Thursday, August 24, 2006

Forming coalitions between American workers and H-1b holders

I resigned this week from the board of directors of the Programmers Guild. Essentially, it was over the policy to not allow guest workers to join. The policy is in place to "prevent foreign workers from taking over". I personally believe the policy is a result of paranoid thinking and see little to no threat of some anti-labor or pro-globalization group from taking over. I do see the policy as counter-productive and a lost opportunity to become a real political force - as opposed to a fringe group. Obviously this isn't the only reason I resigned, and I am not going to get into details as that wouldn't be very professional.

Although an unrealistically high number of guest workers flooded the labor markets and harmed American workers (especially from 2001-2003), guest workers on these visas are also harmed. They are prevented from changing jobs at will, some are contractually bound to the companies, and the majority are paid below average wages and most work longer hours. In short, they are exploited. American workers aren't the only victims is all that I am saying.

I have concluded that a technology based professional organization that invites all who work in the United States is needed - that isn't afraid to tackle these issues. Perhaps the IEEE-USA is that organization?

The IEEE-USA recognizes the two sides to this issue. They believe that we need a sustainable number of guest workers and that the program shouldn't replace American workers. They also recognize that we should treat our immigrant or guest workers better and more fairly.

Together American technology workers and foreign guest workers can be a political force and get a sustainable and fair system in place. Apart, we all lose to the special interests and IT lobbyist groups like the ITAA.

Hopefully the Programmers Guild will one day get with the program, or another organization will step up to the plate. The Guild has done some very positive things this year and I have confidence that if they hold elections some new leaders will step up to the plate. There have not been elections in the past two years, which are required to be held each year. I am a bit puzzled as to why members haven't demanded elections.