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Laid-off IT workers worry US is losing tech jobs to outsourcing …

Sixty-three-year-old Bob Zhang is worried about the future of tech jobs in the U.S. Will the high-paying positions be a thing of the past?  

Zhang thinks it’s already starting to happen. He’s one of 79 IT workers from the University of California, San Francisco, who’ve been laid off. Tuesday was their last day on the job. To replace them, the school is outsourcing some of their work to an Indian firm.

“Usually, they outsource the low-paying jobs,” he said at a gathering outside a school building. “But now they use H-1B (visa) and use foreign workers to replace the high-paying jobs. This trend is dangerous.”

It was a sentiment shared among the laid-off IT workers, who’ve tried to push the school to save their positions, to no avail. Now they fear other publicly-funded universities will take the same approach, and replace U.S. employees with foreign workers.

“It’s everybody’s problem,” said Jeff Tan, another laid-off staffer. “I think there are lasting effects to what happens here.”

Michael Kan

A box of possessions from laid-off UCSF IT worker Kurt Ho on Feb. 28, 2017. 

The layoffs at the school have grabbed headlines, because it’s a rare instance of a publicly funded university outsourcing and offshoring IT work to an Indian firm, allegedly through the use of the federal H-1B visa program.

That program contains loopholes, critics say, that have allowed U.S. companies to bring foreign IT workers to replace jobs once held by U.S. citizens.  

In its defense, the university has said the outsourcing will save it more than $30 million over five years, at a time when the school is struggling to deal with rising costs.

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