June 17, 2000
Susan E. Davis, PE - Editor
STRUCTURAL ENGINEER (www.gostructural.com)
Civil Engineering News, Inc.
5900 Windward Parkway, Suite 450
Alpharetta, GA 30005
Subject: Weingardt Commentary - Structural Engineer, June 2000
"Is the Handwriting on the Wall?"
I read with interest the article by Richard Weingardt, "Is the Handwriting on
the Wall?", June 2000, Structural Engineer. Weingardt laments the plight
of German structural engineers and warns, "If Germany is the model, this
could be a probable scenario for the U.S. in the future." I don't understand
the probable. It has already happened here and it is called H-1B! This
legislation (H-1B) allows temporary visas for immigrant technical workers.
Currently there are caps on the number of technical immigrants, but Congress
may increase those limits as there is a strong lobby to increase temporary
immigration by foreign technical professionals.
The Russians Are Coming
The increase in visa limits is an attempt to address the apparent shortage
of IT (Information Technology) workers Could it be technology moguls really
want cheap labor? "Facing a high turnover rate among development engineers,
a San Francisco company (PC Anything) is requiting in Moscow where
experienced engineers can be hired for about $10 an hour (Ref. 1).
Structural engineers should be wary too. The broad nature of the
legislation allows for scientists and engineers in all discplines to fill
open technology positions.
Engineering Societies Mute
So where do engineering societies stand on this issue? For the past ten
years, AEA (American Engineering Association - website: www.aea.org) has
been warning engineers on this issue. AEA has been going it alone on this
issue as most engineering societies seemingly have been silent on this issue.
In recent months some national engineering societies have begun to address
this issue. ASCE just issued a policy statement on the H-1B issue. ASCE
resolution 477 was approved by the Board of Direction, Spring, 2000. Has
anyone seen this resolution? It calls for Congress to await the conclusions
of the NRC before there is any increases in temporary visas the skilled
IEEE, who's members have been most impacted by this legislation, has
finally begun to acknowledge this program. IEEE drafted a letter to
Congressman Henry Hyde, (Illinois), "Raising serious concerns about pending
legislation calling for substantial increases in the number of foreign
professional who can be temporarily in the United States on H-1B
guest-workers visas". A copy of the letter is available at the following
Apparently NSPE has been unable to achieve a consensus amongst it's members
therefore does not take a position on this issue as of this writing. (Ref. 3)
NCSEA (National Council of Structural Engineers Associations) remains
uncommunicative on this issue.
Where do the other engineering societies stand?
AAES (American Association of Engineering Societies - website
www.aaes.org) calls for a, "Thorough review of the H-1B visa program". See
webpage www.aaes.org/publicpolicy/statements/hightechwork.htm for the
complete text of AAES's position. The AAES position does not strongly object
to the H-1B visa program, but recommends, "Permanent legal immigrants be the
preferred source of supply for skilled technical professionals."
HALL OF SHAME
To learn more about this issue and its ramificications why not check out the
"H - 1B HALL OF SHAME" . Surf the website, www.zazona.com/ShameH1B, to get
the facts on labor based temporary work visas. Maybe your company has made
the "Hall of Shame".
The time has come for ALL engineers to step forward and be heard on this
issue. Contact your engineering society with your thoughts on this subject.
Make them address this issue. Better yet, why not write your Congressman?.
Weingardt said in previous commentaries, Show up to Lead" (Ref 2).
If we fail to speak out on this issue, we don't we have only ourselves to
blame for our plight .
REF 1. Chicago SUN-TIMES, Friday, December 17, 1999, Page 82, "Casual
Friday- Russian Recruitng"
REF 2.. "SHOW UP TO LEAD" Guest essay, Ascent, Fall -1999 published by
Precast/Prestressed Institute, 175 West Jackson, Chicago, Il 60604
REF 3. Personal E-mail to Bob Johnson (dated May 30, 2000) from Linda
Lindsay, Manager Congressional & State Relations - NSPE
"Leadership: The World is Run By Those Who Shown Up", Richard G. Weingardt,
Journal of Management in Engineering/ASCE, July/August, 1997
Suggested reading: "Selling Out America - to Silicon Valley", by Patrick
J. Buchanan, New York Post, Tuesday, August 18, 1998
"Visas for High-Tech Foreign Workers Debated - Critics say ploys used to pay
less for skilled help", by Karen Brandon, Staff Writer- Chicago Tribune,
May 28, 2000
article may be available at website:
(THE ABOVE COMMENTARY IS THE EXPRESSED VIEW OF THE WRITER AND NOT THAT OF ANY
Robert B. Johnson, SE, PE
PR Chair, SEAOI
Public Advocacy Committee NCSEA
ITI, honorary member www.technotimes.org/000324a.htm
TEL : 312-228-1115*
203 North Wabash Suite 2010
Chicago, Illinois 60601
Attention: Robert B. Johnson