U.S. Legislators Send Napolitano Letters Against Outsourcing UCSF Tech Jobs

Several members of the U.S. House of Representatives sent letters to UC President Janet Napolitano this past week, requesting that she reverse her decision to lay off 17 percent of UCSF’s IT workers and outsource those jobs through the foreign-based Hindustan Computers Limited America firm. UCSD Chancellor Pradeep Khosla sits on the board of HCL, along with UC Berkeley’s Dean of Engineering Shankar Sastry.

The University of California entered into a $50 million agreement with HCL in September that would extend over five years. According to the agreement, HCL will be responsible for providing IT services such as data center monitoring, storage, server and other operations when the current IT workers take their leave in February after training their foreign replacements. It is unknown if the foreign workers will hold visas, but HCL is an H-1B dependent firm due to the fact that 15 percent or more of their U.S. employees are in the country with such visas. An H-1B is a nonimmigrant visa for the temporary employment of workers in specialty positions.

Napolitano received two separate letters — one on Nov. 1 from Rep. Zoe Lofgren (D-Calif.) and one on Nov. 3 co-authored by Reps. Barbara Lee (D-Calif.) and Mark DeSaulnier (D-Calif.) — each urging her to reconsider this current plan, which would replace 80 of UCSF’s tech employees. The UCSD Guardian obtained copies of these letters on Nov. 3 and 4 from a member of UPTE-CWA 9119, a union that represents healthcare, technical and research employees throughout the UC system.

Rep. Lofgren begins her letter by suggesting that given Napolitano’s history as secretary of the Department of Homeland Security, she should understand that using foreign workers to replace current American ones violates the purpose of H-1B visas.

“Based on your service as the secretary of Homeland Security, the department with principal jurisdiction over immigration, I am sure you know that using the H-1B category to replace the University’s IT staff would be a misuse of this visa category,” Lofgren wrote. “The H-1B’s intended purpose is to promote American competitiveness by providing access for U.S. employers to highly-skilled foreign nationals needed to fill critical skills shortages. It is meant to supplement — not replace — the American workforce.”

DeSaulnier and Lee echoed Lofgren’s statement on the intention of H-1B visas in their letter and expressed their additional worries regarding the economic ramifications and potential conflicts of interests involved.

“This move has potential negative consequences not only on jobs and the local economy but calls into question the responsibilities of public institutions that receive taxpayer funding,” the two legislators stated. “Furthermore, we are concerned about the fact that both UC San Diego’s chancellor and UC Berkeley’s dean of engineering sit on the board of HCL, raising questions about conflicts of interests.”

Lofgren also addressed the possibility that this change could harm UCSF’s patients as well, explaining that “the University of California’s outsourcing plan raises serious public policy concerns related to ensuring patient safety and safeguarding patient privacy. Missteps in these areas could expose the University to significant litigation risks.”

While the agreement is currently only being applied at UCSF, the UC system could implement its contract with HCL at any of its 10 campuses, which enroll a total of 240,000 students and employ 190,000 faculty and staff. According to Computerworld, UCSF estimates that this contract, along with other vendor contracts, will save $30 million over the course of the five-year contract.

DeSaulnier, Lee and Lofgren all closed their letters by explicitly stating that they “urge [Napolitano] to reconsider” her plan to outsource IT jobs, but DeSaulnier and Lee additionally requested that they be provided with “full documentation of the shortage of workers in this area that led to the decision to hire HCL and lay off dozens of employees.”

The UCSD Guardian reached out to Rep. Lofgren’s office and the UC Office of the President. However, they were unable to comment by press time.

7 thoughts on “U.S. Legislators Send Napolitano Letters Against Outsourcing UCSF Tech Jobs

  1. Good job Rep. Zoe Lofgren (D-Calif.) and Reps. Barbara Lee (D-Calif.) and Mark DeSaulnier (D-Calif.) thanks for speaking up for america workers. UC system is high education institution that teaches thousands students in CS fields, what kind message it sending to their own students when they outsourcing their IT jobs to India? knowing that after they graduate they may need to find job in India in order to work on IT field, soon there will be no more IT job in US.

  2. Bad outsourcing practices have been and will be continued to used by demagogues like Trump in election to propel themselves to victory. I encourage you to google “Team Trump Hillary Clinton HCL times of india” and read the economic times of India article on how Team Trump used Clinton’s ties with HCL against her . HCL , government officials, and politicians that go along with their greedy and unfair practices will empower racist, xenophobic, demogogues who will hurt good immigrant labor and labor pratices that is essential to a US economy. This will eventually really hurt the US economy. The people on the advisor’s to these companies often get large amounts of stock options.

  3. It would be interesting to see the rationale for outsourcing this work. This has been going on for two decades. I remember AIG in the private sector, andt he welfare department of New Jersey in the public sector as being two of the leading outsourcing roganizations in the early 90s. The rationale then, and probably now, is that it is cheaper.

    How much cheaper? Does it really save the taxpayers money, when, instead of that money staying in the local economy, with a five- or six-fold multiplier, it goes overseas? Not only do we loose the money from the jobs, but we now have to pay unemployment and/or supplemental income for these previously-employed citizens. The H1-b workers will stay in the US for three years, so we may see soem of that money stay, but the ultimate end is to move the jobs overseas.

    This is a typlical corrupt line-your-own-pocket, screw-the-public action and should be called out for Shame!

  4. What is the use of all this protest? These politicians simply act as if they support the American worker but then go on to further extend the H-1b program. After all, they are funded heavily by rich tech companies who will keep lobbying. We have seen the layoffs happen again and again with politicians of all kinds shedding crocodile tears..

  5. I applaud Senator Lee and Representative DeSaulnier for applying pressure to stop this contract. There’s a lot of misinformation on this topic so I’m not surprised that both Congressmen thought that HCL, an H-1b dependent company, was required to seek and hire US workers first. This is wrong.

    There is only one occasion when H-1b dependent employers must seek and hire US worker. That’s when they are paying a foreign citizen less than $60,000. It is common knowledge that the vast, vast majority of H-1b dependent employers always pay at least $60,000–even in low wage areas and even for entry-level workers.

    HCL is no exception. According to two H1-b data sites, HCL pays a median wage in San Francisco between $85,000 and $95,000 annually.

    A bipartisan bill (S. 2266) to fix this has been introduced by Sen. Grassley & Durbin. It will require all employers–both H-1b dependent and not H-1b dependent–to seek and hire qualified and more qualified US workers first. No occasions will be exempted from this rule.

    I urge Senator Lee to co-sponsor this legislation. After all, blue-collar Americans have had this right to be hired first for 26 years now under the H-2b program. It’s time that white-collar Americans enjoy the same rights.

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