Is Infosys a Win for RI or Will RI Taxpayers Be Subsidizing Foreign Visa Workers
Tuesday, November 28, 2017
The Indian-based consulting and technology company has promised to create 500 jobs to Rhode Island, but questions about the jobs -- and future of the company -- surround the deal. Can the company move existing jobs and realize taxpayer subsidies? And, will foreign workers be eligible for the incentive program? Infosys and Raimondo say in the jobs will be American, but RI Commerce refuses to answer these questions.
In the past, Citizens Bank has tapped Infosys for substantial tech support. In 2015, Citizens laid off more than 350 workers in RI and outsourced the jobs to IBM. "The total layoff estimate by employees ranges from 250 to 350," reported Computerworld at the time, who interviewed four Citizen IT employees: "Two were interviewed by phone, and two by email and only on condition of anonymity."
Latest Headlines for Infosys
For the past four years, Infosys has been hit with a number of controversies.
Reuters reported in 2013 that Infosys agreed to pay $34 million to end a U.S. investigation related to flying workers to client sites in the United States on temporary visas, the issue of worker visas -- H-1B visas in particular -- has continued to persist.
In April 2017, the Times of India pointed out that Infosys continued to come under United States scrutiny for visa issues:
The US has complained that Indian blue-chip IT firms Tata Consultancy Services, Infosys and Cognizant unfairly get the lion's share of H-1B visas by putting extra tickets into the lottery system, which the Trump administration wants to replace with a 'merit-based' immigration policy.
In August of 2017, the controversial company was hit with a leadership change and financial upheaval. CIO magazine reported, "Of late, Infosys has been rocked by controversies. The company has its founders and the current management at odds with each other. Here's a quick glance at the major recent outbursts...For the past one year, Infosys has been the center of various controversies. Be it Vishal Sikka, the recently resigned CEO and MD’s salary, or the public tiff between the founders and the current management of the company."
India Abroad reported that the battle was personal and ugly, “Sikka explained his decision in an Aug. 17 post on his blog: ‘It is clear to me that despite our successes over the last three years and the powerful seeds of innovation that we have sown, I cannot carry out my job as CEO and continue to create value, while also constantly defending against unrelenting, baseless/malicious and increasingly personal attacks.’”
Now, reports that the Trump Administration is looking to crack down on skilled foreign workers puts foreign companies -- and workers -- in the hot seat.
"The Trump administration is increasing federal scrutiny of the employment-visa application process, a move that will make it even more difficult for companies to hire foreign workers," wrote Inc. Magazine on November 20. "While President Donald Trump campaigned on promises to reduce illegal immigration, these measures are affecting the legal ways people come to the country. For example, the administration is targeting the high-skilled visa program known as H-1B, sending back more than one in four applications between January and August, according to The Wall Street Journal. Under Obama, fewer than one in five were sent back, according to data from U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), which manages the H-1B program."
Supporters Say Its Positive for Rhode Island
Raimondo was bullish on the Infosys announcement Monday, "We are excited to welcome Infosys to Rhode Island," said Raimondo. "Because of our investments in higher education and job training at CCRI and other institutions across the state, Rhode Islanders are well-equipped and well-prepared to compete for these good-paying jobs. Infosys joins a growing local market of innovative, advanced industry companies that have chosen to plant a flag in Rhode Island."
Also supporting the move were both Gary Sasse and Saul Kaplan during their appearances on Business Monday on GoLocal LIVE.
Sasse, who is a tough critic of RI Commerce, said Infosys is the type of companies RI should try to attract. Similarly, Kaplan, who is the founder and Chief Catalyst of Business Innovation Factory gave credit to Raimondo and said Rhode Island should celebrate the news for “at least one day.”
Others in the state were less positive about the news.
Likely GOP gubernatorial candidate and former State Representative Joe Trillo took aim at Raimondo's strategy.
"Governor Raimondo is touting her success by announcing that Infosys is promising to create 500 jobs in Rhode Island by 2022. This comes after three months of embarrassing job losses which are reflective of the state’s general business climate which is hostile to business and jobs. What the governor’s office is less interested in announcing are the millions in taxpayer-funded incentives they have to give to such companies to attract any jobs," said Trillo.
“Unlike what is happening on the national level under President Trump and his efforts to cut business-killing regulations and taxes to create jobs, Rhode Island chooses “business as usual” through special deals and corporate welfare programs at the taxpayer’s expense. Why not improve the overall business climate in order to allow real job growth?”
Mike Stenhouse of the RI Center for Freedom and Prosperity also blasted the deal, “The Infosys deal does nothing to improve our state's dismal business climate and will help very few Rhode Islanders.”
Stenhouse added,”Interestingly, while statewide legislative leaders continue to hamper small business growth, it may be the federal government that will take concrete steps to actually improve the climate for all small and large businesses."
Related Slideshow: Who is Getting Money from Commerce - May, 2017
Project Name: A.T. Cross
Rhode Island Company
Estimated Qualified Jobs Incentive Tax Credits: $1,232,499
Qualified Jobs: 35
Project Name: Ivory Ella
Moved from CT to RI
Estimated Qualified Jobs Incentive Tax Credits: $362,055
Qualified Jobs: 30
Project Name: Trade Area Systems
Moved from MA to RI
Estimated Qualified Jobs Incentive Tax Credits: $521,507
Qualified Jobs: 28
Project Name: Greystone
Rhode Island Company
Estimated Qualified Jobs Incentive Tax Credits: $459,718
Qualified Jobs: 25
Project Name: Ocean State Job Lot
Rhode Island Company
Estimated Qualified Jobs Incentive Tax Credits: $3,230,190
Qualified Jobs: 125
Project Name: Finlay
United Kingdom Company
Estimated Qualified Jobs Incentive Tax Credits: $1,354,105
Qualified Jobs: 73
Project Name: GE Digital
Estimated Qualified Jobs Incentive Tax Credits: $4,591,700
Qualified Jobs: 85 (100)*
*to date GE has only committed to 85 jobs
Project Name: Lexington Lighting
MA moved to RI
Estimated Qualified Jobs Incentive Tax Credits: $219,225
Qualified Jobs: 24
Project Name: Granite Telecommunications
Estimated Qualified Jobs Incentive Tax Credits: $779,464
Qualified Jobs: 50
Project Name: Virgin Pulse
United Kingdom Company
Estimated Qualified Jobs Incentive Tax Credits: $2,501,073
Qualified Jobs: 292
Project Name: Surplus Solutions
Estimated Qualified Jobs Incentive Tax Credits: $454,681
Qualified Jobs: 16
Project Name: Johnson & Johnson
New Jersey Company
Estimated Qualified Jobs Incentive Tax Credits: $4,425,860
Qualified Jobs: 75
Project Name: Whiting & Davis
Estimated Qualified Jobs Incentive Tax Credits: $255,221
Qualified Jobs: 15
Project Name: UNFI
Estimated Qualified Jobs Incentive Tax Credits: $1,873,805
Qualified Jobs: 150
Project Name: Agoda
Estimated Qualified Jobs Incentive Tax Credits: $3,039,394
Qualified Jobs: 200
Project Name: eMoney
Estimated Qualified Jobs Incentive Tax Credits: $3,162,196
Qualified Jobs: 100
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