"The price of justice is eternal publicity." Arnold Bennett

Technical Slavery At Intel

Admire a rose for its beauty but beware of its thorns. Chinese proverb


Working At Intel: Alien Labor Equals Lower Wages

According to University of California, Davis Computer Science researcher Professor Norman Matloff, the computer industry in Silicon Valley paid an average of $7,000 less annually to foreign born employees on work permits (H1 visa) compared with native professionals in the same age category and education level.

Intel hired 3% foreign born employees on work permits in 1995, according to an Intel Leads magazine article of Q2, 1996. If you take a large population base, such as the case at Intel, and consider the 9,000 new employees in 1995, 3% translates to 270 foreign born new employees. Multiply by an average of $7,000 less annually per foreign born employee and then multiply by 5 years. The savings are very significant, over 9 million dollars! There are two distinct predatory employment practices at work when it comes to Intel’s policies for foreign born workers. The first is unfair wages and the second is a preference for recent college graduates.

Following is an excerpt from the article cited in the previous paragraph. Written by Angela Volfer, the article is titled, "Intel Breathes a Sigh of Relief" and is accompanied by a picture of the Statute of Liberty with barb wire superimposed on its chest.

1996 was an election year in the United States, and that means political posturing among candidates to gain an edge in the public spotlight. For some, immigration reform emerged as a hot topic, because it touches many Americans worried about protecting U.S. jobs and preserving dwindling public coffers.

It was in this climate that the Simpson immigration bill emerged, a measure that went well beyond curtailing illegal immigration to effectively inhibit the legal entry of skilled workers into the U.S. where they are desperately needed by high-tech companies seeking the best and the brightest talent that the world has to offer.

Intense lobbying by Intel and other companies was rewarded when the bill’s originator, Senator Alan Simpson (R-Wyoming) dropped all provisions against legal immigration. In the wake of the lobbying’s success, it is interesting to consider the impact that immigrants have had at Intel.

The driving force behind the Simpson immigration bill was the perception that U.S. companies hire foreign workers, instead of Americans, because they command lower wages. That certainly isn’t true in high-tech companies, which often pay higher salaries to attract highly trained employees from throughout the world.

Carefully read what Ms. Volfer says in the paragraph above. Where is the data to refute the perception of lower wages for the foreign born? Prof. Matloff’s data shows that perception is reality. Her statement about high salaries is vague. The sentence could be interpreted as meaning the majority of employees (who are U.S. nationals) command higher salaries.

The article continues:

Currently, one-third of the engineers in Silicon Valley are foreign born, and more than 50 percent of the Ph.D. engineering students in the United States are foreign nationals. Of all the new hires at Intel in 1995, only 3 percent were foreign nationals on work permit and they were hired only after every effort was made to fill the position with U.S. workers.

"The United States doesn’t have a monopoly on bright, talented people," says Michael Maibach, Intel’s vice president of Government Affairs. "We [the United States] signed trade agreements called NAFTA [North American Free Trade Agreement] and GATT [General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade] to get open and fair access to foreign markets. Why shouldn’t we have access to global talent as well?"

Mr. Maibach’s comments imply that people are like markets and commodities. Is Mr. Maibach saying talent can be bought in the global market just as one would buy products and goods? This is very offensive! As Cardinal Bernard Law, head of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Boston, told the Boston Globe, "American corporations are endangering capitalism by treating workers as commodities that can be eliminated to produce more profits for stockholders."

Despite the remarks and conclusions made in the preceding excerpt, Donna Hasbrouck, an Intel HR representative, claims that foreign born Intel employees obtain their green cards and then leave Intel because other companies pay more. This is just the sort of anecdotal data that leads to prejudice and discrimination.

Ms. Hasbrouck recently discussed the topic of hiring foreign born candidates with the staff of the Microprocessor Technology (MT) group in Santa Clara, present were J.C. Cornet (VP of MT) and Joseph Krauskoph (Director of Test). Ms. Hasbrouck told the MT group, "...after hiring the foreign student, delay the immigration paper work process, because once they get their green cards we lose them to companies like Sun Microsystems and Silicon Graphics, they pay them about 30% more." This ploy is nothing short of servitude. As articulated by Lawrence Richards, Executive Director of Software Professionals’ Political Action Committee on September 28, 1995, before the Senate Subcommittee on Immigration, "...This is especially so if the alien is seeking a green card, in such a case, if he were to quit, the entire process would have to start again from the beginning. As one immigrant I talked to put it, ‘They have you by the tail. Market forces don’t work because you can’t go anywhere.’"

Mr. Richards continued, "After finally obtaining permanent resident status, many immigrants will then quit in order to find a better paying job elsewhere. ...It is for this reason that some employers intentionally delay the paper work involved in processing the Labor Certification." Mr. Richards later adds, "As it is now, companies will sponsor an alien for a green card and then sit on the paper work for years in order to hold the alien in place."

On the issue of age discrimination, Prof. Matloff states, "During the lobbying in which the computer industry engaged in between 1995 and 1996, they admitted to a policy which is tantamount to rampant age discrimination." Professor Matloff goes on to cite Eva Jack, an Intel human resources policy manager, as saying to Computer World magazine, "‘Computer technologies become obsolete so quickly that often only recent university graduates, many of whom are foreign nationals, possess needed skills.’" Prof. Matloff concludes, "Thus there is no technical basis for comments like that of Eva Jack, and Jack’s comment amounts to an admission of rampant age discrimination in the industry." This conclusion is based upon the fact that new college graduates are typically younger than the existing employee base. In fact, Intel recently made an effort to disguise their age discrimination practices by changing their terminology from "new" to "recent" when referring to individuals receiving college degrees within the current 12 month period. Intel evidently thinks it can apply marketing spin to hiring policies.

The bottom line, Intel benefits financially in two ways when hiring foreign born students for regular full time employment. Lower wages paid to foreign born employees is the first, and the second is lower wages paid to recent college graduates. The first prays upon individuals afraid of being deported. The second is clearly age discrimination. It may look good on the balance sheet, but these practices leave Intel morally and ethically bankrupt.


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