In the cutthroat business world pretty much anything goes, as long as it is in the pursuit of profits. But one story really shows the extent to which even highly profitable companies do not care one bit about their employees or the community as long as they can pad the bottom line just a little bit further. That the company in question is Disney, whose motto is ‘The Happiest Place on Earth’ makes the following story even more infuriating.
250 Disney employees were laid off . These were skilled workers who were overseeing technology aspects of the theme park, making sure things like ticket sales, store purchases and hotel reservations run smoothly. They were very good at their jobs, many getting great evaluations, and being praised by their bosses for being efficient saving the company money.
Yet, they were terminated and their jobs were transferred to immigrants on temporary visas for highly skilled technical workers, who were brought in by an outsourcing firm based in India. These employees were required to train their replacements to do the jobs they had lost.
They received a letter from Disney stating the company made the difficult decision to eliminate certain positions, including yours,” as a result of “the transition of your work to a managed service provider,” said a contract presented to employees on the day the layoffs were announced. It offered a “stay bonus” of 10 percent of severance pay if they remained for 90 days. But the bonus was contingent on “the continued satisfactory performance of your job duties.”
Disney, like other American companies are abusing the temporary visas, which are designated for workers who have rare skills which cannot be easily found domestically, to bring in cheap labor. As the NYtimes reports: “the visas are intended for foreigners with advanced science or computer skills to fill discrete positions when American workers with those skills cannot be found. Their use, the guidelines say, should not “adversely affect the wages and working conditions” of Americans. Because of legal loopholes, however, in practice, companies do not have to recruit American workers first or guarantee that Americans will not be displaced”.
Everyone loses because of this abuse of the system – not just Americans get laid off, but the workers who are brought in with the promise of obtaining a permanent visa and end up working for decades for low pay without the possibility of leaving to find another job (as they would then be deported). And since the number of temporary visas is limited, when companies like Disney grab those visas for cheap labor it means that truly needed foreign workers cannot be employed.
“I just couldn’t believe they could fly people in to sit at our desks and take over our jobs exactly,” one former worker, an American in his 40s, told The Times. “It was so humiliating to train somebody else to take over your job. I still can’t grasp it.”