Beginning last August, and continuing through the start of this year, Southern California Edison (SCE) is laying off 400 of its tech workers, so they can be replaced with foreign guest workers on H-1B visas. The company expects another 100 workers to be affected. The displaced workers are receiving support from both local unions and some in Congress, including Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.).

SCE, which is California's largest utility, has confirmed the lay-offs and the use of new workers provided by Infosys. In 2013, Infosys paid a record $34 million in a settlement with the federal government over "systemic visa fraud and abuse of immigration processes". The outsourcing company is the second largest user of H-1B visas in the country.

"They are bringing in people with a couple of years' experience to replace us and then we have to train them," a former SCE tech worker told ComputerWorld. "It's demoralizing and in a way I kind of felt betrayed by the company."

Sen. Sessions condemned SCE over the layoffs, noting that they are part of a growing trend of companies that use H-1B visas to bring in foreign workers for jobs that could be filled by Americans.

“You come in on the H-1B visa program for the sole purpose of taking a job,” Sessions said in a speech on the Senate floor last week. “They come solely for a limited period of time to take a job, and they work for less pay too often.”

On Tuesday, over 300 members representing several Southern California chapters of the International Brotherhood of Electrical workers also rallied in support of the former SCE employees. A representative of the union, Scott Wetch, said SCE is "systematically outsourcing jobs."

“As people come over on H-1B visas, they literally lay off other people at the Irvine tech center,” Wetch said.

Howard University public policy professor, Ron Hira, called the move an "injustice" to American workers.

This is one more case, in a long line of them, of injustice where American workers are being replaced by H-1Bs. Adding to the injustice, American workers are being forced to do 'knowledge transfer,' an ugly euphemism for being forced to train their foreign replacements. Americans should be outraged that most of our politicians have sat idly by while outsourcing firms have hijacked the guest worker programs.

Despite stories like this, many in Congress continue to call for an increase to H-1B visas. Last month, a bipartisan group of Senators, including Orrin Hatch (R-Utah), Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), Chris Coons (D-Del.), Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.), Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.), Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), and Dean Heller (R-Nev.) introduced legislation, S.153, that could increase the H-1B cap from 65,000 to as high as 195,000 per year.

For more on this story, see the Los Angeles Times and ComputerWorld.

High-skilled Americans

Updated: Thu, Jun 8th 2017 @ 3:36pm EDT