March 12, 2008


Programmers Guild rebuts Bill Gates call for more H-1b visas

The Microsoft Press Release below outlines what Gates will say today. Here is our rebuttal

SACRAMENTO - March 12, 2008 - The Programmers Guild disputes that more H-1b visas would benefit "U.S. global competitiveness," and they would represent undue competition for Americans seeking jobs in this recessionary job market.

1) One way to “allow more highly-skilled workers to remain in the U.S.” is to grant H-1b visas on the basis of skill rather than by a lottery. But just as last year the Programmers Guild expects USCIS to conduct a lottery, granting H-1b to $16/hour hotel clerks while denying visas to PhD genetic researchers. The best proxy for “skill” is “wage.” This simple reform in H-1b would allow Microsoft to have as many “highly skilled H-1b” as then need under the current cap – AS LONG AS THEY PAID THEM WHAT THEY ARE WORTH.

2) Our competitive advantage is eroding, and Bill Gates has used the H-1b program to facilitate that erosion. Microsoft used the H-1B visa to train a critical mass of foreign workers within the U.S., then used these workers to establish overseas operations, with U.S. technology in their back pockets. East Side Journal explained on October 10, 2002:

The road to Microsoft's future travels through the ancient lands of India. That future is a $10 billion initiative called Microsoft .NET ... Key pieces of the new system have and will come from India…

Microsoft's offices at [Hyderabad's] Hi-Tec City not only recreate the look but also the feel of Microsoft's headquarters. In an e-mail from Hyderabad, Srini Koppolu, the IDC's general manager, said each programmer is free to take an idea to top managers at any time -- an open-door policy not common at Indian companies.

``The replication of Microsoft's culture has been possible because many people who worked in Redmond for many years have moved back to be part of the India Development Center,'' Koppolu wrote.

Between October 1999 and February 2000, [Microsoft] obtained 362 H-1B visas from the Immigration and Naturalization Service, making it the U.S.'s sixth-largest importer of Indian employees for that period.

 Even in 2002 when the H-1b cap was 195,000 and not being reached, “[Micosoft] plans call for doubling the number of today's programmers, whose neighbors at Hi-Tec City include some 12,000 employees of General Electric, Oracle and Vanenberg.” 

3) We agree with Gates that U.S. “workforce development” needs to be improved. Gates claims that Microsoft needs more H-1b to hire new foreign graduates. But there are many U.S. graduates with several years of experience trying to find work at Microsoft and other employers – but Gates does not open these “entry level” positions to these Americans. Why? Experienced Americans are only considered for the positions that require an arbitrary 3 to 7 years of experience in several specific skills – then the Americans are summarily rejected for not meeting all of those arbitrary qualifications.

Nearly all Microsoft jobs require 3-5 years experience in several technologies. In effect the “richest man in the world” is too cheap to hire and train his American workforce. He, and all other employers spoiled by H-1b, expect that some other employer would have borne to cost hiring someone without experience and borne the cost of that on-the-job training.

4) Gates complains that taxpayers are paying for the education of our foreign competition, and then sending them home. Many foreign students come to the USA with the intent of returning home, and there is no way to stop that. So the real question is why are American taxpayers being forced to subsidize the education of citizens from countries that represent our foreign competition?

5) H-1b does not need to be “EXPANDED,” it needs to be “REFORMED”:

Eight of the top 10 users of H-1b are foreign consulting firms. These Indian firms bring in thousands H-1b workers each, admit to paying them 25% below what they would have to pay Americans, thus displacing U.S. consulting firms and U.S. consultants. This is not helping “Americas global competitiveness.” H-1b needs to be reformed so that employers must pay at least a median wage to H-1b workers.

The H-1b program is dissuading the next generation of Americans from entering the tech profession. H-1b forces new graduates, with $50k student loans and no experience, to directly compete for American jobs against citizens from every country in the world. There is currently no requirement that employers give preference to American applicants. The Programmers Guild thinks that there should be.

- Kim Berry

President –

Cell: 916-213-0492

Bill Gates Asks Congress to Act Now to Maintain U.S. Innovation Lead




Microsoft company logo. (PRNewsFoto)









 In House testimony, Gates urges improvements in country's math and science
   education, reform of immigration policies, and increased investment in
                              basic research.
    WASHINGTON, March 12 /PRNewswire-FirstCall/ -- Microsoft Corp. Chairman
Bill Gates will testify before the U.S. House Committee on Science and
Technology today at 10 a.m. EDT on the future of innovation and U.S.
competitiveness. At a hearing to commemorate the committee's 50th
anniversary, Gates will focus on issues of U.S. competitiveness, including
education and work-force development, the need for immigration reform to
allow highly skilled workers to remain in the U.S, and the need to continue
to invest in basic research.
    "I know we all want the United States to continue to be the world's
center for innovation. But our position as the global leader in innovation
is at risk," Gates said. "If this nation is to continue to be the global
center of innovation, Congress, the current administration and the next
president must act decisively."

    In his testimony today, Gates will address the following important areas:
    -- Science and math education must be improved. Gates argues that U.S.
       companies face a severe shortfall of scientists and engineers with the
       skills necessary to develop future innovative technologies. "If we
       don't reverse these trends, our competitive advantage will continue to
       erode. Our ability to create new high-paying jobs will suffer," Gates
       said. "Companies like Microsoft and organizations like the Bill &
       Melinda Gates Foundation cannot address these issues alone. Only the
       government has the resources to effect change on a broad scale." Gates
       praises Congress for passing the America Creating Opportunities to
       Meaningfully Promote Excellence in Technology, Education and Science
       Act (COMPETES Act) of 2007, but says it now must follow through by
       fully funding the legislation's educational initiatives. He also urges
       Congress to increase the use of data to measure student improvement.
    -- U.S. immigration policies need to allow American companies to hire the
       best talent. Gates calls on Congress to reform immigration policies to
       allow more highly skilled professionals to work for companies in the
       U.S. "At a time when talent is the key to economic success, it makes no
       sense to educate people in our universities, often subsidized by U.S.
       taxpayers, and then insist that they return home," he said. "To address
       the shortage of scientists and engineers, we must ... reform our
       education system and our immigration policies. If we don't, American
       companies simply will not have the talent they need to innovate and
       compete." Gates urges Congress and the White House to address this
       problem by extending the period that foreign students can work in the
       U.S. after graduation, raising the cap on H-1B visas, creating a clear
       path to permanent residency for high-skilled foreign-born employees and
       increasing the number of green cards. "The shortage of scientists and
       engineers is so acute that we must do both: reform our education system
       and reform our immigration policies."
    -- Funding for basic research should be increased. Gates believes basic
       research funding is an essential part of keeping American companies
       competitive and sparking new industries. "Even though we know that
       basic research drives economic progress, real federal spending on basic
       research has fallen since 2005," he said. "I urge Congress to increase
       funding for basic research by 10 percent annually for the next seven
       years." Gates said that federal funding for basic research supports the
       education of the next generation of scientists and engineers, and
       provides the raw material that U.S. companies transform into
       commercially successful products.
    Gates said he is optimistic that information technology will continue
to transform business productivity and the quality of our day-to-day lives,
adding that private companies alone cannot ensure that the U.S. will remain
the pre-eminent force in innovation. "Without leadership from Congress and
the president ... and the commitment of the private sector to do its part,
the center of progress will shift to other nations that are more committed
to the pursuit of innovation," Gates said.
    Founded in 1975, Microsoft (Nasdaq: MSFT) is the worldwide leader in
software, services and solutions that help people and businesses realize
their full potential.