aside LAWMAKERS’ FRUSTRATION WITH BUSINESS H-1B VISA ABUSES, PART VI

CEO Thomas May
CEO Thomas May received a raise of 1.3 million dollars while the consumer energy costs increased by 29%

Another company, Eversource Energy is deciding to replace their American workers with immigrants who possess H-1B visas to save monies. Again not only are their U.S. workers being laid off but often, they are expected to train their replacements. There are too many examples of this systemic abuse of the H-1B visa program which belies the business community’s claims that there is a shortage of “stem” (science, technology, engineering and math) job applicants as they lobby for expanding their ability to hire more H-1B visa immigrants.

Several U.S. Senators have confronted the U.S. Department of Labor about the abuses of corporations regarding the H-1B visa concept which they say was never intended as a tool for U.S. industry to replace current U.S. employees with H-1B visa holders at lower wages. The DOL has responded that the rules do not bar this practice as long as the immigrant new hire earns an annual salary in excess of $60,000.

Senator Richard Blumenthal
Senator Richard Blumenthal

The 12/9/15 Hindu newspaper announced that two Senators have sponsored bipartisan legislation to bar companies from replacing American employees with H-1B visa holders. The bills being rolled out include other restrictions such as reducing the current annual cap on the number of H-1B visa workers allowed into the U.S. from 85,000 to 70,000. Senators Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) and Dick Durbin (D-Ill.), as well as Senators Jeff Sessions (R-AL) and Bill Nelson (D-FL) have submitted reform legislation to address the abuses related to the H-1B visas.

In addition, the democrat Connecticut Senator Richard Blumenthal is requesting that the DOJ conduct an investigation into the possibility of any legal transgressions by Eversource Corporation regarding their firing of U.S. employees while replacing them with H-1B immigrants at lower wages.

Eversource

The following report, about the senator’s actions, “Blumenthal Calls for DOJ Investigation into Allegations of Eversource H-1B Visa Abuse as per his official website.” can be found on http://www.blumenthal.senate.gov:

“Friday, February 5, 2016 Published Reports Claim Eversource Fired 200 American Workers in 2014 and Forced Them to Train Foreign Replacements, in Violation of Law. Blumenthal Also Writes Eversource to Demand Facts and Lifting of Gag Order.”

“In a letter to U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch, U.S. Senator Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) this week urged the Department of Justice to investigate allegations that Eversource Energy has abused foreign worker visa programs to replace American information technology workers with lower-paid foreign visa holders. Blumenthal also wrote Eversource CEO Thomas May requesting a full accounting of how and why the company decided to fire 200 American employees, and whether those employees were forced to train future foreign replacements and sign non-disparagement agreements.”

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“Recent reports claim that Eversource contracted with two offshore outsourcing firms to bring in foreign workers through the H-1B visa program to replace 200 American information technology workers fired in Connecticut and Massachusetts in 2014. Reports claim that the American workers were forced to train their replacements and were required to remain silent about their treatment.”

“Employers using H-1B visas must attest that they offered the job to qualified American applicants and sought to avoid the displacement of American workers. If the allegations are substantiated, Eversource’s actions may have violated federal law.”

“Blumenthal has led bipartisan efforts in the Senate to reform the H-1B and L-1B visa programs to prohibit companies from replacing American workers with foreign visa holders.”

Full text of the letters follows:

The Honorable Loretta Lynch

Attorney General
U.S. Department of Justice
950 Pennsylvania Ave, NW
Washington, DC 20530

Re: Eversource Energy Potential Abuse of non-immigrant worker visa programs

Dear Attorney General Lynch,

“I am writing to express my concern over Eversource Energy’s apparent abuse of non-immigrant worker visa programs. In 2014, Eversource fired 200 American information technology workers in Connecticut and Massachusetts in order to replace them with similarly skilled, lower-paid non-immigrant worker visa holders. I strongly encourage you to investigate this matter.”

DISNEY 8988859_G EVERSOURCE MARKETING

“A news report has uncovered troubling details about Eversource’s actions, which I believe make the matter a strong candidate for investigation by the Department of Justice. According to this report, Eversource contracted with two offshore outsourcing firms to bring in foreign workers through a non-immigrant worker visa program to replace their American IT staff. Then, the company forced the American workers – under threat of losing severance pay – to train their replacements and to refrain from making any “statements to anyone, spoken or written, that would tend to disparage or discredit [Eversource] or any of [its] officers.” The attempt to coerce the laid-off employees into remaining silent about their treatment is deeply troubling.”

“The statute and regulations governing certain non-immigrant worker visa programs, like the H-1B program, require employers utilizing the visas in many cases to attest that they offered the job to qualified American applicants and sought to avoid the displacement of American workers. In light of the fact that at least some of the workers laid off by Eversource were coerced into training their replacements, it seems highly possible that the company’s behavior in this matter violated its legal obligations.”

Senator Jeff Sessions
Senator Jeff Sessions

‘Eversource seems to be just the latest example of American companies abusing non-immigrant worker visa programs and harming American workers by outsourcing jobs. The use of foreign outsourcing firms has been the subject of major concern among a bipartisan group of my Senate colleagues for some time, as has the disproportionate displacement of American IT workers by H-1B and other non-immigrant worker visa holders generally. Such apparent abuses are the reason I have helped lead the fight to reform the H-1B and L-1B programs by co-sponsoring bipartisan legislation that would prohibit companies from replacing American workers with non-immigrant visa holders.”

“I am greatly concerned about whether Eversource has violated current law. In light of these highly suspicious actions, I urge the Justice Department to use all necessary resources to investigate Eversource’s conduct with regard to these workers and determine whether the company has abused any of the non-immigrant worker visa programs, relevant employment laws, or other rules or standards governing its behavior.”

‘Thank you for your prompt attention to this matter.”

CEO Mr. Thomas May
CEO Thomas May earned a 1,3 million dollars pay raise while replacing Americans with foreign workers at lower salaries

Thomas J. May, Chief Executive Officer
Eversource Energy
107 Selden Street
Berlin, CT 06037

Dear Mr. May,

“I write to express my outrage at reports of your company’s layoffs of hundreds of contracted American IT workers at Northeast Utilities (now Eversource Energy), accomplished through apparent abuses of multiple non-immigrant worker visa programs, including the H-1B program. I believe you owe your former employees and the people of Connecticut a full accounting of these events.”

DISNEY img-Eversource-CEO-gets-1-3M-raise-while-customers-see-rate-hike 29 %

“According to a news report, which Eversource has not appeared to deny, your treatment of roughly 200 American IT workers in Connecticut and Massachusetts was shocking. This report indicated that in the process of laying off these employees and replacing them with cheaper foreign workers who entered the US through non-immigrant worker visa programs, you also forced them to sign non-disparagement clauses and even train their own replacements as a condition of receiving severance pay.”

DISNEY inner_img1 EVERSOURCE ENERGY

“Non-immigrant worker visa programs are intended to assist American companies in securing the assistance of foreign workers with skills or expertise not available here – not to allow businesses to effectively outsource their labor. I am dismayed that Eversource chose to pursue the latter path. Such apparent abuses are the reason I have helped lead the fight to reform the H-1B and L-1B programs by co-sponsoring bipartisan legislation that would prohibit companies like yours from replacing American workers with non immigrant visa holders. Your company’s conduct affirms that strong action is necessary.”

“I request that you provide me with the details of how and why your company decided to fire 200 Americans and what your former employees were required to do in the process – including how many were forced to train their future replacements.”

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“I was particularly concerned by reports of the non-disparagement agreement you required your former employees to sign. Imposing an effective gag order prevents them from speaking openly about their experiences, and further smacks of intimidation and maltreatment of your workforce. I demand that you clarify for your former employees that the agreement does not prevent them from stating honestly what happened to them – and that you will not threaten any of them with litigation if they choose to discuss their experiences with me, or with other government officials.”

“Further, I ask that you respond to this letter with the following information, no later than February 22, 2016.”

a) “The number of employees laid off by Northeast Utilities from 2013-2015, including any employees who accepted early retirement.”

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b) “The number of employees described in section a) who were tasked with training a worker employed by Northeast Utilities directly or through a contractor and in the United States on a non-immigrant worker visa.”

c) “The number of workers employed outside of the United States by Northeast Utilities—directly or as employees of a Northeast Utilities contractor— from 2013-2015, broken down by quarter.”

d) “The number of workers employed by Northeast Utilities—directly or as employees of a Northeast Utilities contractor—on a non-immigrant worker visa from 2010-2015. Please break this information down by visa category, month employed, job title, and by contractor (where appropriate).”

DISNEY Eversource-Schiller

e) “The number of workers described in section b) who were later employed by Northeast Utilities/Eversource Energy—directly or as employees of a Northeast Utilities/Eversource Energy contractor—outside of the United States.”

f) “A description of the skillset that non-immigrant workers brought to Northeast Utilities from 2010-2014 that Northeast Utilities was unable to obtain by hiring U.S. workers.”

g) “A complete description of any recruitment efforts made by your company or its contractors prior to hiring through the non-immigrant worker visa programs.”

h) “Again, because this is a gravely important public policy issue, I demand your written assurance that former and current Northeast Utilities/Eversource Energy employees can speak freely and truthfully about their experiences during the Northeast Utilities layoffs and any events preceding or relevant to those layoffs. At a minimum, I would like your written assurance that current and former Northeast Utilities/Eversource Energy employees can speak freely to me and my staff without facing legal liability.”

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i) “Any communications with Tata Consultancy Services—or any other contractor that employs H-1B visa workers—regarding Northeast Utilities’ plans for laying off U.S. workers after hiring H-1B visa holders.”

“In addition to this letter, I have sent a letter today to United States Attorney General Loretta Lynch, requesting that the Department of Justice open an investigation into whether your company’s clear abuse of the spirit of non-immigrant worker visa programs also amounted to legally actionable misconduct.”

“Please respond to the above requests as soon as possible. Thank you for your attention to this matter.”

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4 comments

  1. People like me, that is people who are affected by the H1B program watch in utter amazement as this goes on. It has only been nearly 20 years that we have been raising our hand and saying this is a problem, why now is it suddenly becoming clear, it is a problem. One has to wonder.

    • You can thank a Howard University professor, Ronil Hira and Walt Disney. When Walt Disney fired 250 tech workers making over $100,000 per year in 2015, and replaced them with H1B visa holders from an Indian out sourcing company at a rate of about $62,000 per year, this became a major NY Times story. The point was driven home when these competent U.S. displaced workers were required to train their replacements in order to be awarded their severance pay.This story brought home to US. lawmakers the exact situation that their constituents had been describing to them.

      Then U.S. Senators held hearings on this subject. One of the experts on this subject, Ronil Hira testified. He was very detailed in his educating these lawmakers. Through the “Freedom of Information” Act, he has been able to definitively prove that outsourcers like Infosys, Tata, Wapro, HCL, garner the lions share of these visas. Then the American companies which hire from them, almost always fire U.S. workers to replace them with this cheaper labor.

      This is in contrast with Silicon Valley companies which really do need to hire more highly qualified tech employees and who willingly pay high wages to foreign holders of the H1B visas. These workers are an addition. The original laws were designed to meet this need and NOT for the abuses as described above..

      With Donald Trump harping against the H1B visa program, there may actually be some reforms enacted into law. Senator Bernie Sanders regularly mentions this issue on his campaign stumps. Hillary Clinton never talks about the H1B visa issue. In response to Donald Trump, some of the other republican candidates like the Senators Ted Cruz, Marco Rubio are being more nuanced in their verbiage about the H1B visas. Anything they say is suspect because until recently, they along with Jeb Bush and John Kasich have been in favor of increasing the current cap of 85,000 H1B visas allowed per year.

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