This is an update. I just read in Business Week that the actual amendment passed is not what is presented originally the below post. I've now confirmed:
This amendment, as modified, is being cosponsored by Senator Grassley and has been cleared by both sides. This amendment simply requires recipients of TARP funding to meet strict H-1B worker hiring standards to prevent displacement of U.S. workers.
Outsourcing expert Ron Hira estimates this will only affect 1,000 jobs. Remember Citigroup alone fired 50,000 and also signed a $2 billion dollar offshore outsourcing contract after receiving a $25 billion dollars in U.S. taxpayer money.
Here is Grassley's Press release:
The Senate has accepted an amendment sponsored by Senator Chuck Grassley that would ensure companies taking TARP money comply with strict hiring standards in order not to displace qualified American workers. The amendment that passed the Senate modified an amendment that Grassley filed with Senator Bernie Sanders.
The modified amendment requires that a company receiving TARP funds and applying for workers under the H-1B process must operate as an “H-1B dependent company.” This means they will still be able to hire H-1B visa holders, but must comply with the H-1B dependent employer rules which include attesting to actively recruiting American workers; not displacing American workers with H-1B visa holders; and not replacing laid off American workers with foreign workers.
“Hiring American workers for limited available jobs should be a top priority for businesses taking taxpayer money through the TARP bailout program. With the unemployment rate at 7.6 percent, there is no need for companies to hire foreign guest workers through the H1-B program when there are plenty of qualified Americans looking for jobs,” Grassley said. “Our common-sense amendment simply ensures that recipients of American taxpayer money make American workers their first priority as they look to hire new employees.”
Grassley supports the H-1B program, but has said that reforms are urgently needed and the program should be used in the way it was intended – as a temporary measure to supplement a company’s need for hi-tech or specialized workers when none are available in the U.S.
Grassley has been a leader in the effort to improve the H-1B visa program. In the 110th Congress, he introduced a comprehensive H-1B and L visa reform bill with Senator Dick Durbin that would give priority to American workers and crack down on unscrupulous employers who deprive qualified Americans of high-skill jobs. He has also asked questions of both American and foreign based companies about their use of the H-1B visa program.
Still in symbolism and raising awareness that U.S. workers are being replaced with cheaper foreign workers it is a start. As it stands there are 0 provisions in the Stimulus bill to require hiring U.S. workers when using U.S. taxpayer money.
All previous attempts to reform the guest worker Visas programs have been killed by corporate lobbying groups and other organizations who make a living trading people.
The Original Post From February 5, 2009
In response to the Associated Press investigation that TARP bail out recipients were firing Americans while hiring foreign guest workers, Senators Bernie Sanders and Chuck Grassley are offering an amendment, S.AMDT.306, to demand these bank recipients of U.S. taxpayer dollars hire U.S. workers and stop this horrific practice of labor arbitrage.
The legislation by Sens. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., and Charles Grassley, R-Iowa, would apply to more than 200 banks that have accepted the government's aid. They would be barred from hiring foreigners who hold special visas that are reserved for certain skilled and advanced-degree jobs. Both senators are longtime critics of abuses they see in the visa program.
"It is obscene and vulgar for these huge banks getting taxpayer bailouts to use the bailouts to throw American workers on the street and bring in foreign workers," Sanders said.
This is a very important amendment for the question is will the Senate plain stand up for American labor, for the United States middle class, working America? The answer is obvious, Jobs in America should first and foremost go to Americans and this is particularly true when those jobs are funded by the very taxes these fired workers paid.
The corporate lobbyists as well as the hordes of immigration attorneys who make their living by trading cheap foreign guest workers will be on fire trying to stop this amendment.
Make no mistake, these jobs are not skills that cannot be found in the United States. In fact many of the U.S. workers have to train their replacement. Obviously the fact Americans must train their replacement before being fired says quite clearly they do have the skills to do these jobs.
So, if you believe that U.S. taxpayer dollars should be used for putting to work U.S. workers...please call your Senators and request they support this amendment.
The amendment text is quite simple and attached.
Senator Sanders has now issued a press release:
In a speech on the Senate floor, Sanders said the American people are furious that a handful of Wall Street executives through their greed, recklessness and possible illegal behavior have plunged us into the worst financial crisis since the Great Depression.
“The Treasury Department has provided the largest financial institutions in this country hundreds of billions of taxpayer dollars with more to come. The Federal Reserve has also committed over $2.3 trillion in taxpayer dollars to these financial institutions with the possibility of trillions more to come.
“These banks haven’t used taxpayer money to unfreeze the credit markets. They haven’t significantly increased lending to consumers and small businesses. They have used taxpayer money to reward executives with hundreds of millions in compensation. They continue to pay dividends to their shareholders and have made risky acquisitions.
“But there is one thing that these financial institutions are trying to do to save money. During the last three months of 2008, the largest banks in this country have announced 100,000 in job cuts. That’s 100,000 American workers who will be out on the street. The CEOs at most of these firms are still on the job.
“Adding insult to injury, while these banks have announced massive lay-offs, they have requested H-1B visas for more than 21,000 foreign workers over the past six years.
“The amendment that I am offering today with Senator Grassley is simple and it is straightforward.
“At a time when the largest banks in this country have caused the worst financial crisis in our country’s history; and at a time when we are losing millions of decent-paying jobs; this amendment says to the big banks that you can’t add fuel to the fire by throwing American workers out on the street while hiring cheaper labor from overseas.
"Specifically, this amendment prohibits banks that have received a taxpayer bail-out from the U.S. Treasury Department or the Federal Reserve from hiring H-1B guest-workers from overseas."
Here is Senators Sanders & Grassley floor speech introduction of this important amendment:
Senator Grassley is putting forth a very important point on the United States immigration policy as a general principle. The United States immigration policy is not designed, nor should it hurt the United States worker.
Thank you Senators Sanders and Grassley!
I am shocked, but finally is the Senate getting some common sense? God Bless Senators Sanders and Grassley for the Senate approved this amendment! Senator Sanders Press release, I believe is incorrect and refers to the original amendment.
H-1B dependent employers simply need to prove a need and the window for not being able to import H-1B guest workers after firing U.S. workers is 90 days before and after. There are many loopholes to try to hide the fact one is firing U.S. workers and replacing them with guest workers in currently law.
The DOL has the rules on the h-1b non-displacement requirement. Pretty weak huh.
Look at the equivalent jobs requirement. Very easily the employer can say those are not equivalent jobs...see we are paying the guest worker 50% less!
So, while an admirable gesture, in truth this will not stop the financial TARP recipients from offshore outsourcing more jobs and displacing U.S. workers with foreign guest workers.