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:
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
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.
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