Union fights employer abuse of H-1B visas to save jobs

A California union is urging members and supporters to sign a petition telling the University of California System President Janet Napolitano to stop the University of California San Francisco (UCSF) from outsourcing information technology jobs .

The University Professional and Technical Employees-CWA Local 9119 (UPTE) is fighting to save the jobs of union members and others affected by UCSF”s decision to replace 17 percent of its IT staff with IT workers hired by HCL Technologies.

HCL Technologies is one of India’s largest IT workforce providers and is currently being sued in the US for abusing the H-1B visa program, which allows foreign nationals to work in the US when they have specialized business skills, which are in short supply in the US. Workers with H-1B visas are not supposed to be used to displace US workers.

UPTE said that it if these layoffs are allowed to stand more could follow and that the petition is only the first step in a fight to stop the layoffs.

“This could be the tip of the iceberg, and who knows what department is next to sell off our livelihoods?” said UPTE in a message to members. “UPTE is prepared to take action, starting with (this) petition. There will be more action items to come,.”

In September, Computerworld reported that the UCSF had signed a five-year, $50 million contract with HCL Technologies to take over a portion of the university’s IT work.

After the contract with HCL was signed, UCSF sent layoff notices to 49 of its career IT staff members, 12 contract workers, and 18 employees of a UCSF vendor.

The layoffs become effective in February.

A UCSF IT worker told Computerworld that UCSF’s decision to outsource IT work would hinder the university’s ability to innovate, and would result in the loss of a wealth of institutional knowledge. The employee also said that the contract with HCL, which UCSF says will save $30 million, puts cost reductions ahead of its mission to be the best provider of health care services.

In addition to educating undergraduate and graduate students, UCSF operates a teaching medical center where doctors and nurses are trained.

The IT workers affected by the layoffs resulting from the outsourcing contract mainly serve the UCSF medical center.

UCSF announced the deal with HCL months after two IT workers in Florida filed suits against HCL and two other companies for abusing the H-1B visa program.

The two IT workers, Leo Perrero and Dena Moore, had worked for Walt Disney World in Orlando, but they along with 250 other IT workers were laid off when Disney contracted out their work to HCL and Cognizant, an IT consulting company.

The New York Times reports that the two separate suits charge HCL, Cognizant, and Disney with colluding to break the law by using workers with H-1B visas to displace US workers.

The two suits have subsequently been consolidated into a class action suit, and the US Labor Department has opened an investigation into the matter.

In its petition to President Napolitano, the union says that, “As a public institution, UC should not be in the business of using legal loopholes and private firms to undermine UC employment” and urges Napolitano to “put the mission of the University first and halt (this outsourcing) immediately!”


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s