Welcome back to the song that doesn’t end. Yes it goes on and on, my friends. Larsen & Toubro Infotech Ltd (LTI) agreed to a settlement in a case that alleged they had policies to maximize their visa-holding workers while bypassing American workers. The company claimed in the settlement that they were simply trying to combat a shortage of American workers, but by settling, they now avoid the trial discovery process that could corroborate their claims. Given the large rounds of layoffs in the tech industry last year, it is hard to see how “labor shortages” are driving tech hiring policies.
These are just allegations against LTI, but the smoke of allegations from U.S. tech workers suggests a raging fire. This shatters the myth that American workers should simply “learn to code” to keep pace with the changing economy. The question we have to ask is why tech companies are even now claiming an American labor shortage while both expanding layoffs and spending large sums to lobby Congress to expand their foreign workforce.
So why are tech companies seeking, as a business model, to depend on temporary visa workers over Americans? To hear the tech lobbyists and other assorted apologists tell it, the visa process is overly-complicated and expensive. They also also claim that they do not pay foreign tech workers less than they would American workers. So, in summary, they claim they are making it their business policy to depend on an overly complicated and expensive process in order to spend the same amount of money in wages as they would if they just hired Americans.
To believe this you would have to accept that there is a shortage of American workers who could be hired. But we have seen many settlements of discrimination cases where companies are hiring visa holders and pushing Americans out. And now layoffs in the tech sector are growing at the same time that employers’ petitions for foreign workers and demands for even more foreign workers continue unabated.
These companies are posting job advertisements that solely seek H-1B workers while claiming there are no Americans to hire. It is certainly true that you won’t find American workers in the H-1B employee pool. But it beggars belief that these tech companies cannot find American workers to hire when there is ample evidence that they have not even looked.
Alternatively, there is another explanation for why so many tech companies depend on foreign workers and target them with the laser focus of a blitzing linebacker on a quarterback: Logically, businesses want to lower the cost of their labor to maximize their profits. Temporary foreign workers who depend on the company for their legal status have little bargaining power for wages and practically no ability to leave the job. When you also factor in that companies benefit from a labor market surplus, as opposed to a tight labor market, it makes plenty of sense why companies would hire foreign workers and demand Congress increase the numbers.
While this explains the motive of big business, we can still wonder why Congress is so hell-bent on impoverishing their voters. Each new Congress we get some assorted gang of Senators and Representatives conspiring to flood the labor market with exponentially more foreign workers. They talk about labor shortages and poems on the Statue of Liberty, but you won’t hear them talking about the tech layoffs and you certainly won’t hear about all of these discrimination suits filed by American workers. We will have to see if this Congress will work for voters or donors, but if the past is prologue, then voters better pay close attention.
JARED CULVER is a Legal Analyst for NumbersUSA
Updated: Thu, May 11th 2023 @ 3:23pm EDT