CHEAP WORKERS….Robert Hoffman, a VP at Oracle, is unhappy with the new immigration bill, which includes a “point system” that allocates visas to applicants with education and job skills:

“Under the current system,” Mr. Hoffman said, “you need an employer to sponsor you for a green card. Under the point system, you would not need an employer as a sponsor. An individual would get points for special skills, but those skills may not match the demand. You can’t hire a chemical engineer to do the work of a software engineer.”

If nothing else, you have to admire the chutzpah Hoffman demonstrates here. The H1-B visa regime is not quite the system of indentured servitude that it used to be, in which workers were essentially prohibited for years from leaving the company that sponsored them, but it still has some elements of that. And needless to say, the sponsoring companies think that’s just fine. The idea that someone can simply get a green card without going through a sponsor and then freely work for the highest bidder is not really what high-tech CFOs have in mind when they dream of filling up job slots with foreign workers.

At the same time, employers in non-high tech industries are unhappy with the point system because it’s too favorable to high tech companies and might reduce the supply of poorly paid hotel workers. The Chamber of Commerce is unhappy because the bill doesn’t open up the floodgates of cheap labor widely enough. And every employer is unhappy over requirements that employers actually check to make sure they’re hiring legal workers. Legal workers cost more, after all.

Hmmm. Do you detect a trend here?

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