WHEN YOU HAVE A BUSINESS CULTURE WITHOUT A MORAL CODE, THIS IS THE KIND OF THING THAT HAPPENS—DAY IN AND DAY OUT
THE AMERICAN BUSINESS MODEL (ABM) IS CORRUPT, SHORT-SIGHTED, GREED DOMINATED, DISASTROUS FOR THE NATION, AND, IRONICALLY, BAD FOR BUSINESS.
This is a textbook example of “gaming the system”—and the victims are us (no pun intended)
It’s a singularly depressing story—and it represents a process of debasement of the American workplace, where workers are treated as disposable commodities, and work no longer has dignity. It is the antithesis of decent behavior. It is routine and dominant—though, fortunately, far from universal..
The following (after my opening comments) NYT article is just an extract. The full piece is well worth reading.
The saddest thing about all this is the way such reprehensible behavior is accepted as being the norm by both management and workers. Yet in other developed economies the attitude tends to be entirely different. And these other developed cultures are winning.
Simply put, they know how to treat their people better so that they are more more creative, productive and cost effective. They are better educated, trained, physically fitter, more highly motivated—and better managed.
They feel that they have a stake in the outcome—and it shows.
The American Business Model is a disaster—and the worst is yet to come. The Great Recession—which continues as far as many are concerned—was just a warm-up.
The good news is that more than a few U.S. corporations are comparatively enlightened—and are both empowering their employees and being generally progressive in their attitudes. However, as long as the negative and authoritarian attitudes of the ABM remain the prevailing ethos, the outlook for the majority of American workers remains bleak.
What are some of the characteristics of the ABM? Let me list an extract. The full list would depress a saint!
- The belief that maximizing shareholder value is the only corporate objective that matters.
- A lack of social concern and responsibility.
- An authoritarian management style.
- Implacable opposition to any and all worker rights—and particularly trade unions.
- The elimination of the defined pension.
- The treatment of workers as disposable commodities rather than people.
- A focus on keeping wages and salaries as low as possible rather than adding value and boosting productivity.
- Cutting back on R&D, Capital Expenditure, and Training.
- A willingness—to the point of it being a preference—to export jobs.
- The lack of any moral code.
But does any of this matter if the economy is booming?
- A booming economy is of little use if most Americans are not benefiting from it.
- The economy isn’t booming.
- Even the stock-market, which has risen as if independent of the real economy, is in a decidedly shaky state.
- Both public and private capital investment are inadequate.
- Infrastructure is in a parlous state.
- Real unemployment is roughly twice as high as the stated figure.
- Such minimal growth as has taken place since the Great Recession is on the back of a massive public, corporate, and private debt—and a truly alarming increase in the Federal Reserve’s balance sheet.
Temporary Visas to Import Talent Help Copycats Take Jobs Abroad
- by Julia Preston
- Sept. 30, 2015
- 7 min read
WAYNE, N.J. — When Congress designed temporary work visa programs, the idea was to bring in foreigners with specialized, hard-to-find skills who would help American companies grow, creating jobs to expand the economy. Now, though, some companies are bringing in workers on those visas to help move jobs out of the country.
For four weeks this spring, a young woman from India on a temporary visa sat elbow to elbow with an American accountant in a snug cubicle at the headquarters of Toys “R” Us here. The woman, an employee of a giant outsourcing company in India hired by Toys “R” Us, studied and recorded the accountant’s every keystroke, taking screen shots of her computer and detailed notes on how she issued payments for toys sold in the company’s megastores.
“She just pulled up a chair in front of my computer,” said the accountant, 49, who had worked for the company for than 15 years. “She shadowed me everywhere, even to the ladies’ room.”
By late June, eight workers from the outsourcing company, Tata Consultancy Services, or TCS, had produced intricate manuals for the jobs of 67 people, mainly in accounting. They then returned to India to train TCS workers to take over and perform those jobs there. The Toys “R” Us employees in New Jersey, many of whom had been at the company more than a decade, were laid off.
Tata Consulting Services in India in 2011. Toys “R” Us used its workers to replace Americans.
A temporary visa program known as H-1B allows American employers to hire foreign professionals with college degrees and “highly specialized knowledge,” mainly in science and technology, to meet their needs for particular skills. Employers, according to the federal guidelines, must sign a declaration that the foreign workers “will not adversely affect the working conditions” of Americans or lower their wages.
In recent years, however, global outsourcing and consulting firms have obtained thousands of temporary visas to bring in foreign workers who have taken over jobs that had been held by American workers. The Labor Department has opened an investigation of possible visa violations by contractors at the Walt Disney Company and at Southern California Edison, where immigrants replaced Americans in jobs they were doing in this country. Four former workers at Disney have filed discrimination complaints against the company. The companies say they have complied with all applicable laws.
But the Toys “R” Us layoffs — and others underway now at the New York Life Insurance Company and other businesses — go further. They are examples of how global outsourcing companies are using temporary visas to bring in foreign workers who do not appear to have exceptional skills — according to interviews with a dozen current or former employees of Toys “R” Us and New York Life — to help ship out jobs, mainly to India.
These former employees described their experience training foreigners to do their work so it could be moved to India. They would speak only on the condition that their names not be published, saying they feared losing severance payments or hurting their chances of finding new jobs.
In most cases when American workers lost jobs, the positions have been in technology, with employers arguing there are shortages of Americans with the most advanced skills. But in recent years, many jobs that American workers lost have been in accounting and back-office administration — although there is no shortage of Americans qualified to do that kind of work.
The core purpose of the temporary work visas is to help American companies compete in the global economy. “If employers are able to hire the key people, they can keep jobs in the U.S. and create new jobs here,” said Lynn Shotwell, executive director of the Council for Global Immigration, which lobbies Congress for more visas for highly skilled foreign workers.
Outsourcing firms, and the companies hiring them, say they are careful not to violate any laws. But some experts argue the intent of the visas is being thwarted.
“At the very least, those are violations of the spirit of the law,” said Christine Brigagliano, a lawyer in San Francisco with extensive experience advising American companies on obtaining visas. “Those contractors are signing on the bottom line, saying we will not undercut the wages and working conditions of Americans. But, in fact, they are.”