March 6, 2007
The Honorable Edward Kennedy, Chair
U.S. Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions
SD-646 Dirksen Senate Office Building
Washington, DC 20510
Re: HELP Hearing on Wednesday, March 7
Dear Chairman Kennedy:
On Wednesday, March 7, the U.S. Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions has scheduled a hearing on “Strengthening American Competitiveness for the 21st Century” with only one witness, Microsoft Chairman Bill Gates. Gates regularly champions lifting the cap on H-1B visas, which permit Microsoft and other information technology firms to exploit foreign IT workers and depress U.S. wages and benefits. To hear only from him, and not from any affected U.S. worker, is to sell out democracy to a multi-billionaire.
Absent a balanced roster of witnesses, the Committee should at least look at the facts. I am accompanying this letter with a Fact Sheet compiled in January 2007 by the Department for Professional Employees, AFL-CIO (DPE), “H-1B & IT Workers.” The Fact Sheet meticulously documents a surplus of highly educated and skilled U.S. workers with which to meet all U.S. high tech industry needs. It provides ample material with which to question any assertion about raising the H-1B cap.
DPE is a coalition of 23 national unions affiliated with the AFL-CIO. Together these unions represent over four million professional and technical workers in more than 300 occupations. Among them are workers in engineering, science, and information technology; the arts, entertainment, and media; education and information resources; health care; and public administration. The DPE is the largest association of professional and technical workers in the United States.
Bill Gates argues for depressing U.S. wages and benefits in the name of increasing U.S. innovation. The only innovation his argument serves is his unprecedented wealth. U.S. talent can and will drive U.S. competitiveness if given a chance to do its job. The absence of any worker voices in the hearing is truly offensive for a newly named HELP Committee.
Thank you for your work representing U.S. voters and for considering these views.
Paul E. Almeida, President