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Monday, April 30, 2007

RIAA Claims Internet Radio Fees

Is the RIAA Pulling a Scam on the Music Industry?
By DJ ProFusion
Daily Kos
April 24, 2007

The Internet radio game is rigged and the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) has rigged it in their favor.

There has been an understandable public outcry against the RIAAs attempts to more than triple the sound recording copyright royalties on INTERNET RADIO. (See SAVE INTERNET RADIO FROM CORPORATE MONEY GRAB) One solution proposed by Webcasters is to just not play RIAA-member songs under the assumption that then they don’t have to pay the royalty to the RIAAs collection body, SoundExchange; Webcasters would then just pay the independent artist the royalty.

This sounds fair and just because it is. However, the RIAA is not about being fair and just. The game is rigged and the RIAA has rigged it in their favor. The strategy of playing only non-RIAA songs won’t work though because the RIAA has secured the right to collect royalties on all songs regardless of who controls the copyright. RIAA operates under the assumption that they will collect the royalties for the “sound recording copyright” and that the artists who own their own copyright will go to SoundExchange to collect at a later date.

Look at the information on SOUND EXCHANGE (RIAA created SoundExchange) and see how it works. The RIAA has secured legal authority to administer a compulsory license that covers all recorded music.

“The recent U.S. Copyright Office RULING regarding webcasting designated SoundExchange to collect and distribute to all nonmembers as well as its members. The Librarian of Congress issued his decision with rates and terms to govern the compulsory license for webcasters (Internet-only radio) and simulcastors (retransmissions).” ruling regarding webcasting designated SoundExchange to collect and distribute to all nonmembers as well as its members. The Librarian of Congress issued his decision with rates and terms to govern the compulsory license for webcasters (Internet-only radio) and simulcastors (retransmissions).”

“SRCOs (sound recording copyright owners) are subject to a COMPULSORY LICENSE for the use of their music...SoundExchange was established to administer the collection and distribution of royalties from such compulsory licenses taken by noninteractive streaming services that use satellite, cable or Internet methods of distribution.”

SoundExchange (the RIAA) considers any digital performance of a song as falling under their compulsory license. If any artist records a song, SoundExchange has the RIGHT TO COLLECT ROYALTIES for its performance on Internet radio. Artists can offer to download their music for free, but they cannot offer their songs to Internet radio for free.

So how it works is that SoundExchange collects money through compulsory royalties from Webcasters and holds onto the money. If a label or artist wants their share of the money, they must become a member of SoundExchange and PAY A FEE to collect their royalties. But, and this is a big “but,” you only get royalties if you own the sound recording copyright. If you are signed to a major label, chances are you donҒt. Even if you do own the copyright to your own recording of your own song, SoundExchange will collect Internet radio royalties for your song even if you dont want them to do so.

Go to the SOUND EXCHANGE site: ... and take a look at the hundreds of indie labels for whom SoundExchange claims they have collected royalties. Enter some of those label names on RIAA RADAR… and notice how few are actually members of the RIAA. Contact the label and ask if they are a member of RIAA and they almost certainly arenҒt and may not even be aware that SoundExchange is collecting royalty fees on their music.

And what exactly is SoundExchange doing with the money they have collected for those hundreds of labels that must have thousands of songs???

SOURCE

Posted by Elvis on 04/30/07 •
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Sunday, April 29, 2007

Bad Moon Rising Part 12 - US Depression Looms

As a statistic of the MIDDLE CLASS TURNED POOR - it’ easy to predict the future, since people like me are the ones shaping it

When I lost my career three years ago, the first thing I did is cancel the lawn maintenance contract to save a few bucks. Soon I stopped buying things - clothes, CDs, Christmas and birthday presents, health food, etc.  I stopped going out to dinner, the movies, my mother’s place a plane ride away, and visiting the DENTIST.  The barber sees me every 10 weeks instead of five. The house is falling behind in maintenance and can use a paint job. The car is seven years old and there’s NO MONEY in the budget for a new one, or even a used one.  Credit card DEBT is up, and savings down to nothing. So far I’ve had FOUR JOBS since 2004, with my present employer in what seems THEORY E thinking, with LAY OFF an almost DAILY OCCURENCE.  I make a FRACTION OF THE PAY I used to, and had months of no income in between jobs. 

Middle class people like me USED TO fuel the economy by spending money that in turn keeps other businesses going.  As that erodes, we’re seeing the burst of the housing bubble, while other indicators of prosperity like new CAR sales, visits to the barber, filling cavities, vacations to Disney World, etc - wane.

If the TREND of MIDDLE CLASS Americans going broke continues, pretty soon, EVERYTHING will grind to a HALT because nobody can afford anything, while lenders and credit card companies GET IT ALL.

Government is a big part of THE PROBLEM.

You and me - need to TAKE ACTION.

And maybe we can tackle other pressing issues like HEALTH CARE, RETIREMENT, and China.

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Home sales: Worst drop in 18 years.  Sales pace much lower than forecasts, prices show year-over-year drop for eighth straight month.

By Chris Isidore
CNN Money
April 24, 2007

housingbubble.jpg

Home sales posted their sharpest drop in 18 years in March, a real estate group said Tuesday, as problems in the subprime mortgage sector pushed sales well below what economists had forecast.

Sales of existing homes fell 8.4 percent to an annual rate of 6.12 million in March from February’s 6.68 million rate, the National Association of Realtors said. It was the biggest one-month drop since January 1989. Economists surveyed by Briefing.com had forecast sales would fall to an annual rate of 6.45 million in March.

David Lereah, the Realtors’ chief economist, said that bad weather earlier in the year may have cut down on sales that closed in March. But he acknowledged a hit from tighter lending standards in the subprime mortgage sector, which most likely made it more difficult for buyers without topflight credit to get financing to buy a home.

“We may be seeing some losses as a result of the subprime fallout,” he said in a statement. “It’s too early to measure a significant impact from tighter lending standards, which should moderately dampen activity.”

Still, Lereah said low mortgage rates and reduced prices from sellers wary of the soft market should help sales to gradually improve during the second half of this year. He said weak sales are “masking improved fundamentals in the housing market.”

But Phillip Neuhart, an economist with Wachovia, said it’s clear that potential home buyers are being spooked by the continued bad news about home sales and prices, as well as PROBLEMS IN SUBPRIME MORTGATES.

He pointed out that HOUSING WORRIES were one of the factors in the drop in the Conference Board’s consumer confidence index, also released Tuesday.

“It’s a headwind to their confidence, even if it’s not yet a headwind to their pocket book,” he said. “Even if they’re not trying to sell their house or getting hammered with problems with a subprime mortgage, consumers can’t ignore the headlines.”

Neuhart pointed out that the Conference Board’s question asking if consumers intend to buy a home in the next six months, found only 2.7 saying they are looking to buy in the April survey, which is down more than 20 percent from the 3.4 percent who were looking to buy only two months earlier.

“It’s a market a lot of consumers are frightened to enter,” he said. And he said reports from home builders of a weak start to the spring home selling season suggest that the pace of sales will continue to fall through at least mid-year.

There were sharp drops in sales in every region of the country last month as the annual sales pace slowed to the weakest level since June 2003, before the record sale and building boom that began that year.

The weakness in sales came despite the continued slide in home prices, which had been helping to lift sales in some previous reports. The median home price slipped 0.3 percent to $217,000 from a year earlier, the group said. It was the eighth straight month that measure has fallen and the ninth decline in the last 10 months.

Before the current housing price slump, it had been 11 years since the group had reported a year-over-year decline in median prices. Half of homes sell for more and half sell for less.

Earlier this month the trade group projected that 2007 would be the first year to show a decline in the nearly 40 years that it has tracked prices. And the weakness in home prices, coupled with recent gains in the stock market, is making people less eager to buy into the market that had once been seen as a much safer investment.

“It’s just not nearly as tempting a market to buy a home,” said Neuhart.

Since the housing boom went bust last year, sales and prices have gotten hammered by a glut of homes on the market. While home inventories shrank 1.6 percent last month from February and are now down about 3 percent from the record highs hit last July, they’re still up 17 percent from a year ago.

Even with that recent dip, the weaker sales mean that it would still take 7.3 months to work off the supply of houses on the market, up from 6.8 months in February. A year ago there was only a 5.6 month supply of homes available for sale.

The reading does not include new home sales, which will be reported by the Census Bureau on Wednesday. That sector has also been battered by the glut of homes on the market and the problems in subprime mortgages.

Earlier this month, No. 2 home builder D.R. Horton reported a 37 percent drop in the number of new homes it sold in the latest quarter, citing continued weakness in prices and saying the typical start to the spring home buying season hasn’t begun.

While Horton is expected to still report a profit for the period, No. 3 builder Pulte Homes reported a loss in its latest quarter as did No. 4 Centex and New Jersey-based Hovnanian Enterprises.

No. 1 home builder Lennar and No. 5 KB Home both reported losses in their quarters ending in November, although both returned to an operating profit in the next quarter. The CEO of KB Home said earlier this month that he expects the HOUSING SLUMP to GET WORSE.

SOURCE

Bad Moon Rising
Part 1 - Part 2 - Part 3 - Part 4 - Part 5
Part 6 - Part 7 - Part 8 - Part 9 - Part 10
Part 11 - Part 12 - Part 13 - Part 14 - Part 15
Part 16 - Part 17 - Part 18 - Part 19 - Part 20
Part 21 - Part 22 - Part 23 - Part 24 - Part 25
Part 26 - Part 27 - Part 28 - Part 29 - Part 30
Part 31 - Part 32 - Part 33 - Part 34 - Part 35
Part 36 - Part 37 - Part 38 - Part 39 - Part 40
Part 41 - Part 42 - Part 43 - Part 44 - Part 45
Part 46 - Part 47 - Part 48 - Part 49 - Part 50
Part 51 - Part 52 - Part 53 - Part 54

Posted by Elvis on 04/29/07 •
Section Bad Moon Rising
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Wal-Mart’s Flexible Workforce

Wal-Mart To Workers: Your Lives Are Not Important

A post from Wal-Mart Watch.

DOW JONES NEWSWIRE reports on Wal-Marts new employee scheduling policies:

Wal-Mart Stores Inc. has taken plenty of heat over its wages and health benefits, but many employees say they’ve got an even bigger gripe with the WORLD’S LARGEST RETAILER: their time sheets.

When Mona Curtis signed on three and a half years ago to work at a Wal-Mart store in Hillsboro, Ohio, the 71-year-old retiree says she made it clear that weekends were out because of her duties as a foster parent and churchgoer. But when Curtis refused to work a pair of weekend shifts last June, she says a manager cut her hours in half, to just two days a week.

At a Wal-Mart supercenter in Apopka, Fla., 66-year-old Cora Brown says she had to fight to keep her schedule as a cashier after her husband fell ill last spring. Meanwhile, the eight-year Wal-Mart veteran says she has seen a number of co-workers quit amid tighter work-shift rules. Those who haven’t quit have found themselves working more oddball shifts, she says.

TheyӒll call them in at 7 a.m. on Monday, 10 a.m. on Tuesday and three in the afternoon on Wednesday, Brown says.

CNN MONEY also reports on a disturbing story of Wal-MartԒs future plans to shift around its workers:

A group of Wal-Mart employees from Pensacola, Florida say their lives will be turned upside down if the retailer implements a new scheduling policy that would require workers to adapt to shift rotations instead of maintaining long-term steady shifts.

At issue is the concept of flexible scheduling, which Wal-Mart has been testing in a few of its stores over the past year, although the company says it hasnt tested that schedule in Pensacola.

Is Wal-Mart boxed in?

Can the company offer always low prices without paying always low wages?

In an anonymous letter to CNNMoney the Wal-Mart workers said such a flip-flop open-availability system would create chaos and instability in workers lives.

While working an ever-changing Wal-Mart schedule, how can one arrange day care for young children? The scheduling will make continuing education extremely difficult, the letter said.

Click HERE to read a September 2005 St. Petersburg Times story on Wal-Marts employee scheduling.

SOURCE

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Wal-Mart: Back To Basics
By Tom Van Riper
January 4, 2007
Forbes

Sometimes it just pays to get back to basics.

That seems to be the plan Wal-Mart Stores is undertaking as it unveils its new plan for a flexible workforce - one that will force store employees to adhere to a work schedule that bends to the demands of customer shopping habits. It’s a plan that’s aimed directly at the bottom line despite the risk of more bad public relations on worker issues, something the company believes shareholders are ready to cheer.

The early indications are promising. Wal-Mart stock rose $1.37, or 3%, on Wednesday to $47.55, pushed by the announcement of the new workforce plan and by a December sales report that slightly beat expectations.

The program, already piloted in 39 stores, will roll out across all U.S.-based Wal-Mart locations by the end of 2007, affecting about 1 million workers, according to company spokesman John Simley.

The purpose, of course, is to meet heavy shopping hours with more store help, while scaling down during slower periods, generally weekday afternoons. Shorter lines at the register mean more happy customers who are more likely to return. That’s more important to the business than a cashier, unhappy about spreading her work week over four days rather than three, quitting and not returning.

“Our surveys indicated that customers had a better shopping experience [with the new arrangement],” Simley says of the pilot.

Indeed, in many of Wal-Mart’s largest stores--like its supercenter in the Pennsylvania town of East Stroudsburg--congestion at peak times can often become overwhelming. Checkout lines for 10 or more people lead to grumbling by frustrated shoppers who see large numbers of empty cash registers with a few frazzled clerks dealing with customers whose carts are filled to overflowing with low-price bargains.

The move is a something of a departure for Wal-Mart, whose concentration over the past year or so has mostly been aimed at pacifying critics who decry the company’s alleged shabby treatment of its hourly workers. The company has tried everything from improved family health coverage to $4 generic drugs. It has also started offering up organic food and bookstores in its newer urban locations, the backyards of the company’s most vocal liberal critics.

While Wal-Mart’s core rural customers continue to show up in droves, the company’s next growth frontier, the heavily unionized big cities, has been held up by local politicians looking to score points by publicly supporting worker interests. Wal-Mart’s efforts to make nice havent yielded many results yet. Urban growth has been slow going, along with the company’s stock. Wal-Mart shares edged down 1% in 2006, a year that saw a 16% increase in the Dow Jones industrial average. The company’s shares are off 20% over the past five years.

“The loudest critics now are the investors,” says retail consultant Doug Fleener of Dynamic Experiences Group in Lexington, Mass. And perhaps they now have a bigger piece of the company’s ear than the unions and other social critics do. The workforce announcement is already drawing union wrath, but of course that’s nothing new. The United Food and Commercial Workers already devote 10 pages of their Web site to Wal-Mart bashing, so what’s one more?

And Wal-Mart is not the first retailer to invest in software-generated workforce optimization, points out Edward Jones retail analyst Stephanie Hoff. Target (nyse: TGT - news - people ) and Lowe’s (nyse: LOW - news - people ) are two major chains that have already rolled it out companywide in the U.S. It’s just that when you’re the biggest player on the block, everything you do will draw reaction.

“If anything, Wal-Mart is a little behind the curve on this,” Hoff says.

The only real risk Wal-Mart seems to be taking, experts say, is losing talented people who could become unhappy with the new scheduling arrangements. Unemployment is low, and urban areas in particular bring more competition for competent workers. But even that concern is minimized at a store that specializes in selling basic, everyday goods, according to Fleener.

“You can get away with it at a big-box store, with mostly lower skilled retail positions,” he says, noting that a specialty electronics chain like Best Buy (nyse: BBY - news - people ) generally requires more knowledgeable workers. “They’ll probably see some turnover early on, but not a mass exodus.”

By itself, optimizing human resources can’t provide more than a minimal boost to Wal-Mart’s bottom line. Meanwhile, the jury is still out on whether the company’s foray into more upscale goods, a move aimed at retaining customers who have begun to climb the economic ladder, will work.

“Wal-Mart’s biggest issue is figuring out who its customer is,” Fleener says. “You can’t be all things to all people.”

SOURCE

Posted by Elvis on 04/29/07 •
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Saturday, April 28, 2007

RIAA Secretly Tries to Get ISP Subscriber Info

"In an attempt to change the rules of the game, the RIAA secretly went to a federal district court in Denver with an ex parte application.

The goal was to get the judge to rule that the federal Cable Communications Policy Act does not apply to the RIAA’s attempts to get SUBSCRIBER information (pdf) from cable companies. Just to clarify, ex parte means that the application was secret, no one else neither the ISP nor the subscribers ח were given notice that this was going on. They were, in effect, asking the Court to rule that the RIAA does not need to get a court order to be able to force an ISP to disclose confidential subscriber information. The Magistrate Judge DECLINED TO RULE on the issue (pdf), but did give them the ex parte discovery order they were looking for.”

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Posted by Elvis on 04/28/07 •
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Friday, April 27, 2007

The $100,000 Lie

On Tuesday, March 7, 2007, BILL GATES TESTIFIED BEFORE THE SENATE. Unfortunately, no one was there to counter the inaccuracies he brought up. However, this past Sunday’s New York Times corrected Bill Gates’ lie about “$100,000 a year jobs,” so the truth is slowly trickling out. 

Parsing the Truths About Visas for Tech Workers
By Steve Lohr
NY Times
April 15, 2007

THE United States has benefited immensely from its role as a magnet for the best and brightest workers from around the world, especially in innovative fields like high technology. Bill Gates, the chairman of Microsoft, sounded precisely that theme in Senate testimony last month when asked about the visa program for skilled workers, the H-1B.

Mr. Gates said that these workers are uniquely talented and highly paid “taking jobs that pay over $100,000 a year - and that America should welcome as many of those people as we can get.”

But that is not how the H-1B visa program as a whole is working these days, according to an analysis by Ronil Hira, an assistant professor of public policy at the Rochester Institute of Technology. The median salary for new H-1B holders in the information technology industry is actually about $50,000, based on the most recent data filed by companies with the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services agency. That wage level, Mr. Hira says, is the same as starting salaries for graduating computer science majors with bachelors degrees.

Yet salaries, according to Mr. Hira, are only part of the story. He says that while Microsoft may be paying its H-1B visa holders well and recruiting people with hard-to-find talents, other companies have a different agenda. The H-1B visa program, Mr. Hira asserts, has become a vehicle for accelerating the pace of offshore outsourcing of computing work, SENDING MORE JOBS ABROAD. Holders of H-1B visas, he says, do the on-site work of understanding a client’s needs and specifications and then most of the software coding is done back in India.

“Information technology offshore outsourcing has just swamped the H-1B program in recent years,” he said. The list of the top 10 companies requesting H-1B visas in fiscal 2006, the most recent government data available, was dominated by Indian-based technology outsourcing companies like Infosys Technologies, Wipro Technologies and Tata Consultancy Services, and a few other companies that offer outsourced services and have sizable operations in India like Cognizant Technology Solutions, Accenture and Deloitte & Touche, according to a paper last month by Mr. Hira, which was published by the Economic Policy Institute, a liberal research group.

Over the years, the H-1B visa, which allows a person to work in the United States for three years and can be renewed for an additional three, has been used by many people as a steppingstone to becoming a permanent resident. Traditionally, about half of all H-1B holders eventually get green cards, immigration experts say.

Yet the major outsourcing companies, while seeking thousands of H-1B visas, are asking for relative handfuls of green cards, according to government figures.

The statistics marshaled by Mr. Hira are not absolutely conclusive. The reported company-by-company numbers are for H-1B visas requested, not granted, but that is because the government does not publish visa counts by company. Since the visas are granted on a first-come-first-served basis, it seems reasonable that the companies seeking the most visas would, proportionately, get the most.

It is not just critics like Mr. Hira who point to the crucial role that the H-1B visa program plays in the fast-growing global outsourcing industry. “It has become the outsourcing visa,” said Kamal Nath, the commerce minister of India.

But is that a bad thing? Many economists say that paving the way for more efficient global trade in technology services should be a policy goal, and that the American economy will be more competitive and create more jobs as a result. Technology services like software programming and maintenance, they say, are an input, in economic terms, in industries from banking to manufacturing.

It used to be that all the parts in a car or a computer were made in a single country; now they are manufactured wherever it is most efficient. The same thing is happening in technology services. “Were seeing this growing international division of labor in services just as we saw in manufacturing decades ago,” said Aaditya Mattoo, an economist at the World Bank.

Still, the issue behind the H-1B controversy is how a nation devises a policy to benefit from global trade in technology services while treating its own workers fairly. The proposals before Congress range from significantly expanding the visa quota to tightening rules to protect American workers.

This month, the government announced that it had received more petitions for H-1B visas in one day than it could grant in the entire fiscal year that begins in October. It received 150,000 petitions; the current visa cap is 65,000. Technology lobbying groups declared that the immediate overflow demand for H-1B visas was proof of the skills shortage in the United States and the need for a sharply higher visa limit. But some immigration policy experts and economists say that this argument fails a simple test of economics. It is not surprising, they say, that global companies including I.B.M., Microsoft and Oracle - that benefit from the H-1B program would like to see it enlarged. There is no labor market test, using technically sound criteria, to determine whether or not there is a shortage,Ӕ said David M. Hart, an associate professor of public policy at George Mason University. The measures, Mr. Hart suggests, would include recent wage trends and unemployment rates in specific professions.

Other suggested changes include phasing out caps but holding auctions for H-1B visas in, say, lots of 30,000. After the first auction, the bidding for the next batch would begin at the high end of the initial sales prices. In 1994, a commission appointed by Congress recommended letting companies hire skilled foreign workers easily if the employers paid a $10,000-a-person fee that would go into a fund to train domestic workers. And there might be a limit on the number of visas that any one company can get.

“How to match policies to people in this emerging global labor market is something we really havent thought through yet,” said B. Lindsay Lowell, director of policy studies at the Institute for the Study of International Migration at Georgetown University. The current system, he said, tends to depend too much on the companies and how they use the complicated work-visa program.

Microsoft, it seems, is paying its H-1B holders quite well a median salary of $82,500 for new visa applicants, whose wages over the subsequent three to six years could well rise to about the $100,000 Mr. Gates mentioned. And in fiscal 2006, Microsoft applied for 1,181 green cards and 4,471 H-1B’s, a ratio of more than 26 percent. For the leading Indian outsourcing companies, the ratio was less than 1 percent.

“Microsoft may well be using the program to bring in the best and the brightest,” Mr. Hira said. But it’s definitely not representative of how the H-1B program is being used today.

Anand Giridharadas contributed reporting from Mumbai, India.

SOURCE

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H1B & IT Workers - Fact Sheet 2007

Demand - Labor Market Conditions

FACT:  The U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) estimates that over the next eight years computer and mathematical science occupations will add 967,000 jobs and grow the fastest out of the eight main professional subgroups.

FACT:  According to the GAO, the Department of Homeland Security follows the H1-B cap, which is currently set at 65,000 but has been as high as 125,000 in the recent past.  However, a previously approved exemption for educational institutions, non-profits and other entities allows another 27,500 foreign workers on average to come in to the U.S.  In 2004, another exemption created still another cap loophole by adding an additional 20,000 annual allotment for U.S.-educated foreign workers with advanced degrees.  Furthermore, since the temporary H-1B visa is good for up to six years, according to government data some 125,000 existing visa holders renew annually.  As a result, under current law over 230,000 foreign professionals get new or renewed guest worker visas.

FACT:  DOL estimates that job openings in all the professional specialty occupations in the near future will average only 604,600 per year.  Yet they reviewed and certified more than 960,000 H-1B applications between 2002 and 2005, nearly one-third of which were for computer and programming related industries.

FACT:  DOL expects that job growth in the computer industry will decline as the software industry matures and moves overseas.

FACT:  The justification for a massive expansion of the H-1B program is industry claims of widespread and pervasive shortages of qualified workers.  Yet there exists no independent, unbiased, statistical evidence that substantiates their claims.  If such shortages existed, IT wages should have escalated sharply over the last few years.  In fact, they haven’t.

FACT:  Between 2000 and 2005, the median weekly earnings for computer systems analysts and scientists increased from $881 to $1,091 (in current dollars).  After adjusting for inflation, this represents a 9.2% change.

FACT:  For computer operations and systems researchers and analysts an occupational category that was 50.5% female in 2005, the median wages increased by from $929 weekly to $1,252, from 2000ז2005.  After adjusting for inflation, this is a 19% change.  While the current numbers increased overall during this period, the rate was unstable and fluctuated considerably.

FACT:  For computer programmers, the average weekly wage increased from $944 in 2000 to $1,086 in 2005, which after adjusting for inflation amounts to a 1.4% change.

FACT:  In a candid moment, Roger Cooker, director of staffing at Texas Instruments Company one of the nationגs largest high tech firms told U.S. News and World Report (August 30, 1999) that H-1B workers are part of their strategy to keep down the wages of engineers and other high tech workers.

FACT:  In a Congressionally-mandated study released soon after Congress passed S.2045, the National Research Council - the principal operating arm of the National Academy of Sciences and the National Academy of Engineering found that, “the current size of the H-1B workforce relative to the overall number of IT professionals is large enough to keep wages from rising as fast as might be expected in a tight labor market.” Further, it also found, “no analytical basis on which to set the proper level of H-1B visas, and that decisions to reduce or increase the cap on such visas are fundamentally political.”

Supply - The Educational Pipeline

FACT:  According to information available from the U.S. Department of Education and the Computing Research Association, U.S. colleges and universities are graduating over 300,000 students each year with bachelors, masters or PhDs in the core disciplines that are critical to this industry computer/information science, math and engineering.  At current graduating rates, the supply of graduates will exceed the Department of Laborגs projections for average yearly high tech job creation over the next eight years.

FACT:  According to the Department of Labor, a bachelors degree is the most significant source of postsecondary education or training for many high-tech workers.  Among computer software engineers (both applications and systems software) and computer systems analysts, a bachelor’s degree is more significant than an associate degree, masters degree, or on-the-job training.

FACT:  These graduation statistics do not include any of the tens of thousands of community college students who either:  1) graduate with two-year, Associate degrees in IT disciplines (out of the 500,000 who yearly complete their studies), or 2) are enrolling in IT-certification courses as well as other continuing education curricula designed to help them transition into high tech careers.  Both of these talent pools would certainly seem to qualify for employment in a significant number of professional, entry-level high tech jobs, yet they appear to be largely ignored by the industry.  To illustrate:  in Virginia one of the nations high tech hotbeds ח the final 1999 report of the Governors Commission on Information Technology, which was composed of many industry leaders, took the Commonwealth’s IT industry to task for not fully utilizing this source of qualified IT workers.

FACT:  The supply of U.S. graduates qualified to work in high tech occupations has increased significantly over the past five years.  The pattern of bachelors degrees conferred shows an increase in the number of degrees conferred in technical fields.  Between 199394 and 2003-04, the number of engineering degrees conferred declined by eight percent and then rose again by eight percent, and the number of mathematics degrees declined by 16 percent and then rose by 11 percent.  Meanwhile, degrees in computer and information sciences first increased 25 percent from 1993֖94 and 1998-99 then grew by 95 percent from 199899 and 2003-04.

FACT:  Undergraduate and graduate enrollment in computer science and engineering programs have increased over the past ten years.  According to the Department of Education, in 2003֖04, nearly 998,000 students were enrolled in undergraduate and graduate programs for engineering and computer science.  In addition, graduate enrollment increased by 62.2 percent between 1990 and 2002, from 34,257 to 55,559 students.

FACT:  These statistics indicate that the current supply of college graduates is sufficient to satisfy future high tech industry needs.

Supply - Incumbent Workers

FACT:  This industry has an abysmal record of hiring minority workers.  Presently, a paltry 5.3% of this industry consists of Hispanic Americans ֗ less than one-half their rate of total employment in the U.S. economy and only 7% are African Americans.

FACT:  The high turnover caused by the industryחs extensive use of short-term personnel requires workers to constantly move from job to job.  This churning in the workforce creates reports of job openings that are cited as proof of shortages.  But most of these reported job opportunities remain open for only short periods of time before they are filled.

H-1B - In Need of Repair & Reform

FACT:  In 2006, the GAO issued yet another report entitled ”H-1B VISA PROGRAM: LABOR COULD IMPROVE IT’S OVERSIGHT AND INCREASE INFORMATION SHARING WITH HOMELAND SECURITY.” This report focused on the need for quality assurance controls within the program:

“Labor’s oversight of the H-1B program is limited, even within the scope of its existing authority.  Labors review of employers’ H-1B applications is limited by law to identifying omissions and obvious inaccuracies, but we found that it does not consistently identify all obvious inaccuracies [] For example, although the overall percentage was small, we found 3,229 applications that were certified even though the wage rate on the application was lower that the prevailing wage for that occupation in the specific location.”

“Additionally, Labor does not identify other errors that may be obvious҅ We found 993 certified applications with invalid employer identification number prefixes.  In other programs, Labor matches the applications employer application number with valid employer identification numbers.  However, they do not formally do this match with H-1B applications because it is an attestation process, not a verification process.”

FACT:  The H-1B program is out of control and unmanageable.  U.S. professional and technical workers have made great personal sacrifices to gain the education and training necessary to compete for the knowledge jobs in the new American economy.  They deserve better than to be victimized by guest worker programs like H-1B.  Congress can make a long, overdue start in cleaning up the guest worker visa mess by implementing badly-needed reforms.  Until then, there should be no increase in the H-1B annual visa limits.

For further information on professional workers, check out DPE’s WEB SITE.

The Department for Professional Employees, AFL-CIO (DPE) comprises 23 AFL-CIO unions representing over four million people working in professional, technical and administrative support occupations.  DPE-affiliated unions represent:  teachers, college professors and school administrators; library workers; nurses, doctors and other health care professionals; engineers, scientists and IT workers; journalists and writers, broadcast technicians and communications specialists; performing and visual artists; professional athletes; professional firefighters; psychologists, social workers and many others.  DPE was chartered by the AFL-CIO in 1977 in recognition of the rapidly-growing professional and technical occupations.

SOURCE

Posted by Elvis on 04/27/07 •
Section News • Section Dying America
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