Gleanings: June 22, 2016

Jobs at McDonald’s regional Columbus office may shift to India

McDonald’s may be planning to outsource corporate jobs to India as part of a $500-million cost reduction plan it announced back in November, according to a report from the New York Post (with additional background from Zacks Equity Research). “A regional office in Columbus, Ohio is among the first casualties of the cost-cutting,” said a NY Post source. The functions of 70 corporate employees such as accounting may be moving to an Indian firm.

Visa abuse by American employers harms workers and integrity of immigration system

American employers are replacing American workers with cheaper foreign labor–producing cost savings of $40,000 to $50,000 per year per employee–using temporary work permits, known as H-1B visas, for specially talented foreign professionals, mainly in science and technology.

Abbott Labs is the most recent culprit, but others include Southern California Edison, Disney, Cargill, and Toys “R” Us, among others.

These companies circumvent the intent of the law by outsourcing the hiring to temporary staffing firms, often based in India. After training their foreign replacements, the American workers are laid off. As a condition of receiving their severance package, they must sign a “non-disparagement” agreement with their former employer, prohibiting them from speaking poorly about the company.

Ironically, the U.S. educates more STEM–science, technology, engineering and mathematics–workers than it hires. “Only about a third of those with STEM degrees are employed in STEM jobs,” according to Senate Judiciary Committee testimony of Hal Salzman, a Rutgers University professor in the E.J. Bloustein School of Planning & Public Policy and the J.J. Heldrich Center for Workforce Development.

“Instead of developing a globally competitive and internationally integrated workforce,” Salzman testified, “we are…substituting guestworkers for U.S. STEM workers and graduates.”

Households with housing vouchers would have more choice, but maybe not in Cincinnati

More than 2 million American households rely on vouchers issued by the U.S. Dept. of Housing and Urban Development to find affordable rental housing. These households generally contribute 30 percent of their adjusted monthly income toward their rent with the rental subsidy (the voucher) paying the rest.

To expand neighborhood options for households using vouchers, HUD is proposing a new method to calculate rental subsidies in 31 metropolitan areas where voucher holders are concentrated in a few high-poverty neighborhoods. Cincinnati is not among them. However, HUD is accepting comments on the proposed rule change until Aug. 15, so Cincinnati might be in the final rule.

Comments on the proposed rule can be submitted electronically through the Federal eRulemaking Portal at http://www.regulations.gov. All submissions must refer to the docket number (Docket No. FR–5855–P–02) and title of the rule (Establishing a More Effective Fair Market Rent System; Using Small Area Fair Market Rents in Housing Choice Voucher Program Instead of the Current 50th Percentile FMRs).

Latino Car Wash Workers Reach $1.65 Million Settlement for Wage Theft

It was a five-year battle, but the workers finally won, NBC News reported. The workers were employed at four car washes in New York City and Elizabeth, N.J. owned by the same individual.

One of the workers, Ramón M. Alvarez, 70, worked for six years at the car wash.

NBC reported: “While employed at the car washes, Alvarez said he made as little as $20 a day, mainly from tips, while working 10-hour shifts at the New Jersey location. None of the employees were permitted to take breaks, and most ate their lunch in-between servicing cars.”

“When his manager learned that he was seeking legal help to earn a fair wage, Alvarez lost his job.”