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Wed Oct 29, 2014, 08:42 PM

Tech Underbelly: Indentured Servitude and Bonded Labor in the US [View all]

A labor collusion pact with the aim of suppressing pay levels among Apple, Google, Microsoft, Pixar, and others, demonstrated that the idea that Silicon Valley plays fairly is an illusion. But even more unsavory abuses occur further down the food chain. H1-B visa workers, who are generally held in low esteem in the US since they compete with Americans, take a risk when they sign up with labor brokers, even seemingly legitimate ones like Tata Consultancy, part of the giant Tata Group in India.

As the NBC video below, part of a joint investigation with the Center for Investigative Reporting, explains, the most abusive recruiters are body shops, who abuse the H1-B program by bringing in technology graduates when the firm in fact has no job lined up (hat tip EM). The Indian immigrants are hostage, kept in guest houses where they are told not to go outside until they find work.

The Center for Investigative Reporting account goes into considerable detail, yet acknowledging that most misconduct remains hidden:

From 2000 through 2013, at least $29.7 million was illegally withheld from about 4,400 tech workers here on H-1B visas, U.S. Department of Labor documents show. And this barely hints at the problem because, in the hidden world of body shops, bad actors rarely are caught.

There are two major types of abuse of Indians who come to the US through job brokers. One is the form we mentioned at the outset, and is the focus of the NBC account, that of H1-B visa fraud. Here the tech worker is brought to the US with no work lined up, a visa violation. They are thus illegal immigrants seeking work. From their story:

Read more: http://www.nakedcapitalism.com/2014/10/tech-underbelly-indentured-servitude-bonded-labor-us.html

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