I made a change in the direction
of my career, because January 31st of 2015 was my last day in
the technology field.
That day, 20 years of hard work, a
bachelor's degree in Information Technology, and an IT job for
Disney were all over when my team, along with hundreds of
others, were displaced by a less-skilled foreign workforce
imported into our country using the
H-1B visa program.
The former Disney employees, with
far superior skills and knowledge, were the trainers, and the
guest workers just entering the technology field were the
trainees. This situation is far from the original intent of this
program, and is shocking to everybody that hears it.
I worked at Disney in Orlando in
some capacity for well over 10 years and received the very
highest employment performance review. Quotes included,
"Leo continues to provide value to
"This year Leo was instrumental."
"Leo saved the company over 10,000
"I look forward to another great
year of having Leo on our team."
During the holiday season of 2014
I was sent a meeting invitation by a prominent Disney executive.
With an excellent review in hand, along with the company
announcements of record profits, my mind buzzed with thoughts of
promotion or a bonus.
I walked into a small conference
room with about two dozen highly-respected fellow IT workers.
The Disney executive made a harsh announcement to us all: All of
you in this room will be losing their jobs in the next 90 days.
Your jobs have been given over to a foreign workforce. In the
meantime, you'll be training your replacements until your jobs
are a hundred percent transferred over to them, and if you do
not cooperate you will not receive any severance pay.
The only glimmer of hope during
that meeting was the announcement that new, more exciting jobs
would be opening soon. However, we found out that only four
people would be directly rehired by Disney, of the hundreds that
I was completely silent during
this meeting, thinking how I was going to -- how this is going
to affect my co-workers. How was I going to break the news to my
family and pay all their expenses? I would soon be living on
Later that same day, I clearly
remember going to the local church pumpkin sale and having to
tell the kids I couldn't buy any that year because my job [was]
being turned over to a foreign worker.
I started to think what kind of
American I was becoming. Was I going to become part of ruining
my country by taking severance pay in
exchange for training my foreign replacement? How many other American
families would be affected by the same foreign worker that I
The first part of my 90-day period
was focused on
capturing all that we did our jobs. We all felt extremely
humiliated when the foreign worker sat next to us and watched
everything that we did.
The final period of the 90 days was the most
disgraceful and demoralizing, as we had to watch the foreign
workers completely take over our jobs. And we came to grips
that the upcoming Disney jobs promised didn't exist.
on January 31st of 2015 we were ordered to turn in our company
badges, laptops, and then ushered out the door.
How can it be that
everybody that hears these stories about Disney and the like,
from the barbers to the bankers, are completely shocked -- yet
lawmakers continue to evade the topic and take no action?
The reason that more affected IT
workers don't come out into the public is two-fold. And that is
why most lawmakers mostly hear from the tech giants, and are
very rarely from -- heard from the displaced American workers
that -- who will disclose themselves publicly.
The first reason is, they're
scared to find the next IT job. After being displaced, when that
job pool is shrinking for Americans, if they speak out, they
will certainly not improve their prospects of landing the next
job. But this could permanently bar them from the field, when
the large portion of large technology companies are exploiting
these visa programs.
One of my former peers, who is now
working for a consulting company, decided to speak out publicly.
He was told he had to stop immediately, since most of his
clientele were large Fortune 500 companies, and they used the
H-1B program extensively.
The second reason that more of
them don't speak out is for legal intimidation reasons. From gag
orders signed when American workers sign severance package
agreements, the American IT worker feels they are legally bound
to keep that situation quiet, and at most speak anonymously.
I'm appearing today because I'm
one of the few workers [who can] speak out in public, because I
made the decision to walk away from technology.
This abuse of the H-1B visa
program is not about the lack of talent here in the US. If our
own pool of IT professionals were so incompetent, then why would
companies like Disney and many others have us spend months
training our replacements? And also, why would such a low ratio
of US STEM graduates land a STEM job?
The situation at Disney is not an
anomaly. This same abuse is
happening nationwide. Some quotes from IT workers that I've
"I know that jobs like mine are
scarce, because they're filled with H-1B employees." (Jeff,
current Disney employee)
"The big tech giants say they
don't have enough skilled workers, which is false. This will
become a self-fulfilling prophecy as we have more students opt
out of technology as they continue to recruit from developing
countries." (Matt, former Disney employee)
"Unemployment hurts. I ran out of
benefits and I have to pay for -- for full -- full COBRA
insurance, which is over 3,000 dollars per month, because my
young daughter suffers from anxiety. Besides that, I have a
mortgage, utilities, schooling, and job searching to pay for. As
my young daughter outgrows her clothes, that is even more
money." (former IBM worker)
That's all I have to say this
Thank you for listening.