SAN FRANCISCO (Diya TV) — In somewhat of an unprecedented move, about 80 tech workers at the University of California, San Francisco are facing layoffs, however, they have already begun training their foreign replacements from India.
The lower-paid Indian workers are arriving via a staffing firm.
The outsourcing, outlined in a $50 million contract with Indian employment firm HCL Technologies, is unusual among public institutions, experts say. The school expects to save $30 million over five years.
“I don’t know of any other university that’s done this,” Ron Hira, a Howard University professor who studies immigration and outsourcing, told the San Jose Mercury News. “At some point, you start to cross these ethical lines.”
The majority of the outsourced work will be done from India, but additional IT staff may be brought to the UCSF campus from overseas on H-1B visas, according to public documents. Both employees and advocates alike have been highly critical of the move, saying it will leave the university and the UCSF Medical Center staff with inferior service and could endanger medical data. The UCSF workers, due to lose their jobs in February, are training their replacements, sometimes via videoconferencing to India.
U.S. Rep. Zoe Lofgren on Tuesday asked University of California President Janet Napolitano to reverse the decision. Lofgren wrote that replacing some of the workers with H-1B visa holders would be a misuse of the visa.
“I think it is proper to expect our major public institutions, such as the University of California, to comply with both the letter and the spirit of the law,” Lofgren said.
The congresswoman also said the outsourcing plan “raises serious public policy concerns” regarding patient safety and privacy.
The art of outsourcing in Silicon Valley goes back decades — Russell Harrison, lobbyist for the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers USA, said in the past 10 years employment contractors have steadily increased their control of the H-1B program. Many of the transfers are in the private sector and affect small groups of employees.
“They can replace just about any IT job with H-1B workers,” he said. “It’s obviously a major issue.”
The layoffs equate to nearly 20 percent of the university’s IT staff and will also heavily impact back-office operations, according to a presentation made to employees. The cuts include 49 career employees, 30 contractors and 18 vacant positions left unfilled. Career employees will receive up to six months’ severance, based on service time.
Information from the San Jose Mercury News contributed to this report.