Imported High-Tech ‘Talent’ U.S. Could Live Without

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By Maria Fotopoulos

Maria is a CAPS Senior Writing Fellow who focuses on the impacts of growth on biodiversity. Find her on Twitter | in | FB.

The writer’s views are her own.


 

November 3, 2014

There’s been a lot of blah, blah, blah about what a shame it is that America is turning away so much foreign talent. This then is “backed up” with the idea that native-born Americans just don’t seem smart enough or “innovative” enough to lead the businesses of tomorrow. This meme is often repeated in reference to the high-tech world and Silicon Valley.

Well, there’s some high-tech foreign “talent” that the country clearly does not need. The Los Angeles Times reported that California-based Electronics for Imaging brought eight workers from Bangalore, India, to help set up the company’s computer network and systems and paid them in Indian rupees, the equivalent of as little as U.S. $1.21 an hour (California’s minimum wage at the time was $8 an hour). The company said it “unintentionally overlooked” U.S. labor law, but has “taken steps to ensure that this type of administrative error does not reoccur.”

I wonder: Are slave wages the “innovation” that America is looking for?

The company, which had revenue of $728 million last year, sells industrial inkjet printers, inks and business automation software, among other things, and is headed by Guy Gecht, originally from Israel. As CEO, Gecht’s compensation is nearly $6 million, and as CEO, he’s responsible for how his company operates.

You’d think a guy making $6 million would understand labor laws (and something more basic – right and wrong).

Well, of course he does. He just doesn’t think they apply to him.

So what was the penalty for this malfeasance? Has Gecht lost his job? Has he been sent packing back to Israel? No. In fact, Gecht is included in the 2015 issue of “Game Changers: Ideas, Inspiration & Innovation,” a publication of the Silicon Valley Leadership Group, for his thoughts as a leader “poised and positioned to change the game of the innovation economy and to change the game at the local, regional, state, federal and international levels of engagement.”

While the abuses of his company were called “most outrageous” and “even worse than problems … at garment factories in southern California,” EFI was ordered by the U.S. Department of Labor to pay the workers $40,000 in back wages, along with a fine of just $3,520.

Wow! The U.S. Department of Labor is really getting tough now. Companies manipulating the system to bring in serfs to work from other countries, all while they reap the benefits of doing business in the U.S., had better watch out!

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