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Should foreign employees be laid off before Americans? A Republican Senator from Iowa thinks so.  (Source: Bnet.com)
A prominent Republican Senator has some controversial suggestions for Microsoft on its job cuts

Faced with the wrath of its shareholders after missing its earnings targets badly, Microsoft announced that it would be laying off 5,000 employees, a sharp reverse of years of hiring and growth.  The layoffs are starting to be announced this week.

Sen. Charles Grassley, a Republican from Iowa, where Microsoft has a significant presence, wrote a letter to Microsoft with suggestions about the layoff.  In his letter, he states, "I am concerned that Microsoft will be retaining foreign guest workers rather than similarly qualified American employees when it implements its layoff plan."

Sen. Grassley is a prominent member of the Senate, as the top Republican on the Senate Finance Committee.  His stance is that Microsoft should layoff foreign workers on visas before laying off American citizens.  He argues this will help protect the U.S. economy.

Microsoft's foreign workers typically have H-1B visas, a special program for workers in government-designated "specialty occupations".  Microsoft can't seem to get enough of the visas and has repeatedly pleaded with the federal government to increase the allotment.  The temporary visas are used by some other companies, and frequently used by universities as well.

Current statements from Microsoft indicate that it will not be showing any preference in who is laid off.  A Microsoft spokesperson stated in e-mail, "We care about all our employees, so we are providing services and support to try to help every affected worker, whether they are U.S. workers or foreign nationals working in this country on a visa."

Several thousand foreign employees currently work for Microsoft on visas, a significant portion of the company's 19,000+ dedicated workforce.  Sen. Grassley directed his letter to Microsoft Chief Executive Steve Ballmer, and asks Mr. Ballmer to provide him with statistics on how many visa workers are laid off compared to Americans.

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





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