Bipartisan Special Skills Visa Bill Helping Companies Get Rid of Older Employees


Currently, the US government hands out 65,000 special skills visas (H-1 B visa) to workers from other countries. These special skills visas are for people with bachelors or post graduate degrees that can fill needed positions here in the US.

Many of these special skilled people end up working in the high tech world in Silicon Valley and related industries. A shortage of trained workers is frequently cited as to increase the number of H-1 B visas issued each year.

However, there have also been reported abuses of H-1 B visas. Numbers of immigrants were awarded special needs visas to allow them to serve as medical instructors at Adam University. Yet, there is no Adam University for them to work at.

In a bipartisan effort, three Democratic and three Republican senators have introduced a bill (SB 153) to increase the number of H-1 B visas from 65,000 to 195,000 per year.

But as Mark Hyman with Behind the Headlines points out, there is a glut of degreed skilled workers in the high tech industries due to a number of layoffs. Microsoft laid off 18,000 workers at their R&D facility in Silicon Valley. Cisco and Symantec have also laid off a number of skilled workers.

Hymans then states:

“So, what’s behind this? According to some critics, technology companies are laying off older, U.S. workers in favor of younger immigrants who would draw smaller salaries.”

“In addition, the U.S. has more unemployed workers than at any other time in history.”

“This leads us to wonder. Is the proposed increase of H-1B visas justified?”

I’ve seen other companies find reasons to layoff older workers only to replace them with younger workers at lower salaries. Not only do companies save money on salary, but as a rule, younger workers have fewer health issues than older workers which makes their mandated employer healthcare benefits less expensive. For those companies that offer pension plans, which is becoming increasingly rare, laying off older workers also helps reduce the amounts they end up paying in pensions.

It’s illegal to lay off workers based solely on their age, but many companies find ways to work around the law. They create reasons to justify the layoffs of older workers only to replace them with younger and cheaper labor.

What makes this even worse is that older people have a harder time finding jobs, especially ones that pay anything close to what they are making. That also leaves them without any employer provided medical coverage, forcing them to pay outrageously high premiums for private insurance or go without coverage and pray that nothing major happens to them.

SB 153, introduced by Senators Orin Hatch (R-UT), Marco Rubio (R-FL), Jeff Flake (R-AZ), Chris Coons (D-DE), Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) and Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), will only help companies to continue to lay off older workers and replace them with younger, cheaper foreign workers. This bill is bad for older Americans and should be stopped. I recommend you contact your Senator and insist that they vote no on SB 153.

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