Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley requested more information
from the Department of Labor about the extent to which U.S. companies employ
H-1B workers through contracting companies and the impact this may have on
wages and American workers.
A recent private report
which used public data available through the Labor Department’s website,
determined that many companies employed more H-1B workers than previously
understood. In his letter
Labor Secretary Alexander Acosta, Grassley requested verification of the private study and for the Labor Department to update and display
similar data, if possible, so that lawmakers have an accurate understanding of
labor markets when creating laws to better protect American workers.
Grassley, long concerned
about the abuse of the H-1B visa program and its impact on American workers,
actions taken by President Trump and Acosta in combating visa fraud and
protecting American workers. Grassley is also a sponsor of bipartisan
to reform the H-1B program to protect American workers and prevent abuses
that adversely affect wages and visas for the most skilled foreign workers.
Full text of the letter
June 13, 2017
Honorable R. Alexander Acosta
Department of Labor
write to request verification of a private analysis
on the use of H-1B visas for contingent workers.
June 6, 2017, Bloomberg Technology
reported the results of a private
study showing that many U.S. companies employed more H-1B workers than
Unsurprisingly, the study, which
was based on DOL data, indicated that U.S. companies often use the H-1B program
to hire high skill, high wage, foreign technology workers—a pattern long
recognized by policy makers. Surprisingly, however, this study also showed that
the same companies often contract through foreign tech firms to hire significant
numbers of low wage and lower skill “contingent” workers via H-1B.
private individual generated new statistics by manually comparing the address
listed as the “place of employment” in individual H-1B certification
records—information already available on DOL’s web site—with the headquarters
address for U.S. firms. By performing this manual comparison he arrived at a
conclusion masked by DOL’s current data display. Thousands of contingent
workers show up as employees of IT contracting companies, rather than employees
of the U.S. firms that actually benefit from the workers’ services.
As a result, policy makers may have an inaccurate understanding of the
distribution of H-1B workers across U.S. labor markets.
Department has long recognized the risks of contingent employment. You listed
“[u]pgrad[ing] the economic position of contingent workers” as number nine on
your list of “Goals for the 21st
and noted that:
. . . contingent arrangements may be
introduced simply to reduce the amount of compensation paid by the firm for the
same amount and value of work, which raises some serious social questions. This
is particularly true because contingent workers are drawn disproportionately
from the most vulnerable sectors of the workforce. They often receive less pay
and benefits than traditional full-time or “permanent” workers, and they are
less likely to benefit from the protections of labor and employment laws. . . .
The expansion of contingent work has contributed to the increasing gap
between high and low wage workers and to the increasing sense of insecurity
negative impact on wages and the vulnerability of contingent workers are
amplified in the H-1B context. The inequality inherent in the H-1B
employer-employee relationship increases the risk that workers—whose legal
status in the United States is tied to the employer—will accept otherwise
unsatisfactory conditions of employment. And because foreign workers are often
willing to accept lower wages than U.S. workers, the widespread use of low
skill H-1B workers suppresses wages, particularly in entry level positions,
reducing the incentive for U.S. workers to enter the field.
you know, I have longstanding concerns regarding the impact the abuse of H-1B
visas is having on American workers.
If true, this study
shows that lawmakers do not have a clear picture of the labor markets. Without
this information, we can’t create laws that best protect the American people.
Accordingly, please instruct your agency to perform and disseminate a similar
verification of private data in the future, and respond to the following
questions by no later than July 21, 2017:
you confirm that the conclusions drawn from DOL data, as described in the
Bloomberg article represent an accurate analysis of the use of contingent
workers by IT contractors?
there any impediment to DOL’s display of such data in its publicly available
records, moving forward? If yes, please explain in detail.
DOL studied the impact of contingent employment on American wages in the H-1B
context and if so, what were your conclusions?
you in advance for your cooperation with this request. I appreciate your
continued commitment to rooting out fraud and abuse in this program, and to
protecting American jobs for American workers. I look forward to your reply,
and to our continued work together on this very important issue. If you have
questions, please contact Brad Watts or Katherine Nikas of my Committee staff
at (202) 224-5225.
on the Judiciary
Joshua The Secret Way Silicon Valley Uses the H1-B Program
News (June 6, 2017) available at
Department of Labor, Office of the Secretary, Special Report (Goals)
§ 5 (Contingent Workers, General Observations
) available at
https://www.dol.gov/_sec/media/reports/dunlop/section5.htm (emphasis added).
, Grassley, Durbin Ask for Details on Companies’ Use of H-1B
(May 14, 2007) available at