Is IEEE Siding With Business Instead of Engineering?
The following e-mail exchange is real. The original mailing was from Russell T. Harrison, who is IEEE-USA’s “Senior Legislative Representative for Grassroots Activities.”
After recent collectives such as the Tea Party one has to wonder how the term ‘grassroots’ and legislative lobbying can be mutually inclusive? Harrison’s background is in ‘grassroots programs’ with steel and scrap recycling, as well as representing such industries on Capitol Hill. He holds a BA in political science from Allegheny College (Meadville, PA) and a Masters in public policy from the University of Maryland. Not, one would have thought, a great résumé to understand the needs and aspirations of the engineering membership of the institute.
Mind you, of the fifteen senior staff members listed at IEEE-USA, not a single one has an engineering degree; the nearest technical qualifications are one member who has worked as a nuclear power technician in the US Navy, and another who worked for an ISP.
The support that IEEE-USA is showing for this visa reform strikes us at EN-Genius as a body that is siding with business and not with the membership of the institute. It appears to free up a large percentage of H-1B visa allocations that could then bring in even more overseas underpaid slaves for jobs that US residents are already available and willing to fill. If that is not the intent, then there is instead a colossal breakdown in understanding the engineering community that the institute needs to comprehend.
This e-mail was addressed to, and responded to by, a reader who is a Senior Member of the Institute wishing for anonymity. He will be happy to respond to you on our blog and you can also private message him through e-mailing me at pjm at en-genius dot net. Other IEEE member views are most welcome.
The EB (employment-based) visas that Harrison refers to are probably not very well known to most engineers. Instead of being work visas for particular employers, as the H-1B program is, E visas are full immigrant documents; they are limited (the ‘cap’) to a ‘mere’ 140,000 individuals a year (plus all their family members) in five different categories, and they enable academics, researchers, actors, musicians, ordained religious, PhDs, athletes, immigrants with money, and other highly-attractive individuals to leapfrog all immigration queues (yes, touches of Animal Farm in what is a modern-day version of first class passengers bypassing Ellis Island) for the US. Why Harrison thinks they are relevant to this proposed student-to-green-card jumping program is a mystery to us.
We would also hope that the IEEE-USA will understand membership concerns and respond publicly to this conversation on their motives over this proposed legislation.
From: Russell Harrison <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Sent: Tue, Oct 25, 2011 1:16 pm
Subject: IEEE-USA Needs Help with High-Skill Visa Reform
After years of waiting, Congress has finally started to work on high-skill immigration reform.
Legislation was introduced in mid-October that would significantly change the process America uses to admit well educated immigrants to our country. H.R. 3146, introduced by Rep. Raul Labrador (R-ID) and drafted by Rep. Zoe Lofgren (D-CA), would make it much easier for graduates of American universities to become American citizens. IEEE-USA supports this bill and urges IEEE members to contact Congress now to express your opinions.
The bill would affect international students who:
1. Earn a masters or PhD degree,
2. From an American University,
3. In a STEM (science, technology, engineering or math) field, and
4. Have a job offer in a field appropriate for their degree
These students would be exempt from the EB visa cap, meaning they could move from their student visa to a green card within a year of graduating. Fees raised by this program would be targeted towards American STEM students, especially disadvantaged students.
The primary affect [sic.] of the legislation would be to take recent graduates off of the H-1B visa and make them permanent legal residents of the United States much faster than the current system. Right now, it can take up to ten years for a student to make the transition from student visa to green card. Workers must use an H-1B while they wait. On the H-1B, workers are easy to exploit. For example, H-1B workers are, on average, paid less than American workers. This harms both the foreign workers and the American [sic] who must compete against them. By keeping international students out of the H-1B program, the bill protects both American and foreign workers.
The bill allows the recent graduates to fully participate in the American economy. They can switch jobs easily, accept promotions and even start their own businesses - all of which are difficult (and sometimes prohibited) under the H-1B program. Perhaps most importantly, the bill will help ensure that the top graduates from America's research universities use their talents and skills here, rather than in another country. It is better for American [sic] if graduate students with STEM degrees work here, for our companies and economy, rather than our overseas competitors.
IEEE-USA needs Congress to hear from engineers who care about this issue. Go to the IEEE-USA Legislative Action Center at www.ieeeusa.org/policy/lac to learn more about HR 3146 and to contact Congress. Our legislators have many issue [sic.] on their plate right now, and immigration reform is not one of their top priorities. It will take e-mail from voters to get their attention.
You can contact me at email@example.com if you have questions about this alert, or if you have difficulty accessing the Action Center.
So what are you? An MBA, or an engineer FIRST?
Your timing, in light of Occupy Wall St, is impeccable. Yes, as your subject line states in your email, you definitely need help. You and your naïve IEEE-USA co-idiots need to read this Wall Street Journal article for starters, from which I provide an excerpt, emphasis added:
"the complaints about skill shortages boil down to the fact that employers can't get candidates to accept jobs at the wages offered. That's an affordability problem, not a skill shortage. A real shortage means not being able to find appropriate candidates at market-clearing wages. We wouldn't say there is a shortage of diamonds when they are incredibly expensive; we can buy all we want at the prevailing prices."
I'm an unemployed "diamond." Have been for three years, as have been most over 40 American EEs. Go to a SCV-SSCS IEEE meeting in the Bay Area, and you'll have 3/4 of the attendees being unemployed, over-40, engineers, usually 30 - 50 of them. All are ‘consultants’ on their business cards, but the reality is that they are looking and they'd join an employer in a heartbeat. We have experience. We don't experiment with, or unnecessarily risk, company money: we don't make as many mistakes since, most of the time, we've been there, done that, seen it. Therefore, we carry greater insight and value to a company, a value CFOs are not willing to pay, for it takes money out of their own brimming pockets, and who mistakenly think a PhD from academia will easily fill in for that experience and insight for half the money.
Get a clue: put an end to this madness of suppressing engineering wages while management racks $0.25 million and up base salaries... on ENGINEERS’ backs, and at the expense of American engineering jobs. Without engineers, their stock options would be WORTHLESS. Engineers are the ONLY profession that can restore America back to its economic prowess, or can feed the madness: IEEE-USA appears to have mistakenly, or inadvertently, chartered a course for DISASTER by feeding the MBA-originated greed that is America's cancer.
The US needs to train and feed Chinese like we need a hole in the head. They are on their way to mine the moon so they can produce He3-based high-yield fusion weapons to blow our children into oblivion over finite resources in the future, so you feed and train them now to be able to fulfill this twisted destiny? These ‘cowbird’ graduates will displace my now high-school-aged children from a graduate school because academia's MBA-embellished administrators have created for themselves a lucrative revenue stream that's prejudicial to favoring high foreign tuition. Now, grad schools are swimming in Chinese, and few American kids. This is not a xenophobic rant: it's concern over the decimation of the US economy and of American society itself. The solution is not to hire the mess academia's MBA-brained administrators have made and damage the US economy further, but to send the foreigners home (to jobs I might add) and kick the Universities in the butt for not producing an employable product for reduced tuition revenue. Cut their federal and corporate grants. Stop feeding the MBA madness on both the corporate and the academic side. The game plan has been put together by biz schools in academia, a potential RICCO conspiracy of price fixing American workers' wages and exporting their jobs by playing their wicked game plan via MBA training.
Of course, if you are an executive in a company where you want such suppressed labor you'll be all for killing what few jobs there are in the USA and you'll use IEEE-USA as the "voice of 300,000 electrical engineers in the US" to Congress. As an active member of IEEE, you do NOT have my permission to give such a representation to Congress whether you have personhood or not as an organization. I doubt any sane US EE would condone what you are doing apart from an unscrupulous engineering employer.
If you continue to support this legislation, in light of the references and statistics I have provided, I need to, and your other members should, question my membership in an organization conspiring to ruin US EE employability and US EE salaries. IEEE-USA, above all, was the last organization I thought would be selling my profession out; it used to stand up to corporations and lobbyists for all US engineers being FULLY employed, not just under 40s. Your ruse of keeping the students out of H-1B is artificially raising foreign worker quotas versus displacing workers within the quota: nice try. It's clear you have sold your souls to the devil, and you are relying on uninformed engineers to believe the sham you put forth in your mailing.
I am copying members of the electronics trade press on this lambasting. I hope you get exposed to its fullest extent for conspiring to further undermine what was a noble profession: one where a trash collector used to make less money per week by comparison. The press here have my permission to reprint this e-mail in its entirety if they decide it's worthwhile to do so. You, also, should responsibly print this perspective in Spectrum for the general membership to understand the permanent damage you are poised to do to a noble profession.
Senior Member IEEE
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