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RE: SICK PROFESSION

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Mike,
First, no flame - much of what you said actually agrees with me and I
think you might have misinterpreted a lot my comments - you need to
review all the subjects to understand.

There is too much to go through, but let me offer a few comments:

1. The reference to immigrants starts with non-immigrant status
employees or H-1B. They are not immigrants into the United States. I
have absolutely no argument with offering jobs to Immigrants who are
here legally. While Shafat attempted to show that immigration is
accomplished by lottery, there are many legal firms that make a living
circumventing the intent of the laws by seeking permanent status for
"Priority Jobs". The non-immigrant employee can file to circumvent the
lottery by filing and attempting to obtain permanent status approval
before their H-1B contract expires.

2. I don't have enough information from David as to how difficult it was
to find his H-1B employee, but in a follow-up e-mail, David made it
clear that he only hired one H-1B employee - an Austrian who he paid
more than prevailing wages to and who was directly involved in work he
had in other countries where the mans engineering talent and cultural
understanding was a benefit to him. I agree with this. It was a
reasonable solution to a problem. However, I also take into
consideration Gail Kelley's comments that firms in Washington D.C. are
purposely underpaying their employees to make it difficult to find
workers so they can apply for H-1B professionals at the lower rate they
are willing to pay. The issue here that I don't know if it had been
addressed is the issue of "prevailing wage". Did the job description
include proof of prevailing wages for the job offered? I think Gail
understands that there are "games" to be played and that some companies
do this and never get caught. The toughest part of the argument is being
able to understand the company intent and prove if they really have
taken the steps to find help in the U.S. that would meet their needs.

3. As engineers and potential employers we have an obligation to meet
the standards that we originally set up. We require graduates to be
shepherded into the practical application of our profession by our
businesses. We dug our own grave on this one as we laid off so many
professionals over the years and thrust them into SOHO (small office /
home office) independent consultants that many, like me, have no
interest in growing our business beyond a mom and pop operation. My wife
was one of my first draftspersons until I had to lay her off when the
work load reduced. I can't afford to hire others unless it is based on
consulting work where I issue a 1099 form.
The point is that we have started to create our own security and because
of this we don't need to take the work offered by another company and
lose this sense of self-securing future. 

4. There are creative solutions to the last comment and those including
internalizing the out-sourcing where we are sharing work between
independents and firms in the U.S. Some years ago, I suggested that the
economic swings are not uniform throughout the U.S. There may be
recessionary spots in the West that create a labor market for the East.
Texas may have more professionals than work, while the North and
Mid-West have opportunities that need support. These are some of the
creative solutions that keep American's working. When I say American's I
am referring to all the legal immigrants including those who are here on
green-card status awaiting their time to pass the constitution and
vocalize their oath to support the United States. 

I'm not an economist nor am I smarter than anyone of you. I am however,
willing to talk openly about the issues, but I don't believe it is fair
to be accused of bigotry (whether implied or openly stated) because I
believe that we have lost almost everything to the ideology of
"Globalism". Our professional services can be out-sourced. The only
thing that can't  are "hand-on" services and without jobs, most of us
won't be able to pay for plumbers or auto-mechanics.

You brought up another topic of serious concern - unions. The Union is a
double edge sword. On one hand, nearly half the country wants government
out of business and on the other side; there are those who believe that
without government, there would be no control over business. Both sides
are true and they have been proven, but we can only deal with the
moment, not the future of when and for how long a Union can exist before
it become tainted. 
Right now the Food Workers are striking here in Coachella Valley (Palm
Springs California) and most of California. I have to cross picket lines
to get medications from the pharmacy and we need to eat. But it bothers
me to see a union worker with a sign that says "Twenty Years and still
part time." This is a small community and we know one another
intimately. We know how difficult it is to be a single mother with
mouths to feed and know that you don't earn enough working at Von's or
Ralph's or Albertson's. Yet, you also know that paying more money means
paying more for food and maybe as the public, this is what we owe the
workers.
My wife is a nurse and her hospital just joined the Union. Why, because
the industry is too unstable and the staff is concerned about
maintaining the benefits that come with the job - especially for people
like my wife and I who can not obtain a health insurance policy on our
own. This isn't because we abused ourselves in half a century of living,
but because I inherited Crohn's Disease that requires intravenous
infusions of a new drug every eight weeks at a cost of $6,000.00 each
time. 14 times the first year and my insurance have to pay $84,000.00 a
year (three initial infusions). Without it, my life span reduces. Others
fight diabetes, cancer - in fact most of the people who had taken low
pay jobs at the local Walmart did so because of the benefits for their
family.
I'm not trying to squeeze out a few tears of sympathy, but our
experience has been proven that without uniform representation or
government interaction, we would not get the care that we need and I
don't believe that we should sacrifice our lives for dollars.
Unions also protect the rights of the individual worker for being laid
off for the wrong reasons.
With that said, Unions keep our cost of living up and this makes it
difficult for businesses to compete. Unions can and will ultimately
corrupt themselves and this takes advantage of all as they act the same
as private industry to make sure that full-time employees of the Union
are well paid.

Look there are no decent answers that I can give, but Scott Maxwell (I
think) said that the role of our government was to insure a level
playing field in world economies. We should be able to supply goods and
services of high quality to other countries and in exchange by from them
the same goods. There is no question that in the electronics industry
there is virtually no American made mother boards for computers and
American industries like Dell and Gateway still rely upon foreign
products and we don't think twice about the humanitarian side of
assembly lines.

The bottom line is that we are in trouble and in my mind the only thing
we can do as engineers in this country is to create solutions to the
problems by keeping the solutions internalized - within professionals
and supporting industries that are comprised of American workers -
including legal immigration. Yet we should not be so narrow vision as
not to see how NAFTA and H-1B is hurting our potential work force.

Finally, I do have a problem with investors. I think this has caused a
great deal of our problems simply because businesses are often
manipulated to overproduce profits at the expense of the employees. I
think it is a mindset that is wrong and I won't participate in this. If
a company I would invest in decides to hire offshore or move its global
headquarters out of the United States, I sell off the stock and consider
another that supports American workers. My dad believed in steady and
sure stocks. Those with high ratings that don't subscribe to get rich
quick but over time will produce a good and steady return on the money.
They are out there and maybe the answer is to look within ourselves to
see if we are part of the problem and change it.

Sorry, I didn't mean to preach. I don't have the answers, but I am glad
that we are finally talking about them - openly without being accused of
being bigoted.

Dennis S. Wish, PE
La Quinta, California

P.S. My wife was born and raised (until an early age) in St. Paul and
her family dated back to the English / Swiss background in Bemidji area.
I came from Russian Jewish immigrants who fled the pogrom in Russia
before the turn of the 20th century (1889 or there-about). When my
family bought their first home, we were not allowed to buy in the area
of Skokie, Illinois on the East side of Crawford - it was restricted
meaning that Jews were not allowed. I am not ignorant of issues related
to bigotry and hatred, but I don't believe that this has anything to do
with protection of American workers in this country.

-----Original Message-----
From: Michael L. Hemstad [mailto:hemstad.ml(--nospam--at)tkda.com] 
Sent: Tuesday, November 11, 2003 11:16 AM
To: seaint(--nospam--at)seaint.org
Subject: SICK PROFESSION

OK, Dennis, I hope you've got your asbestos whities on.

You wrote:
  "This employee took the work away from an American Citizen as was
evident in the fact that he is now permanent and is living the American
dream at the expense of another citizen."

Let me point out a couple of things.

First, unless you're carrying a lot of Native American blood, I have a
hard time with an attitude that amounts to "I made it in; quick, close
the door."  We are a nation of immigrants.  My grandparents spoke
Norwegian in their homes as children.  If some guy who speaks Punjab or
Somali wants the same things for his kids as mine have, and has a skill
set to contribute to our society, GREAT.  Only a hypocrite would try
stop him.

Second, our nation has always exploited immigrants for cheap labor.  In
exchange, they got freedom and opportunity.  They didn't resent it; they
fought to come here.  Why should that change just because it affects
someone you know?  What's different about now versus a hundred years
ago?  

Third, we have one of the highest standards of living in the world.
Quit whining about how much we're hurt by immigrants.  The whole world
envies us.  Who can blame them for wanting to move here?  If they can
contribute, let them in.

Fourth, I tend to believe Dave Fisher when he says he has a hard time
hiring someone.  When he says he pays this former H1B guy more than
prevailing wage, to me the argument is over.  It doesn't sound like he
took anything at the expense of anyone.  Your argument is that ANY
American citizen should have right of first refusal to any job.
Bullshit.  Qualifications and drive still matter.

Fifth, the labor unions in this country have grabbed way too much power
in way too many cases.  In their sway, competence and ability no longer
matter; just seniority and union dues.  Now they have to compete.  Good.
10 years ago we were moaning and knashing our teeth over the auto
companies and their falling market share.  When they finally figured it
out and got off their butts, they turned it around.  I own a Ford van
that's a piece of junk, and a Toyota Camry that runs great.  I feel no
obligation to buy another Ford, made half as well by guys earning twice
as much.  We can compete; we just don't want to.  Yes, we will see some
bloated corporate profits and some abuses.  You know what happens to
those profits?  Most of them go to stockholders.  Like me.

Last (hold your applause), what effect do you think this employee has on
us?  He is now a tax-paying American consumer.  That means he is
providing jobs for other tax-paying Americans.  He is responsible for
expanding our economy.  Good for him.

OK, flame off.

Mike Hemstad
St. Paul, Minnesota





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