse. From 2009 to 2015, Merrill Lynch held up to $58 billion per day of customer securities in a clearing account that was subject to a general lien by its clearing bank and held additional customer securities in accounts worldwide that similarly were subject to liens. Had Merrill Lynch collapsed at any point, customers would have been exposed to significant risk and uncertainty of getting back their own securities.

“The rules concerning the safety of customer cash and securities are fundamental protections for investors and impose lines that simply can never be crossed,” said Andrew J. Ceresney, Director of the SEC’s Division of Enforcement. “Merrill Lynch violated these rules, including during the heart of the financial crisis, and the significant relief imposed today reflects the severity of its failures.”

In conjunction with this case, the SEC announced a two-part initiative designed to uncover additional abuses of the Customer Protection Rule. The first encourages broker-dealers to proactively report potential violations of the rule to the SEC and provides for cooperation credit and favorable settlement terms in any enforcement recommendations arising from self-reporting. Second, the Enforcement Division, in coordination with the Division of Trading and Markets and the Office of Compliance Inspections and Examinations, will conduct risk-based examinations of certain broker-dealers to assess their compliance with the Customer Protection Rule.

“Simultaneous with today's action, SEC staff will begin a coordinated effort across divisions to find potential violations by other firms through a targeted sweep and by encouraging firms to self-report any potential violations of the Customer Protection Rule,” said Michael J. Osnato, Chief of the SEC Enforcement Division’s Complex Financial Instruments Unit.

In addition to the Customer Protection Rule violations, Merrill Lynch violated Exchange Act Rule 21F-17 by using language in severance agreements that operated to impede employees from voluntarily providing information to the SEC. Merrill Lynch also engaged in significant remediation in response to the Rule 21F-17 violation, including the revision of its agreements, policies and procedures, and the implementation of a mandatory annual whistleblower-training program for all employees of Merrill Lynch and its parent corporation, Bank of America. Merrill Lynch and Bank of America also agreed to provide employees, on an annual basis, with a summary of their rights and protections under the SEC’s Whistleblower Program.

The SEC separately announced a litigated administrative proceeding against William Tirrell, who served as Merrill Lynch’s Head of Regulatory Reporting when the firm was misusing customer cash in violation of the Customer Protection Rule. The SEC’s Enforcement Division alleges that Tirrell was ultimately responsible for determining how much money Merrill Lynch would reserve in its special account, and failed to adequately monitor the trades and provide specific information to the firm’s regulators about the substance and mechanics of the trades. The litigated administrative proceeding against Tirrell will be scheduled for a public hearing before an administrative law judge who will issue an initial decision stating what, if any, remedial actions are appropriate.

The SEC’s order finds that Merrill Lynch violated Securities Exchange Act Sections 15(c)(3) and 17(a)(1) and Rules 15c3-3, 17a-3(a)(10), 17a-5(a), 17a-5(d)(2)(ii), 17a-5(d)(3), 17a-11(e), and 21F-17. Its subsidiary Merrill Lynch Professional Clearing Corporation is charged with violating Sections 15(c)(3) and 17(a)(1) and Rules 15c3-3, 17a-3(a)(10) and 17a-5(a). Merrill Lynch cooperated fully with the SEC's investigation and has engaged in extensive remediation, including by retaining an independent compliance consultant to review its compliance with the Customer Protection Rule. Merrill Lynch agreed to pay $57 million in disgorgement and interest plus a $358 million penalty, and publicly acknowledged violations of the federal securities laws.

The SEC’s investigation was conducted by Jeff Leasure and James Murtha with assistance from Eli Bass and Michael Birnbaum. The case was supervised by Mr. Osnato and Daniel Michael. The SEC’s litigation against Mr. Tirrell will be led by Michael Birnbaum, Jeff Leasure, and James Murtha. The SEC appreciates the assistance of the Public Company Accounting Oversight Board.

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6/21/2016 9:22:50 AM
Vote Democrat As A Default Position? BIG Mistake!

Posts: 147
Do You Vote Democrat As A Default Position? BIG Mistake!

By Howie Klein, DownWithTyranny

What do these 13 Democrats have in common?

• Brad Sherman (CA)
• Gregory Meeks (New Dem-NY)
• David Scott (New Dem-GA)
• Ed Perlmutter (New Dem-CO)
• Jim Himes (New Dem-CT)
• John Carney (New Dem-DE)
• Terri Sewell (New Dem-AL)
• Bill Foster (New Dem-IL)
• Patrick Murphy (New Dem-FL)
• John Delaney (New Dem-MD)
• Kyrsten Sinema (New Dem-AZ)
• Joyce Beatty (OH)
• Juan Vargas (New Dem-CA)

Let’s not start with “they all belong in prison for corruption” because that’s the end of this post. And, not every single one of them is a New Dem; two aren’t. But they all made a concerted effort to get on the House Financial Services Committee– the well-spring of congressional corruption– and, as members of that committee, they all voted for H.R. 5424 last week. And they all take significant bribes from the very Finance Sector that they’re meant to be keeping from ripping off consumers. These 13, in fact, have been among the worst enablers of the financial sector when it comes to ripping off consumers and endangering the country’s financial health. Let’s reorder the list in terms of how much in bribes each one has gotten– this cycle alone– from the Finance Sector:

• Patrick Murphy- $1,413,950
• Jim Himes- $618,150
• Kyrsten Sinema- $589,388
• Ed Perlmutter- $455,157
• Bill Foster- $401,935
• Terri Sewell- $379,400
• David Scott- $368,640
• John Delaney- $351,750
• Gregory Meeks- $338,550
• Brad Sherman- $300,750
• Juan Vargas- $247,549
• Joyce Beatty- $225,050
• John Carney- $164,450

So what is this H.R. 5424 to which I referred? Well, let’s turn to Yves Smith’s Naked Capitalism to get a good read on what Wall Street lobbyists, the Republican Party and these corrupt Democrats called the “investment Advisers Modernization Act.” If it passes and Obama signs it, it “would allow the hedge fund and private equity industry, which are rich enough to pay for the few parking-ticket-level fines the SEC hands out, to escape from virtually all enforcement efforts. Worse, it would considerably weaken protections meant to stop Madoff-type frauds, and leave retail investors exposed.”

Dodd Frank stipulated that private equity and hedge funds beyond a modest size be regulated as investment advisers. That subjected them to SEC examinations. The initial round exposed widespread misconduct in private equity, including what would normally be called embezzlement.

Yet the agency has fined remarkably few sanctions, and the fines have been light relative to the extent of the misconduct alleged by the SEC and unearthed by the press.

To make a bad situation worse, the SEC retreated from its tough enforcement talk within months, and more recently, has been trying to fool the chump public into believing that its weak enforcement actions are having an impact when private equity form ADV filings with the SEC reveal the reverse, that many firms are continuing to engage in precisely the same conduct that the SEC has deemed to be a securities law violation.

But even this cronyistic enforcement charade is an offense to these Masters of the Universe. HR 5424 would gut Dodd Frank oversight. I’ve attached a letter from Americans for Financial Reform at the end of the post, which sets forth how this bill makes a mockery of the idea of investor protection.

…[T]he bill creates exemptions to the requirement that investment advisers have their holdings independently audited at least annually. The exemptions on the surface appear to apply to closely-held funds. It carves out ones whose investors are “officers, directors, and employees” of not just the fund manger, but also of “affiliated persons,” their “officers, directors, and employees,” current and former family members, and “officers, directors, and employees,” who provide or have entered into contracts to provide services….and not just to the investment vehicle itself, but to any of its clients!

It’s easy to see how this provision could be abused by, say, having someone enter into a sham or trivial service agreement to get access to a supposedly hot manager. You can even hear the patter: “The only people who can invest are friends and employees, and OMG have they made boatloads, but the SEC will allow you to invest if we are your client. And that’s really easy to do. Just sign this contract…”

As professor Jennifer Taub stated in her testimony on the bill last month:

Just when private equity funds are in the sunlight thanks to Dodd-Frank and many have been exposed in SEC examinations as in violation of the law, you are now proposing that they be able to hide their tracks. Instead of encouraging a culture of compliance, this bill would provide a loophole for investment adviser recordkeeping requirements. Subjecting communications to confidentiality agreements or keeping them in-house would allow advisers to destroy critical investment records…

The Investment Advisers Modernization Act of 2016 is misnamed. Instead of ushering in modernity, it would send the SEC and investors back to the Dark Ages. Like the other bills today, it is misaligned with the hearing’s title, “Legislative Proposals to Enhance Capital Formation, Transparency, and Regulatory Accountability.” This bill would not enhance capital formation. Instead it would undermine investor protection and trust, which could inhibit or drive up the cost of capital. It would not promote transparency, but allow certain private equity advisers and other private fund advisers that have been exposed as lacking in recent SEC examinations to hide their tracks. It would not encourage regulatory accountability. Instead it would punish regulatory success, depriving the SEC of the information and tools it has been using to monitor system-wide risks, identify firm-specific risk, investigate fraud, and enforce the law.

It was funny yesterday when Senator Sherrod Brown (D-OH) sent out an e-mail moaning about how the Republicans are trying to destroy Dodd-Frank. “Dodd-Frank,” he wrote, “is the package of safeguards Democrats passed after Wall Street devastated our economy in 2008. It’s designed to protect consumers and homeowners, and make sure the risky behavior that triggered the Great Recession doesn’t happen again. Make no mistake about it: Republicans in Congress are trying to take a jackhammer to those safeguards. They don’t have a problem putting Main Street back on the hook for Wall Street’s greed.”

Is it too difficult for Brown to acknowledge that it isn’t only Republicans but the Republican-wing of his own party– the New Dems and Blue Dogs primarily– who are working steadily to erode and, in his words, “destroy” Dodd-Frank. That is certainly why Wall Street has given more money to Patrick Murphy than any other non-incumbent running for the Senate this year– more, by far, than any Republican. He has shown Wall Street his willingness– actually eagerness– to serve their interests on the House Financial Services Committee. Sherrod Brown is very aware of Patrick Murphy’s record and behavior and his devotion to the Wall Street banksters. And Sherrod Brown endorsed him– not against a Republican, but against a proven and effective fighter against Wall Street excess, Alan Grayson. He also refuse dto endorse Bernie and gave an early nod to Hillary, another conservative Democrat whose affinity towards Wall Street is hardly secret.

“Demand Congressional Republicans leave the Dodd-Frank financial reforms in place,” continued Brown. “I’m more than willing to admit that there are portions of Dodd-Frank that can be improved. We still have banks in this country that are “Too Big To Fail”– that’s something we should fix.But Republicans aren’t talking about improvements, they’re talking about going back to the same practices that caused the Great Recession.” Yeah… and so are the New Dems like Brown-endorsee Patrick Murphy.

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6/20/2016 12:22:40 AM
Few shortages of skilled workers in America

Posts: 403
Ignore the hype. There are few shortages of skilled workers in America.

by Editor of the Fabius Maximus

Summary: The shortage of STEM workers is a zombie myth too politically useful to die. But here’s data that should kill it. Worse, it implies we might soon see a surplus of highly educated workers, undercutting the more education as a solution to automation story. We’ll need to consider more radical ideas.

“While there are over 500,000 computing jobs currently unfilled in the U.S., only 42,969 computer science students graduated from U.S. universities into the workforce last year.”

— “Computer Science in K-12 Classrooms” by the Computer Science Education Coalition, one of the many lobbying groups funded by corporations to ensure cheap labor. Median wages for people with PhDs in computer science were $121,300 in 2013, down 7% from 2008. There is no shortage, even in this hottest of fields.

Wages show the supply & demand for people with Ph.D.s.

Their wages are falling, so there is no shortage.

For years corporations and their paid propagandists at think-tanks have bombarded us with news about the shortage of workers in the STEM fields (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics), which will cripple America in the 21st century. Looking to the future, we’re told growth in these fields would offset some of the massive unemployment from automation.

Oddly, despite the ludicrously high numbers of unfilled jobs reported, wages in these fields have not been rapidly rising (excerpt in a few hot specialties, as it takes time for students to graduate into them). Has the law of supply and demand been repealed? No, since not only is there no shortage, but even Ph.D.s in these fields are in excess supply and seeking employment in other fields, or at jobs in their field not requiring their level of training.

Worse, the data suggests that in the future we might have an oversuppy of highly educated workers (the large surplus of attorneys might be the exemplar of what’s to come).

What we see here is corporations using the news media and government to ensure an ample supply of cheap skilled workers. An entire movement has been built on this fake story.
Here’s the latest of the articles presenting the facts about higher education in the second decade of the 21st century.

Job-Seeking Ph.D. Holders Look to Life Outside School

by Douglas Belkin in the Wall Street Journal

“New doctorate holders are grappling with dwindling employment prospects.”“…The percentage of new doctorate recipients without jobs or plans for further study climbed to 39% in 2014 from 31% in 2009, according to a National Science Foundation survey released in April. Median salaries for midcareer Ph.D.s working full time fell 6% between 2010 and 2013.

“The reason: supply and demand. Production of doctorates in the U.S. climbed 28% in the decade ending in 2014 to an all-time high of 54,070. That surge has come as more Americans see a postgraduate degree as a hedge against stagnating wages and unemployment in an economy demanding increasingly specific skills and expertise.
“Meanwhile, the academic job market — the largest employer of Ph.D.s — continues to wither as many universities move away from the model of only employing tenured professors and toward using greater numbers of relatively lowly paid adjunct teachers.

“In addition, critical pockets of public and private funding that have traditionally supported jobs for doctorate holders in their research fields have dwindled. The pharmaceuticals industry, for example — the largest employer of chemists in the country — has moved much of its research overseas, shedding 300,000 jobs in the U.S. in recent years. Salaries for chemists with Ph.D.s fell 12% between 2004 and 2014, according to the American Chemical Society.

“…Michael Teitelbaum, who studies the scientific workforce as a senior adviser to the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation, a not-for-profit organization that supports research in education {said} ‘When you can import an international workforce or outsource research, you have a buyer’s market.’

“…their median incomes have been falling. Computer scientists earned $121,300 in 2013, down from $129,839 in 2008; engineers saw a drop to $120,000 from $125,511 and social scientists fell to $85,000 from $90,887.

“…The decline in full-time hiring in universities has resulted in tens of thousands of Ph.D. holders teaching classes for around $3000 each without benefits. …

“As a result, many graduate students are considering careers outside the academy or their research field. This has led to credential inflation as Ph.D.s fill jobs traditionally held by professionals without such lofty degrees. For instance the number of Ph.D.s applying to teach at private high schools has jumped between 10% and 20% over the last five years, according to Devereaux McLatchey, president of Carney, Sandoe & Associates which is one of the nation’s largest recruiters for private high schools.

“…Production of doctorates in the U.S. climbed 28% in the decade ending in 2014 to an all-time high of 54,070. …”

Skills: only useful if there are jobs.

Another perspective: corps use H1-B visas to depress wagesNot content with shipping jobs overseas and pushing to generate a surplus of workers in America, corporations import more workers to depress wages in skilled fields:
The H1-B Visas Don’t Help American STEM Graduates

By Senator Jeff Sessions (R-AL), Wall Street Journal

“It’s a myth that there is a shortage of qualified Americans to fill jobs in STEM.”“…To support your belief that American workers should receive no protections, you recycle the myth that there is a shortage of qualified Americans to fill jobs in STEM—science, technology, engineering and math—and then demand more guest workers as substitutes. Your evidence for this claim is that the government “received a record 233,000 requests from American business for the 85,000 H-1B visas available.” But the only thing this statistic proves is that companies prefer low-wage, bonded guest workers over higher-paid Americans.

“Each year, the U.S. graduates twice as many students with STEM degrees as are hired in STEM occupations. Contrary to the suggestion that these students are finding better, higher-paying jobs, the opposite is true. About 35% of science students, 55% of technology students, 20% of engineering students and 30% of math students who recently graduated are now working in jobs that don’t require any four-year college degree. As further proof of no shortage, wages in the profitable IT industry have been largely flat for more than a decade.

“Yet despite the enormous supply of job-seeking Americans, two-thirds of entry-level hires in the tech industry are now going to foreign workers.

“That is because the H-1B visa is not a high-skilled immigration program. It operates as a low-wage nonimmigrant temporary visa, undercutting the jobs and wages of highly qualified Americans. Just recently, Southern California Edison laid off hundreds of loyal employees and forced them to train the H-1B guest workers hired to replace them. One of those replaced American workers was a mother with a physical disability caring for two children. …”


We find it difficult to prepare for the future because we cannot clearly see the present through all the lies we are told.

There are no broad shortages of skilled workers in America (the slow growth of wages in almost every field shows that). Worse, there are already signs of surpluses in many kinds of workers with both undergraduate and advanced degrees — so that ramping up education is unlikely to compensate for the jobs lost in the coming wave of automation.

We need to begin considering more radical solutions. Such as ways to generate faster economic growth and jobs, and support those that lose their jobs. We have dealt with the severe transitions of previous industrial revolutions, and can do so with this one. Keep our eyes open, our minds clear, and stand together.

Other articles about the STEM “crisis”

Link to Source
6/20/2016 12:08:52 AM
Visa Abuses Harm American Workers

Posts: 403
Visa Abuses Harm American Workers
NY Times, Editorial Board, JUNE 16, 2016

There is no doubt that H-1B visas — temporary work permits for specially talented foreign professionals — are instead being used by American employers to replace American workers with cheaper foreign labor. Abbott Laboratories, the health care conglomerate based in Illinois, recently became the latest large American company to use the visas in this way, following the lead of other employers, including Southern California Edison, Northeast Utilities (now Eversource Energy), Disney, Toys “R” Us and New York Life.

Technology workers from Abbott Laboratories gathered in April at a North Chicago bar after the company laid off about 150 of them.

The visas are supposed to be used only to hire college-educated foreigners in “specialty occupations” requiring “highly specialized knowledge,” and only when such hiring will not depress prevailing wages. But in many cases, laid-off American workers have been required to train their lower-paid replacements.

Lawmakers from both parties have denounced the visa abuse, but it is increasingly widespread, mainly because of loopholes in the law. For example, in most instances, companies that hire H-1B workers are not required to recruit Americans before hiring from overseas. Similarly, companies are able to skirt the rules for using H-1B workers by outsourcing the actual hiring of those workers to Tata, Infosys and other temporary staffing firms, mostly based in India.

Criticism of the visa process has been muted, and reform has moved slowly, partly because laid-off American workers — mostly tech employees replaced by Indian guest workers — have not loudly protested. Their reticence does not mean acceptance or even resignation. As explained in The Times on Sunday by Julia Preston, most of the displaced workers had to sign agreements prohibiting them from criticizing their former employers as a condition of receiving severance pay. The gag orders have largely silenced the laid-off employees, while allowing the employers to publicly defend their actions as legal, which is technically accurate, given the loopholes in the law.

The conversation, however, is changing. Fourteen former tech workers at Abbott, including one who forfeited a chunk of severance pay rather than sign a so-called nondisparagement agreement, have filed federal claims with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission saying they were discriminated against because of their ages and American citizenship. Tech workers from Disney have filed federal lawsuits accusing the company and two global outsourcing firms of colluding to supplant Americans with H-1B workers. Former employees of Eversource Energy have also begun to challenge their severance-related gag orders by publicly discussing their dismissals and replacement by foreign workers on H-1B and other visas.

Congressional leaders of both parties have questioned the nondisparagement agreements. Bipartisan legislation in the Senate would revise visa laws to allow former employees to protest their layoffs. Beyond that, what Congress really needs to do is close the loopholes that allow H-1B abuses.

Link to Source
6/20/2016 12:04:12 AM
Foreign worker loophole concerns some NC lawmakers

Posts: 198
Foreign worker loophole concerns some NC lawmakers

The Charlotte Observer, June 19th 2016

CHARLOTTE, NC (Deon Roberts/The Charlotte Observer) - North Carolina’s practice of awarding millions in taxpayer-funded incentives to companies that hire foreign workers is causing concern among some lawmakers.

An Observer analysis of federal data this month revealed that companies in Charlotte and across North Carolina are stepping up their use of the H-1B visa program. The visas allow employers to bring foreign workers to the U.S. on a temporary basis to fill highly specialized positions, such as scientists and computer programmers.

Among the employers applying for visa workers in Charlotte are two companies that have received millions of dollars in state incentives to create jobs in the city, the Observer found. State law doesn’t prohibit companies from using foreign workers to meet job-creation requirements tied to the incentives, according to the North Carolina Department of Commerce.

North Carolina lawmakers say that’s troubling.

“If we’re recruiting jobs for North Carolina, they should be for North Carolinians,” said Sen. Bob Rucho, a Matthews Republican. “How fair is that?”

Lawmakers said they will investigate possible changes that would ban or at least restrict companies that are awarded incentives from using visa workers, though they believe such a move would likely have to wait until next year’s regular session.

Rep. Craig Horn, a Weddington Republican who serves on the House Commerce and Job Development Committee, said he will “see if I can get folks working on this.” He said he learned of the loophole through the Observer’s reporting.

Horn said he’d like to study the issue further. But he believes awarding incentives to companies that use foreign visa workers to fulfill job-creation requirements amounts to an “unintended consequence” of the incentive program.

“I would close the loophole,” he said. “I want to see our state tax money used to benefit our state residents.”

House Speaker Tim Moore and Senate leader Phil Berger did not respond to requests for comment.

A political flashpoint

The attention to state incentives comes at a time when the H-1B visa program is becoming a political flashpoint nationally. Proponents say the visas help companies fill jobs for which they can’t find qualified workers. Critics say companies abuse the program, replacing Americans with foreign workers willing to work for less.

Since publishing its original story, the Observer has received dozens of emails from readers in Charlotte and around the country, some sharing personal stories of losing tech jobs to H-1B visa workers from India. Some laid-off workers said they were further humiliated and outraged when their company told them to train their foreign replacements.

A Charlotte resident who said he’s lost IT jobs in the city to visa workers twice in the past five years

“It was not very pleasant to have someone next to you trying to learn your job so they can take it away,” said one former Charlotte contract worker who described losing information technology jobs in the city’s financial sector to visa workers. It happened to him twice in the past five years, he said.

“We had to hold their hands while they learned our jobs,” said the worker, who asked that his name and employer not be published, saying he was not authorized to speak publicly.

“I even had to teach a couple of people what was banking,” he said. “I had to explain what a checking system was in this country.”

More than half of readers who responded to an Observer questionnaire this month said they have experienced being laid off in Charlotte by an employer who replaced them with an H-1B visa worker. More than 75 people responded to the questionnaire.

The Charlotte Observer’s owner, McClatchy, is among U.S. companies turning to outsourcing firms that employ large numbers of H-1B visa workers. Starting this summer, the California-based publisher will begin outsourcing some technology functions to India-based Wipro, a move that will result in layoffs of 121 McClatchy employees across the U.S., including 10 in Charlotte. McClatchy said the move is designed in part to help accelerate its transformation into a more digitally focused media company.

Outsourcing firm gets $5M

Attorney General Roy Cooper, a Democrat opposing Gov. Pat McCrory in his re-election bid, in an emailed statement said incentives should not be used to replace North Carolina workers with cheaper foreign labor. Cooper stopped short of promising to push for specific changes to the law.

“North Carolina tax incentives should be used for companies that will create jobs for our North Carolina workers,” Cooper said.

Josh Ellis, a spokesman for McCrory, said by email: “Attracting high-tech companies with high-skilled talent is good for North Carolina. Roy Cooper’s union-inspired talking points were not expressed last week at an economic development forum nor any time he personally signed off on incentive agreements as attorney general.”

Rep. John Fraley, a Mooresville Republican who also serves on the House Commerce and Job Development Committee, called the matter “worthy of further investigation and debate” before or during next year’s session of the General Assembly.

In Charlotte, outsourcing firm Cognizant was awarded $5 million in incentives in 2014 in return for an expansion that would add 150 workers in Charlotte and 350 elsewhere in the state. The New Jersey-based firm, one of the nation’s largest users of H-1B visas, submitted 2,593 initial H-1B applications in Charlotte in fiscal 2015. That’s the most of any company that applied for visas in Charlotte that year.

Also in 2014, New Jersey-based Spectra Group was awarded a roughly $2.9 million grant tocreate 250 jobs in Charlotte. The information technology and financial services firm has since filed initial applications for 10 visa workers to be based in Charlotte and Fort Mill, S.C., federal data show.

Spectra Group could not be reached for comment. Cognizant, in a previous statement, said it actively hires experienced U.S. workers and recruits qualified students from colleges and universities across North Carolina and the country. But the firm also said it relies on H-1B visas to fill “talent gaps” in the U.S.

Recruiters who work to fill IT jobs say the skills gap is real. North Carolina has 19,565 open computing jobs but had only 1,224 computer science graduates in 2014, according to Code.org, a nonprofit focused on increasing access to computer science education in schools.

The debate over the visas has reached Capitol Hill, where some members of Congress are seeking to restrict access to them. They argue some employers are abusing the program as a means to use lower-cost foreign labor to replace Americans who are more qualified. Others want to see annual H-1B visa caps raised, arguing the program is a critical tool to fill science, technology, engineering and mathematics jobs for which there are too few qualified Americans.

For his part, John Lassiter, a former Charlotte City Council member who now chairs the Economic Development Partnership of North Carolina, said employers in North Carolina and elsewhere sometimes struggle to find qualified workers for certain jobs.

“Some cases, they have to go find those skills from somewhere else around the world,” said Lassister, who said the partnership does not get involved in the requirements placed on companies that get state incentives.

Jeff Finkle, president of the International Economic Development Council, said he’s not aware of any state where companies awarded incentives are required to hire only Americans.
“I’m not saying that a few more egregious cases (of visa practices) won’t cause some states to think about that,” said Finkle, whose Washington, D.C.-based nonprofit’s membership includes economic developers in the U.S. and abroad.

South Carolina does not ban companies that get incentives from filling jobs with visa workers, South Carolina Department of Commerce spokeswoman Adrienne Fairwell said.

It’s unclear what steps North Carolina lawmakers might take. But one option is to place limits, rather than an outright ban, on visa hiring when companies get North Carolina incentives.
That’s an idea suggested by Rep. John Bradford, a Cornelius Republican.

“In instances where skill gaps clearly exist I think exceptions can be requested and reviewed, and perhaps granted,” Bradford said.

“That said, though, jobs for North Carolinians should always be the main priority if and when North Carolina economic incentives are involved.”

Link to Source
6/20/2016 12:00:10 AM
Abbott uses H-1B program to displace U.S. workers

Posts: 198
Abbott uses H-1B program to displace U.S. workers
Like Disney, company requires laid-off workers to train their foreign replacements to qualify for severance payments

By Norbert Sparrow, Plastics Today, June 19, 2016

Abbott Laboratories (Abbott Park, IL) is a greatly admired global healthcare company with a 125-year history of innovation and deeply rooted commitment to improving access to healthcare through its philanthropic Abbott Fund. Its Chairman and CEO Miles D. White was named one of the world’s best CEOs by Barron’s in 2016, the eighth consecutive year in which he has made that list. So I have to wonder why the company thought that laying off approximately 180 IT employees and replacing some of them with workers from India hired on H-1B and other temporary visas was a good idea. The company also required some of the displaced workers to train their replacements and to keep any complaints to themselves if they want to receive their full severance payments. This is what Disney did in Orlando not too long ago, which earned it a much-deserved public shaming.

“[H-1B] visas are supposed to be used only to hire college-educated foreigners in ‘specialty occupations’ requiring ‘highly specialized knowledge,’ and only when such hiring will not depress prevailing wages. But in many cases, laid-off American workers have been required to train their lower-paid replacements,” wrote the New York Times in an editorial published on June 16 (“ Visa Abuses Harm American Workers ”). By making severance payments contingent on signed agreements prohibiting the former employees from bad-mouthing the company, the public response has been muted, but those days may be numbered. In that same op-ed piece, the New York Times writes that “14 former tech workers at Abbott, including one who forfeited a chunk of severance pay rather than sign a so-called nondisparagement agreement, have filed federal claims with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission saying they were discriminated against because of their ages and American citizenship.” Many of the workers who received pink slips reportedly were over the age of 40.

It’s abundantly clear that the H-1B visa program is being abused by corporations. While the practice may not be technically illegal—the law is rife with loopholes—the ethics are deplorable. It can only fuel the increasingly shared sentiment of a rigged system that shores up corporate profits at the expense of U.S. workers. None of this surprises me, except for the fact that a company with Abbott’s history of corporate social responsibility would choose to go down this road.

Link to Source
6/17/2016 12:55:56 AM
Visa Abuses Harm American Workers

Posts: 115
Visa Abuses Harm American Workers

New York Times, The Editorial Board, June 16, 2016

There is no doubt that H-1B visas — temporary work permits for specially talented foreign professionals — are instead being used by American employers to replace American workers with cheaper foreign labor. Abbott Laboratories, the health care conglomerate based in Illinois, recently became the latest large American company to use the visas in this way, following the lead of other employers, including Southern California Edison, Northeast Utilities (now Eversource Energy), Disney, Toys “R” Us and New York Life.

The visas are supposed to be used only to hire college-educated foreigners in “specialty occupations” requiring “highly specialized knowledge,” and only when such hiring will not depress prevailing wages. But in many cases, laid-off American workers have been required to train their lower-paid replacements.

Lawmakers from both parties have denounced the visa abuse, but it is increasingly widespread, mainly because of loopholes in the law. For example, in most instances, companies that hire H-1B workers are not required to recruit Americans before hiring from overseas. Similarly, companies are able to skirt the rules for using H-1B workers by outsourcing the actual hiring of those workers to Tata, Infosys and other temporary staffing firms, mostly based in India.

Criticism of the visa process has been muted, and reform has moved slowly, partly because laid-off American workers — mostly tech employees replaced by Indian guest workers — have not loudly protested. Their reticence does not mean acceptance or even resignation. As explained in The Times on Sunday by Julia Preston, most of the displaced workers had to sign agreements prohibiting them from criticizing their former employers as a condition of receiving severance pay. The gag orders have largely silenced the laid-off employees, while allowing the employers to publicly defend their actions as legal, which is technically accurate, given the loopholes in the law.

The conversation, however, is changing. Fourteen former tech workers at Abbott, including one who forfeited a chunk of severance pay rather than sign a so-called nondisparagement agreement, have filed federal claims with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission saying they were discriminated against because of their ages and American citizenship.

Tech workers from Disney have filed federal lawsuits accusing the company and two global outsourcing firms of colluding to supplant Americans with H-1B workers. Former employees of Eversource Energy have also begun to challenge their severance-related gag orders by publicly discussing their dismissals and replacement by foreign workers on H-1B and other visas.

Congressional leaders of both parties have questioned the nondisparagement agreements. Bipartisan legislation in the Senate would revise visa laws to allow former employees to protest their layoffs. Beyond that, what Congress really needs to do is close the loopholes that allow H-1B abuses.

Link to Source
6/7/2016 11:30:41 AM
Software Engineers: Exploited Migrant Workers?

Posts: 198
Software Engineers: Exploited Migrant Workers?

By David Iaconangelo, Working In These Times, Jun 7, 2016

Elton Kent, a software engineer from India, is filing a class action lawsuit against Accenture in U.S. courts, claiming pay discrimination under his L-1 visa. (WOCinTech Chat / Flickr)

Before Elton Kent ever set foot in New York, his career was going swimmingly. A son of India’s upper-middle-class, he had cut his teeth at a start-up, and finagled that into a prized job offer as a software engineer at the most prestigious firm in India: Accenture. Then, he says, in 2012, another stroke of good fortune came: Management was going to transfer him to New York City.

To bring him to the United States, Accenture applied for an L-1 visa, one of two visas for workers with knowledge or skills deemed to be in short supply among Americans.

Kent didn’t realize it, but when he got off the plane in New York in the fall of 2012, he stepped into a long-simmering dispute between software service providers like Accenture and American employees who see their profession undercut by foreign guest workers. Those guest workers, in turn, are often leery of making common cause with their American counterparts, fearing that by speaking out they may lose their visas or damage their career prospects back home.

But Kent says the issue is one of basic fairness. A month after quitting Accenture, in November 2015, he filed a class-action lawsuit against his former employer, citing “frustration and dismay at…uncorrected discrimination in compensation and promotional opportunities.” The suit alleges discrimination on the basis of national origin and says he was paid less than Americans who performed the same job and was denied the same benefits. It seeks the compensation he believes he would’ve made had he been an American citizen, plus legal fees.
Odd Poster Children

Guest workers in the software industry may seem odd poster children for workplace injustice. Many come from backgrounds of relative advantage in newly industrialized countries like India or the Philippines. While their salaries may be lower than those of their American counterparts, they still typically qualify as squarely upper-middle-class. During most of the three years Kent was employed in the United States, he made $85,300 annually, according to Accenture human resources records.

But in an April 29 memorandum in support of Kent’s motion for class certification, his legal team analyzed the salaries of “software engineer senior analysts”—Kent’s official title—at Accenture’s New York office during the time he worked there. The analysis paints a picture of a guest-visa workforce that consistently earned less than their U.S. counterparts.

Over a two-year period from 2013 to 2015, they wrote, only 25.2 percent of employees in the company’s Global Careers Program—a team made up exclusively of foreign guest workers— earned $75,000 or more per year. That’s compared to 68.8 percent of non-GCP employees.

Accenture declined to comment for this article. But in a mid-April affidavit, the company contested the pay analysis, saying that “no reliable method” exists to measure whether GCP and non-GCP employees hold comparable positions.

Both sides are slated to present arguments on the motion for class certification in September.

Less white-collar instances of L-1 exploitation have emerged. In October 2014 the Department of Labor investigated a printing technology company in Fremont, Calif., and found it had been paying Indian IT workers less than $2 an hour to install computer systems.

But the main argument levied against L-1s and the other temporary visa for tech workers—the H-1B—is that these visas give companies a cheap source of labor that undermines U.S. workers, essentially offshoring their jobs without moving them overseas.

In 2004, the Orlando Weekly ran a feature titled “Mike Emmons is Mad as Hell.” Emmons and 20 other software developers were informed by management they would be laid off—then required to train their Indian replacements, who were hired on L-1 visas. If Emmons and the others refused to stay on for the training, they’d lose their health insurance. Emmons couldn’t afford that. His daughter had spina bfida, a degenerative disease of the spinal column. After the experience, he became an crusader against the visa system.

In theory, employees on these visas are supposed to have specialized knowledge of a sort that’s hard to find among Americans. L-1 workers, for example, need to be managers or executives at the foreign facility. To get an H-1B, applicants must be seeking work in a “specialty” occupation and have at least a bachelor’s degree.

Silicon Valley execs from Bill Gates to Mark Zuckerberg have long maintained that such visas are necessary to fill a domestic shortage in STEM knowledge. Some experts disagree.

Aman Kapoor is the founder and president of Immigration Voice, a D.C.-based advocacy group for high-skilled guest workers that tries to pose a counterweight to Silicon Valley lobbying. “Even among immigrants, we don’t believe that the shortage is real,” he says. “It’d be true if they said there’s a shortage of talent at a specific price. These guys are unwilling to pay the price. … And they make sure that people coming in outside have few rights [so they can] pay them less and get more work out of them.”

Ron Hira, a political science professor at Howard University who has spent well over a decade researching visas for high-skilled workers, notes that such visas have few educational requirements. “There’s no educational requirement on the L-1 at all. And 80 percent [of workers] on the H-1B only have a bachelor’s degree.”

Some of the L-1 workers might have hard-to-come-by knowledge of a company’s internal workings. The problem is, Hira says, that visa officers don’t know how to assess that. “I think there’s very few [such workers], to be frank.”

The L-1, the least regulated of the visas in question, has no obligation that employers recruit U.S. workers first. “Maybe there is a shortage, maybe there isn’t, but employers should be required to prove one,” says Daniel Costa director of immigration law and policy at the Economic Policy Institute. “They should be required to recruit U.S. workers first and to pay at least the going rate, the average wage.”

Immigration Voice’s Kapoor argues that these visas are exploitative regardless of whether the jobs fill a need, because the worker’s presence in the U.S. is tied to the employer. To change jobs, a worker has to reapply for a visa, sponsored by a new employer. This limit on employees’ autonomy make it unlikely that a worker will make a fuss about substandard wages and working conditions. “Everybody knows about this,” says Kapoor. “It’s no secret.”

Kent knew that if he quit his job at Accenture, he had only two choices: “It was either resign and go back home, or get the H-1B and transfer,” he says.

Luck was on his side: A start-up based in Manhattan agreed to sponsor him for an H-1B. In October, he learned that he’d gotten it, and gave notice at Accenture. The next month, he filed the lawsuit.

Legislative Fixes

Each Congressional session sees new legislation to fix loopholes in visa laws introduced. The bills are usually bipartisan—a 2015 version was sponsored by Senators Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) and Chuck Grassley (R- Iowa). The 2013 comprehensive immigration overhaul that stalled in the House would have created an H-1B job database, so that Americans could scope out jobs for which they might be qualified. In general, Costa says, legislation has been fairly well-conceived.

But the issue engenders a perfect storm of bipartisan alliances. Republican Sens. Jeff Flake (Ariz.), Orrin Hatch (Utah) and Marco Rubio (Fla.), and Democratic Sens. Amy Klobuchar (Minn.) and Richard Blumenthal (Conn.) have all pushed for an end to caps on visas. Gridlock prevails.

Kent’s claim is still in the initial stages of litigation, so its impact is unclear. But it amounts to a challenge to the very structure of the L-1 visa program.

Emmons, who’s in software development now for the Orlando state attorney’s office, says he was glad to learn of Kent’s lawsuit. “I don’t think they should be taking jobs from Americans, but they should be paid a prevailing wage if they’re working here. It’s not fair to anyone but the corporations and the politicians whose pockets are lined by the corporations.” 

Link to Source
6/7/2016 11:18:25 AM
N.C. taxpayers pay to outsource tech jobs

Posts: 147
Don’t make N.C. taxpayers pay to outsource tech jobs

The Observer editorial board

Nearly two years ago, we urged North Carolina lawmakers to stop companies from hiring foreign nationals for jobs created in exchange for state tax breaks and other economic development perks.

Today, however, companies remain free to hire foreign workers for such taxpayer-subsidized jobs. State law remains silent on the overlap between economic development incentives and companies’ increasing reliance on H-1B visa workers.

As a report in Sunday’s Observer showed, that’s an increasingly problematic silence.

Business writer Deon Roberts reported that companies’ visa applications for Charlotte positions rose 39 percent from the year prior – a bigger surge than the national increase of roughly 25 percent. Employers sought more than 16,500 H-1B visas in the Charlotte metro area, many of them in the technology sector.

Many of those jobs don’t involve taxpayer subsidies. But the state in 2014 gave Cognizant, a New Jersey firm that ranks among the nation’s biggest tech outsourcers, $5 million in incentives over 12 years for hiring 150 workers in Charlotte and 350 elsewhere in the state.

In the 2015 fiscal year, the firm submitted 2,593 H-1B applications in Charlotte – the most any firm sought in the city.

Is Cognizant hiring Americans only for its 500 state-subsidized jobs? Even if so, do we want to incentivize an outfit that then turns around and brings in five times as many foreign workers?

Companies say they need visa workers because they can’t find enough qualified Americans. But that’s clearly not the full story. Visa holders, many of them Indian, serve far more cheaply than U.S. citizens. Some American tech workers facing impending layoffs have to train their foreign replacements on their way out.

We get it. Companies (including the Observer’s parent company, McClatchy Corp.) turn to visa workers to help the bottom line – and, at times, because they can’t find good candidates otherwise.

Understandable. Just don’t ask taxpayers to help.

The story in Sunday’s Observer prompted the wife of one laid-off Charlotte tech worker to call the editorial board and plead for more coverage of the H-1B visa phenomenon.

“It’s a huge problem for this country,” said the woman, who asked not to be identified because her husband is seeking work. “Some people we know, they’ve taken lower-paying service jobs just so they’ll have a job. They’ve had to tighten their belts to the point where it’s unbelievable.”

Congress must decide on reforms for the H-1B visa program. But why shouldn’t the state at least limit the percentage of foreign workers who can be hired in jobs tied to state incentives packages?

Voters are turning to outsiders like Bernie Sanders and Donald Trump precisely because they don’t feel heard on matters such as this.

American workers have lost so much ground already. They shouldn’t have to subsidize visa workers’ jobs – and their own layoffs – as well.

Link to Source
6/7/2016 11:15:56 AM
Millions of NC Incentives go to Visa Workers

Posts: 147
Millions of N.C. incentives go to companies using visa workers

By Winston-Salem Journal, June 5, 2016

As more companies turn to H-1B visa workers, North Carolina taxpayers are helping foot the bill.

Among those applying to use the visa workers are companies that have been awarded millions of dollars in state grants under agreements to create jobs across the state.

And it’s legal for those companies to meet their job-creation requirements with foreign workers, according to the N.C. Department of Commerce.

“State law governing incentives does not address visas and, therefore, does not prevent companies from using H-1B visa workers,” Commerce Department spokeswoman Kim Genardo said in an email.

The trend is playing out in Charlotte, where companies receiving state incentives have sought to place visa workers here.

In 2014, the state awarded New Jersey-based Spectra Group a $2.9 million grant to create 250 jobs in Charlotte.

Since then, the information technology and financial services firm submitted initial applications for 10 visa workers to be based in Charlotte and Fort Mill, S.C., according to federal data.

Another company, outsourcing firm HCL Technologies, was awarded more than $19 million in state grants in 2014 in exchange for expanding in Wake County. HCL said it planned to invest $9 million expanding a facility in Cary and creating an additional 1,237 jobs there by the end of 2018.

In a statement when the 2014 incentives were announced, HCL referred to Cary as a “strategic talent hub.”

Last year, the Noida, India-based company filed initial applications for more than 2,000 H-1B workers based in North Carolina, the vast majority in Wake County.

Spokesmen at neither Spectra nor HCL could be reached for comment.

It’s unclear if either will seek to have H-1B visa workers counted toward their employment totals required by their incentives.

Former Congressman Bruce Morrison, principal author of the 1990 law that created the H-1B visa, said states that dole out incentives for job creation shouldn’t let those firms fill the positions with visa workers.

“My visceral reaction is it’s a shame,” Morrison said. “The taxpayers ... have been taken for a ride.”

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