July 29, 2003
My name is Pat Fluno. I'm a computer programmer from Orlando, Florida. My
co-workers and I lost our jobs to visa holders from India. I'd like to begin by
reading excerpts from a letter I wrote to Representative John Mica in August of
2002 asking for help.
We are employees in the data processing department (IT) of Siemens
ICN, at both the Lake Mary and Boca Raton sites. We are all US
citizens and full time salaried computer programmers and analysts ranging in age
from 33 to 56.
Approximately 15 employees have letters dated April 19, 2002, indicating
a layoff date 'in conjunction with the restructuring of I.T.' At that time, employee
meetings were held informing us that the department would be outsourced.
During the months of May and June, management had meetings with
outsourcing companies on site. We were interviewed by several of those
companies and all expressed surprise that we had already been given definitive
layoff dates. During the last week of June, the outsourcing company was
announced as Tata Consulting Services of India. People from TCS were on site
July 1, 2002. They immediately began interviewing us on how to do our jobs.
Layoffs of Americans began on July 15 and were scheduled to continue through
We are being laid off and TCS personnel are taking our jobs. Siemens
management has told us to "transition" our work to TCS and show them how to
continue the development and support work already begun by Americans.
My letter to Representative Mica ends by asking for help to prevent this injustice.
We lost our jobs AND we had to train our replacements so there would be
little interruption to Siemens. This was the most humiliating experience of my
Our visa-holders replacements are sitting at our old desks, answering our
old phones, and working on the same systems and programs we did... but for
one-third the cost. This is what a manager at Siemens told me. Fifteen people
were laid off. At an average high-tech salary of $75,000 each, that's over $1.1
million of gross wages lost to Federal and State income taxes...from just 15
people. The visa holders do not pay income taxes. Representatives of TCS will
tell you that their programmers make $36,000 per year, which is just under the
average salary range for American programmers. But what's the breakdown of
that money? $24,000 of that is non-taxable living expenses for working 'out of
town'. That leaves just $12,000 of real salary paid to them in equivalent Indian
rupees. $12,000 - close to the US minimum wage. An American having an
income of $36,000 would have to pay taxes, but not these visa holders. There
are no salary rules for L1 visas.
How can they come to the US so easily? The L1 states that they must be
a "specialized knowledge worker familiar with the products and services of the
company". There are many legitimate uses of the L1 to transfer employees from
one company subsidiary to another. But, transferring a worker from Tata India to
Tata US for work at Siemens is NOT what was intended by the L1 visa . They
are not working on Tata's computer systems, but on those of Siemens. In our
particular case, Tata knew Americans were being laid off, so they didn't use H1-B
visas. Instead they fraudulently used the L1. There are no regulations
regarding the misuse of L1's, and only limited penalties for H1-B abuse. Where
is the INS ? Where is the DOL ? There are hundreds of thousands of L1 and
H1-B workers in the United States taking jobs that Americans can do and that
Americans want to do. Every H1-B and L1 visa given to outsourcing companies
like Tata is a job an American should have.
What is happening here? In a time when our national security is
paramount, we are making ourselves dependent on third world nations for our
computer technology. We are giving these countries the ability to access, modify
and break the very computer systems that run the US economic infrastructure.
Yet, we have an even greater parasite on our economy and it comes from American companies. US corporations are taking entire departments and relocating them to an Indian subsidiary. Hundreds of data processing, payables, and call center jobs are lost at one time. Ask Microsoft. Ask IBM. Ask Cigna. Ask almost any large US corporation and you'll find they have sent jobs off-shore. The term "off-shore" is just a euphemism for American jobs that are lost and will never return. What is the economic impact of this? In the short term, these companies say they are cutting costs, but in the long term they are undermining their consumer base. Where will our children find jobs? In marketing perhaps? Marketing to whom?
We need incentives to keep jobs in the US. We need monitoring of visa
holders. We need fines for abuse and punitive damages for affected American
workers. Current H1B penalties only apply to certain types of companies.
Misuse is misuse - it MUST apply to all situations equally. We need to enforce
the laws we already have. Why can a company like Tata, operating in the United
States, mock our equal opportunity and ethnic diversity laws. Where is the
I have one question to ask of all the CIO's and CEO's who have laid off
US citizens in favor of cheap labor: How does it feel to know you have
personally contributed to the decline of the American economy?
HOW DOES IT FEEL ?