Tech Group Grants Weasel Award to Microsoft's Bill Gates

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The IT Professionals Association of America (ITPAA) has awarded its second Weasel Award of 2005 to Microsoft Chairman Bill Gates for his recent remarks supporting the entry of an unlimited number of foreign workers under the H-1b visa program.

The Information Technology Professionals Association of America (ITPAA), an advocacy group based in Wilmington, Delaware representing professionals in the high-tech field has handed out its second Weasel Award of 2005 to Microsoft Chairman Bill Gates for his comments calling for the unrestricted importation of high-tech workers into the United States under the H-1b visa program. The organization, representing over 1,200 IT professionals nationwide, presents this award to business and political leaders that it believes betrays the trust of the American people.

Scott Kirwin, founder of the organization, states that Gates's comment only illustrates the "richest man leading the least innovative company wants to pay Third World wages in the United States".

"Microsoft tried offshoring work to Asia and that offshoring has failed," Kirwin says. He points to recent studies by Gartner and Deloitte Touche demonstrating that most offshoring projects fail to save money and often cost firms more. "So instead of sending the work to people making dirt, Gates wants to import people and pay them dirt to do the work here. It's not about having access to the 'best and the brightest' the world has to offer. For employers of H-1b visa holders like Microsoft it's about employing the poorest people in the world and paying them to stay that way."

When asked whether he is worried that politicians may grant Gates's demand Kirwin says, "H-1bs can't vote for (American politicians) but Americans can. They had better not forget that because we sure won't."

"Where is Bill Gates's allegiance?" Kirwin asks. "Only America could create a man like Bill Gates and a company like Microsoft, yet Gates seems ambivalent about America. He doesn't want to pay Americans decent salaries to work at Microsoft offices in the US. He employs thousands of engineers and programmers in India, a country that refused to send troops to Iraq. He opened up an R&D center in China, a nation that steals his software and threatens our allies Japan and Taiwan. Nations may no longer matter to the ultra-rich like Bill Gates, but they do to the rest of us."

Mr. Gates made the comments at a discussion held at the Library of Congress on Wednesday April 27, 2005.

"Studies have proven that H-1b workers make nearly half the salaries of the Americans they replace," Kirwin says, "So firms fire their American staff and hire the cheap labor. In the long run that they realize that they made a mistake because Americans are the most flexible thinkers and productive people on the planet, but by then the damage has been done. People out of work for months and even years. State budgets wrecked by increased welfare and unemployment payments. Families torn apart by financial distress."

"Gates is nothing but a bully. He has bullied software companies. He has bullied politicians. He has even bullied school districts," Kirwin says, citing Microsoft's anti-piracy campaign demanding huge sums for software licenses from cash-strapped public schools. "And now he thinks he can bully the unemployed. Talk about kicking people when they are down." Kirwin calls such statements "a blame-the-victim" strategy. "According to Gates American programmers deserve to be unemployed. How would he know? He doesn't employ any."

Kirwin bristles at Gates's assumption that American high-tech professionals don't have the skills desired by business. "Americans have the skills, but managers like Gates are too cheap to pay for them," he states. "Take education. Are graduates of MIT, Stanford and Caltech unskilled compared to grads from Chinese universities? Of course not, but the Chinese graduates don't finish with $100,000 of education debt that needs a decent wage to pay off. Or how about experience? American professionals are much more experienced than their foreign replacements." He points to an employee profile found on the website of Tata America, the American wing of the Indian offshoring service giant, showing over 93% of Tata's staff have less than 5 years experience in their fields and 52% less than two years. "It's nearly impossible for Americans to find a job with less than five years experience these days," Kirwin says.

"Numerous studies demonstrate Americans are the most productive and innovative people in the world," Kirwin asserts, "However Microsoft has never been interested in innovation or productivity."

Previous winners of the award include Van B. Honeycutt, Chairman of the Computer Sciences Corporation (CSC), for his outsourcing of jobs to India at taxpayer's expense, Richard D. Fairbank, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Capital One, for his closing of call centers in the USA to cut costs while receiving hundreds of millions of dollars in stock options, and Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton (D – NY) for her statements supporting outsourcing on a trip to India while publicly criticizing it at home.


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