I made a change in the direction of my career because January 31, 2015 was my last day in the technology field. That day twenty years of hard work, a bachelor’s degree in Information Technology, and an IT job for Disney were all over when my team along with hundreds of others were displaced by a less skilled foreign work force imported into our country using the H1B visa program. This situation is far from the original intent of this program and is shocking to everybody that hears about it.
I worked at Disney in Orlando in some capacity for well over ten years. Anytime a Disney visitor purchased food or merchandise those payments flowed thru the point of sale system that my team kept running
I received the very highest employee performance review, quotes include “Leo continues to provide value to our team,” “This year Leo was instrumental,” “Leo saved the company over $10,000,” and finally “I look forward to another great year of having Leo on our team.”
During the holiday season of 2014, I was sent a meeting invitation by a prominent Disney executive. With an excellent review in hand along with company announcements of record profits my mind buzzed with thoughts of a promotion or a bonus.
I walked into a small conference room with about two dozen highly respected fellow IT workers. The Disney Executive made a harsh announcement to us all.
All of you in this room will be losing your jobs in the next 90 days. Your jobs have been given over to a foreign workforce. In the meantime you will be training your replacements until your jobs are 100% transferred over to them and if you don’t cooperate you will not receive any severance pay.
The only glimmer of hope during this meeting was the announcement that new more exciting jobs would be opening soon however we found out that only 4 people would be directly rehired by Disney of the hundreds that were lost.
I was completely silent during this meeting thinking how this was going to affect my coworkers, how I was going to break the news to my family and pay for all of our expenses? I would soon be living on unemployment, health care, along with other employee benefits would be gone. My coworkers and I felt extremely betrayed by Disney. They were going to simply cast us aside for their financial benefit.
Later that same day I remember very clearly going to the local church pumpkin sale and having to tell the kids that we could not buy any because my job was going over to a foreign worker.
Then I started to think what kind of American was I becoming? Was I going to become part of ruining our country by taking severance pay in exchange for training my foreign replacement? How many other American families would be affected by the same foreign worker that I trained? Sadly, I choose the money over America.
The very next week our office environment started to change dramatically. Everywhere I went, the composition of the company changed so much in the period of only a week.
The first part of the 90-day period was focused on capturing all that we did with our jobs. We all felt extremely humiliated when the foreign workers sat next to us and watched everything that we did. Everything was recorded with audio and video. Then the very next day the recordings were put down on paper and read right back to us. We noticed that the foreign workers requested that we kept going over the same basic concepts over and over. How would they take over our jobs when they were so inexperienced and slow to grasp the basics we wondered?
The second period had us working side by side with our replacements.
The third and final period of the 90 days was the most disgraceful and demoralizing as we had to watch the foreign workers completely take over our jobs and come to grips that the future jobs Disney promised didn’t appear to exist. Then finally, on January 31, 2015 we were ordered to turn in our company ID badges, laptops and then ushered out the door.
How do I explain to my young children to follow their dreams and find a job that they love? I followed my dream of having a career in technology to have my very same desk, chair, and computer all taken over by a foreign worker who was just flown in to America weeks before.
We now have American IT workers being displaced by both H1-B visa holders, who are physically being flown in from foreign countries, as well as the growing use of foreign remote offshore workers. We are seeing a massive drain on job opportunities here on our own soil.
This abuse of the H1-B Visa is not about a lack of talent here in the U.S. If our own pool of IT professionals were so incompetent- then why would companies like Disney and many others have us
train our replacements, spend months teaching them and also why would such a low ratio of STEM graduates from college land a STEM job? This situation at Disney is not an anomaly. This same abuse of the H1B program is happening nationwide.
How can our law makers allow this to happen to our country?