As the annual H-1B visa lottery opens, report shows Walmart’s obsession with cheap labor
(Washington, DC) – To mark the opening of the annual H-1B visa lottery, the AFL-CIO released a new report documenting Walmart’s abuse of the visa program.
The report “After Decimating U.S. Manufacturing, Wal-Mart Takes Aim at the Information Technology Sector” contains strong evidence that Walmart and its contractors rely on the H-1B work visa program to meet the company’s routine needs for information technology (IT) labor, potentially displacing U.S. workers. Yet, many of the IT guest workers are denied a path to citizenship. The findings undermine the arguments advanced by corporate lobbyists pushing to expand the program.
“At a time when we face unprecedented levels of inequality and decades of wage stagnation, it is irresponsible to expand access to employment-based temporary work programs that will continue to hold down wages, increase worker vulnerability, and reduce social mobility for deserving workers,” said AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka.
The report also reveals how Walmart has quietly backed corporate lobbying groups pushing to expand the program and increase the number of H-1B visas that are available. In the meantime, the number of H-1B applications for IT workers in Bentonville, Ark., where Walmart’s headquarters are located, continues to grow—suggesting that local Science, Technology, Math and Engineering (STEM) recent graduates lose out on IT jobs.
Among the most important findings:
• Between 2007 and 2014, IT contractors have filed almost 15,000 petitions (certified LCAs) for H-1B visas for work placed in Bentonville, Arkansas, home to Walmart’s headquarters and information technology center. Walmart is a known client of these controversial outsourcing contractors, including Infosys, Cognizant and Wipro.
• Walmart is driving down standards in the tech industry in the U.S. by using H-1Bs visas and contractors excessively, and violating the spirit, if not the letter of the visa program. This keeps costs low and allows for IT guest workers to be paid less.
• Walmart and its outsourced IT operations at contractors do not hold up their end of the immigration bargain: they rarely apply for green cards for H-1B visa workers. In some years, they submit no green card applications at all.
The H-1B program allows U.S. companies to bring high-skill “guest workers” to the U.S. for up to 6 years. However, the requirement for companies to search for American workers before turning to foreign labor in the H-1B program is not effectively enforced.
At a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing last week, AFL-CIO President Trumka testified that the current H-1B visa program “allows employers to stifle wages, create a captive workforce, and make previously full time jobs insecure and temporary.”
The AFL-CIO has been an outspoken advocate for comprehensive immigration reform with a roadmap to citizenship that fixes our broken immigration system.
“As Congress resumes the debate on immigration reform, we hope the Senate will focus on the core flaws in our immigration system that contribute to economic inequality and wage stagnation, rather than advancing low-road employment models that have contributed to the erosion of the middle class,” said Trumka.
The report can be viewed here: http://go.aflcio.org/Walmart-H1B