American Corporations – Cast Down Your Bucket Where You Are!

Founder’s Corner

Dear All,

This week I owe a debt of gratitude to Econodatus for providing research that clearly demonstrates the devastation that employment visa programs like the H-1B, Optional Practical Training (OPT) and L-1 have had on U.S. STEM workers, and particularly, those working in computer science.

As background for Econodatus’ research, it’s helpful to recall it was the Immigration Reform Act of 1990 (IRCA90) that created the H-1B visa program and that later, in 2016, after heavy lobbying from industry, the Obama administration extended the OPT program to three years for foreign students with STEM graduate degrees earned in the U.S.

Basing their analysis on the years 1990 – 2020 and measuring the percent increase and decrease of male and female computer software developers working as non-citizens, naturalized citizens and U.S. born citizens in Hudson County, New Jersey, and the heart of Silicon Valley, Santa Clara California, the results are striking.

In both counties, it is as plain as the nose on one’s face, the rise of foreign computer software developers, non-citizens, follows the decline of U.S. born developers.

Over the past four years, I’ve provided example after example of U.S. STEM workers being displaced. Either their jobs were outsourced to H-1B visa dependent companies or offshored to a low-rent country and destined to never return to our shores. While this trend has impacted U.S. born and naturalized citizens in fields like computer science, it’s also affected citizens and lawful permanent residents interested in pursuing STEM degrees.

Last year, Jennifer Cheeseman Day and Anthony Martinez of the U.S. Census Bureau wrote in, STEM Majors Earned More Than Other STEM Workers  “the high proportion of foreign-born workers in these fields may reflect corporate recruitment for specific positions through the H1B visa program, which is designed to bring in workers to fill positions that require specialized skills.”

“Require specialized skills”?! I think not, given the many documented instances where American workers were forced to train their H-1B visa replacements.

In all this displacement, those suffering the most have been women, followed by American Descendants of Slaves and Latinos, and over the past few decades, there’s been a sharp decline in women pursuing college degrees in information technology and computer science.

According to the National Center for Education Statistics, even though today women make up the majority of college graduates, in 2017-2018 only 14% of their degrees were in computer science.  From a 1983 peak of 37.1% of degrees awarded, as compared to law and other STEM fields, computer science degrees have dropped 46%.

Knowing the corporatocracy, that place where corporate and corrupt government officials’ interests overlap, is hollowing out America’s skilled workers — what do we do?

In the past U.S. Tech Workers has acted and on very rare occasions, been able to push back. But at this point, I simply want to implore the corporatocracy, as Booker T. Washington did so eloquently to a predominantly white audience in 1895, to “cast down your bucket where you are.”

In his 1895 Atlanta Compromise Speech at the Cotton States and International Exposition, Washington beseeched the captains of industry to look to hire and invest in the descendants of slaves — not foreigners.

“To those of the white race who look to the incoming of those of foreign birth and strange tongue and habits for the prosperity of the South, were I permitted, I would repeat what I have said to my own race: ‘Cast down your bucket where you are.’ Cast it down among the eight million of Negroes whose habits you know, whose fidelity and love you have tested in days when to have proved treacherous meant the ruin of your fireside. Cast down your bucket among these people who have without strikes and labor wars tilled your fields, cleared your forests, builded your railroads and cities, brought forth treasures from the bowels of the earth, just to make possible this magnificent representation of the progress of the South.”

Today I implore Big Tech and those occupying the C suites at America’s Fortune 500 companies to “cast down your bucket where you are” and paraphrase Booker T. Washington as follows:

“To those corporations who look to a pipeline of cheap foreign labor believing it will maximize profits, and forego investing in a native workforce, I say, cast down your bucket where you are.

Cast it down among the hundreds of thousands of tech workers who worked with you to create the likes of Microsoft, Netscape, and Intel and implemented your technologies both hardware and software across the world, whose fidelity and love you have tested in the early days as you built up your market share and eventually your company’s dominance.

Cast down your bucket among these people who have without strikes and labor wars built your semiconductors, written your software, spurred you to innovate, set-up your networks, seamlessly linked billions across the planet through the Web, brought forth immense profits that allowed you to enrich yourselves and return shareholder value to your investors, just to make possible this magnificent representation of the progress of America’s tech sector.”

In solidarity.

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