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RE: Outsourcing - Part I (was Sick Profession) a response to Stan Caldwell

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David,
You're a gentleman and a scholar. Thank you for being honest about this.
I do agree that any idea can be abused or used to a good intention. Our
profession is evolving, but the real question is whether or not we see
the opportunities that lie in front of us and can use them to protect
the job of American Citizens. When I say American Citizens, I'm not
referring only to those who family ancestry came over on the Mayflower
(or Russian Jewish immigrants like mine). I'm speaking about those who
became citizens yesterday or a year ago and who completed engineering
curriculums and work experience that satisfies each state testing
requirement (or those who are even more important - the ones you and
most of us have trained through apprenticeship).
We are in a precarious position because we placed ourselves in this
position. Twenty years ago there were few independent engineers in small
office / home office environments. Most engineers were apprenticeships
or were working for other firms who tried as best they could to offer
some form of security to their workers. 
The economic situation forced businesses to lay off workers -
professionals and this pushed many of them into the private sector to
sink or swim on their own. While some of them had ambitions to build
larger firms (as you did) others believed it was in their best interest
to limit the scope of their work to be within their own field of
experience and limit their overhead (as I have). I still recall that
after going into private practice in 1987 my family would call me each
week from Chicago to ask if I found work. When I reminded them that I
was my own boss, my dad, who grew up on a family owned business on the
South Side of Chicago, asked me who was checking my work to make sure I
knew what I was doing. I felt bad because our society did not see what
was coming nor did they understand that the only security we had left
was that which we made for ourselves.
I was still taking classes in 1987 and I took an Urban Planning course
and nearly flunked it. My instructor was a middle aged Urban Planner
with the City of Los Angeles and he believed in regentrification. He did
not believe in satellite communities where people might work closer to
home and unite in business with others who could support their needs
from a distance. At the time I was thinking about Computers but not the
Internet. Shafat Qazi opened my eyes to the prospects of the Internet
when we decided to create the SEAINT Listservice and Website.

My point is simple - we have the resources on hand to help keep people
working in this country without using the resources so cavalierly to
create a market for foreign nationals who want to step over the backs of
those who have been waiting for an opportunity to enter this country
legally. I am not against expanding our pool of trained professional
American Citizens, but I am against the idea of profiting on a large
scale at the expense of the American worker.

We have the resources to pool our needs as Scott mentioned in another
post and I believe we should be forming committees to figure out how to
do this without bringing another professionals business down.

Dennis S. Wish PE 

-----Original Message-----
From: dfisher(--nospam--at)fpse.com [mailto:dfisher(--nospam--at)fpse.com] 
Sent: Monday, November 10, 2003 5:19 AM
To: seaint(--nospam--at)seaint.org
Subject: RE: Outsourcing - Part I (was Sick Profession) a response to
Stan Caldwell

Dennis:

Your points are all correct and valid.

For some reason, i seem to be the H1-B visa lightning rod (i guess
because
of my own big mouth!) on this list, but please remember, of the 25
engineers i've hired to work for me over the years, only ONE was an H1-B
worker. He was hired to fill a specific need; i am simply relating the
story because i think it shows that the program SOMETIMES works.

The other 24 were recent grads or young US engineers that i subsequently
invested significant amounts of $$$ in training, some of them taking up
to
six months (if ever) to become productive.  

To be sure, i've certainly taken my lumps with the young staff.

I wouldn't have it any other way.


Have a good Monday all.

dlf


Original Message:
-----------------
From: Dennis Wish dennis.wish(--nospam--at)verizon.net
Date: Sun, 9 Nov 2003 03:08:30 -0800
To: seaint(--nospam--at)seaint.org
Subject: Outsourcing - Part I (was Sick Profession) a response to Stan
Caldwell


I started this thread because I read Stan Caldwell's response to Ed
Tornberg's post on our Sick Profession. I happen to agree with Ed - we
are in trouble but most of us do not realize it yet. Most of you are
nine to five engineers. You look forward to your family and your hobbies
away from the office. There is nothing wrong with this and it is exactly
what I did while my kids were growing. However, like politics, it is our
responsibility to stay informed and to understand the issues that affect
us. If we let these issues pass us buy or trust that those in
responsible positions in the associations that we pay dues to belong,
then we are acting irresponsible. Some of those who have control are the
ones who are creating the policies or taking the jobs away from
Americans and seeking out lower income employees that relinquish
responsibility to pay benefits or to maximize profits as all other
sources of cut-backs have occurred from 1974 to the present.

To put it bluntly, you can erase this e-mail and chalk people like Bob
Johnson (SE from Illinois) or I (who co-created this list) as zealots
and you just don't have the time or inclination to give us the time and
consider the issues. You suddenly become part of the apathetic majority
while us Baby Boomers who were the one time radicals on college campuses
across the United States simply can't let it rest.

 

What is the argument for my contention that wages are dropping and we
will be (if not now) competing for jobs with those in other countries on
our own turf? The first is that there is virtually no more manufacturing
in the United States. The second is that Corporations have united
globally and found it less costly to move their headquarters to European
countries. Third, America has become a global nation and in the process
voted into law policies such as NAFTA, GATT, H-1B, H-2B and other forms
of outsourcing services to other countries or to foreign nationals on
our own soil. Is some of this necessary - Yes I believe so. Is it
necessary in our own profession? Until recently I would have said no,
but something in David Fishers comments made me think that he was
justified. He has projects that exist in other countries that require
engineers with the ability to communicate and overcome the cultural
differences that might occur with Americans. I think this is valid and I
can dispute his justification for hiring an H-1B employee to handle an
Austrian project his firm was working on.

 

Do I believe that a foreign national should skip over the line of
immigration - those who need to wait years because of numeric limits
allowed to obtain a green card in this country - No I do not. For
whatever reason H-1B was initiated, the intent was (as I read from the
original document a few years ago) intended to provide jobs to those
companies that needed the help but who were not able to find Americans
to fill the slot. Most were in the medical fields - nurses, technicians,
some doctors - but others were fabricated to create a false impression
of lack of available labor when there was sufficient resources in the
country (such as the Electronic industry).

 

I highly recommend that each of you visit the H-1B database at
http://www.zazona.com/LCA-Data/AdvQuery.asp . The importance of this
resource is that it lists companies up to date and starting back as far
as 1997 who applied for and received approval of H-1b and who have
actually hired these non-immigrant status employees. There are many
thousand jobs in the database and many hundred if not thousands of
employers who are listed. In our profession, Structural Engineers can be
deceptive. Some are called Structural Engineers (which I limited my
search to) while others are listed as Architectural Engineers, Civil
Engineers or Structural Engineers II (SE-II). However, These are not
listed in the category of Structural Engineer but under Civil
Engineering or Architectural / Engineers etc. You need to do some
searching.

 

In addition, there is a limit  as to the number of pages of hits that
can be obtained (ten pages) and if you find a major city with mixed
categories of Civil Engineers, you can barely get through the "C's" to a
number of Structural Engineers. Another trick is to seek out cities and
search for Civil engineers by city, state, company name etc. What you
will find is that the list is much larger than even I had figured it
would be - thousands of jobs if I discount Civil or Architectural
Engineers. I did include some Civil's but this was because I knew the
firms and what their limits of professional type jobs that they hired
engineers for. Even BQE (our own Shafat) has hired Civil Engineers to
work for BQE Engineering (while some time ago, he hired programmers for
BillQuick). Stan has not hired an H-1B for a few years (or his company
Halff and Associates has not) but then again, he did mention that his
H-1B employees obtained permanent status which is possible as they can
apply for green cards while they work as a non-immigrant status
employee. Dave Fisher indicated that his H-1B's also became permanent
status employees and even became a member of their communities by buying
homes and paying taxes. Happy days are here again for foreign nationals.

 

It's easy to accuse me of being a bigot when I fight to protect the job
market in the United States. I am not hurting as there is plenty of work
in my area and I turn down jobs daily. However, I don't give them to
engineers in Mexico, India or who are filling an H-1B gap. I have
organized a listservice of local engineers who I post the jobs that I
turn down. Virtually all of these jobs have found homes from those who
are willing to take on the additional work load. This is a simple
concept of working together and making sure that if the job is not for
you or you are too busy that you seek your peers in this country to take
over the overflow. There are times when I might need the work and I
would be appreciative of the recommendations by my local peers who might
have additional work or clients that they can not handle. 

 

To simply seek outsourcing of services to satisfy the free enterprise
system has put many of us in jeopardy now or in the future to maximize
profits is ethically wrong (in my opinion). There is something
inherently wrong with our profession when we use the backs of the
apathetic to who provided the foundations from which your businesses
were built to maximize profits and throw away workers or to hire foreign
national at lower wages. CNN and others who provided studies found that
those in foreign companies who finally had jobs had not improved the
quality of their lives over a two year period while the companies that
hired them improved profits for shareholders by a much more substantial
margin.

 

Look over Part II of this study as the table (it is in HTML format)
represent only a small minority of jobs that could have been available
to American Professionals (and not through monster.com) were given to
H-1B employees who ultimately obtained green card permanent status in
the United States. Digging into this database at
http://www.zazona.com/LCA-Data/AdvQuery.asp turned out to provide more
than a few thousand jobs - much more than I thought would have been lost
to Americans professional services in the small field of structural
engineering.

 

If this doesn't open your eyes, the start to think what will happen if
you work for a publicly owned company whose shareholders want consistent
profits each year or to small independent businesses that wish to
maximize their profits and feel no responsibility to professional peers.
Weigh into this the arguments that were on the list from East Indian,
South American and African laborers who are available and need the work.
Then consider that those we own money to (the bank, Visa, car payments
etc) don't have the sympathy we might and are not willing to reduce
interest rates or forgive a home mortgage because we wish to share our
wealth with those in other countries. Most of all, think about who
profits from our work and what do we obtain in return by way of security
- nothing.

 

Then write and I hope a lot of you will write - pro and con so we can
hash this issue out among us and decide what is acceptable and what
isn't.

 

Best regards,

Dennis S. wish PE 



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