On September 10th, one-hundred U.S. companies sent a letter to House Speaker John Boehner and Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi urging them to increase high and low-skilled foreign workers. This is necessary, said the letter, “to address the reality that there is a global war for talent” and to “align our nation’s immigration policies with its workforce needs at all skill levels to ensure U.S. global competitiveness.” One of the signers was Merck, a leading pharmaceutical company.
Fact Check: Earlier this year, Merck announced plans to eliminate the jobs of 7,500 of its employees, and on October 1st the company said that it would eliminate 8,500 more jobs, giving the reason that it needed to do in order to remain competitive. The total of these two layoffs is 16,000, or 20 percent of the company’s workforce.
So what is going on? On one hand, Merck is claiming a labor shortage, which it wants Congress needs to meet with more foreign workers. The goal, it claims, is competitiveness. Yet on the other hand, the company says it has too many workers to be competitive.
Could there be consistency in this seeming contradiction? One possibility is that the company believes it has too many workers, because too many of them are American workers. It wants to fire them and create a shortage which it can fill with foreigners—who are willing to accept lower wages than Americans. If that interpretation is not the case, it would be helpful if the company would provide an explanation, but its executives have ignored requests to offer one.
Significantly, a number of other companies that signed the letter have laid off thousands of workers in recent years. Some of them are Hewlett-Packard, Cisco, United Technologies, American Express, Proctor & Gamble, T-Mobile, Archer-Daniels-Midland, Cigna, and Texas Instruments.
Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-AL) is on the mark when he commented on the Senate’s immigration bill, which not only provides amnesty to illegal aliens but also increases foreign worker visas. Said Sessions, “Senate Democrats, the Gang of Eight and the White House have all apparently decided that large corporations should be able to tailor the nation’s immigration policy to suit their own financial interests. Now it falls on the shoulders of House Republicans to do the right think and to defend the interests of American workers.”
As companies keep complaining about “labor shortages,” even as more than 20 million Americans can’t find a full-time job, it time to consider that truly their main shortage is one of patriotic concern for their fellow citizens.