California delays the backlash over IT layoffs

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At its final legislative session of the year, California Senate stalls action on two H-1B bills


Southern California Edison's layoff of IT workers stirred state lawmakers to action this year as the state Assembly approved two bills attacking the use of H-1B workers to offshore jobs.

But on Friday, the state Senate failed to take up either bill in its final 2015 session. They were sidelined with no discussion or vote. The Senate resumes work in January and the bills may return then, said spokespersons for the sponsors.

Assembly Joint Resolution 12, introduced by Assemblyman Eduardo Garcia (D-Coachella), asked the U.S. government to investigate the H-1B program. It was introduced after Southern California Edison hired two India-based IT contractors and cut some 500 IT workers.

Some of the workers had to train their replacements.

The resolution, approved in the state Assembly 49 to 20, criticized the H-1B visa program as "a virtual pipeline for outsourcing U.S. workforce jobs." A second bill, Assembly Bill 853, sought regulatory changes. This bill, sponsored by Roger Hernandez (D-West Covina), prohibited state regulated utilities from outsourcing critical infrastructure work without regulatory approval.

Hernandez's bill was opposed by tech and business groups, which said it would complicate outsourcing for utilities and raise costs. Even so, it passed the Assembly 50 to 25.

The bills are now described as "two-year bills" by the sponsors, which means they can arise again in the following year.

Both bills were supported by utility workers represented by unions, including the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers, Local 47. Patrick Lavin, the business manager of the IBEW local at Edison, said any lawmakers not opposed to "offshore or otherwise doing away with vital internal jobs does not deserve to be an elected official."

This story, "California delays the backlash over IT layoffs" was originally published by Computerworld.

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