Clinton criticizes Disney for layoffs.
Hillary Clinton, the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee, in an interview on Monday lashed out against the replacement of US IT workers with H-1B visa workers, calling the practice of American workers having to train their replacement workers as â€œheartbreakingâ€.
In a videotaped interview with Vox, Clinton appears empathetic and sympathetic to US IT workers who have trained their foreign replacements as a condition of severance. She mentioned IT layoffs at Disney, specifically, reported ComputerWorld.
“The many stories of people training their replacements from some foreign country are heartbreaking, and it is obviously a cost-cutting measure to be able to pay people less than what you would pay an American worker,” said Clinton in the interview.
A major complaint Clinton said she now hears about is “how callous and insensitive” employers have become.
But other than to express concern about the workers, it was unclear what Clinton was trying to accomplish in the interview. There was no discussion of specific reforms to attack the problems she cited, leaving critics of the H-1B visa program uncertain about her stance on the issue.
Clinton seemed to acknowledge that the public is alert to the issue and that “everybody, with six degrees of separation either knows or thinks they know” someone replaced by foreign labor. But she may have also minimized the problem, according to critics, said ComputerWorld.
Said Clinton: “It’s hard to argue an economic analytics abstraction that really it’s not that much job displacement, and, you know, the overall economy is better,” in citing the case for temporary visa holders made by supporters. “It’s really hard when you are the one who has lost the job, when you are at Disney in Orlando and you are told to train your successors.”
Disney cut about 250 workers early last year after bringing in offshore contracting firms. IT workers complained about having to train foreign replacements. A class action lawsuit is being argued on behalf of former Disney workers who allege H-1B abuse by Disney.
After discussing the problem faced by Disney’s IT workers, Clinton immediately mentioned how construction workers, replaced by undocumented workers, face something similar.
Keith Barrett, a former IT worker Disney who was among those replaced by contractors, was not happy with Clinton’s comments, which he called “depressing.”
“She starts off as if she understands the problem, but then dismisses it as collateral damage not of significant volume to address, and blends in the problem of illegal immigrant labor, which is mostly working in unskilled labor,” said Barrett.
Clinton is “ignoring that not only are highly skilled employed Americans being fired by the tens of thousands every year due to H-1B labor, many are older age-protected people,” said Barrett, to ComputerWorld. “Plus, it’s preventing qualified people from getting hired.”
Ron Hira, an associate professor of public policy at Howard University, said Clinton is “downplaying the scale and scope of the problem. The job displacement isn’t just real, it is large in scale and scope. And its impacts are amplified by the offshoring of some of that work. So, on key facts here she is very misinformed.”
“So, is she supporting H-1B and L-1 and OPT (Optional Practical Training) reforms (for F-1 visa students)? Or isn’t she?” said Hira, “Or is reform simply a chip to be bargained away to the tech industry in exchange for its support for comprehensive immigration reform — a way to keep the ‘pressure’ on the technology industry to use her words?”
Hira called Clinton’s remarks a positive first step, but also sees her delaying a commitment to a solution. It’s a “way to pander without making a hard promise,” he said.
Leo Perrero, a former Disney IT worker who trained his replacement, said “we have finally witnessed Hilary Clinton commenting on the H-1B abuses happening all over the country. This is a good thing that more Americans are being educated and that now both presidential candidates are speaking out on this topic.”