Disney made headlines last year when the company laid off some 250 employees and then required them to train their replacements—immigrants on temporary H-1B visas—if they wanted to receive their severance package. (Two of the former Disney workers are now suing Disney.)
McDonald’s, America’s most iconic fast food chain, reportedly has taken a similar course. Via the Daily Mail:
McDonald's has laid off 70 native-born employees from Ohio and filled their positions with contracted workers who entered the country on H-1B visas.
A spokesperson for McDonald's told Breitbart [News] that the company decided to lay off the 70 Americans in order to save costs.
'To deliver $500 million in savings, the vast majority by the end of 2017, we are restructuring many aspects of our business, including an accounting function,' the spokesperson, Terri Hickey, said.
Steve Camarota, head of research at the Center for Immigration Studies, told Breitbart News that “white-collar outsourcing” is widespread. “[This] is not just a Silicon Valley thing anymore, it is happening all over," Camarota said.
Defenders of the H-1B visa program have said it is unlawful to use guest-worker provisions in this way.
“It is illegal now under that program [H-1B visa] to use it to replace American workers, said Sen. Marco Rubio, in a debate that aired on CNN in March 2016. “Under that program, you have to prove not only that you’re not replacing Americans, but that you’ve tried to hire Americans. And if a company is caught abusing that process, they should never be allowed to use it again.”
The Washington Post fact-checked Rubio. Calling H-1B program regulations “complex,” they ultimately concluded that U.S. workers can be sacked and replaced by guest-workers.
In general, it’s legal for employers to use the H-1B program to replace American workers, and there is no blanket requirement to recruit Americans first…. There is a “no displacement” requirement and a recruiting requirement, as Rubio said. But these requirements apply to “H-1B dependent” employers that have a large number of H-1B workers (for example, a company of 51 or more full-time employees is considered H-1B-dependent if 15 percent or more of its workforce are H-1B workers). Employers that are not deemed H-1B-dependent are not subject to this requirement.
Furthermore, the no displacement provisions do not apply if the worker is paid at least $60,000 or has a relevant graduate degree. The bulk of H-1B workers meet these provisions, the Post says, making the no displacement clause moot in most cases.
Is this prudent public policy? Are lawmakers being honest about our guest-worker program?
When Americans are sold on the benefits of guest-workers by politicians, it’s almost always stipulated that these workers will be filling jobs Americans aren't doing, either because they lack the skills or disdain the work. Clearly, however, this is not how H-1B visas are always used. In an at least some cases, multi-billion dollar corporations are sacking U.S. workers and replacing them with guest-workers whom they can pay less.
I can only imagine how I’d feel if I was one of the people fired as a result of this provision. Is it time to rethink H-1B visas or at least tweak the language so American workers are not being literally displaced?
Jon Miltimore is senior editor of Intellectual Takeout. Follow him on Facebook.
[Image Credit: By Vincent van Zeijst - Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=39524965]
Jonathan Miltimore is the Managing Editor of FEE.org. His writing/reporting has appeared in TIME magazine, The Wall Street Journal, CNN, Forbes, Fox News, and the Washington Times.