Tunnel Rat posted on March 23, 2012 09:01

So now the slumdogs go after one of the Too-Big-Fail Banks.  Curry Den BofA should be next.  Karma is a bitch.


SAN FRANCISCO (CN) - Wells Fargo laid off H-1B visa workers and denied them tens of thousands of dollars in severance benefits by falsely claiming the workers had resigned, a worker claims in a federal class action. Lead plaintiff Vinay Karamsetty, a web developer, claims Wells Fargo owes him $42,415 plus interest. He claims Wells Fargo, the nation's second-largest bank, executed its unfair scheme "due to the economic climate and Wells Fargo's merger with Wachovia Bank," and that the bank admitted as much in its layoff notices. Karamsetty, whom Wells Fargo hired in 2007, claims the bank violated the Employee Retirement Income Security Act by denying "employee benefits under an employee benefit plan regulated and governed by ERISA." He says the bank also violated its own Wells Fargo Co. Salary Continuation Pay Plan, which also is named as a defendant. The complaint states: "In April 2009, Wells Fargo made a company-wide decision to not renew any H-1B visas due to the economic climate and Wells Fargo's merger with Wachovia Bank. "As soon as an employee's H-1B visa expires, he loses lawful immigration status and is required to leave the United States Immediately." In doing so, Karamsetty says, "Wells Fargo explained that it made a business decision to displace all H-1B visa holders due to 'the current economic climate and the merger with Wachovia.'" Wells Fargo knew the laid-off workers would have to find another job immediately or leave the country, and by mischaracterizing their termination as "voluntary," it denied them severance benefits, Karamsetty claims. "Wells Fargo exploited this predicament by denying H-1B visa holders any benefits under the plan under the guise that they 'voluntarily' terminated their employment and were thus ineligible for benefits under the plan," the complaint states. "This position was concocted and implemented by a plan administrator with an undisputed conflict of interest, both as a Wells Fargo employee and fellow plan participant." Karamsetty claims Wells Fargo hired the visa workers with promises that they would get severance payments, based on years worked, if they were "displaced" for "business reasons," or subjected to "position elimination." Karamsetty says he and the class are owed benefits under those terms. "In April 2009, Karamsetty and the class members suffered a 'position elimination' under the terms of the plan and became entitled to plan benefits," the complaint states. Karamsetty says that under the plan, he "was, and still is, entitled to a lump sum of $42,415.34, plus interest," since his last day of work, March 1, 2010. He seeks class damages and costs for ERISA violations and discrimination. He is represented by Allison Goddard with the Patterson Law Group.



Tunnel Rat posted on March 5, 2012 01:16


Obama turns back on American workers

Exclusive: Tom Tancredo notes: Businesses clamor for visas because they want to pay less

Published: 2 days ago

Last week, the House Immigration Subcommittee held a hearing on H-1B “high skilled” visas to discuss the supposed “problem” that 26 percent of all visa applications were rejected, up from 11 percent five years ago.

Ranking Democrat Zoe Lofgren suggested that these denials are due to arbitrariness and stupidity. She used one anecdotal example of “a recent case in which the USCIS denied an employment-based petition because the adjudicator determined that the company only had USD 15,000 in annual revenues and, therefore, couldn’t possibly pay the worker. It turned out, however, that the adjudicator had failed to note that the figures were listed in thousands. It was actually USD 15 million in revenue.”

You can never underestimate the ineptitude of the federal bureaucracy, and so I have little doubt that cases like this do exist. However, mistakes such as these notwithstanding, H-1B visas need to be greatly reduced because they take jobs away from American citizens.

This debate has gotten more play in the Indian press than in America, with headlines like “Obama warned over H1B visa denials” on ExpressIndia.com. Yet, despite these complaints by Democratic lawmakers and cheap-labor lobbyists, Obama has been completely blind to the plight of American engineers, computer programmers and other Americans whose jobs are being displaced by H-1B visas.

During an online town-hall meeting hosted by Google last month, Obama took a question from Jennifer Wedel, wife of an unemployed engineer in Texas. Noting that Obama had just called for companies to ask what they could do to bring jobs to Americans, she asked Obama, “Why does the government continue to issue and extend H1-B visas when there are tons of Americans, just like my husband, with no job?”

While qualifying that there were not enough civil-engineering jobs because Congress won’t pass his big spending measures, Obama insisted there was a shortage of other types of engineers. He said, “The H-1B should be reserved only for those companies who say they cannot find somebody in that particular field.”

When Mrs. Wedel told him that her husband was a semi-conductor engineer, Obama said, “It is interesting to me” that someone in such a field could not find a job because “the word that we’re getting is that somebody in that type of high-tech field, that kind of engineer, should be able to find something right away.” He then patronizingly asked her to send her husband’s resume to the White House.

Personally, I find it “interesting” that the president is so ignorant about the plight of American engineers. As Steve Camarota of the Center for Immigration Studies notes, according to the government’s own numbers there are 101,000 American engineers who are looking for engineering jobs, 244,000 who have left the labor market and 1,470,000 who left the engineering field. That’s 1.8 million Americans with engineering degrees who do not have engineering jobs.

Just two days before Obama mentioned this speech, the Bay Area edition of the New York Times noted that “Cisco Systems, a maker of computer networking equipment … laid off 1,331 workers last year,” and “The semiconductor sector … has lost 4,600 jobs since 2008.”

The reason why big business is clamoring for more H-1B visas is not that there is a shortage of skilled workers, but because they would prefer to pay foreigners less than Americans. There have been several documented cases where American workers were forced to train H-1B guest workers to replace them.

The immigration attorneys who push through these visas make absolutely no allusions. While Rep. Lofgren may be able to point to isolated cases where bureaucratic bungling caused wrongful visa denial, immigrant lawyers make it their policy to get visas approved that should not make it.

In a presentation for fellow immigration attorneys, Lawrence Leibovitz explained his racket “Our goal is clearly not to find a qualified U.S. worker … our objective is to get this person a green card.” He advised his fellow immigration lawyers, “Clearly we are not going to find a place where the applicants are most numerous, we’re going to find a place where – again we’re complying with the law – and hoping and likely not to find qualified worker applicants. If someone looks like they are very qualified, if necessary schedule an interview; go through the whole process to find a legal basis to disqualify them.”

Even Bill Clinton’s secretary of labor, Robert Reich, testified to Congress in 1995 that under the program, a “U.S. employer can now lay off U.S. workers and replace them with H-1B workers” and that the “H-1B program does almost nothing to encourage U.S. employers to develop domestic workers to perform the jobs for which they are seeking non-immigrants, or to limit their dependency on a non-immigrant workforce.”

Nothing was done to address these concerns, and the problem has gotten worse.

Even during the height of the tech boom, virtually all employment in the high-tech sector went to immigrants. According to the Center for Immigration Studies, between 1999 and 2005 332,660 new computer jobs were created by the economy, while the government issued 330,524 H1B visas for computer workers. In others words, 99 percent of all job growth in the computer sector went directly to foreign workers.

That was poor policy during times of economic growth, but it’s sheer insanity in a recession. For all his talk about standing up for middle-class Americans against the 1 percent, when it comes to immigration, Barack Obama is perfectly happy to do the bidding of big business while dismissing the concerns of unemployed Americans.

- Vineet Nayar, CEO, HCL Technologies

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