Laid-Off IT Workers Muzzled

IT Workers-H1B Visas

Severance package requirements silence protest of H-1B visas.

Computerworld:    IT workers are challenging the replacement of U.S. employees with foreign visa holders. Lawsuits are on the rise and workers are contacting lawmakers. Disney workers who lost their jobs on Jan. 30, 2015, are especially aggressive.   There’s a reason for this. The Disney severance package offered to them did not include a non-disparagement clause, making it easier for laid-off workers to speak out.

This is in contrast to the severance offered to Northeast Utility workers.    The utility, now known as Eversource Energy and based in Connecticut and Massachusetts, laid off approximately 200 IT employees in 2014 after contracting with two India-based offshore outsourcing firms.  Some of the utility’s IT employees had to train their foreign replacements. Failure to do so meant loss of severance.

IT workers are fighting back.  An idea emerged to show workers’ disdain for what was happening: Small American flags were placed in cubicles and along the hallway in silent protest — flags that disappeared as the workers were terminated.

The utility employees left their jobs with a severance package that included this sentence: “Employee agrees that he/she shall make no statements to anyone, spoken or written, that would tend to disparage or discredit the Company or any of the Company’s officers, directors, employees, or agents.”

That clause has kept former Eversource employees from speaking out because of fears the utility will sue them if they say anything about their experience.  But staying silent is difficult, especially after Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) co-sponsored legislation in January 2015 that would hike the 65,000 H-1B base cap hike to as high as 195,000.

Former employees at Disney, Edison and Eversource tell of financial strains, tapped retirement funds and an inability to find a job, or to find one that pays close to what they once made.    The H-1B workers tend to be younger, and the displaced ones, older.    “It’s hard to start over at 50 when no one wants you,” said one former Edison IT worker. That worker is still searching for a job.

Read full story here:  http://www.computerworld.com/article/3027640/it-outsourcing/laid-off-it-workers-muzzled-as-h-1b-debate-heats-up.html







 

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