Northwest Voices | Letters to the Editor
Microsoft pushes for more foreign employees
Investing in the future
The Seattle Times article [“Microsoft seeks more foreign workers,” page one, Nov. 25] on high-skilled immigration missed the opportunity to advance the debate on an issue of critical importance.
The reporting overlooked the most important aspect of Microsoft’s National Talent Strategy. This plan focuses on improving opportunities for U.S. workers by encouraging businesses to invest in American education. Rather than simply make the case for more visas, we propose that businesses pay more for a special allotment of additional visas for STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) graduates — raising more than $5 billion over 10 years to help make critical investments in K-12 and higher education.
Microsoft’s challenge of finding qualified candidates for roles in computer science is not unique. Companies across the country, including IBM, GM, Boeing and Caterpillar, have shared their challenges in hiring workers with STEM skills. Our collective experience is backed up by government data, third-party organizations and numerous academic studies. It is disappointing that The Times article only quoted a few people with a contrarian view.
The suggestion that Microsoft’s high-skilled foreign national workers are a source of cheap labor is completely unfounded. All of our U.S. workers, regardless of nationality or visa status, are paid on exactly the same compensation scale. Factoring in additional costs related to processing visas, we pay more — not less — to recruit and employ foreign visa-dependent talent.
Microsoft and others have offered concrete ideas to help grow the U.S. economy and create American jobs. This critical debate is worthy of more thoughtful analysis and discussion.
—Karen Jones, Microsoft vice president, deputy general counsel for HR legal, Mercer Island
Replacing Americans for less money
In my opinion, when Microsoft’s Karen Jones says that the company can’t find enough “qualified Americans to fill these jobs,” she is saying they can’t find Americans who will work 60-plus-hour weeks for substandard salaries and benefits.
“Qualified” to her means a young foreigner, trapped with a temporary H-1B visa, who replaces a fifty-something American for far less money. I personally know such an American worker routinely passed over for cheap foreign labor.
—Arden Gremmert, Carnation