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RE: Halff the story............

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Greg

Bob did not intend to "trash" anyone - the H-1b issue is important to
all of us in the United States and as professional engineers we seem to
take if for granted. I must be wrong to assume that young engineers
working for medium  to large firms get laid off during economic turns.
These young professionals, whether licensed or not, scramble for other
work or end up in the private sector trying to learn how to design
low-rise light frame structures when they have been working on high-rise
steel, concrete or masonry buildings since leaving school.

Greg, there is a difference between what Stan described as the workers
in the firm he is associated with and "an non-immigrant status" foreign
professional. The H-1b program is intended to provide workers to
American Companies who are unable to find professionals from an American
source pool and offered payment based on records of what the company
paid for the job to the last employee. 

Stan did not describe an employee who fit the description of a
"non-immigrant status professional". The difference is that the H-1b
employee is a temporary position up to two years with an allowance for
extensions not exceeding six years. An H-1b employee is under contract
and this is where the Associated Press reported the first "glitch" in
the law. If an employer finds that he must lay off an employee, it
becomes cheaper for him or her to lay off a permanent American citizen
from his/her job than an H-1b employee. Not only does the employer gain
back the benefits paid to the employee, but he does not get penalized
for sending the H-1b employee back to his own country. If the employer
lays off the H-1b employee he must pay the remainder of the employees
contract. 

The H-1b employee can not simply seek another position in the U.S. since
he has no green card or visa to stay. He must find an employer willing
to go through the application process - a two step process before
approvals are given by the government and the employment is recorded on
the governments database (which appears on the Shame database). Only
those who are employed under the terms of the H-1b contract are entered
into the database and Halff was one of those companies.

Stan, as you noted, identified an American citizen. H-1b employees are
not intended to obtain green cards or seek asylum in the U.S., however,
legal firms are working to extend their stays and to help them obtain
green cards for a fee. Additionally, while the employer may not
accurately record the fee for the job paid to a previous employee (which
must be paid to the non-immigrant status employee), foreign firms
working as intermediates help to funnel applicants to the employer and
often take a large percentage of the employees wages as their fee.

Both sides end up being taken advantage of. What bothers me is that we
have not industrialization left the United States and our only commodity
is the services we perform. If we allow foreign labor to undercut our
wages or to compete for work base on their ability to work for a
fraction of the price we place our services in jeopardy. The argument
that an engineer would not be available for observation or coordination
on the site is not valid as many builders/developers/investors are not
interested in construction quality - only that it meets the minimum
requirements to obtain a permit. If the builder has a problem the fight
is between what the builder promised the owner and the extra's he can
compromise for on the job.

H-1b is simply not intended to replace engineers with foreign labor at
lower wages. It was intended to fill a need from a pool ONLY when the
position can not be filled from an applicant in the United States. In
the chip industry or electronics field - even in the nursing and medical
professions, there are almost always a need for professionals and not
enough in the US to fill the slot. I have a very difficult time
believing that any company would have trouble filling the position -
even if language skills are needed for overseas projects in the
structural engineering profession.

Structural Engineering professionals seek jobs and the need to discuss
any threat to our work pool is a topic that is relevant to this List and
those on my own STRUCTURALIST.NET lists. Bob reports a lot about this
but I've noticed that very few pay attention. Like many of the old labor
leaders, we need to organize as a professional community and be aware
that we are expendable and that profits outweigh professional services.
Discuss these issues especially if you have been a victim of the H-1b
program or any similar non-immigrant status government program.

Sincerely,
Dennis S. Wish PE

-----Original Message-----
From: Effland, Greg [mailto:geeffland(--nospam--at)butlermfg.com] 
Sent: Friday, August 22, 2003 6:35 AM
To: 'seaint(--nospam--at)seaint.org'
Subject: RE: Halff the story............


Is there something in the water??? I thought this was an Engineering
list server not a personal attack Stan (or anyone else) listserver???
Are we not professional or smart enough to seperate out the issue we
want to talk about without "trashing" someone in particular... To me a
rant about H1-B visas and their pros and cons would be much more
effective than a "Stan is a ***" rant like this... FWIW, your own
statements about what Stan said contradict what you cut and paste from
Stan's note...

Stan ==> "it turned out that we have hired a few foreign-born engineers
with American MSCE degrees over the past decade or so"

Bob ==> "These are not American-born full-time permanent employees as
Stan claims"

Last I checked "foreign-born engineers" (in the context of a US firm)
indicates that they may not be "American-born"... Am I missing something
here???

Also FWIW, if these people just got out of school (in 1999) and you
claim their $29k salary was half of the starting salary of a CE... I
would have to think your head is in la-la land... Any stats to back that
up?  if New CEs were making $58k out of school TODAY then I would be
completely surprised, let alone 4 years ago.

Also I am sure Stan is not reading this message as the server issue on
August 2 left several people unsubscribed (including myself) and he
probably has not resubscribed yet...

Off to my Trash Bin,
Greg Effland, P.E.




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