Monday, January 12, 2009

One More Word Regarding Foreign Workers ...

Down below, "We Just Couldn't Find Anyone" states:

Can you say with absolute confidence and certainty that in every situation the O-visa applicant was more qualified than available unemployed American artists? If not, then you should be maintaining a list or directory of currently available artists with their work history and qualifications ...

No. And lists of qualified employees might be a fine idea, but they have nothing to do with whether or not a foreign animation worker gets into the country to take a job.

The O-visa immigrant doesn't have to be more qualified than persons available stateside. He or she merely has to fulfill four of the following six criteria:

1) Working as a lead on the project for which they're being hired.

2) Be a recipient of recognition in newspapers, trade journals magazines and other publications.

3) Previously worked for a recognized studio in the field of animation.

4) Worked on well-regarded motion pictures.

5) Received recognition from authorities in the field (letter of praise/endorsement.)

6) Be making a salary commensurate with ranking and rating in animation field. (This means they're making as much or more as other leads working in animation.)

If an applicant fulfills four of the above, they're in. Period, end of story. Those are the criteria that the INS uses, now and since the regulations became operative.

Trust me on this. TAG has reviewed thousands of O-visa visa applications over the last decade and a half, and this is the way the process works.

One last piece of reality: Once in a while, our objection letter keeps an applicant from working in the States. Usually it doesn't. Applicants can always respond to an objection letter from a labor union (this is called "two bites at the apple") and usually override the objection.

Nobody is kept out because there are qualified folks available for the job here. They're rejected because they don't qualify under the O-visa criteria. That's it.


Anonymous said...


You are implying that I believe that there is a direct correlation between imported foreign workers and unemployed Americans. I know that there are any number of ways studios narrow our opportunities to work, starting with sending whatever jobs they can overseas. Certainly, it is expedient for a studio to hire specialists who have the kinds of qualifications that are listed in those O-visa criteria.

The real question is, how to incentivise local studios to hire more of us. Clearly, there are parts of our business that are booming, yet paradoxically, there is still a high rate of unemployment.

I know you have explanations, but what about solutions? Obama asked for suggestions. What would be yours?

Steve Hulett said...

My solution? It's fairly simple and straightforward.

Increase training here (although I don't think we have too few qualified applicants now.)

Lower the number of O-1 and H-1 visas the government issues on a yearly basis.

That should take care of it.

(But understand, it's not particularly inexpensive for companies to import O-1 and H-1 workers.)

What's your solution?

Anonymous said...

To what problem? If the problem you are addressing is simply O-visa workers, then your solution would solve the problem for unemployed American workers with similar qualifications to the transplanted workers. Another problem is the the definition of "qualified" can be highly subjective. If the problem you are referring to is the overall employment situation in our field, neither the situation nor the solution is simple. The only thing we know for sure is, doing nothing and letting business take its "natural" course is certainly NOT the solution.

I have a lot more in the way of specific ideas for solutions but I don't have time to get into it right now. I will get back to it further down the string.

Anonymous said...

Here is a quote by John McLaughlin of the political talk show, The McLaughlin Group, in his year end summery show, about the economic disaster;

"...globalism is really the cause of this, that China and India cannot be taking American jobs in the fashion that they are without us paying the price." He went on to say that the higher level jobs that were promised by the supply-siders which we were all supposed to "move up" into when our jobs were shipped overseas never materialized.

In other words, the American worker has been trapped in limbo in a kind of sandwich; nothing to fall back on and nothing to move up to. Certainly, our profession is a microcosm of this dynamic. These suggestions take the promised interest, support and commitment of the new administration into consideration. If someone should happen to ask, "What do you need?" we should have an intelligent response.

Here they are my thoughts:

The first thing we have to do is get an accurate picture of the situation, so we know what we are dealing with. We need to take a detailed survey of how many of us consider ourselves under or unemployed; what are our job categories, skills, and experience.
Work history and periods of employment and unemployment are important as well as other personal data like age, sex and nationality. (The survey would be anonymous, of course).

I would go into one more area that directly relates to our situation:
How many of us invested our time money and/or efforts in independent, (non full-time degree oriented), training designed to raise or expand our skill sets for the purposes of achieving employment. Of the people who participated in this kind of training, how many consider the process successful.

In addition to finding out what percentage of us attempted to retrain and succeeded, using current employment statistics, we can also find out what percentage of the industry consists of people who retrained.

Why bother? I think it is important to know how effective the current available retraining options are. If the system isn't working we should find out why and fix it.

"More training" is not the answer. Doing more of what isn't working won't make it work any better. Training doesn't "automatically" lead to jobs anymore than corporate tax cuts automatically lead to economic growth, (and jobs).

The problem, I believe, is there is no structure by which the relevant training is integrated into the industry. How to do that? Make it profitable to the industry in some way; either an economic carrot or an economic stick, whatever works. (A possible carrot: using an individual's unemployment benefit as an entry level salary subsidy).

As it is now, you're on your own- you take a course-you're on your own.

So much for the top of the sandwich. The bottom is simpler. Any company shipping good jobs to countries where salaries are subsidized- severe tax penalties and/or tariffs. Similarly, economic benefits to companies for creating or restoring jobs. Stick and carrot.

Anyone else?

Steve Hulett said...

I used to be a "free trader".

Now I think the old Republican party, which campaigned on and pushed "protective tariffs" for over a century (1860 to Reagan), was on to something.

Face it; there's a balancing act to it. You want to encourage international trade; you also want to insure that you protect your nation's manufacturing capacity. Because if you don't "make things," you're not going to have much of an economy over time.

TAG made a major push with retraining nine years ago. Many people were trained in c.g. applications. Some found work because of the training, many didn't.

State ETP training grants attempt to match up training to jobs. (Companies will get state money if there is three months -- or more -- employment waiting for them at the end of training).

But right now, California is strapped for funds.

Anonymous said...

Out sourcing, illegal immigration & free trade makes things a little slow in this sanctuary town of Los Angeles. It's a town still for the elite the white collar to live and play.
I painted signs in this town for over 25 years, had a weekly wage of 1,700 on a good week. I was a member of the, then screen cartoonist guild local 839 off and on for more then 7 years. On Both careers I failed to receive any benefits. I'm 59 and I'm hoping that my 1,100 of social security will be there.
I just signed with a agency as an cartoon illustrator for publication. Wish me luck in my later years.

Anonymous said...

Why shouldn't companies be able to source the best talent internationally? O-1 visas are neither easy or cheap to obtain, they are not some sort of cheap outsourcing, it is incredibly difficult to convince a company to hire you and go through the visa process over hiring someone locally. If you are being beat out of animation jobs by foreign O-1 artists, it may be time to up your game. I do feel for those left behind, but such is life, sadly.

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