Disney is laying off hundreds of American employees in favor of replacing them with cheaper foreign workers. Adding insult to injury, the former employees have 90 days to train their replacements or risk losing their promised bonuses.
It's a loophole many companies are exploiting in the H1B visa law that allows them to bring in foreign labor when there's a labor shortage. According to an attorney who spoke with ABC7 in Sarasota, Florida, there are about 800,000 H1B workers currently in the United States. Their purpose is to "fill highly specialized positions for companies that are unable to find qualified Americans to fill those jobs," Sara Blackwell said.
Blackwell is currently representing two former Disney employees who worked in their high-tech data division for the park. Both men thought they were being called into the vice president's office to be congratulated, as they had both recently been given great performance reviews and have received awards throughout their 10 years of service. But instead, they were given notice along with at least 20 other people. The room was given 90 days to train their incoming Indian replacements and were offered a bonus for doing so.
In America, these high-tech fields can demand salaries that start at or near $100,000, but the new foreign workers will be paid almost half that.
This was such a blow to these two men, they are no longer encouraging the younger generation to pursue STEM careers -- a favorite of President Obama -- claiming the program is "a joke." One of the men, Leo Perrero, said he felt stripped of his dignity, according to ABC7. He said:
I felt extremely un-American. I felt like I was part of destroying our economy because I had to train a replacement that was going to come here, take my job and potentially take other people's jobs.
The H1B visa law is a hotly debated topic in Florida. Sen. Bill Nelson (D-FL) has asked for a federal investigation into the program's abuses, while Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) is looking to allow for more H1B visas to be handed out.
So far, Disney has fired 250 of its American workforce and who knows how many foreign workers have filled those "openings." However, the company has indicated that they have expanded and added IT jobs for U.S. workers.