Will Intel’s $20 Billion U.S. Investment Deliver for Americans?

Dear All:

With so much attention focused on the U.S. southern border and the flood of migrants racing to get across before the music stops on the Biden administration’s immigration policy snafu, it was easy to overlook the news coming out of Intel Corporation.

Earlier this week, Intel announced “significant manufacturing expansion plans, starting with an estimated $20 billion investment” for new fabrication plants in Arizona. Media releases referenced 3,000 high-paying tech jobs, 3,000 construction jobs and 15,000 direct jobs that will be created by the expansion.

I applaud Intel’s commitment to increase production here in the U.S. It will most certainly result in a net increase in employment opportunities. However, I am suspect if Americans will be the contingent beneficiaries of these expansion plans. Intel has a long history of using disproportionately high numbers of H-1B workers from India. In fact, for the period that data has been collected on this, Intel has sponsored 5,812 Indians for Green Cards.

Although Intel must file labor certifications (LCs) attesting that no American can be found to fill any of those 5,182 positions, a quick read of a recent article by Pedro Gonzalez informs us that the process is flawed.

Gonzalez details how Facebook was able to game the PERM (Program Electronic Review Management) system used to obtain Labor Certification, the first step for some foreign nationals to obtain a Green Card, and get “zero applications for these advertised positions. And even when U.S. workers do apply, Facebook will not consider them for the advertised positions.” Instead, the company “fills these positions exclusively with temporary visa holders.” Based on the Justice Department’s two-year investigation, Facebook snubbed qualified Americans for more than 2,600 jobs, ranging from computer science to art director positions.

In addition, Arizona State University (ASU) has formed a strong working relationship with Intel. Grace O’Sullivan, Assistant Vice President of Corporate Engagement for ASU’s Office of Knowledge Enterprise Development, stated, “In addition to helping businesses, partners like Intel have proven beneficial for students, who are provided an example of where their years of study could lead. A true testament to the professional pipeline ASU is constantly working to improve, around 5 percent of Intel’s behemoth global workforce comes from ASU.”

The issue I have is that 671 applying for the above-mentioned PERM were graduates of ASU, which uses the Optional Practical Training (OPT) program as a recruiting tool. On its website it details how foreign students can apply for Curricular Practical Training, Pre-OPT, Post-OPT and 24-Month STEM OPT extensions. ASU offers 10 STEM degrees that will allow foreign students to begin their pathway to citizenship by being eligible for the OPT program. They also offer four versions of a STEM MBA.

Rachel Rosenthal in her article, “The STEM Graduate System is Broken. Here’s How to Fix It,” wrote:

“OPT has also opened a side door into the U.S. job market with minimal labor protections and oversight. It is increasingly funneling cheaper and more pliable, visa-dependent foreign candidates into fields such as software engineering and development, depressing wages and making a once-attractive career path less desirable. Moreover, even as OPT benefits U.S. schools eager to attract foreign students, it can undercut American students looking for work. And there have been too many instances of exploitation and outright fraud.”

Add to the fact that Intel is under investigation for ageism. Starting in 2016 through a portion of 2017, Intel laid off 2,300 workers as part of a restructuring. The median age was 49 years old, seven years older than the median age of the remaining staff.

Again, I welcome the news that Intel is expanding. Yet, for the reasons outlined, I am apprehensive when it comes to their commitment to the workers of this country.

*****

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In Solidarity.