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RE: Exploited H1b worker

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I am not suggesting that there is any "conspiracy" that is being perpetuated
to drive fees down - I leave this idea to some of the more fanatic. I am
concerned when I see any law that can have a negative effect upon
professional if it is abused simply ignored by others in the profession.
While I've worked for companies that paid prevailing wages, we knew how to
gauge them because other employees tended to move from one company to the
next where the difference in wage was based on a small percentage used to
entice the employee to join the firm. Aerospace is a perfect example of this
as the price variation between competing firms is not very much.
However, in midsize firms - especially architectural firms - it seems that
many hire based on how little they need to expend to hire an employee. I've
worked for a couple after leaving the aerospace industry. These small to
midsize firms (less than 50 employees) were much more diverse in salaries
and are generally not represented accurately on "salary surveys" which, as
you might recall, was a hot topic on this List when Terry Stringer of CE
Magazine wrote an editorial on his visit to Russia a few years ago and
reprimanded American Employees for "complaining" about our wages when there
was so much unemployment in other countries. Most who read Terry's arguments
argued that his typical employee salaries for professional engineers which,
if I recall, were between $70K and some over $100K. While this may be true
of a large firm in San Francisco or Chicago, it is not accurate for firms in
Riverside County California.
My point is simply that the law, as you pointed out, does have a great deal
of rhetoric in it to address the possibilities of abuse of wages. It uses
the comparison of prevailing wage to what the company can prove it paid
their employees for the same service within a period of time prior to and
after hiring the employee. This would allow a company who pays much less
than the next to justify their wage scale and it leaves the responsibility
of the h-1b employee to accept the position or not.

However, let's assume that an employer has not been able to hire workers
while advertising the position he needs, but maybe never has had, for too
low a wage. He hires an H-1B employee willing to work for the fee
advertised. The law would protect the H-1B employee by expecting the
employer to produce evidence that the wages he is offering are equivalent to
those in other firms for the same work. This may be hard to prove if the
companies are located in different regions of the country, deal with
different types of projects, etc. Salary surveys alone may not help.

When the accusations get to this point, generally an immigration attorney is
involved and the issues become more complicated.

The most important thing that I think  you pointed out is that "Not Every
employer is a wage buster" but those who do abuse the law should be dealt
with as it harms all of us in the long run as much as the consistent "bottom
feeder" who underbids small office fees and does not produce the same
quality of work.


> -----Original Message-----
> From: Christopher Wright [mailto:chrisw(--nospam--at)]
> Sent: Monday, March 26, 2001 8:34 AM
> To: ?
> Subject: RE: Exploited H1b worker
> >The law does require a prevailing wage or higher, but the problem
> >is that there is no gauge of prevailing wages in most
> engineering positions
> Employers know what they pay their engineers, and unless they're
> abysmally stupid they know what their engineering work is worth. And
> there are salary surveys around to provide a check on this info. At the
> risk of sounding a teench cynical, the 'no prevailing wage' argument is
> the wage buster's excuse for lowballing. That law wouldn't have been
> passed if there weren't plenty of wiggle room over wages.
> I hasten to add that not every employer is a wage buster. My son works
> for a software developer who has an office in India, and he tells me
> these guys get paid pretty much what they'd get here in the states.
> Christopher Wright P.E.    |"They couldn't hit an elephant from
> chrisw(--nospam--at)        | this distance"   (last words of Gen.
> ___________________________| John Sedgwick, Spotsylvania 1864)