January 17, 2018

Apple, Foxconn sites are hiring foreigners, not Americans

Populists, if they do not want to get co-opted by corporate globalists, must always ask whether these announcements of "companies moving back" mean the new jobs will go to American citizens or instead to foreign workers, whether they're illegals or are brought in on guest worker visas like the H-1B program.

The first big announcement was Foxconn building a manufacturing plant in Wisconsin. In a three-part expose on their hiring practices (here, here, and here), Lawrence Tabak shows that Foxconn hires almost only foreigners at their existing plants in Indiana and Texas. The technical and professional staff are legally brought in on H-1B visas from China, and the unskilled staff are drawn from illegal immigrants. There are only a token number of Americans at these workplaces.

The situation at the Wisconsin plant will be exactly the same. If it were not, they would make a big deal out of reassuring us that they will be hiring few or no foreigners.

Now comes the announcement of Apple building a new campus in America. It is part of an ongoing PR campaign of desperation to get the American working and middle classes to be grateful for the GOP tax cuts going to corporations and the wealthy, which are supposed to trickle down to us, even though they never have after any of the other times they've run this experiment.

They say 20,000 jobs will be added over the next 5 years, but do not say how many will be at this particular campus rather than any of the other zillions of work sites they run. It will certainly not employ more than their headquarters at Apple Park, which has "only" 12,000 working there. I figure it will be in the thousands at the new campus, which will be something like a call center for customer technical support.

Still, will these new jobs go to Americans? Of course not -- Apple is in the top 20 companies for visa sponsors of cheap foreign labor. They got 2,000 visa and green card workers in 2017, no different from 2016, and both years higher than 2015 or 2014. They have shown no willingness to bend the knee to the "Buy American, Hire American" spirit of the Trump campaign.

They will simply ask for a few thousand more visas in order to staff their new campus, and as a giant of Silicon Valley, they will easily get them. That was probably part of the negotiations -- we will build a new campus here in America, and you guys in the State Department will give us enough guest worker visas to staff it. As long as the unsuspecting Trump supporters don't inquire about who is getting those new jobs, it will be win-win-win for Apple and Foggy Bottom and Trump's image!

Again, if Apple were planning to hire Americans rather than foreigners, they would damn well say so -- it would only strengthen their PR campaign about becoming more pro-American, and assuage doubts from populists and Trump voters. The fact that they do not say that, means they have no good news to share in that regard.

We know that Trump himself has already gone all-in for Silicon Valley's pleas for more H-1B visas.

He kept flip-flopping on the issue during the campaign, with his gut instinct always coming back to "give them guest worker visas".

During the transition, he was won over by "a high-level delegation from Silicon Valley" who begged for more H-1B visas. [1]

And most disturbing of all, he recently said that, "We need workers in this country; we need people to come in and work because I have a lot of companies moving in." [2]

He's talking about guest workers immigrating here on visas, in the broader context of giving amnesty to the DACA people and perhaps all illegals currently here. Whether it's one group of foreigners or another -- it's they who are going to be hired at the "companies moving in" because they're cheap labor replacements for American workers.

With the Congressional GOP having sidelined his populist agenda, Trump will spend the rest of his term frantically scrambling to "put points on the board" and "get a win" no matter how much it benefits the corporate globalist elites and foreign workers.

So from now on, whenever we hear about "companies moving back," we must check to see if they specifically say that the jobs will go to American citizens, rather than some vague statement like "jobs will be created in America". If not, they are going to hire cheap foreigners instead.

And the Democrats, if they want to win more seats in Congress or take back the White House, must hammer this point home to those who voted for Trump. "You were promised a return of good jobs to America, but they hired cheap foreigners instead. We won't allow those companies to exploit the visa system, and will make sure that struggling Americans will get those jobs."

Of course that would require standing up to a major institution that controls their party, Silicon Valley, but they are not that dependent on cheap labor like the labor-intensive sectors of the economy are. They can stand to lose a tiny bit of profit from higher labor costs, if it means taking back the government and staving off an angry mob that wants to demolish the tech giants.

[1] From Fire and Fury:

The president-elect enjoyed being courted. On December 14, a high-level delegation from Silicon Valley came to Trump Tower to meet him. Later that afternoon, according to a source privy to details of the conversation, Trump called Rupert Murdoch, who asked him how the meeting had gone.

“Oh, great, just great,” said Trump. “These guys really need my help. Obama was not very favorable to them, too much regulation. This is really an opportunity for me to help them.”

“Donald,” said Murdoch, “for eight years these guys had Obama in their pocket. They practically ran the administration. They don’t need your help.”

“Take this H-1B visa issue. They really need these H-1B visas.”

Murdoch suggested that taking a liberal approach to H-1B visas, which open America’s doors to select immigrants, might be hard to square with his promises to build a wall and close the borders. But Trump seemed unconcerned, assuring Murdoch, “We’ll figure it out.”

“What a fucking idiot,” said Murdoch, shrugging, as he got off the phone.

[2] From a recent WSJ interview:

Mr. Trump: ...You have a lot of people of those 800 [thousand, i.e. the DACA people], they work hard, they have jobs. We need workers in this country; we need people to come in and work because I have a lot of companies moving in.

And I’m getting a lot of questions like we want to move to Wisconsin, we wanted—like Wisconsin, I have Foxconn coming to Wisconsin; that’s my deal. You know the head of Foxconn, you know he’s a friend of mine. He’s still only moving there because of me. And the governor has been fantastic.

The governor of Wisconsin has been fantastic in their presentations and everything else. But I’m the one who got them to look at it. Now we need people because they’re going to have thousands of people working it’s going to be a—you know—that’s—that’s the company that makes the Apple iPhone.

WSJ: Yeah.

Mr. Trump: Is that—they’re going to build them here, they’re going to build other things here too.

We need people so we have to be a little bit flexible. I don’t want to be so—I’ve had another pledge that I’m going to move companies back into this country. I don’t want to make it so tough that they can’t come back in.

Would you say that’s a correct statement, Gary, we have to have people.

Gary Cohn: Yeah.

1 comment:

  1. If they were serious about jobs going to Americans, they would get it in writing from the companies. Hire American, or no tax cut for you.

    Especially when the companies are such flagrant employers of foreigners like Foxconn and Apple.

    If the government doesn't insist on that condition in any package of goodies that they hand over to the corporations, it's a wink and nod that they're free to hire as many foreigners as they want.

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