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How-Not-to-Hire-U.S.-Workers Law Firm Fires Back 462

Posted by Zonk
from the those-rascally-scamps dept.
theodp writes "Congress is now calling for a Dept. of Labor investigation into a Pittsburgh law firm after a video showing its attorneys advising employers how to game the immigration system was posted on YouTube. Cohen & Grigsby, the firm in question, issued a statement insisting their statements were commandeered and misused, but would not allow CBS to view the original video in its entirety. Cohen & Grigsby has also been advising employers since 2002 that they have nothing to fear if they keep employees in the dark about the existence of DOL-required H-1B Public Access Files."
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How-Not-to-Hire-U.S.-Workers Law Firm Fires Back

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday June 23, 2007 @02:05PM (#19621317)
    One of the earliest discussions of this video was on dice.com, and several people downloaded it before it got pulled. And they made certain that it was sent to the Programmer's Guild as well as Loub Dobbs, and other media outlets.

    However, dice.com has initiated a censorship campaign against certain posters and postings against H1-B visas. It's not clear if this is approved by management, or it's the random act of a few moderators. What is clear is that requests for this to stop, and for clarification of Dice's censorship policy have been deleted as well.

    Add to this Dice's postings of standard pro-H1B visa propaganda, and it's very clear that Dice is in full support of the H1-B visa program.

    This is odd for a job board which seeks the best talent in the U.S., but I guess it's the H1-B shops which are paying Dice's bills.

    So until this censorship and propaganda campaign ends, I am taking by business elsewhere. I urge others who seek new jobs to do the same.
  • the way it works (Score:3, Interesting)

    by idlake (850372) on Saturday June 23, 2007 @02:16PM (#19621427)
    The companies I have worked for have looked for the best educated and qualified applicants. They post on mailing lists, network, and find people through word of mouth. People send in their resumes, some get invited for interviews, and the best get offers. At no point does nationality or salary play a role, either way.

    Only once the companies have already decided who they want to hire do silly US regulations, like posting to "Sunday newspapers". Geez, who gets hired based on responding to a Sunday newspaper ad anymore? Day laborers? So, yes, people who are saying that these ads are a sham are absolutely right, they're just wrong about why people are posting these ads.

    Don't kid yourself: if you can't get a job as a software engineer now, you won't get one even if no foreign labor gets admitted to the US. The consequence of restricting H1b visas is simply that the jobs themselves move overseas.
  • by cdrguru (88047) on Saturday June 23, 2007 @02:46PM (#19621691) Homepage
    True, we're not talking about high tech jobs.

    But we have an economy that is now structured around paying people to stay poor and artifically low prices that distort everything, including wages paid to high tech workers.

    Let's imagine a case where all the illegals either (a) walked home or (b) demanded the prevailing wage that a legal worker would get. McDonalds and Wendy's would have to charge more. Their people would get paid more. These people could then afford to pay more for rent and maybe apartment building owners could make some improvements. See? Everybody wins.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday June 23, 2007 @02:47PM (#19621697)

    I don't understand the public outcry -- the immigration laws are ridiculous, antiquidated, and totally disassociated from reality. Of -course- corporations are going to side-step them whenever possible.

    When we're searching for a worker, we search for the best possible applicant -- finding a good applicant is hard enough without mandating citizenship. This isn't a question of 'stealing' US jobs, either: Highly skilled foreign workers are not cheaper than American counterparts, and immigration lawyers aren't cheap!

    AFTER we've spent significant time and money finding an applicant, we're required to jump through arcane legal hoops to advertise the job again (eg, newspaper ads, state job boards, etc). We must then review every unqualified applicant's resume, and provide justification for not hiring them -- this is time consuming and expensive, and explains why companies try so hard to discourage more applications at this stage. If you've already performed an exhaustive job search and found a great applicant, why repeat the process? Even worse is when we try to change an employee's immigration status -- eg, get them a green card. I can't believe anyone would seriously suggest that we should abandon our investment in an existing employee just to find a US-citizen.

    We're interested in finding the best possible person -- period. An employee will pay taxes, live in the neighborhood, and become an active, involved contributor to our society, regardless of where he/she was born. Why shouldn't we encourage the immigration of highly skilled foreign workers to our country?

  • RTFA (Score:5, Interesting)

    by nanosquid (1074949) on Saturday June 23, 2007 @02:58PM (#19621797)
    These lawyers are talking about job ads as part of the green card application process. That is, the goal of the process is to get a current or future employee a green card. As soon as the employee gets the green card, they can quit and work somewhere else if they aren't being paid competitively.

    So, why don't companies want responses to these ads? Because they already know that they aren't going to get any good responses to a newspaper ad. How do they know that? Because they are already running lots of ads all over the place. Any response they are going to get is just going to hold up the green card application unnecessarily.

    These companies are trying to do the right thing--getting their foreign employees green cards. They don't deserve to be dragged through the mud for it.
  • Re:get real (Score:3, Interesting)

    by llansamlet (792911) on Saturday June 23, 2007 @03:30PM (#19622051)
    Exactly My company transferred to the US, and I went over for a year on a company transfer visa. I was paid competitively and paid taxes in the US. After a year the company started green card applications for those who wanted it. If they hadn't then in a few years, the staff with the most experience and knowledge of the software would have had to leave the company to return home, and the company would have been in considerable trouble - generating less tax and with less chance of hiring more US workers. I assume they had to advertise the jobs as part of the green card process. They certainly didn't want to replace us, not because they were getting cheap labour, but because they had a set of trained staff who were the core of the company.
  • Why wouldn't we want skilled, educated, hard-working, people from other countries to come here and become citizens? Doesn't that improve the value of our republic? They pay taxes, do honest work, raise families...how are they any different from our Grandfathers, Great Grandmothers, or even farther back who came to the US looking for a better life? Do we have more a right to happiness than they, just because they weren't born here?

    However, foreign workers who intend to go back and send the majority of their money back with them contribute much less to the American economy, since they are less likely to spend their wages in the US.

    As a US worker, we already have several advantages over the foreign competition (language fluency, cultural understanding, better education (generally)); why do we need to further tilt the scales further in our favor?
  • Re:their website (Score:3, Interesting)

    by dattaway (3088) on Saturday June 23, 2007 @03:54PM (#19622291) Homepage Journal
    Call them up and express your displeasure...

    Complaints work! but...

    Why call the lawyers? I'm going through the paper and WRITING the employers. My current drafts are rather rough and abrasive, but I expect the tone and clarity to improve over the weeks. I'd imagine some HR managers who are fed up with the system might take the bait. The former HR manager at my company got fired for openly venting about these complaints and admitting part of the problem.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday June 23, 2007 @04:55PM (#19622751)
    Americans! Quit your whining and fscking compete! That's what makes this country the best.

    Why would I as a manager go through all that H1B hassle if I could get the best right here at home? You know why they're going overseas for talent? They're better* and cheaper. Trust me, if you're good enough, they'll bend over backwards for you too. If they wouldn't, they're on their way to failure and you don't want to work there anyway.

    * - Companies that just go for cheaper w/o the better are worse. Don't work there.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday June 23, 2007 @05:13PM (#19622869)
    From Norm Matloff's discussion [ucdavis.edu] about these unethical practices he quotes Jennifer Pack of Cohen and Grisgby [cohenlaw.com]:

    You can also advertise in local and ethnic newspapers, such as the Pittsburgh Courier.

    The Courier is a newspaper that caters to blacks. Good thing they don't know about computers, right Jennifer?
  • Hoops (Score:1, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday June 23, 2007 @05:24PM (#19622947)
    There can be many reasons.

    I am in this position as well; not a US citizen, but have lived here $LONG_TIME and married a citizen $LONG_AGO. I have a green card, so I can work where I want, and (with certain provisos) enter and leave at my pleasure.

    As it happens, I pay taxes, just as much as a US citizen. I was, when young enough, eligible for military conscription as much as any US citizen. The only major regular duty of a citizen which, to my knowledge, does not apply to me, is jury duty. I don't get to vote, but I honestly don't count my one voice among tens of millions as being worth a lot.

    To get the green card, I essentially had to prove that the marriage was genuine (MUCH harder than that makes it sound) and that I wasn't some undesirable (a ton of paperwork, multiple health checks, you name it), and I more or less had to undertake to play nicely. So far, so good. Annoying, but livable.

    To get citizenship, I would have to go through a whole new set of hoops, including civics tests (ironically, I know a lot more about US history and government than a whole lot of citizens with whom I've spoken) and make a pledge of dubious logical coherence:

    I hereby declare, on oath, that I absolutely and entirely renounce and abjure all allegiance and fidelity to any foreign prince, potentate, state, or sovereignty of whom or which I have heretofore been a subject or citizen; that I will support and defend the Constitution and laws of the United States of America against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; that I will bear arms on behalf of the United States when required by law; that I will perform noncombatant service in the Armed Forces of the United States when required by the law; that I will perform work of national importance under civilian direction when required by the law; and that I take this obligation freely without any mental reservation or purpose of evasion; so help me God. (Copied from Wikipedia, because I'm lazy)

    I would also, as an added bonus of fun-filled excitement, automatically lose my prior citizenship to $NONE_OF_YOUR_BEESWAX thus complicating contact with my family and various other aspects of my life.

    So, I can get to take an oath which doesn't work for me, screw my life with more paperwork, after having had to work for the privilege, mess around with contact with my family (such as it is), and the primary immediate change would be eligibility for jury duty. I can't imagine what's holding me back from this wonderful life-changing experience, can you, mister Bush?
  • by Tablizer (95088) on Saturday June 23, 2007 @05:28PM (#19622977) Homepage Journal
    If you are going to evade the spirit of the law, don't be surprised when the lawmakers take note.

    Microsoft has been breaking the "spirit of the law" for a long time. It's been known that they reject roughly 9 out of 10 resumes they receive, and also reject older workers, yet keep lobbying congress for more visa workers. The lawmakers only take note when it enters into the public conscience. They don't otherwise look for suspicious leads, especially when being funded by such corporations.
           
  • Re:Moot (Score:5, Interesting)

    by magarity (164372) on Saturday June 23, 2007 @07:03PM (#19623709)
    You laugh, but the US dollar really is in trouble. It's a short 4-5 cents before the Canadian dollar is above the US dollar
     
    You must be an importer. For everyone who wants to export goods, or compete against imported goods, or sell stuff (and services) to foreign tourists, sell stuff to domestic tourists who decided not to go to more expensive other countries, etc, a low dollar against other currencies are a GOOD thing.
     
    All those dollars (note: dollars, not debt instruments - that's another discussion) held by people in other countries can only do ONE THING in the long run: Come back to the USA and buy something from here. A low dollar is just going to *finally* reverse the flood of US dollars out of the country to the mideast oil producers and Chinese factory owners. It's about time.
  • Re:Moot (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Copid (137416) on Saturday June 23, 2007 @07:28PM (#19623837)
    Thank you for pointing this out. The idea that the dollar should always be strong relative to every other country's currency may sound good if you don't think about it, but it's really not any more sensible than claiming that the the price of walking shoes should always be higher than the price of running shoes. The reality is that the dollar will (and should) fluctuate to reflect the relative supply and demand of goods across borders. On one hand, people complain about the Chinese throwing our trade balance out of whack or Indian engineers coming over here to earn a living, and on the other hand they bitch when the dollar falls as if the two situations were unrelated.

    Our standard of living has outstripped the rest of the world by far more than we can justify these days, and it's only a matter of time before a lot of economic variables return to equilibrium. People debate over whether we should try desperately to shore up the dollar or whether we should close our borders to foreign workers in some sort of protectionist scheme to "protect" the locals. The fact of the matter is that if the rest of the world isn't buying what we're making, corrections are going to be made. We can be protectionists and let the correction take the form of a long period of stagnation relative to the rest of the world, or we can go the total free trade route and let the correction take the form of us buying cheap imports and cheap foreign labor until the price of foreign goods is high enough that we start buying locally. Pick your poison. Either way, we're just paying the piper for the fact that we're living better than we can justify with the work that we put out.
  • by Antique Geekmeister (740220) on Saturday June 23, 2007 @07:42PM (#19623907)
    Actually, it is. The employee safety standards, training practices, and most especially *union* policies of foreign employees often differ vastly. While US workers in technology are often more skilled and more creative and more productive, for example, they're more expensive and more demanding of their managers. They're also more likely to say "this is a really, really stupid idea" or to blow the whistle on criminal activity than foreign workers on H1-B visas.

    I've seen this in practice, where the US contractors immediately went to the company management and said "we are in violation of our contracts with this customer, and in violation of US law: here's what we have to do to fix it" where the foreign workers continued merrily breaking basic US law. (Including the GPL: I had a long talk with some of their US engineers about software that I'd contributed heavily to under the GPL, and its implications for what they were doing. They resigned from the company and are employed elsewhere now, and the project eventually cost that company a big loss when their clients noticed the contract violations.)
  • Re:RTFA (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Antique Geekmeister (740220) on Saturday June 23, 2007 @07:53PM (#19623989)
    Go read the fine article yourself. Given a pool of 50 applicants, even if they're good applicants, the odds that any one applicant fulfills all the requirements exactly is low: there is a serious art to writing job ads that eliminate all but the previously selected candidate. This practice occurs in the managerial and corporate realm every day, to avoid any but the already selected candidate.

    If you watch the video, the attorneys make clear that the employer can make interviews with any US applicants that run the gauntlet and should deliberately disqualify them on any pretext. I've seen the practice: it's nasty, and prevents applicants other than the previously chosen few from ever being considered. I've had an application shot down that way myself: the people who urged me to apply for the work were stunned I didn't get it, and truly lamented that the "golden child" applicant who was greased through the system wound up with it. The fact that he had a serious personal relationship already with his new supervisor became immediately apparent, and caused quite a legal ruckus 3 years later.
  • by bagsc (254194) on Saturday June 23, 2007 @10:56PM (#19625051) Journal
    As a vet myself, I've spent some time thinking about the pros and cons to this.

    First, we raised our standards between the 70's and the 80's for a reason - smart volunteers fight a lot better than desperate inductees. It would be trickier than integration was in the 1950s. The screening process for a foreign military applicant would have to be fairly intense: there are no background checks that are economical, they couldn't receive clearances which are necessary for most specializations, they'd have to be mixed with domestic troops at the right ratios to maintain order, and lastly, you couldn't pay them the same salary as an American soldier (maybe 60% of pay grade?). Plus, you'd probably have to keep them as unpaid E-1's until they can pass all the language skills and cultural literacy tests that would be necessary to maintain good order. And any infraction worth more than a casual Article 15 would require deportation and barring from reentering service.

    Being on probation for 4 years would probably be demotivating, and then we'd be letting in a foreigner that's angry at the government. I'd give them a permanent resident status instead of citizenship, because they'd need to live the other side of American life for a few years before they can decide they really love this country.

    The best part of this plan is that military planners would actually have to care about how America is perceived by other countries: it would be their key recruiting tool.
  • by bjiggs (860838) on Saturday June 23, 2007 @11:07PM (#19625091)
    Yeah, something isn't quite right about the argument we're hearing from the corporate suits on this.

    If there is a huge demand for programmers, and the supply is SO limited that we need to import foreign workers, why the hell have salaries for programmers risen so little over the past five or six years? It's been a while since I've had an economics course but this argument would seem to break a law or two. I mean seriously, this alone should tell you that something is not right. It seems to me much more likely that corporations just don't like the idea of paying six figures for engineers, whether the market demands it or not. Maybe they think you should need to have an MBA to earn that kinda money. After all, everyone knows MBAs do most of the work at tech companies.

    So, if you really need programmers, but you really really don't want to pay them what they're worth, importing cheap labor sounds like a pretty good idea. Of course, H1-B workers are supposed to be paid the prevailing wage but this just doesn't happen. Talk to anyone who works in an IT shop that uses them and they'll tell you that they make less money. Hell, just ask the people who are there on H1-Bs, they know they're getting ripped off.

    What I really love is when companies that do this say, "well, we advertised that programming position and nobody responded for 2 months, so we had no other choice". Most of the time, this is bullshit. I used to work for a company that would advertise $85k for all senior level Java positions, even though the local average was around $100k for someone at that level. And then the managers at the company would feign dismay over the fact that they weren't getting any resumes. A couple of times I suggested that they just raise the salary to match the average market rate. Of course, each time I was told that "that's not in the budget".

    It basically comes down to just that. A lot of US corporations have simply decided that cheap foreign labor is "in the budget", a fair wage for US workers is not.

  • There is a fix. (Score:3, Interesting)

    by tkrotchko (124118) * on Sunday June 24, 2007 @07:23AM (#19626995) Homepage
    "This has little to do with wages and everything to do with worker "loyalty.""

    Well, it's a bit of both.

    The idea is that the loyalty of the H1-B is enforced by the the U.S. Government. If you're not loyal, you get thrown out of the country. That probably makes you pretty loyal.

    But the purpose of forcing such loyalty is that it allows the employer to pay less money. If the prevailing wage $60K per year, I'm guessing you can get by with $35K per year for the H1B, plus they're technically temps, so you don't have the additional expenses you would for a permanent employee.

    Now that said, I think the H1B people coming over are good for the country, and really good for IT workers. If smart people want to come to the country and work, I think that's great. Imagine the best minds in the world coming to your country. Not only smart people, but people with the initiative to leave their country and move to another! I welcome anyone like that (and I work in IT). So with that in mind, I propose a solution. H1Bs after 6 months of employment with a company get their green card.

    Boom. I've solved the problem. We get the pool of labor. Smart, talented, hard working labor. And they'd be paid at market rates. The companies would have to do that. Otherwise the H1B's they just spent 6 months training would go someplace else. The only people who could possibly object to this are people who have a vested interest in making sure H1B's are cheap. And that ultimately is not good for anybody.

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