WASHINGTON, DC (TIP): A number of information technology workers who were formerly laid off by Disney have come forward in an interview with Computerworld to describe a system they believe was systematically designed to replace American workers with H-1B visa and L-1 visa workers, primarily from India.
The restructuring, which transpired in October 2014, was not intended to displace workers, according to Disney.
“We have restructured our global technology organization to significantly increase our [staff] focus on future innovation and new capabilities, and are continuing to work with leading technical firms to maintain our existing systems as needed,” stated a spokesperson for the company.
However, from the perspective of five laid-off Disney IT workers, all of whom agreed to speak to Computerworld on the condition of anonymity, Disney was cutting well-paid and longtime staff members – some who had been previously singled out for excellence – as it shifted work to contractors.
The laid-off workers believe the primary motivation behind Disney’s action was cost-cutting.
“Some of these folks were literally flown in the day before to take over the exact same job I was doing,” said one of the IT workers who lost his job. Computerworld noted he had to train his replacement and was angry over the fact he had to train someone from India “on site, in our country.”
The IT workers who were let go alleged Disney cut several hundred employees last year, although the company placed the number at about 135. Disney reportedly encouraged the terminated staffers to apply for new innovation-based positions, but the former employees who were interviewed said they knew of few co-workers who landed one of the new positions.
One of the laid off workers opined there were alternative methods for Disney to achieve its goals. “There is no need to have any type of foreigners, boots on the ground, augmenting any type of perceived technological gap,” said one former employee. “We don’t have one, first off.”
Several of the interviewees told Computerworld they didn’t want to appear as xenophobic, but as one noted,
“There were times when I didn’t hear English spoken” in the days leading up to his or her layoff. “I really felt like a foreigner in that building,” the worker said, primarily referring to the widespread use of Hindi.
Congress has begun to focus on the displacement of American workers ever since Southern California Edison made national headlines for replacing hundreds of IT employees with H-1B guest workers. Disney is one of a slew of top tier companies that have been pushing lawmakers to allow more H-1B workers into the country.