An investigation by The New York Times suggests Toys ‘R’ Us, and other major corporations, used a foreign worker program in the exact opposite way from how it was intended.
The H-1B visa temporary foreign worker program was setup to allow US companies to hire workers with needed knowledge and skills that those companies could not find domestically. Employers of the foreign workers must sign a declaration that their hiring “will not adversely affect the working conditions” of their business. The purpose of the program is to strengthen the American economy by revitalizing the country’s workforce so that companies employing workers within the US can stay competitive and grow.
According to a Tuesday report from The Times, Toys ‘R’ Us used the temporary foreign worker program to help expedite the process of moving jobs out of the country by having foreign workers from India train on soon-to-be outsourced jobs at one of the company’s US locations.
Toys ‘R’ Us hired a firm called TATA Consulting Services (TCS) which shadowed employers at the Toys ‘R’ Us facility in New Jersey, created manuals, then returned to India to train TCS workers to takeover the jobs. The workers in New Jersey were then laid off.
The TCS employees not only did not augment the company’s US workforce they possessed no qualifying special skills that could not be found in the country — failing both criteria for the H-1B visa program. The jobs TCS helped outsource not only could be done by Americans, they were being done by Americans.
The Times article notes that other companies are similarly violating the spirit if not the letter of the H-1B visa program. Both New York Life Insurance Company and Cengage Learning used the temporary foreign worker program to have foreign workers come to the US and to learn how to train for jobs that would then be outsourced to their country.
While low-skilled, undocumented workers have become a punching bag this presidential election cycle, it is worth keeping in mind that the true culprits in violating US immigration law are businesses looking to suppress wages at home and abroad. They hire the low-skilled, undocumented workers and now are abusing the H-1B visa program.