As Microsoft Trims Game Biz, Senator Wants U.S. Workers Protected

With recently-announced layoffs pummeling the gaming side of Microsoft’s house, Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-IA) is urging MS to cut visiting foreign workers before sending American citizens to the unemployment line.

Reuters reports that Grassley forwarded his request via a letter to Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer late last week. The Xbox 360 manufacturer employs thousands of foreign national under the H-1B visa program.

Grassley’s comments to Microsoft include:

I am concerned that Microsoft will be retaining foreign guest workers rather than similarly qualified American employees when it implements its layoff plan…


Microsoft has a moral obligation to protect these American workers by putting them first during these difficult economic times.

The full text of Grassley’s letter is available on his Senate website.

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  1. 0
    Artificial Selection says:

    Contrary to the (surprising) popular belief, we are the world. The real world is made up out of people like you and me, and apparently everyone seems to be forgetting that this is real lives that we are talking about, not some civilization sim. When it comes to work related things, such as keeping your job, you should be judged based on your usefullness to the company, not to the nation.

    In firing better workers in advantage to American ones, the company is no longer working along the guidelines of capitalism. The whole system falls when companies does no longer work in their own best interest.

  2. 0
    farlander28 says:

    Oh, spare us all the "we are the world" melodrama. Of course Americans are more deserving of American jobs at this point. The economic crisis does affect the world, you are correct as far as that, but we can’t be expected to try and save the world. We have to save ourselves, first.

    If Country X wants to survive, then it needs to focus on its own citizenry, not welcoming a bunch of foreign workers from Country Z. To do the latter is to the detriment of Country X’s long-term viability, because without a strong economy (which includes a low, LOW single-digit unemployment rate), Country X will eventually fall to the point of not having any jobs for anyone, foreign or domestic. It’s very similar in principle to the "Slash and Burn" method. Maybe it’ll keep you afloat for a short while, but long-term viability flies out the window.

    But that shouldn’t matter, because we have to prove ourselves a valuable member of the great "Global Family", right? Let’s all get in a circle and sing koombaya, that’ll make everything better.

    -Life sucks, get a fuckin helmet" – Denis Leary


  3. 0
    Krono says:

    Did you even read the links he provided?

    From the second one:

    "When the new agreement is fully implemented, which should happen in 2010, the U.S. automakers would still bear labor costs of about $9 per hour more than Toyota, but that’s far better than the current gap. The 2007 agreement also calls for a new two-tier wage structure and other concessions from workers."

    And they’re talking of averages, not specific cases like the people you know. And data on the non-union auto plants is sparse.

    Not a 100% accurate, but not complete bullshit either.


  4. 0
    halfcuban says:

    What people don’t acknowledge, however, is how the American plants of foreign automakers are undercutting their own native workforces, and in paticular, the unions that run them in their native country. There’s a reason why the UAW and their equivalents in South Korea both opposed the Korean Free Trade Agreement. It simply allows Hyundai and Kia the best of both worlds; cheap labor for labor intensive work in Korea, and then equally cheap work to finish cars off in America once they are shipped over. Meanwhile both countries workforces see their output and hours slashed, and threats to move work to "one or the other" if one area gets especially restless.

  5. 0
    Austin_Lewis says:

    Uh, BULLSHIT.  I know people who work or worked recently at both union and non-union auto plants, and the ones who work at union plants make an extra 10 DOLLARS AN HOUR for doing the same work.

  6. 0
    ZippyDSMlee says:

    On the avrage they amke the same or less…. its a myth from the CEOs so they can have a gilued houses


    On the average they make the same or less…. its a myth from the CEOs so they can have a guilded EVERYTHING.

    While I will admit unions are not regulated well and can spiral out of control(like the CEOs,banks,ect)  the trouble with the US auto market we have to many dealers to many cars and to costly cars and poorly built cars it was only a matter of time before things fell apart.

    None of the people I know that have a new car(less than 2 year old) have not taken it in for repairs at least 5 times that alone right there costs the auto makers to much they have to focuses on longer life spans and lower prices. If vehicles were 5-15K a pop with the higher end stuff starting at 40K you would even out the differences  and be able to sell more  cars on a regular basis by taping into the "disposable" nature of the US market.

    Gore,Violence,Sexauilty,Fear,Emotion these are but modes of transportation of story and thought, to take them from society you create a society of children and nannys, since adults are not required.

  7. 0
    Artificial Selection says:

    The financial crisis in America affects the world, and to say that some people are more deserving of their jobs because of their nationality is not very open minded. Actually that mentality scares me. Is equal rights limited to only Americans? How would you feel if the tables were turned and you had to lay of your job to a lesser deserving coworker because he had the nationality right?

    The we and them thing that you guys got going on is not a good thing.

  8. 0
    Wolvenmoon says:

    Well, most of the international laborers brought in are from third world countries that actually do support oppression of their people overtly. (I’m looking at you, china).

    It’s also quite ridiculous to disagree with this, especially when these countries would give us the shaft to get ahead. If they want more of our money, they can contribute more to our economy.

  9. 0
    hallow says:

    You do realize we’re talking about H1-B visa workers here right?  As in people who aren’t citizens but who live and work here.  Which means… They’re spending their money here.  Which means… It doesn’t matter.

    Microsoft has no legal responsibility (to my knowledge) to retain one nationality of worker over another.  And in fact, if they’re keeping less skilled workers over more skilled, they’re doing a great disservice to their stockholders, and possibly opening themselves up to lawsuits.

  10. 0
    Austin_Lewis says:

    I tell you what, last time I called in to have my xbox repaired (NOT RROD, E74) I must’ve explained to that fucking Hindi what I needed 40 times before I said ‘fuck this, get me your supervisor’.

    Some of those people need to learn better English; I’ve had some people at the overseas call center who spoke perfect english and fully comprehended, but the last time was just godawful.

  11. 0
    DeepThorn says:

    I think microsoft has provided so many jobs for americans for so long that it is flat out their own choice on what the hell they do.  They do not owe the US anything.  They know what will happen to their sales if they fire more americans than non-americans.  All in all, their foreign tech support sucks ass, and they should be let go first, especially the ones that can not speak or understand english every damn time I call, and I get transfered 5 times until they finally send me over to someone that knows english well enough to get what I need done done….

    All in all though, they have offered so many jobs in the US with such amazing pay, that there is no way the government has any right to tell them to do dick.

    Nido Web Flash Tutorials AS2 and AS3 Tutorials for anyone interested.
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  12. 0
    ZippyDSMlee says:

    Obliviously  with this line of thought you will agree that RE5 is racist because they are shooting at a majority of black people….

    Also foreign workers make up to 40%(20-30 on avrage) less than US based workers why do you think big biz is all hot and bothered about getting big brother to bring in more foreign workers?……..


    Mew thinks uuurr logic is broken…… oh and nationalism is not racism  its …well…..nationalism in this case they are not throwing out people viciously or walking over them sure soem will ahve to return home  or find new employment but thems the breaks. This tactic is meant to bolster the US worker and US family  as so they can stabilize and by more crap and pay more taxes because they generally pay more taxes.

    Gore,Violence,Sexauilty,Fear,Emotion these are but modes of transportation of story and thought, to take them from society you create a society of children and nannys, since adults are not required.

  13. 0
    Krono says:

    I would like myself and my household to be more prosperous than you and your household. Is that racism?

    This is just the same principle taken up to the national scale.


  14. 0
    farlander28 says:

    Last I checked, American Citizen does not equal one race. Here in the US, especially in the tech industry, there is a wide variety of ethnic backgrounds for the citizenry.

    Your claim of racism is not just without merit, it is without simple logic and is completely asinine.

    As for the best worker vs best American worker – normally, I would agree. However, general rules must always bow to the need for exception cases in exceptional times. Given how awful the economic downturn is here in the US, in just about every industry, the exception case of valuing US Citizens must at some point come into play.

    "Life sucks, get a fuckin helmet" – Denis Leary

  15. 0
    NovaBlack says:

    sorry but i cant agree

    ”ourselves” and logically ”themselves” is distinguishing based on race…. how is that not racist? Liek i said earlier positive racism is still racism.


    Still doesnt answer the question of why a company cant choose to keep the best workers rather than the best workers of a particular nationality.

  16. 0
    NovaBlack says:

    Question : ”What does Racism have to do with it?”

    err ill answer you with your own words.

    Answer : ”He is just asking that they consider keeping American Citizens over Non-American Citizens"


    Also like i said earlier. If Worker A Works harder than Worker B, then you keep Worker A REGARDLESS of nationality.

    Its better for the company.

    Its better for the end consumer.

    Its better for instilling a hard work ethic into workers.

  17. 0
    farlander28 says:

    Yes they are economically helpful. Foreign workers who come here on visas are not reliable in the sense that they will keep their money here, flowing in the US economy for the long-term, as opposed to sending it "back home". In a time of intense economic crisis in the US, it is more important for the long-term that US Citizens retain their jobs and keep money flowing in every area of the US economy, as opposed to laying them off, putting them on unemployment benefits, going into forclosure, etc. Foreign workers go home and become a burden on their own country.

    Until the crisis is done and the US economy is well on its way back up, the survivalist instinct has to take precedence over how "nice" and "welcoming" we are to people who are not a part of the citizenry.

    As for politics as usual, the only place I see that coming from is people like you. My guess is you saw the "R" next to his name and the switch was flipped in your mind that he only cares about scoring cheap political points with his unenlightened voters. If you go into any discussion assuming that the person making the point has only the worst of intentions, you are guilty of your own accusation. Congratulations on pulling that off.

    "Life sucks, get a fuckin helmet" – Denis Leary

  18. 0
    d20sapphire says:

    the argument is not so much what the losses are but more "Hey look at me I am saying something that looks smart!"

    I am sorry you missed my point entirely.  It’s about the fact that the Senator’s wishes aren’t actually economically helpful.  It’s politics as usual.  Maybe I should just state it instead of confusing people.

  19. 0
    ZippyDSMlee says:

    Well that and job loss is tax lost regardless and that its slightly more blunderbuss than logic. But you can’t dismiss that if one is supporting a family here in the US that more taxes(local and federal) are paid from that single bread earner.

    While true losses are losses and slight differences in where loses go probably wont make much difference when piled if stacked up, the argument is not so much what the losses are but more "Hey look at me I am saying something that looks smart!".

    I guess I am arguing your point now…gaaa…voices in my head…… LOL


    Gore,Violence,Sexauilty,Fear,Emotion these are but modes of transportation of story and thought, to take them from society you create a society of children and nannys, since adults are not required.

  20. 0
    d20sapphire says:

    The damage, regardless of who stays on staff, is done.  And that is true for any company struggling in the U.S. during this crisis.  I don’t think companies are going to look to Microsoft for a "firing" trend.  When Microsoft decided to lay off 5,000 employees, the GDP was hit, and that his isn’t substantially bigger regarding pay.  In fact, considering the potential income lost for having to fire these people, the loss to Microsoft and to GDP is probably approximately equal to each other.

  21. 0
    ZippyDSMlee says:

    And if they cut off all the higher paid US workers more damage is done to the economy.

    And when other companies follow suit lil by lil that damage adds up.



    Gore,Violence,Sexauilty,Fear,Emotion these are but modes of transportation of story and thought, to take them from society you create a society of children and nannys, since adults are not required.

  22. 0
    halfcuban says:

    If Worker A costs twice as much as Worker B because his green card can’t be revoked, than it doesn’t matter whose a harder worker. And that’s the rub with the H1-B Visa program; its an updated "bracero" program for computer jobs. It undercuts wages, not through any honest means of competition, but by putting a proverbial economic gun to the head of the immigrant worker.

    That’s not truely fair for either the immigrant worker, whom is often sold a false bill of goods when recruited overseas, nor the American programmer. Sun Microsystems is one of the biggest offenders when it comes to this, slashing "jobs" at the same time it applies for huge numbers of H1-B visa’s.

    It also causes a significant brain drain in many developing countries, a problem that Europe is facing with similar immigration programs that "poach" the educated middle and upper class from developing countries Africa. Such crucial jobs as nurses, doctors, and civil engineers then go unfilled in countries that desperately need anyone at all.

  23. 0
    Bennett Beeny says:

    "um its still racism if you see one nationality as ‘better’ or ‘more deserving’ than another."

    Just what I was thinking.  Nationalism is just a form of racism with a coat of polish.  If Microsoft has any moral obligation beyond legally making its shareholders money, I’d say it would be to treat people equally – and that means NOT treating people of one nationality better than those of another.

    Either way, I’m sure Microsoft will try to keep the best workers to safeguard the company’s future.

  24. 0
    Divos says:

    What does Racism have to do with it? He is just asking that they consider keeping American Citizens over Non-American Citizens within America’s borders. Sounds perfectly reasonable to me.

  25. 0
    NovaBlack says:

    ”Microsoft has a moral obligation to protect these American workers by putting them first during these difficult economic times.”


    um its still racism if you see one nationality as ‘better’ or ‘more deserving’ than another.

    surely microsofts plan should quite rightly focus on keeping the best ‘WORKERS’ not the best ‘AMERICAN’ worker.

    If worker A works harder than worker B, then you keep worker A. Nationality shouldt come into it.

  26. 0
    ZippyDSMlee says:

    I dunno if the woklers culled make less and are taxed less then its not that much of a loss.


    Gore,Violence,Sexauilty,Fear,Emotion these are but modes of transportation of story and thought, to take them from society you create a society of children and nannys, since adults are not required.

  27. 0
    d20sapphire says:

    The real debate here is whether or not we are concerned about Gross National Product(GNP) or Gross Domestic Product(GDP).  GNP accounts for any time a American citizen or corporation gains income, whether it is within the country borders or not. GDP accounts for any income that is made in U.S. borders, whether or not that income was made by a citizen.  GNP will be affected by these layoffs but GDP will not.   If it is mostly H-1B visa holders that are let go, our GNP won’t suffer as much than if it’s mostly American workers.  As long as the number of layoffs stays the same, GDP will suffer the same amount.

    I’m more inclined to be concerned about GDP, so to me this debate is somewhat worthless.  If 5,000 people get fired from an American company, that company and the American economy "suffers" (i.e. a standard measurement of prosperity goes down) regardless.

  28. 0
    hayabusa75 says:

    Nobody’s forcing anything.  There’s also a difference between having an Americans-only hiring policy and cutting non-citizens first when you have to make layoffs.

    "There is no sin except stupidity." – Oscar Wilde

  29. 0
    Krono says:

    You’re overreacting if you think a letter from a Senator to Microsoft is comparable to China and it’s practices in regards to state-owned enterprises.


  30. 0
    ZippyDSMlee says:



    Just as people want to find a card to burn in RE 5 they find it here not looking at the facts of bolstering up US focused workers and the taxes they pay, as well as most foreign workers work for less so its a very reasonable tactic.


    Gore,Violence,Sexauilty,Fear,Emotion these are but modes of transportation of story and thought, to take them from society you create a society of children and nannys, since adults are not required.

  31. 0
    E. Zachary Knight says:

    I don’t think this is a cut and dry case of nationalism.

    I would agree that it would be better for the USA economy if foreign workers were cut before US workers. Why? How much of the money earned by foreign workers stays in the US? Answer: not nearly as much as that earned by US citizens.

    The US government has an interest in reparing the US economy. They cannot fix it if businesses are not employing US citizens. By outsorcing and hiring foreign workers, they are not keeping their money in the US. With less money being kept in the US, the weaker the economy gets.

    Sure it could look like racism or nationalism to people wanting to look at it that way, but for those concerned with building up the US economy, it make perfect sense.

    E. Zachary Knight
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  32. 0
    JackUphill says:

     This isn’t racism, this is just out and out HYPOCRISY.

    Last time I checked Microsoft is a corporation and can do anything it wants, within certain reasonable limits of course.

    This Sen. Chuck Grassley is a Republican that should be supporting business and the free market. Well, what does Mr. Grassley think he’s doing now, trying to pressure Microsoft into doing something that MAY VERY WELL BE AGAINST IT’S OWN INTERESTS.

    Microsoft should tell Grassley to buy a share in Microsoft stock and vote like any CAPITALIST shareholder would. Microsoft didn’t cause the economic downfall, it’s not getting any TARP money, so it doesn’t have to take marching orders from him.

    And if the rest of you want American workers favored over other workers, why stop with Microsoft? Why not just force EVERY public & private company to employ American citizens first. I mean, China already does it with state-owned enterprises, so it must be a good idea!

  33. 0
    hayabusa75 says:

    Racism?  Give me a break.  If some of you had bothered to read the article, you would’ve seen that the workers in question are foreign guest workers in the country on visas.  They are NOT citizens.  If you’re talking about immigrants who later became citizens, then yeah, I can see how that would be discriminatory, but that’s not the case here.

    Being a citizen of any country should grant certain privileges over non-citizens, and preferential treatment when the workers are similarly qualified (those were the senator’s words) when layoffs occur isn’t unreasonable.

    I bet some of you think that scholarships for illegal immigrants are fine and dandy, too.

    "There is no sin except stupidity." – Oscar Wilde

  34. 0
    Praetorian says:

    I know plenty of IT people like myself that have missed out on job in our profession because H-1B’s and globalization. If they really want to keep our economy going they should give jobs to the qualified american citizens that need the work instead of bringing in more people that think they are getting a good deal because they are getting paid more than what they are making in their own coutry.

    I don’t know about other people, but I know I’d be happy programming for less than what they made considering it would be a pay raise for me.

    Keep fighting the good fight Mr. Grassley! 


    "I’ve been told I’m the resident skeptic, but I wouldn’t believe that."

    ECA Seattle Chapter

  35. 0
    Dragoon1376 says:

    In regards to the auto industry, the impact of the unions in pushing worker wages to such a high point needs to be considered.  If you can’t hire anyone under an abnormally high starting wage as well medical benefits and retirement plans, it cuts the company’s ability to make a profit and survive.  While American auto companies have been shutting down or moving factories, we’ve had an influx of Japanese and other foreign auto companies openning plants in the southern states.  The big difference: these new plants are not unionized so they have less of an overhead and are able to retain a larger workforce at a lower cost.

    So, it’s not necessarily the effects of globalization.  If the costs of manufacturing your product at home exceeds the market price, you need to find some way of lowering costs.  Whether this is leaving because of excessive legislation from politicians or continuing to operate at a loss to the point that a government bail out is necessary, is up to the business itself. 

    Also, look at what the UAW’s stance on the bail out.  They’ve been claiming the workers have "sacrificed" enough that it’s on the American auto companies to deal with the shortcomings of their business plan.  With a view like that, it seems to me that layoffs/bankruptcy is inevitable.

    I’m sure that there are people out there with more knowledge about economics and business so there may be an error or two in my two cents.

  36. 0
    Nekowolf says:

    Globalization has been abused by large corporations. Take the auto industry, first it was fold up factories in the north, and send them down to Mexico. Now, it’s send them to China. And what happens to those workers from the northern states? They’re now unemployed. And it’s not just the auto industry, either.

    Globalization should be either fought against, or brought into consideration for reform. Personally, while I’m not happy with globalization, I know it won’t go away, so I propose the latter.

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