AP Investigation: Bail Out Banks sought foreign workers instead of U.S. workers!

This is a bombshell. Banks, while receiving billions in TARP bail out money and firing U.S. workers right and left sought foreign workers. The associated press did an investigation on where your taxpayer money is going and this is what they found!

SANTA CLARA, Calif. – Major U.S. banks sought government permission to bring thousands of foreign workers into the country for high-paying jobs even as the system was melting down last year and Americans were getting laid off, according to an Associated Press review of visa applications.

The dozen banks now receiving the biggest rescue packages, totaling more than $150 billion, requested visas for more than 21,800 foreign workers over the past six years for positions that included senior vice presidents, corporate lawyers, junior investment analysts and human resources specialists. The average annual salary for those jobs was $90,721, nearly twice the median income for all American households.

As the economic collapse worsened last year — with huge numbers of bank employees laid off — the numbers of visas sought by the dozen banks in AP's analysis increased by nearly one-third, from 3,258 in the 2007 budget year to 4,163 in fiscal 2008.

The AP reviewed visa applications the banks filed with the Labor Department under the H-1B visa program, which allows temporary employment of foreign workers in specialized-skill and advanced-degree positions. Such visas are most often associated with high-tech workers.

It is unclear how many foreign workers the banks actually hired; the government does not release those details. The actual number is likely a fraction of the 21,800 foreign workers the banks sought to hire because the government only grants 85,000 such visas each year among all U.S. employers.

During the last three months of 2008, the largest banks that received taxpayer loans announced more than 100,000 layoffs. The number of foreign workers included among those laid off is unknown.

Foreigners are attractive hires because companies have found ways to pay them less than American workers.

Companies are required to pay foreign workers a prevailing wage based on the job's description. But they can use the lower end of government wage scales even for highly skilled workers; hire younger foreigners with lower salary demands; and hire foreigners with higher levels of education or advanced degrees for jobs for which similarly educated American workers would be considered overqualified.

"The system provides you perfectly legal mechanisms to underpay the workers," said John Miano of Summit, N.J., a lawyer who has analyzed the wage data and started the Programmers Guild, an advocacy group that opposes the H-1B system.

David Huber of Chicago is a computer networking engineer who has testified to Congress about losing out on a 2002 job with the former Bank One Corp. He learned later the bank applied to hire dozens of foreign visa holders for work he said he was qualified to do.

"American citizenship is being undermined working in our own country," Huber said in an AP interview.

Beyond seeking approval for visas from the government, banks that accepted federal bailout money also enlisted uncounted foreign workers, often in technology jobs, through intermediary companies known as "body shops." Such businesses are the top recipients of the H-1B visas.

The use of visa workers by ailing banks angers Sen. Chuck Grassley of Iowa, the senior Republican on the Senate Finance Committee.

"In this time of very, very high unemployment ... and considering the help these banks are getting from the taxpayers, they're playing the American taxpayer for a sucker," Grassley said in a telephone interview with AP.

Grassley, with Sen. Richard Durbin, D-Ill., is pushing for legislation to make employers recruit American workers first, along with other changes to the visa program.

Banks turned to foreign workers before the current economic crisis, said Diane Casey-Landry, chief operating officer for the American Bankers Association. The group said a year ago that demand exceeded the pool of qualified workers in areas like sales, lending and bank administration. Now with massive layoffs, the situation is different, Casey-Landry said.

The issue takes on a higher profile as the government injects billions of dollars into the economy and President Barack Obama pushes for massive government spending to create jobs nationwide, on top of the $700 billion already approved for the ailing banks.

"You're using taxpayer dollars and there's an expectation that there are benefits to the U.S.," said Ron Hira, a national expert on foreign employment and assistant public policy professor at the Rochester Institute of Technology. "What you're really doing is leaking away those jobs and benefits that should accrue to the taxpayers."

But New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg believes more access to "worldwide talent pools" will better position U.S. financial companies against global competitors, spokesman Andrew Brent said.

The U.S. Customs and Immigration Service declined to disclose details on foreign workers hired at the banks that have received federal bailouts. The AP has requested the information under the U.S. Freedom of Information Act.

Nearly all the banks the AP contacted also declined to comment on their foreign hiring practices. Arlene C. Roberts, spokeswoman for State Street Corp. of Boston, which has received $2 billion in bailout money, said the company has reduced H-1B hiring in recent years, and just hires for specialized positions.

Jennifer Scott of Yreka, Calif., a retired technical systems manager at Bank of America in Concord, Calif., said in 2004 she oversaw foreign employees from a contractor firm that also sent overnight work to employees in India.

"It had nothing to do with a shortage, but they didn't want to pay the U.S. rate," she said, adding that the quality of the work was weak. "It's all about numbers crunching."

Normally I never post an entire article, but in this case, considering in the next $1 trillion dollars it is highly probable that your tax dollars will be used to offshore outsource jobs and bring in foreign labor on guest workers Visas....this might be something to be completely outraged about.

It's even worse than this when one considers traditional offshore outsourcing (guest workers are the same as offshore outsourcing but corporations just import the workers to the U.S. because they cannot ship the project offshore....yet)

See What Citigroup with Their 50,000 Layoffs Didn't Tell You - Yup, Outsourced to India.

Thank you to Associated Press reporters Frank Bass, Rita Beamish and whoever else covered this story!

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re: specialized!

Arlene C. Roberts, spokeswoman for State Street Corp. of Boston, which has received $2 billion in bailout money, said the company has reduced H-1B hiring in recent years, and just hires for specialized positions.

An aside here: These visa hounds really need to diversify their prevarication vocabulary. Anybody who's followed this issue will laugh every time they trot out the code word "specialized". It's a running joke how often these persons with alleged "specialized skills" need to be trained in these "specialized skills" by the very people who are going to be sacked so that they can be replaced with these "specialized" workers.

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This happened to me, replaced by a foreign worker with Visa

Thanks for posting this article. This just recently happened to me, a U.S taxpayer, mechanical engineer for a major international high tech company. Initially my position, as I was told, went overseas to China. However within 2 hours of my reduction in workforce notification, an individual working at the same site was moved into my position. She has a 10 year Visa from India, and making 1.5 times my salary. Not only was she "insulted" that the company gave her a "lower" and "demeaning" job for her skillset, she actually asked me why she lost her position and got mine instead (when I had just lost my position to her!) Apparently she is a corporate sponsored VISA. Her brother was also brought into my old organization the very same day (he also works there). Now I have been told that over 4 people are doing the very same job I did by myself, with much higher salaries. I have much anquish over this entire ordeal, and am deeply troubled by a movement such as this, for me, and my children. As a single parent with 2 college age and 1 middle school child, and more than dismal job searching prospects, for the first time in my professional career, I am truly worried. How can we as a society, allow this to happen? How did this happen?
How can we stop this?

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noslaves.com

is a new community site for techies, precisely to try to get some organization to combat this practice. Although your story is highly unusual. It doesn't make sense for the company to actually pay more in wages when displacing a U.S. citizen, for most often it's about cheaper labor. Could be one of those "save my pals, screw the others" behavior going on where someone in the hire/fire decision chain is biased.

Sign on and discuss (and tell others please) on Noslaves.com.

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This happened to me, replaced by a foreign worker with Visa

My reply to "noslaves.com". Exactly, it does not make sense for the company to replace a higher wage with a lower wage salarly, particularly when the terminating manager agreed with me that "I was the better choice for the position" but due to upper management decisions that were not disclosed to me, the decision stood. Some current theories about this company are (1) grossly mismanaged, or (2)company may be intentionally mismanaging its products to shut down facility I was at, or (3) save my pals, screw the others" behavior going on where someone in the hire/fire decision chain is biased.

I think it could be (3) since the person I was replaced with is the same nationality as my manager. I have been advised that this may be a reverse discrimination of national origin case. Speaking with an attorney, it was very unclear, and unfortunately, the hourly rate was a bit too high for me to pursue.

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it's a website

noslaves.com is another website. I'm trying to point you to a website, where you can create an account and post your experiences, connect up with others.

Sounds like some serious bias then. I've been seeing that more and more, but consider creating an account on the website, noslaves.com

I just put that together recently and am trying to get Professionals to start using it, to join forces to start piping up.

This site, the economic populist, is an economics community blog, it's more analytical, about writing and pointing out details whereas noslaves is trying to get people to join forces.

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