“I would pose a question to Mr. Zuckerberg. I read in the news that Facebook is now worth more than $200 billion. Is that not enough money to hire American workers for a change?” Sessions said. “Your company now employs roughly 7,000 people. Let’s say you want to expand your workforce 10 percent, or hire another 700 workers. Are you claiming you can’t find 700 Americans who would take these jobs if you paid a good wage and decent benefits?”
Sessions also suggested Zuckerberg wasn’t doing enough to hire American workers laid off by other companies.
“Let me just say one more thing: Facebook has 7,000 workers. Microsoft just laid off 18,000. Why doesn’t Mr. Zuckerberg call his friend Mr. (Bill) Gates and say: Look, I have to hire a few hundred people; do you have any résumés you can send over here?” Sessions said. “Maybe I will not have to take somebody from a foreign country for a job an unemployed U.S. citizen might take.”
If a shortage did exist, wages would be rising as companies tried to attract scarce workers. Instead, legislation that expanded visas for IT personnel during the 1990s has kept average wages flat over the past 16 years. Indeed, guest workers have become the predominant source of new hires in these fields.
Those supporting even greater expansion seem to have forgotten about the hundreds of thousands of American high-tech workers who are being shortchanged — by wages stuck at 1998 levels, by diminished career prospects and by repeated rounds of layoffs.
The facts are that, excluding advocacy studies by those with industry funding, there is a remarkable concurrence among a wide range of researchers that there is an ample supply of American workers (native and immigrant, citizen and permanent resident) who are willing and qualified to fill the high-skill jobs in this country. The only real disagreement is whether supply is two or three times larger than the demand.
Unfortunately, companies are exploiting the large existing flow of guest workers to deny American workers access to STEM careers and the middle-class security that should come with them. Imagine, then, how many more Americans would be frozen out of the middle class if politicians and tech moguls succeeded in doubling or tripling the flow of guest workers into STEM occupations.
Eight workers from India were paid as little as $1.21 an hour by a tech company in Fremont, Calif., over several months in late 2013, according to the U.S. Department of Labor, as reported by the Associated Press. As a result the company, Electronics for Imaging, which specializes in printing technology, agreed to pay $43,000 in back wages and government penalties. Electronics for Imaging, or EFI, said in a prepared statement that it “unintentionally overlooked” U.S. labor law and has “taken steps to ensure that this type of administrative error does not reoccur.”