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California Utility May Replace IT Workers with H-1B Workers 220

Posted by Soulskill
from the if-california-falls-into-the-ocean-would-that-count-as-offshoring dept.
dcblogs writes: "Southern California Edison is preparing to offshore IT jobs, the second major U.S. utility in the last year to do so. It will be cutting its staff, but it hasn't said by how much. The utility is using at least two offshore outsourcing firms, according to government records. SCE's management culture may be particularly primed for firing its IT workers. Following a workplace shooting in SCE's IT offices in 2011, the utility conducted an independent audit of its organizational and management culture. One observation in this report, which was completed a year later, was that 'employees perceive managers to be more concerned about how they 'look' from above, and less concerned about how they are viewed by their subordinates. This fosters an unhealthy culture and climate by sending a message to employees that it is more important to focus on how things look from the top than how they actually are down below.'"
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California Utility May Replace IT Workers with H-1B Workers

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  • by HaeMaker (221642) on Friday April 18, 2014 @06:19PM (#46791593) Homepage
    If you are "offshoring" you are literally having the work performed off-shore. If they fear their jobs are getting replaced by H1-Bs, then they are "outsourcing". It would be illegal for them to fire everyone then hire H1-Bs, and even if the off-shore companies place people that all happen to be H1-B, lawsuits will follow. How can the consulting company say they couldn't find competent employees when they know a bunch that got laid-off?
    • by Mitreya (579078)

      It would be illegal for them to fire everyone then hire H1-Bs, and even if the off-shore companies place people that all happen to be H1-B, lawsuits will follow. How can the consulting company say they couldn't find competent employees when they know a bunch that got laid-off?

      The article basically claims that with employees making 60K+, the rule of "cannot find competent employees" does not apply to H1-B, so they should be ok. Does anyone know more about this loophole that the article is talking about?

      • by HaeMaker (221642)
        I don't see anything here that would indicate such a loophole... http://www.uscis.gov/eir/visa-... [uscis.gov]
    • by pixelpusher220 (529617) on Friday April 18, 2014 @06:40PM (#46791755)
      As an interesting aside, should 'utilities' providing critical infrastructure be subject to more stringent hiring requirements?

      Similar to how national security jobs require a gov't clearance, should workers on critical infrastructure require similar concept of vetting?
      • by dbIII (701233)
        Critical? The Californian electricity system has been an international joke for decades. If it has improved then you'll just have to get used to all the brownouts and other supply problems again.
    • Combination of both (Score:5, Informative)

      by Jmstuckman (561420) on Friday April 18, 2014 @06:48PM (#46791801) Journal

      According to the article, they are outsourcing the work to an offshore IT firm. This IT firm, in turn, will give the work to a US location, which staffs itself with H-1B workers. The effect is that US-based workers are being laid off and indirectly replaced with H-1Bs.

      • by ebno-10db (1459097) on Friday April 18, 2014 @07:12PM (#46791975)

        Which is exactly why an Indian commerce minister referred to the H-1B as the "outsourcing visa". It's not an either/or situation - the H-1B visa helps enable outsourcing/offshoring.

      • by Hamsterdan (815291) on Friday April 18, 2014 @09:14PM (#46792551)

        Shouldn't that be illegal?

        • by anubi (640541)

          Shouldn't that be illegal?

          Depends

          If you are a college graduate who has invested tens of thousands of dollars into education and is expecting a return on that investment, if some businessman can get those skills cheaper overseas, its just good business.

          If you are some business who has invested tens of thousands of dollars developing some product and is expecting a return on that investment and someone can bypass that and simply download the work from an overseas server, that is copyright violation, viol

        • by AHuxley (892839)
          Its happens in a lot of US sectors from mil to computers to support.
          You set up a 100% US based firm to lobby for and sign off on US work, all the US legal needs, US contracting, US academic. State/federal US requirements are met.
          At the back end is massive complex reality of a 24/7 cost saving outsourcing/offshoring service.
          A massive reduction in US costs, a massive flow of long term cash out of the US for decades services all via a 100% Made in the USA success story.
        • by houghi (78078)

          Let the market sort it out. Oh Wait.

    • 1) The government does not bother to enforce this law.
      2) The law says you can not sue unless you are personally affected.

      • 2) The law says you can not sue unless you are personally affected.

        Well yeah, that's how tort laws have always worked. If somebody wrongs you, you the victim have to initiate a lawsuit or press charges. Your neighbor can't do it for you.

  • IMPOSSIBLE (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Billly Gates (198444) on Friday April 18, 2014 @06:20PM (#46791599) Journal

    H1B1 Visa's are only because there are not enough applicants to fill a position. Just ask any republican and they will tell you and set the facts straight in interest of protecting the workers.

    It is illegal not to pay an H1B1 Visa worker less than a qualified worker. It is stated so it must be true!

    • Re:IMPOSSIBLE (Score:4, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward on Friday April 18, 2014 @07:13PM (#46791991)

      The problem is that the race to the bottom has began, and I doubt it will end until we hit it. If it is cheaper to pay someone else to do the job, be it in another state, another country, or simply to ship in the workers they are going to do it, and if they can't do it, they will try to move the job itself to that other country or other state. Heck if they are just moving jobs to other states they can just call it a reorg and not even get any bad press about it, even though the key purpose was to surplus all those pesky highly paid workers who had devoted much of their lives to a particular company. The guys in charge are betting they can improve the balance sheet while they are there, then get a nice bonus for it, and if it all falls apart later, well they are likely gone or retired by then, so its not their problem.

      Sure you could setup sane rules to minimize it, but it is not easy, or at least the politicians make it more difficult than it needs to be. For instance, if the country that your buying all this stuff from has poor environmental laws, well then that country is basically not charging what is required to clean up their own mess, so the logical thing to do is to tarrif it in a measured way so at least society can somewhat deal with the mess later, or at the very least make the playing field a touch more level. At any rate, the reason the United States can't compete with manufacturing/labor/etc is as much as anything about the unlevel playing field. We find rules about safe working conditions and pollution to be a good thing, but hapilly ignore that others are less concerned with such things if we can buy a $200 television.

      The other common thing about jobs these days is companies have little loyalty to their employees, so of course their employees have little loyalty to the company either. This leads to companies always asking for employees that are tailor fit for a very obscure job, which of course they often can't find, since that job may be brand new and short term. So the company does a token search, fails to find the non existent expert on widget series 12 when combined with gear series 13 and 20 years experience with the new fad computer language that has only been out five, and of course concludes that it is H-1B time. Sure the employee may be even less skilled than those that were actually available, but hey he or she is cheap and leashed directly to the company of interest so they will spend some effort training him or her. Perhaps in the end they saved no actual money due to all the project delays, but they did save money on paper initially, and that is what is most important.

      • Re:IMPOSSIBLE (Score:5, Insightful)

        by Anonymous Coward on Friday April 18, 2014 @07:24PM (#46792049)

        If only there were organized groups of laborers that were able to band together to protect each others rights.

        • If only there were organized groups of laborers that were able to band together to protect each others rights.

          Socialisms! Evil! Burn the commie witch! Only corporations are allowed to work as bands to protect their rights!

        • Yes, let's base compensation on seniority rather than merit or anything related to real-world performance, and make it impossible to fire someone for anything short of mass murder. Then let's take a chunk of each worker's paycheck against their will and give it to the goddamn politicians to fund their campaigns. Yep, that sounds like exactly what the tech sector needs.
      • The race to the bottom started long ago.

        The destruction of the worker-employer bond even longer - back in the 1980s.

        Tarrifs weren't primarily about environmental responsibility, although indirectly they worked in that direction by favoring local production with its more stringent environmental regulations. But Free Trade has pretty much killed that.

        1950's Republicans would probably die of apoplexy. We gave Most Favored trade status to one of the world's biggest Communist countries.

    • by Culture20 (968837)
      Don't ask what the H1N1 Visas are for.
    • by BobandMax (95054)
      Yes, it's those awful Republicans that hold 60%+ majorities in both California legislatures, the governorship, both US Senate seats and a majority of the Congressional seats.
    • by Fringe (6096)

      If you're going to bring politics in, at least get them right. It's the Democrats that have supported H1Bs more, probably because they get all the tech money (Google, Microsoft, etc.)

    • by Fringe (6096)
      If you're going to bring politics into a conversation, at least get it right. It's the Democrats that have been pushing the big H-1B increased. e.g. http://www.computerworld.com/s/article/9242917/House_Democrats_push_ahead_on_immigration_H_1B/ [computerworld.com]

      I suspect this is because the Democrats get most of the tech (Google, Microsoft, etc.) donations. But just because you're socially liberally (presumably, given your post and bias) doesn't mean you have to believe the Democrats never do wrong. Everybody does wrong
  • Tech workers only? (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward
    Are the management jobs safe because they provide such incredible expertise and knowledge that can only come from white people?
    • Are the management jobs safe because they provide such incredible expertise and knowledge that can only come from white people?

      No, there is a growing move to outsource Lawyer jobs too.

    • How do you know the managers aren't ALREADY from India? That was the case a couple of jobs ago for me, it was not exactly reassuring to hear from the high-level manager who was pushing for and managing the outsourcing, who happened to be Indian, that "these (offshore) people are not replacing any jobs in the US". It was completely false, of course, unless he meant that the six-month gap between each round of mass company-wide layoffs and adding more staffing to the offshore/outsource location were somehow d
      • I should also say that, predictably, the Indian workers for the contract companies tended to rarely stay in their jobs longer than a year, so quality tended to be poor and training was a constant battle. And with a 15%+ pay increase every year (vs 2-3% in the US, in the few years they actually gave any pay increases at all), they were going to catch up eventually. But even at the time, other managers admitted privately that management and other costs ate up the difference and they weren't actually saving an

  • H-1B or offshore? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by qbzzt (11136) on Friday April 18, 2014 @06:21PM (#46791607)

    If you offshore a position, it is in India (for example) and you don't need an H1-B visa.

  • they're offshore, they're cheaper than dust, and they're all religious fanatics. can't offshore more thoroughly than that for life-critical, society-critical infrastructure.

    you guys, really, your ties are way, way too tight.

  • by Virtucon (127420) on Friday April 18, 2014 @06:22PM (#46791621)

    This is an outrage! Companies outsourcing jobs overseas! Management is concerned about perception rather than substance!

    What fucking decade are we living in here folks?!? This isn't news but it is confirmation that US companies are full of douche bags.

  • Good luck with that (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday April 18, 2014 @06:26PM (#46791637)

    Has anyone, anywhere, seen an instance where a move like this actually works out well? I sure haven't. Communication issues, poor worker training and expertise, high turnover. The 'savings' look good on paper, but in the end it's a disaster.

    • by pixelpusher220 (529617) on Friday April 18, 2014 @06:42PM (#46791765)
      Worked well enough for my Dad at Xerox. Granted he got laid off for a couple years but got rehired when it went to shit and got quite the hefty raise and extra retirement out of the deal :)

      Not a plan I'd recommend obviously, but hey :)
    • Yes. For a company that was really badly managed I have seen off-shoring chunks of work to India work. Basically because the Indian project management was better than the American project management.

    • by AHuxley (892839)
      Re Has anyone, anywhere, seen an instance where a move like this actually works out well?
      Think of the banana republic model and the way the USA looked after South and Central America over many decades.
      Experts arrived, products and services where imported, the raw materials where exported and local wages kept down.
      Shareholders in the US got to enjoy generational wealth and their `"trust" funds grew.
      The system works great, you just have to adjust to the role of seasonal shanty town worker or at best an
      • by dbIII (701233)

        Re Has anyone, anywhere, seen an instance where a move like this actually works out well?

        Yes. A government department near me fired everyone to be immediately hired by the contracting company they outsourced to, work was not disrupted, the contracting company made a mint, and they were so happy with it that they gave very expensive gifts to the people in government that signed off on it. So it worked out well for some.
        The taxpayers funding it out course are screwed and the employees transferred over effec

  • Tata! (Score:5, Funny)

    by QilessQi (2044624) on Friday April 18, 2014 @06:26PM (#46791639)

    Northeast Utilities, last fall, announced it was outsourcing part of its IT operations to Infosys and another Indian-based IT services giant, Tata Consultancy Services.

    I'm sure they were the breast candidate for the task.

    • by nobuddy (952985)

      Anectdote:
      I was in Kandahar and I saw this large breasted Army girl leaning on a new pickup. It was a Tata, and sitting right next to an identical one.
      I could not resist.
      "Nice tatas!"

  • 'employees perceive managers to be more concerned about how they 'look' from above, and less concerned about how they are viewed by their subordinates. This fosters an unhealthy culture and climate by sending a message to employees that it is more important to focus on how things look from the top than how they actually are down below.'

    You don't need to commission an expensive report to find out stuff like this. It's so universal it's seen everywhere.

    Heck, Scott Adams who writes Dilbert was employed by Paci

  • by rmdingler (1955220) on Friday April 18, 2014 @06:29PM (#46791665)
    Southern California Edison has collectively determined that it is impossible to change the work atmosphere from the top down,

    so they'll be needing to import some workers who are better suited to the type of shop they run:

    Work the hands like a rented mule.

    • Yeah it's a funny thing - management screwed up, obviously the solution is to fire all of the workers.
  • will now outsource to whereverstan.
  • ?
    We germans have no idea :)

    • by byteherder (722785) on Friday April 18, 2014 @06:37PM (#46791725)
      A H-1B worker is a worker on a temporary work visa in the U.S. They are usually IT workers.

      Company bring them in claiming they cannot find 'qualified' U.S. worker but really do it just to hire cheaper foreign labor.
      • I think it'd help to mention that temporary means 3-6 years, and that losing your job means losing your legal immigration status in the US. It's also very difficult for H-1B's to change jobs. They're wonderfully captive labor.

        • by stenvar (2789879)

          It's also worth mentioning that they are paid a lot more here than wherever they come from. And they are going to work in IT either way. If we don't bring them here, they are going to compete with us from abroad, pay taxes abroad, work cheaper, and help build competing industries elsewhere.

          Furthermore, it is not that difficult for H-1B's to change jobs or get green cards these days, and many of them immigrate. Conversely, for employment based immigration, almost everybody starts off as an H-1B, so killing o

        • by m00sh (2538182)

          I think it'd help to mention that temporary means 3-6 years, and that losing your job means losing your legal immigration status in the US. It's also very difficult for H-1B's to change jobs. They're wonderfully captive labor.

          H1Bs are not temporary visa. They are visa meant for immigration and has a path leading to a green card. The only problem is that getting the green card for Indian and Chinese nationals is hard because 95% of H1B applicants are from India and China and the US has a 9% limit on the number of immigrants granted from one single country. If you are from say a country like England, you can get H1B to green card under 1 year. India and China can be as long as 5-10 years.

          Also, losing your job part has been fixed

    • If your job pays you a decent living there is some chance it could be outsourced, generally across a border, to save the company from having to provide you and yours that extravagant middle class existence. The Acronym for this phenomenon = H-1B
    • Gastarbeiter

      Talk of creating an H-1B program in Germany a while back created a backlash phrase: "Leiber Kinder statt Inder!"

      • Translation?

        • Gast = Guest, Arbeiter = Worker . . . so Gastarbeiter = Guest-worker. If you liked playing with Lego, you'll love German.

          "Lieber Kinder statt Inder!" means, Rather children instead of Indians! Which meant that the government should pay more attention to social programs encouraging working women to have children, and investing more in tech training for German students . . . instead of importing (cheap) foreign talent.

          Of course, the whole plan was a ruse by companies who wanted to drive down the wages of

  • by bobbied (2522392) on Friday April 18, 2014 @06:32PM (#46791689)

    First, we lost manufacturing jobs.... Then the engineering jobs started going off shore. So why are we surprised when the IT jobs do too?

    I feel for the youngsters coming out of college with a STEM degree these days. Huge student loan debt and fewer and fewer prospects..

    • There are still advantages to employing local workers in most countries (including the U.S.) but until the playing field levels out a bit,

      the discrepancy is too great between what the rich nation's populace is willing to work for vis a vis what the poor nation's people will accept.

      Also, too, and neither should we discount the perceived value to a big company of another work force's local climate for labor laws and litigiousness.

    • by stenvar (2789879) on Saturday April 19, 2014 @01:24AM (#46793321)

      It's a myth that manufacturing in the US is on the decline; it simply has become smaller relative to other sectors, but in absolute terms, it's been growing.

      • Manufacturing may be, but what about manufacturing EMPLOYMENT? When you use robots and automation, there aren't so many employees.

        And it may look large because US manufacturing is focused on large-ticket items, like aircraft and rockets and tanks. It's still the case that 99% of the routine goods that you buy (whether clothes or household items or toys or electronics) are made in China.

  • by l0ungeb0y (442022) on Friday April 18, 2014 @06:35PM (#46791715) Homepage Journal

    Under no circumstances should any Utility in the US be allowed to Off-Shore IT operations of it's Infrastructure to Foreign Entities -- doing so opens up the possibility of access being given to enemies of the US or US-based interests by employees of the IT company or by the IT company itself if it comes under the influence or control of enemies of the US.

    The ability to fuck with the infrastructure providing power to all of Southern California is a capability no one should be able to hand over to foreign nationals. The Federal Government needs to shove their foot right up the collective asses of Cal Eds Senior Management and Board.

    • Then it is time for those that are laid off, to sue the company. In particular, in a court, they should be pointing out the security issues, esp. with target. And then push this issue with the courts.
    • by evilviper (135110)

      " Under no circumstances should any Utility in the US be allowed to Off-Shore IT operations"

      They aren't. I know this from first-hand experience as a Sr Engineer for a major phone company, that is to remain nameless. I was responsible for the audit, after the DoJ specifically told us we needed to ensure anybody who wan't *physically* in the US at the time, would not have access to ANY production data.

      Despite the idiotic headline, this has to be about H1Bs who reside in the US, NOT off-shoring. The Fed wou

    • LOL...tell that to National Grid, who runs a huge chuck of the NE USA's power, owned by a UK company, and has outsourced everything possible to Wipro or whomever...
  • Unions (Score:4, Insightful)

    by rsilvergun (571051) on Friday April 18, 2014 @06:47PM (#46791797)
    Organization (via Unions) is the only solution I can think of to this. Sure, we could call it something else, but it's basically Unions.

    Un-Organized workers are too weak to demand or get better wages or a better way of life. Life basically stunk for everyone but a few kings thousands of years. It still stinks if you're not in one of the countries with a strong, well organized pool of labor that has solidarity. Sure, a few on /. might "Got Mine, FU" right now. But the powers that be are coming for you too....
    • by stenvar (2789879)

      You can force companies to pay higher wages, but you can't force them to exist. If they can't compete with overseas manufacturers at those higher wages, they are going to go out of business. And that's the reason companies outsource in the first place and why some key industries have disappeared from the US. So, high labor costs are the reason jobs are moving overseas, even to Europe; US wages are some of the highest in the world, and the only way we can pay those wages is by focusing on highly productive

  • by iamacat (583406) on Friday April 18, 2014 @06:55PM (#46791841)

    That would be completely different things with very different consequences. H-1B is a Visa to work in US, so jobs would not be offshored, just outsourced to a contractor (article mentions Infosys). Employees will be still paying taxes, and salaries can not be that low as they incur living expenses similar to US citizens. Added difficulty of changing jobs while on a visa does depress wages to some degree, but IT workers generally expect to live well.

    Offshoring of course means no tax revenue for US and much lower living standards and expenses, so low salaries that US residents can not accept without starving.

    It's unfortunate that the article doesn't make clear exactly what is happening.

    • Uh, no. They will use the H1B to learn the position and then go back to India. I watched this happen with Verizon. I was unimpressed.
    • I was confused as well, see note above.

      Apparently they are sending it to an offshore company who will subcontract and use H1-B employees here to fill the roles.

  • I'll support globalization the day I'm free to move to and work in any country I choose.

  • by Tablizer (95088) on Friday April 18, 2014 @07:28PM (#46792075) Homepage Journal

    SCE's management culture may be particularly primed for firing its IT workers...One observation in this report...was that 'employees perceive managers to be more concerned about how they 'look' from above, and less concerned about how they are viewed by their subordinates.

    PHB1: "This survey shows our employees think we in management are clueless superficial jerks. What do we do about it?"

    PHB2: "I got it! Fire them all and outsource their work to new people who don't yet know we are clueless superficial jerks."

    PHB1: "Brilliant! Let's vote ourselves a raise for this plan!"

  • by Lumpy (12016) on Friday April 18, 2014 @07:46PM (#46792175) Homepage

    H1B's can do the managements job a Lot better and a lot cheaper. There is far more savings in replacing everyone at the manager level and up.

  • we need basic income and Medicare for All and then we can be ok with outsourcing.

  • Southern California Edison has already outsourced thousands of jobs and sold off everything not nailed down. Frankly, I'm surprised that IT wasn't the FIRST to go.

    And yet, ratepayers haven't seen a dime of all of these savings.
  • You want to hire an H1-B. You then write a description for the visa that can only be filled by the prospective applicants (must speak Mandarin and Portuguese, code COBOL, have a C++ degree and play good lacrosse) You advertise. Many poor saps, thinking it might be a real job, apply. None of them fit your cookie cutter description. (or, want to work for the offered salary). You get visa. The visa lives or dies at the employers' whim. Gives a whole new area of control over the employee.... I'm amazed.
  • by WindBourne (631190) on Friday April 18, 2014 @10:01PM (#46792729) Journal
    First, one of Target's HVAC guy lost an ID. BUT, target has NOT found that the ID was used to get in there and that was the entry point.

    Yet, the one thing that amazes me, is that they totally ignore the fact that not only did Target offshore a great deal, but esp. their production was offshored.
    And this was the group that is paying their Indian software engineers, about $7-9K/year (India, like china, plays games with their money against the dollar). How easy is it to offer somebody say 70K to simply open a port, or to leave a back door, etc, and NOT have it be found? Keep in mind that $70K in India, with the current rupee money, is a 10 year salary. You can quietly leave target, get another job elsewhere and have your retirement fully taken care of.
    Yes, one group said that something was going on, but the group in India that was dealing with Production IGNORED IT. More importantly, the idiots in target that offshored this, were the ones that ignored the warnings.

    And now, utilities are being stupid and following suite. It is time for shareholders to SUE the day lights out of Target and companies like this that offshore.
  • Buy some stock in the company and sue them. Seriously. Sue them for making hiring ppl that will be easy targets for bribery.
  • by PPH (736903)

    How do they offshore IT jobs and address security concerns [slashdot.org] at the same time?

  • > This fosters an unhealthy culture and climate by sending a message to employees that it is more important to focus on how things look from the top than how they actually are down below.

    In what world is outsourcing not the same culture in spades? Specifically, a few suits and a few lucky fourth or fifth level professionals selling the idea that a bunch of farmers with three hours of training can take over IT? This only works when the people making the decisions have a fundamental misunderstanding of the problem they're trying to solve.

    As if Californians didn't have enough power problems... I'm glad I don't live there.

  • The U.S. economy is still in recovery and unemployment is still high. It's bad enough that we're importing workers for any reason, but to actually fire employees so you can import cheaper workers? What the actual FUCK!? It's pitchfork/scythe/burning torch time, I think; it's time for a little insurrection. U.S. companies need to be hiring U.S. citizens, damnit!

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