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Letter to Editor RE: Weingardt Commentary

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June  17, 2000

Susan E. Davis,  PE - Editor
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:  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 
foreign workers.
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  calls for a,  "Thorough review of the H-1B visa program".  See 
webpage  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."

To learn more about this issue and its ramificications why not check out the 
"H - 1B HALL OF SHAME" .  Surf the website,,  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:,2669,SAV-005280143,FF.htm



                Robert B. Johnson, SE,  PE
                PR Chair,  SEAOI
                Public Advocacy Committee NCSEA
                m. AEA
                    ITI,  honorary member
                TEL :  312-228-1115*
                E-MAIL  Rbengrguy(--nospam--at)
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                203 North Wabash  Suite 2010
                Chicago,  Illinois   60601
                Attention:  Robert B. Johnson