Trust Us

As many will recall, a claque of American CEOs penned a letter to Obama and Congress in March 2013. In this they pleaded for a vast and perpetual flow of foreign labor to fill the tens of thousands of vacancies that our population of only a mere 300 million could never hope to provide. Yet couldn’t they simply hire these critical employees to work in their sprawling archipelago of international facilities rather than bringing them all here? Can’t software be engineered in Bangalore just as well?

I’m sorry, they couldn’t hear the question.

The point was, thousands more workers were desperately needed. And thousands more after that…ad infinitum.

So many tech titans put reputation to paper and begged the government they had spent good money on for some ROI.

Though strange things can happen in a short 18 months. And after hearing today of Hewlett-Packard’s huge layoffs, the first thought was a silent wager that they had been in the beggar’s bunch for more workers–of course they had.

And while we’ve covered this ground before, it seemed worthwhile to perform a slightly more comprehensive review. So I took the list of signatories and culled it down to only well known public American companies. And then simply looked for layoffs for each since that letter was written. I found the results to be remarkable.

Though first here’s the original letter.

“As you know, the United States has a long history of welcoming talented, hard- working people to our shores. Immigrant entrepreneurs have gone on to found thousands of companies with household names like eBay, Google, PayPal and Yahoo! to name just a few. These companies provide jobs, drive economic growth and generate tax revenue at all levels of government.

“Yet because our current immigration system is outdated and inefficient, many high- skilled immigrants who want to stay in America are forced to leave because they are unable to obtain permanent visas. Some do not bother to come in the first place. This is often due to visa shortages, long waits for green cards, and lack of mobility. We believe that numerical levels and categories for high-skilled nonimmigrant and immigrant visas should be responsive to market needs and, where appropriate, include mechanisms to fluctuate based on objective standards. In addition, spouses and children should not be counted against the cap of high-skilled immigrant visas. There should not be a marriage or family penalty.

“According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, there are tens of thousands of unfilled jobs requiring highly skilled individuals. Four high-tech companies alone – IBM, Intel, Microsoft and Oracle – have combined 10,000 openings in the United States. Each one of these jobs has the potential to create many others, directly and indirectly. Bipartisan legislation currently introduced in the Senate, such as The Immigration Innovation Act of 2013, and the Start-Up Visa Act, will encourage innovation here in the U.S. by allowing American companies and entrepreneurs to have access to the talented workers they need while simultaneously investing in STEM education here in the U.S. We know what it will take to keep America in a position of global leadership. We know that when America is leading, our economic growth follows to the benefit of our nation’s workforce.

“We call on you to address the need for more qualified, highly-skilled professionals, domestic and foreign, and to enact immigration reform this year. We look forward to working with you and your colleagues in a bipartisan way as we move forward in our common interest.”

I don’t know what could be more important than Growth. Especially that very personal one occurring in CEO bank accounts. But if you truly need more workers than can be obtained domestically by customary financial incentivization, then what else can an executive do besides throw up their hands and say YOLO? They tried ramping up pay, and American workers flatly refused to leave their basements. $100k, $200k, $300k: no inducement worked. And so with job openings as vast as Wasserman-Shultz’ mouth, they simply had to open the market globally and beyond.

What follows is the list of large, public American companies that signed that honest request. Perhaps you’ll be interested in noting what happened in each case with those many openings. Because the press certainly isn’t going to ask.

Mike Splinter, CEO, Applied Materials. Layoffs.

Randall Stephenson, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, AT&T. Layoffs

John Chambers, CEO, Cisco Layoffs.

John Donahoe, CEO, eBay, Inc. Layoffs.

Mark Zuckerberg, Cofounder, Chairman and CEO, Facebook. No layoffs.

Eric Schmidt, Executive Chairman, Google. Layoffs.

Meg Whitman, President and Chief Executive Officer, Hewlett-Packard Company. Enormous layoffs.

Paul Otellini, CEO, Intel Layoffs.

Mitchell Gaynor, Executive Vice President, Secretary, & General Counsel, Juniper Networks. Layoffs

Tom Savage, Vice President, Global Legal Affairs and Governmental Policy, Marvell Semiconductor, Inc. No layoffs.

Bradford L. Smith, General Counsel and Executive Vice President, Legal and Corporate Affairs, Microsoft Enormous layoffs.

Safra Catz, President and CFO, Oracle. Only “a few dozen” layoffs. Among this cast of liars, let’s call them honest.

Dr. Paul E. Jacobs, Chairman of the Board and Chief Executive Officer, Qualcomm Incorporated. Layoffs.

Marissa Mayer, CEO, President and Director, Yahoo! Large layoffs in 2012, but before the letter. They had lots of positions to fill.

You would think this shameful record would trigger some very crimson faces in the corner office. But that would be to underestimate the power of eight figure salaries to ameliorate shame. Yet I have to wonder at the line of questioning from the crickets. If so many executives were this oblivious to their own company’s trajectory, what does this tell us about the prudence of their ludicrous compensation packages? They actually had no idea that the businesses they are paid to helm would be shedding jobs rather than accumulating them?

Perhaps certain instances involve layoffs in one area offset by hiring in another. It would be nice to imagine this as an alternative to rank malice or incompetence. But in cases such as Microsoft and HP particularly, the numbers are simply egregious. Which has to make one question why shareholders aren’t demanding H1B CEOs across corporate America at a fraction of the cost. Won’t someone think of The Economy?

9 thoughts on “Trust Us

  1. As much as I dislike liberals and their holier-than-thou social meddling, the true enemy of the Republic – which, evidently, we couldn’t keep – is good old-fashioned greed and its conservative boosters. Many on the right wax nostalgic about the Old South. But it was greedy Southern businessmen who imported foreign labor to do the jobs their countrymen wouldn’t do (sound familiar?) in the first place.

    And although corporate CEOs are almost exclusively apolitical nihilists, the average conservative (though it is never clear what he aims to conserve) will fight to the death to protect his corporate rulers’ freedom to fuck him up the ass in any way they see fit. However empty his/her/its sloganeering may be, the average liberal at least seems to understand that big business is not our friend.

    Non-elite liberals are well-meaning idiots. Non-elite conservatives are just masochists, plain and simple.

  2. No matter what salary you work for, there’s always someone in India or China who’ll do it for less. And, these CEOs tell us, “spouses and children should not be counted against the cap of high-skilled immigrant visas”. So, just to give them further encouragement to come to America, they can bring their families, who’ll often gain more from the native taxpayers than the breadwinner is earning. Privatise the profits, socialise the costs.

  3. Some follow-up on the few companies above that haven’t laid off workers while simultaneously begging for them.

    Facebook staffing is up approximately 800 in the past year.

    Marvell Semi is down approx 150

    Oracle is up approx 2,000

    I couldn’t find Yahoo’s recent year delta, though noted the company employs fewer workers today than back in 2007, with a downward trend.

    And this is what requires another opened floodgate. Two out of the fourteen sampled. One almost has to respect the bald mendacity of these merchants.

    • Big Tech smells like Bubble Economy to me, so it’s not inconsistent that some are hiring; they are getting tons of investment dollars tossed at them. Also from my very non-tech perspective, their products are increasingly crap.

      What does Facebook actually need more people for, other than to manage all the gewgaws, baubles and shiny metal objects on its interface? I don’t think this sector is adding much value these days.

  4. Perhaps because real innovation is a threat to the establishment elite. At least potentially you never know what can bring an invention like Printed Books, the Electricity of Internet. Some empires collapsed for less than that.

  5. “the average conservative (though it is never clear what he aims to conserve) will fight to the death to protect his corporate rulers’ freedom to fuck him up the ass in any way they see fit”

    They should put this on WFB’s tombstone.

  6. Pingback: US: Foreign workers: Trust us |

  7. I have an intimate knowledge of one of these companies. The advent of the contract laborer has been a blessing to these multinational corporations, which can stock a la carte employees without pesky investment in training, medical coverage, retirement considerations, and such. Contracting firms, in theory, take care of the vetting process, which is useful when resumes are chock full of degrees and certifications earned in foreign languages from far-off lands. Obviously, you don’t want the contracting firm embellishing credentials simply for the sake of earning a commission, so the safeguard is to use only unaffiliated labor vendors (as opposed to those owned by the spouses of employees).

    So this one Indian couple sets up a firm with the wife’s brother’s name. The wife quits to run the show, and the husband spends most of his work days networking to keep an ear to the ground for future contracting vacancies. Once he catches wind, he reports to his wife, who then diligently crafts CVs for their fellow countrymen. What do you know, a perfect fit for the position! And they would have gotten away with it too, if it weren’t for those meddling kids.

    Actually, it was one of their contract employees that ratted on them after his position expired and he couldn’t find a new one. He blew the snakecharmer whistle that this firm was taking a massive commission percentage, more than the industry standard / legal limit, and that neither he nor his peers were actually qualified for big boy work. Of course, this was fine, since they wouldn’t have earned jobs anywhere, so they were still going for more than their market rate.

    Since this fraud is punishable with jail and fines, the Indian couple left their house virtually overnight, high-tailing it back to their motherland, never to be seen again (let alone extradited). Over the few years of their business, they’d made over four million dollars, which can buy you a pretty sweet section of road to shit on over there. The big company, egg on its face, was liable for lawsuits by every third party that used products with contributions from faulty contractors. This story obviously didn’t make the news, and to my knowledge it was buried successfully. The resulting change in corporate policy, obviously, was to scale back contract employees and outsource them in their homelands instead. Less legal liability this way: same shitty workforce, but now without the brand endorsement.

    So, maybe one of these guys really did come around on the whole ‘importation of cheap STEM labor’ idea. Hey, it’s possible!

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