Friday, January 06, 2006

ITAA's Harris Miller Steps Down; Senate Bid Looming

Harris Miller just stepped down from the ITAA, presumably to run for the US Senate as a Democrat from Virginia. But who is Harris Miller? I'll bet you will soon see him in pictures surrounded by children and puppies, and he will look like a real nice guy. But there are some skeletons in this mans closet. Skeletons that have haunted the tech industry for years now.

The answer to the question "Who is Harris Miller?" is simple. Harris Miller is a lobbyist for the tech industry. He is an immigration lawyer who claims to be an expert in technology. He is a former director of the ITT Technical Institute, and now stands accused of insider trading in a class action complaint for dumping ITT stocks. He would most likely prefer to be called an "activist" since the latest scandals have sullied the word "lobbyist". But let's be clear, Harris Miller stands for the interests of big business. He is backed by big donors. He is a lobbyist in the purest form.

The tech industry first came across our friend Harris Miller when we heard of a "shortage" of high tech workers. According to the ITAA and Miller, the United States was in dire need of cheap foreign labor. And before you know it, this powerful lobbyist got exactly what he asked for in the form of increased H1-B visas. What we have now is nearly 2 million fewer IT professionals over the past 5 years; 400,000 of which lost their jobs after the official end of the last depression.

Miller will claim to be a friend of immigrants. But in reality, with Harris Miller leading the ITAA they lobbied against bills that would have protected immigrants on the H1-B visa program. Or should we say indentured servant program, thanks to Miller. You see, groups like the Programmers Guild and IEEE-USA asked Congress to make it easier for workers on the H1-B visa to transfer from job to job because the system required these workers to leave the country if they ever lost their jobs or were fired. This looming deportation created fear in the guest workers, enabling companies to pay them well below wages of Americans even though a law required them to be prevaing wages (see the Miano report). Many companies still don't obey that law to this day, after all nobody is going to do anything about it anyways.

Not suprisingly the transgressions of Miller against labor go very far back. Harris Miller made his name in labor arbitrage when his firm, Immigration Services Associates, was hired in the 1980’s as a consultant/lobbyist for the National Council of Agricultural Employers. In 1982, the Council raised a million dollars for the campaign of George Deukmejian. “Between 1983 and 1990, Deukmejian began shutting down enforcement of the state's historic farm labor law. According to the UFW “Thousands of farm workers lose their UFW contracts. Many are fired and blacklisted".

In 1995 right as the tech boom was starting Miller joined the ITAA. And true to his form, history repeated itself with renewed calls of labor shortages only this time in the tech industry. What followed was a massive downsizing of the IT workforce. The worker visa programs pushed by Harris Miller even enabled a new phenomenon to occur: offshoring.

Harris Miller has come to personify the problems seen in the high tech industry. I believe that he deserves a large amount of credit for the challenges we face today. The tech capitol of the world is soon to be Bangalore India and not San Jose California. Indian BPO companies like Infosys and Wipro are expanding rapidly and gaining market share within the United States, while companies like EDS and IBM are losing money and laying off American employees. Harris Miller paved the way for this to occur on a path built upon American workers and their families.

Anyone as vehemently anti-worker as Miller does not belong in the US Senate. This man is the wrong choice for Virginians, the Democratic party, the most importantly the United States of America. Groups such as the Programmers Guild have worked hard to undo the harm caused by Miller -without the help of billion dollar corporations like the ITAA has. I can't imagine what a vote in the US Senate, in the hands of Harris Miller, would mean for high tech workers, and especially our nation.

I would encourage the Democrats in Virginia to find themselves a better candidate to back in the primaries. Harris Miller is not a person the Democratic party should associate with, especially when the integrity of our elected officials has come into question. Give Virginia a Senator who will bring integrity and conviction to their office. Find a candidate with unquestionable loyalty to this nation and her people.

3 Comments:

At 9:45 AM, Blogger Corey D. Hernandez said...

I'll enthusiastically support any Democrat against George Allen. However, I would prefer James Webb to be the Democratic nominee. You can find out more here:

http://www.draftjameswebb.com

 
At 12:02 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Is this the best we can do - a lobbyist and a warmonger? I'll probably be voting for Levi Levy.

 
At 12:55 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Milton Friedman says H1-b is just another subsidy, I think he is right on the money, no pun intended ;)

http://www.computerworld.com/careertopics/careers/labor/story/0,10801,72848,00.html"

 

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