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Southern California Edison IT workers 'beyond furious' over H-1B replacements

Patrick Thibodeau | Feb. 5, 2015
About 500 IT jobs are cut at utility through layoffs and voluntary departures

Although H-1B workers have to be paid prevailing wages, a data analysis of wages that Hira conducted found that H-1B workers cost employers less. The national median wage for an Infosys worker over a recent three-year period was $60,000 per year and for Tata it was $64,900, he said.  These are figures that are lower than what appear in salary surveys, including Computerworld's annual survey. H-1B workers employed by offshore outsourcing companies are less likely to become permanent residents. Infosys sponsored only 2% of its workers for permanent U.S. residency over a three-year period and Tata, none, he said.

Northeast Utilities in Connecticut last year made a similar decision to SCE's and brought in foreign contractors on visas. More than 200 U.S. IT workers lost their jobs.

Some of the SCE employees say the outsourcing move is linked to a 2012 report that found fault with the IT management culture. The report, by a consulting firm's incident management team, followed a December 2011 shooting, where an employee fatally shot two IT managers and wounded two other workers before taking his own life. The gunman worked in the IT department.

The consultants interviewed IT workers who told them that some managers were "autocratic, authoritarian and draconian in their approach." Full-time employees complained of working excessive hours, including weekends and holidays. The report said that "these difficult and exhausting conditions are reportedly having adverse consequences on employees health, including increased stress and irritability."

Prior to the outsourcing agreements, the SCE employees said there were a series of layoffs, including managers.

SCE said it is helping affected employees with severance, and other benefits, including "job fairs and other possible opportunities with other organizations within SCE."

"SCE does not take this action lightly and it is assisting employees through this difficult period," the utility said.

But the third employee interviewed said it did not appear that the company was interested in keeping any of the IT workers targeted for layoffs, and they weren't being offered the chance to apply for other jobs. "They just want to get rid of us and clean house," said this IT worker, who now worries about keeping her home.


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