Toys“R”Us Exposed: Another H-1B Abuser

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By Joe Guzzardi

Joe is a CAPS Senior Writing Fellow whose commentaries about California's social issues have run in newspapers throughout California and the country for nearly 30 years. Contact Joe at joeguzzardi@capsweb.org, or find him on Twitter @joeguzzardi19.

The writer's views are his own.

October 7, 2015

Add Toys“R”Us to the already prominent list of companies that abuse the H-1B visa to intentionally displace American workers. Among those on the growing list are Disney, Google, Hewlett-Packard, Cargill, Southern California Edison, New York Life, Pfizer and Harley-Davidson.

Headquartered in Wayne, New Jersey, Toys“R”Us, which includes the FAO Schwarz brand, operates more than 1,800 stores worldwide. As is common in H-1B replacement stories, Toys“R”Us’ overseas workers do not have the advertised special skills or talents, and are trained by the long-time employees who they replace.

Toys R Us Logo
Toys“R”Us – The brand has a cute logo,
but ugly, anti-American hiring practices.

In the Toys“R”Us and New York Life cases, the newly trained foreign-born workers return to their country of origin to perform the jobs Americans once did in New York and New Jersey. Recently, many of these jobs have not been in high tech, but in accounting or back office work, despite a plethora of qualified and available Americans who, because overseas labor is cheaper, are not considered.

The chief executive officers that dictate policy for these global giants have an interesting way of speaking out of both sides of their mouths. Google CEO Eric Schmidt is a passionate advocate for more H-1B visas, and called Congress “stupid” for not passing legislation that would lift or better yet eliminate the 65,000 visa cap.

At a recent appearance before the American Enterprise Institute, Schmidt said in reference to what he perceives as the need for more visas: “In the long list of stupid policies of the U.S. government, I think our attitude toward immigration has got to be near the top.” In his earlier speech given in Cleveland, however, Schmidt admitted that for every Google job opening, the company has 1,000 applicants.

The continued American worker displacement keeps the debate over whether laying off Americans and giving their jobs to foreign nationals is legal and/or moral. Read about the shameful treatment Disney subjected a fired employee to here.

The consensus is that while corporate America uses the H-1B visa legally, it’s on questionable moral grounds. Kathleen Waugh, a Toys“R”Us representative, said that outsourcing is legal and part of a corporate “streamlining” which “resulted in significant cost savings.”

But in her interview with The New York Times, San Francisco lawyer Christine Brigagliano said that, despite insistence from companies that their reliance on visas does not create wage cutting or detrimental working conditions for Americans, “at the very least” they violate “the spirit of the law” and in fact do undercut wages and Americans’ working conditions.

Angry American citizens have created a website calling for consumers to boycott Disney, a measure that may prompt other disgruntled, displaced workers to do the same.

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