Does the Magic Kingdom Really Lay Off Americans and Hire Foreigners?


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What more American company is there than the Disney Corporation? But when it comes to how it treats American workers, Disney can apparently play the cheap labor game as well as any company.

From Computer World:

At the end of October, IT employees at Walt Disney Parks and Resorts were called, one-by-one, into conference rooms to receive notice of their layoffs. Multiple conference rooms had been set aside for this purpose, and in each room an executive read from a script informing the worker that their last day would be Jan. 30, 2015. Some workers left the rooms crying; others appeared shocked. This went on all day. As each employee received a call to go to a conference room, others in the office looked up sometimes with pained expressions. One IT worker recalls a co-worker mouthing “no” as he walked by on the way to a conference room.

Of course, Disney CEO Bob Iger is promoting “a new American economy” through increasing H-1B visas.

Disney CEO Bob Iger is one of eight co-chairs of the Partnership for a New American Economy, a leading group advocating for an increase in the H-1B visa cap. Last Friday [April 24th], this partnership was a sponsor of an H-1B briefing at the U.S. Capitol for congressional staffers. The briefing was closed to the press. One of the briefing documents handed out at the congressional forum made this claim: “H-1B workers complement – instead of displace – U.S. Workers.” It explains that as employers use foreign workers to fill “more technical and low-level jobs, firms are able to expand” and allow U.S. workers “to assume managerial and leadership positions.”

The document was obtained by Norman Matloff, a computer science professor at the University of California at Davis and a longtime critic of the H-1B program.

Norm Matloff is a friend of VDARE.COM

Disney says its restructuring wasn’t about displacing workers, but was intended to shift more IT resources to projects involving innovation. That involves hiring many new people to fill new roles.

Oh really?

From the perspective of five laid-off Disney IT workers, all of whom agreed to speak on the condition of anonymity, Disney cut well-paid and longtime staff members, some who had been previously singled out for excellence, as it shifted work to contractors. These contractors used foreign labor, mostly from India. The laid-off workers believe the primary motivation behind Disney’s action was cost-cutting. “Some of these folks were literally flown in the day before to take over the exact same job I was doing,” said one of the IT workers who lost his job. He trained his replacement and is angry over the fact he had to train someone from India “on site, in our country.”

Disney officials promised new job opportunities as a result of the restructuring, and employees marked for termination were encouraged to apply for those positions. But the workers interviewed said they knew of few co-workers who had landed one of the new jobs. Employees said the original number of workers laid off back in October was more than several hundred. But the Disney source put that number lower, saying approximately 135 IT workers lost their jobs.

Disney has long used contractors at its IT operations in Lake Buena Vista, Fla., at a building called “Team Disney.” Workers on visas were likely in use well before the restructuring. But in the period after the October layoff notifications, IT workers said they observed a marked increase in people they believe were new to the U.S. It’s difficult to determine how many H-1B workers, L-1 visa workers or contractor workers generally, were at this Disney site. Only a couple of workers asked the contractors where they lived or if they were on a visa. It was an awkward conversation and generally avoided. But one observation all of the workers recounted was the widespread use of Hindi.

Several of these workers, in interviews, said they didn’t want to appear as xenophobic, but couldn’t help but to observe, as one did, that “there were times when I didn’t hear English spoken” in the hallways. As the layoff date neared, “I really felt like a foreigner in that building,” the worker said.

Read more about it at Fury rises at Disney over use of foreign workers, by Patrick Thibodeau, Computer World, April 29, 2015).

And, in a related matter,

The Obama administration this week rejected a request from Congress to investigate potential abuses in the country’s key guest-worker program for tech workers, insisting it would “be premature” to look into Southern California Edison’s use of the controversial H-1B visa to outsource jobs.

A bipartisan group of senators, led by Republican Sen. Jeff Sessions and Democratic Sen. Richard J. Durbin, had asked for a probe after SCE employees testified they were booted from jobs and replaced with guest-workers.

Leon Rodriguez, director of U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, said his agency takes such allegations seriously — but said there isn’t enough evidence for him to look into SCE right now…..

Mr. Durbin and Mr. Sessions were not pleased with the brush-off.

“We did not ask for speculation; we asked for an investigation,” they said in a joint statement.

They said if the problem is that the law doesn’t allow an investigation, then they should change the law. But they said Mr. Rodriguez didn’t even explain his reason for declining to probe SCE.

Tech workers at a number of companies have said they’ve seen their jobs cut, only to have their former employers turn around and hire foreign workers who are in the U.S. on H-1B visas, which are reserved for high-skilled employees. Software and technology companies are heavy users of H-1B visas.

SCE workers testified to Congress that not only did they lose jobs, but they had to train foreign workers who replaced them.
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Homeland Security rejects request to investigate guest-worker program abuse Stephen Dinan, Washington Times, April 29, 2015