Apply, Lather, Rinse, Repeat. . . Apply, Lather, Rinse, Repeat. . .

Founder’s Corner

Dear All,

I can’t remember the last time I read the instructions on the back of a shampoo bottle, but I do recall them — “apply, lather, rinse and repeat.” The lingering question was always, why repeat?

I suppose it’s a way to double sales with little or no effort and this week that refrain came to mind as I pondered recent events; the House Judiciary Committee’s passage of the EAGLE Act and the CSX railroad company announcement to outsource its IT workers.

Last week the House of Representatives Judiciary Committee held a session to advance immigration-related bills and chief among them was a bill introduced by the darling of Silicon Valley’s oligarchs, Rep. Zoe Lofgren D-CA, and Rep. John Curtis R-UT.  The Equal Access to Green Cards for Legal Employment Act of 2021, or EAGLE Act eliminates the 7% country-cap quota for employment-based Green Cards and raises the family-based country-cap quota from 7% to 15%.

If this feels like déjà vu, you’re right. This is the same legislation tech workers fought tooth and nail against in the last congress when it was presented as the “Fairness for High-Skilled Immigrants Act”.

Just like the shampoo instructions, Congress is sure to repeat the process in one legislative session after another. And with a Congress for hire, expect them to repeat, repeat, and repeat. The process resembles an “iterative loop” where one iterates until a certain condition is met. In this case, it will end when their campaign donors get what they want.

The Judiciary Committee voted to advance the EAGLE Act with all Democrats voting in favor and all Republicans opposed. During deliberations two things stood out:

  1. Neither party discussed the detrimental impact to our legal immigration system.  If the bill passes, it will create a zero-sum immigration system where one nation receives immigration benefits at the expense of every other nation losing that privilege. Oddly, for a party that claims to embrace diversity, it’s amazing the Democrats signed off on an anti-diversity immigration bill heavily lobbied for by Big Tech.
  2. The Republican party’s only beef with the bill was that it didn’t ban H-1B visas for members of the Chinese Communist Party. Really? This was their best comeback in debating against the bill? No conversation about how the H-1B visa and PERM process are in serious need of reform before such issues of Green Card backlogs can be entertained?

Even though the EAGLE Act passed the House Judiciary Committee, it still needs to advance to the House and while it’s tough to predict what will happen there, one thing is certain.  When it gets to the Senate, it’s dead on arrival. Unlike the House, the Senate is competent when it comes to assessing the havoc a bill like this will create.

In addition to the trainwreck it would cause with immigration policy, it will certainly come back to bite any senator who supports it. I’m sure Senator Mike Lee (R, UT) is in no hurry to suffer a repeat of the reputational damage he endured when he sponsored the “Fairness for High-Skilled Immigrants Act” in the last Congress.

While we’re on the “apply, lather, rinse and repeat” theme, the large railroad company, CSX headquartered in Jacksonville, Florida just announced it will outsource its IT department to Indian-owned and H-1B visa dependent Tata Consultancy Services (TCS). In a letter from management to employees:

“CSX is entering into a new partnership that will change the way technology operations are provided across the company. We have contracted with Tata Consultancy Services (TCS), a global information technology company, to provide services related to the daily operation, maintenance and support of CSX IT systems. . .  As a result, 137 CSX Technology employees in maintenance and support roles have been informed that they will be transitioning from CSX employment.”

For the “initial” 137 workers slated for CSX termination and transition to TCS, the quality of their workplace and their career prospects are about to take a turn for the worse. Suffice to say, there’s nothing novel or unique going on here. Whether it’s a financial services company like Vanguard, an entertainment company like Disney, or a utility such as SoCal Edison, the script is the same. “Apply, lather, rinse and repeat. . .”

Despite demand, the owners of railroads have been on a tear to cut staff. Wolf Richter of Wolf Street Report had this to say last year in an column titled, After Slashing 33% of Workers in 6 Years, Railroads Complain about Labor Shortages, amid Uproar over Slow Shipments:

“And this comes after railroads had spent six years shedding employees in order to tickle Wall Street analysts and pump up stock prices. . .  The resulting deterioration in service triggered numerous complaints from shippers. But one of the big benefits was that the workforce could be slashed, which fattened the profit margins at the railroads. Wall Street analysts loved it, and it was good for railroad stocks.”

CSX technology employees no doubt noticed the uptick in contract workers on H-1B visas in 2020 which typically foreshadows a move to outsource a department. At the present time, they will be asked to do a knowledge transfer as part of their transition (or be eligible for a severance package). For a period of time, they’ll work with TCS employees here and overseas. Then after several months, they’ll find themselves transitioned off CSX-related jobs and increasingly “on the bench.” After a few months of on the bench, they’ll be terminated from TCS.

Don’t believe me? Let’s review transcripts from the 2018 court case titled Christopher Slaight, Et al. v. Tata Consultancy Services. The testimony of Frances Mae Greitl could prove instructive:

Q. HOW LONG DID YOU WORK IN TECHNICAL OR IT ROLES WITH
SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA EDISON?
A. MY ENTIRE CAREER, JUST OVER 32 YEARS…
Q. AND WHEN DID YOUR EMPLOYMENT WITH SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA
EDISON COME TO AN END?
A. IN FEBRUARY OF 2015.
Q. AND WHY DID YOUR EMPLOYMENT WITH SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA
EDISON COME TO AN END?
A. THEY OUTSOURCED THE IT DEPARTMENT.
Q. WHO DID THE COMPANY SELECT AS ITS OUTSOURCING VENDOR?
A. INFOSYS AND TCS.
Q. AND BY “TCS” YOU MEAN TATA CONSULTANCY SERVICES?
A. YES.
Q. DO YOU RECALL WHEN YOU FIRST OBSERVED TATA EMPLOYEES
WORKING ON-SITE AT SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA EDISON?
A. THAT’S ABOUT JUNE 2014.
Q. AND HOW WAS YOUR POSITION AFFECTED BY THE OUTSOURCING?
A. MY POSITION WAS ELIMINATED.
Q. WHAT INTERACTION DID YOU HAVE WITH TCS EMPLOYEES PRIOR TO
YOUR TERMINATION FROM SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA EDISON?
A. SO I TRAINED THREE PEOPLE TO TAKE OVER THE POSITION, I WAS
GOING TO HANDLE THE APPLICATION I WAS DOING AND MY COWORKERS,
AND EDISON PUT MOST OF THE COMPUTER SYSTEMS ON HOLD FOR ABOUT
SIX MONTHS PRIOR TO GOING TO THE OUTSOURCING, AND I CAN’T SIT
AT MY DESK AND NOT DO ANYTHING, CAN’T SIT STILL, SO I WAS
WORKING WITH THE TCS EMPLOYEES TO MOVE FROM ONE SOFTWARE
APPLICATION TO ANOTHER SOFTWARE APPLICATION.
Q. OKAY. AND SO THOSE THREE INDIVIDUALS THAT YOU MENTIONED TRAINING, WHEN DID THAT TRAINING TAKE PLACE?
A. IN NOVEMBER OF 2014.
Q. OKAY. AND THEN THE OTHER GROUP THAT YOU WORKED WITH,
APPROXIMATELY WHEN DID THAT TRAINING TAKE PLACE?
A. THE OTHER GROUP, THAT WAS STARTING IN LIKE JUNE OF 2014.
Q. OKAY. DID ANY OF THE EMPLOYEES THAT — WHERE WERE THE
OTHER THREE EMPLOYEES LOCATED THAT YOU TRAINED?
A. THEY WERE OFFSHORE WHEN WE FIRST STARTED AND THEN ONE CAME
ONSHORE.
Q. WHAT POSITION DID YOU TRAIN THE INDIVIDUAL FOR WHO CAME
ONSHORE?
A. TO MAINTAIN THE HP SERVICE MANAGER APPLICATION.
Q. AND WHO HELD THAT POSITION AT SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA EDISON?
A. AT SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA EDISON?
Q. UH-HUH.
A. IT WAS MYSELF AND EIGHT OTHER PEOPLE.
Q. HOW MUCH ROLE-RELATED KNOWLEDGE DID THAT INDIVIDUAL HAVE
WHEN YOU BEGAN TRAINING HIM?
A. WE CONSIDERED HIM ENTRY LEVEL, NOT A HIGH-LEVEL PERSON.
Q. AFTER YOU TRAINED YOUR REPLACEMENT, WHAT HAPPENED WITH
YOUR EMPLOYMENT?
A. IT WAS TERMINATED.
Q. SO HOW DID YOU BEGIN FIRST WORKING FOR TATA CONSULTANCY
SERVICES?
A. BECAUSE I WAS WORKING WITH THE PEOPLE ON DOING — MOVING
FROM THE ONE SOFTWARE APPLICATION TO THE OTHER, THEY HAD ASKED
IF I WAS INTERESTED IN COMING OVER AND CONTINUING DOING THAT
WORK. SO TCS ASKED ME TO — THEY ASKED ME TO — SCOTT HALES,
WHO I WAS WORKING WITH ON THAT PROJECT, ASKED ME TO SEND FIVE
THINGS THAT I WAS DOING AT EDISON AND — WITH TCS AND I SENT
IT TO HIM, AND THEN I HEARD FROM SOMEBODY FROM TCS FOR A JOB
OFFER.
Q. AND DO YOU RECALL WHEN YOU WERE OFFERED A JOB BY TCS?
A. IN FEBRUARY OF 2015.
Q. WHO DID YOU REPORT TO AT TATA CONSULTANCY SERVICES?
A. I REPORTED TO SCOTT HALES AND TO SUDHEER.
Q. APPROXIMATELY HOW MANY PROJECTS DID YOU WORK FOR AT
SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA EDISON WHEN YOU WERE A TCS EMPLOYEE?
A. ABOUT SEVEN.
Q. AND DID YOU PROVIDE ANY TRAINING TO TATA CONSULTANCY
SERVICES EMPLOYEES DURING THAT TIME?
A. YES.
Q. APPROXIMATELY HOW MANY EMPLOYEES WOULD YOU SAY THAT YOU
TRAINED?
A. ABOUT 12 TO 20.
Q. OKAY. AND WHERE WERE THESE EMPLOYEES LOCATED?
A. OFFSHORE.
Q. DO YOU KNOW WHERE THEY WERE LOCATED OFFSHORE?
A. JUST THEY WERE IN INDIA. I DON’T REMEMBER THE CITY.
Q. DID ANY OF YOUR INDIAN COWORKERS AT TATA CONSULTANCY
SERVICES EVER MAKE ANY STATEMENTS ABOUT AMERICANS?
A. YES.
Q. OKAY. AND WHO MADE THAT STATEMENT?
A. SANTOS.
Q. AND WHAT IS MR. SANTOS’S JOB TITLE?
A. HE WAS LIKE A LEAD OVER US.
Q. WHAT STATEMENT WAS MADE?
A. HE TOLD ME THAT THE AMERICA — THAT INDIA HAD BEEN UNDER
OPPRESSION FOR SO LONG THEY DESERVED THE WORK AND THAT INDIANS
WERE MORE TECHNICAL THAN AMERICANS.
Q. DO YOU RECALL WHEN THIS CONVERSATION TOOK PLACE?
A. PROBABLY ABOUT JUNE 2016.
Q. AND WHAT IS SANTOS’S RACE?
A. INDIAN.
Q. WHAT WAS THE FINAL PROJECT THAT YOU WERE ASSIGNED TO FOR
SCE WHEN YOU WERE A TATA CONSULTANCY SERVICES EMPLOYEE?
A. I WAS WORKING ON THE GRID OPS PROJECT TO MOVE THE GRID
OPERATIONS FROM AN SAP APPLICATION OVER INTO A BMC REMEDY
APPLICATION.
Q. DID YOU ATTEND ANY MEETINGS AS PART OF THE GRID OPS
PROJECT?
A. YES.
Q. AND WHO WAS ASKED TO TAKE NOTES DURING THOSE MEETINGS?
A. I WAS.
Q. WAS ANYONE ELSE ASKED TO TAKE NOTES DURING THE MEETING?
A. PEOPLE TOOK THEIR OWN PERSONAL NOTES BUT I WAS THE ONLY
ONE TAKING NOTES THAT WAS PUBLISHED.
Q. DO YOU RECALL WHO RAN THOSE MEETINGS?
A. VISHAL AND ANOTHER SCE EMPLOYEE.
Q. WHO DID VISHAL WORK FOR?
A. SUDHEER.
Q. WAS VISHAL A TCS EMPLOYEE OR A SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA EDISON
EMPLOYEE?
A. TCS.
Q. DID AN ISSUE EVER ARISE REGARDING YOUR PARTICIPATION
DURING THOSE MEETINGS?
A. YES. ONE TIME AFTER A MEETING I HAD ASKED SOME QUESTIONS
TO CLARIFY BECAUSE I KNEW SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA EDISONS WERE
THINKING THE APPLICATION WAS GOING TO DO SOMETHING A LITTLE
BIT DIFFERENTLY THAN WHAT IT REALLY DID AND JUST TO CLARIFY
IT.
SO AFTER THE MEETING VISHAL ASKED ME NOT TO SPEAK UP OR
ASK QUESTIONS DURING THE MEETING.
Q. WHEN WERE YOU PLACED ON THE BENCH BY TATA CONSULTANCY
SERVICES?
A. DECEMBER 2015 — I AM SORRY. DECEMBER 2016.
Q. OKAY. DID ANYONE TELL YOU WHY YOU WERE BEING PLACED ON
THE BENCH?
A. I WAS JUST TOLD THERE WAS NO MORE WORK FOR ME AT THE
SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA EDISON ACCOUNT.
Q. WHO TOLD YOU THAT?
A. SUDHEER.
Q. WHAT WAS YOUR RESPONSE?
A. I WAS SHOCKED BECAUSE I WAS BUSY WORKING, AND I KNEW THERE
WAS STILL A LOT MORE WORK TO BE DONE ON THE GRID OPS PROJECT.
. . . .

Earlier I referenced the “initial” 137 CSX IT workers and their plight. But other CSX Technology staffers and those in back-office operations should also be getting nervous about their jobs. Case in point, at the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) in Knoxville, Tennessee the intention was not to stop outsourcing IT jobs. There were designs to outsource other departments as well.

The TVA serves as a rare example where tech workers were successful in fighting back against egregious outsourcing schemes. But it needn’t be so rare. What TVA workers did in Knoxville can be replicated in Jacksonville, Florida. But the CSX tech workers there must want to organize and fight back, and in that order.

Moreover, they shouldn’t be left to fight back alone. This is every CSX employee’s battle! By working together this iteration of the globalist business process outsourcing model can be crushed.

In closing, I offer the assistance of U.S. Tech Workers to CSX technology workers about to be terminated. Please reach out to us. We will meet you at any location. In the interim, check out a column from a few years ago titled, Been H1-Booted.

In solidarity.

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