Opinion: Limit the H-1Bs

Victory in Russia: A Landmark Law Case

Corrections or additions?

These articles by Dina Weinstein and others were prepared for the

October 4,

2000 edition of

U.S. 1 Newspaper. All rights reserved.

Make Your Voice Heard: Guy Gregg

Lawmakers hurt small business owners by leaving them

overtaxed, buried in paperwork, and out of the big picture, says New

Jersey Assemblyman Guy Gregg. "Legislators in Trenton and

Washington don’t have experience owning a business."

As the proprietor of a restaurant, this Morris County legislator knows

what his constituents are going through. It is important, says Gregg,

for small business owners to communicate with their elected

representatives,

to fortify their voice in order to level the playing field. Gregg

will give a free lecture on "The Voice of Small Business in the

Legislature" on Thursday, October 5, at 9 a.m. at the New Jersey

State House, West State Street, in Trenton. The lecture is part of

Trenton Small Business Week, co-sponsored by the Greater Mercer County

Chamber of Commerce. Call 609-393-4143.

Gregg, a Republican, is a 1972 graduate of Monmouth College in

Illinois

and owns Publick House Restaurant and Inn in Morris County. He is

chair of the Regulatory Oversight committee and a member of the

Commerce,

Tourism, Gaming and Military and Veterans’ Affairs Committee.

One of his main gripes is that government treats his small business

the same as a corporation, inundating him with red tape. He asserts

government has a prominent role in making sure small businesses

succeed

as much as the larger corporations in the Garden State on the local

and the global level. Explains Gregg: "What’s different for small

businesses is that a lot of the time the human resources director

and the marketing department is the same person." And he says

while much attention is paid to large Garden State corporations, there

are many more Mom and Pop stores that keep the economy chugging and

New Jerseyans employed.

He offers this advice:

Go Global. It may sound overwhelming but it can be done.

Gregg encourages small business owners to push the legislature to

help out with the process of selling overseas. Get started by checking

out courses and workshops for small business owners at Rutgers

University.

Gregg says pending legislation would fund resources to train and

support

small businesses to sell their wares worldwide.

"We’re looking at export being very important to New Jersey’s

economy," says Gregg. "But it is difficult to get into another

country. Our government can help companies to face all the red tape

if they don’t have the wherewithal."

Gang Up. Small business owners can make their voices heard

through national and state-wide associations. Many associations

specific

to certain trades and professions are based in Trenton and Washington,

D.C. Association leadership can keep the entrepreneur abreast of what

is going on in state and federal government.

Trade groups also speak up for their membership’s interest. For

instance,

the National Federation of Independent Businesses keeps members

apprised

of impending legislation that may affect them, and the New Jersey

Business and Industry Association provides worker’s compensation

through

New Jersey Manufacturers.

Don’t Hesitate. Don’t just let your association

representatives

do all the talking. Gregg encourages small business owners to

communicate

with their state and federal legislators directly to praise or

criticize.

Gregg encourages small business owners to pay close attention

to the actions of leadership in Trenton. He cites a number of current

issues that are of interest to small business owners all affecting

the bottom line, including a proposed sales tax rebate bill that would

offer compensation for administrative cost of sales tax; and a bill

that would allow small business owners to participate in unemployment

benefits.

Also proposed: A business owners’ taxpayers bill of rights that would

standardize the way the state deals with businesses and would do away

with the state’s "guilty until proven innocent" attitude when

conducting tax audits.

"The economic boom we’re in now is a Wall Street boom, not

a Main Street boom," says Gregg. For many business owners labor

is a key issue: "Look at all the Help Wanted signs around

you,"

says Gregg. "Regarding labor there may be some simple answers.

Like how is that in some parts of New Jersey there is a 15 percent

unemployment while in some cities there is zero unemployment? The

answer may be in finding a better way to move people around the state.

Small business owners can be more vocal in pressuring the state to

improve public transportation."

But Gregg says labor needs in New Jersey are broader than that. They

are actually linked to federal immigration law. "I think we should

look to England as a model," says Gregg. "They issue two-year

work permits to people who want to work there. And they fill a need.

After their stint they can re-apply or go home. Small business owners

need to get the federal government to wake up and smell the

coffee."

The point was driven home to Gregg recently when he went to an Italian

restaurant that had a sign posted reading: Part-time cook wanted,

Full-time cook wanted, wait staff wanted. Says Gregg, "I had to

laugh because it was like all they were missing was `owner

wanted.’"

— Dina Weinstein

Top Of Page
Opinion: Limit the H-1Bs

Sometime very soon the U.S. Congress will vote on

whether

to increase the number of H-1B visas the Immigration and

Naturalization

Service can issue annually. These are the visas earmarked for the

technically-talented. The current annual limit is 115,000. Big

companies

in high tech and other U.S. industries want that number increased,

claiming difficulty in filling open positions.

By contrast, opponents of expanded immigration of the

technically-talented

say that federal policy should focus on training American workers

to fill these plum positions. The Clinton administration sides with

the retraining camp. So do I. How come?

First, as a labor historian I harbor what I consider to be a healthy

skepticism when I hear talk of labor shortages. Something like 34

million Americans live below the poverty line while the top 10 percent

of U.S. citizens control 73 percent of the nation’s wealth. These

statistics sound like an echo from the 1890s, not numbers that we

should still be struggling to correct at the end of the prosperous

1990s. During the 19th century our canals and railroads were built

by cheap Chinese and Irish labor. Do corporations favor increased

immigration because they honestly can’t find trained, or trainable,

Americans to fill their open slots? Or are they repeating the

practices

of the past in order to keep their labor costs lower?

During the past two years a colleague from Rider University’s

education

school and I have been privileged to work with administrators,

teachers,

and students of the Burlington County Institute of Technology (BCIT)

in developing a new apprenticeship program in office systems

technology.

Aided by U.S. Department of Labor funds, the vo-tech has moved same

of its brightest and most ambitious young people into apprenticeship

positions with employers such as Commerce Bank. My colleague, Mike

Curran, and I have helped design the classroom curriculum and deliver

college-level courses. And the BCIT apprentices have thrived in the

program.

BCIT’s apprenticeship program, which would not happen without federal

funding, is one example of what can be done to meet the corporate

call for more techies by reaching out to America’s young people, many

of them minorities. This is what we ought to do before we raise the

limit on H-1B visas.

When America gives its plum positions to immigrants, while tens of

millions of our own citizens struggle for a piece of the American

pie, we shoot ourselves in both feet. Or as Pogo once so eloquently

stated: "We have met the enemy and they is us."

— Jim Castagnera

Pinnacle Employment Law Institute

Associate Provost, Rider University

Top Of Page
Victory in Russia: A Landmark Law Case

In 1996 Aleksandr Nikitin was arrested in Russia

on charges of revealing state secrets concerning Russian nuclear

submarine

accidents to Bellona, the Norwegian environmental group. Bellona had

published a report on nuclear-environmental problems in Russia’s

Northern

Fleet. He was also charged with high treason by the Russian Security

Police. The four-year legal struggle that ensued attracted interest

from human rights, political, peace, scientific, and environmental

groups around the world.

Now Nikitin and his attorney, Yuri M. Schmidt, are ready to

talk about the charges of treason and the legal precedents that were

sent in this case. The Coalition for Peace Action and the Princeton

University Chapel are sponsoring a forum at Princeton University’s

Dodds Auditorium, Woodrow Wilson School, on Wednesday, October 4,

at 7 p.m. Irene Goldman, the coalition’s vice-chair for outreach

and chair of its International Citizens Diplomacy Committee, will

emcee the forum, which will also cover the environmental implications

of submarine accidents. The event is free. Call 609-924-5022 or e-mail

cfpa@eticomm.net.

Also participating will be Mikhail Matinov and Ivan Pavlov,

of Nikitin’s legal team; Jon Gauslaa, a Norwegian attorney;

and Yuri Vdovin, of Human Rights Watch in St. Petersburg, Russia.

Schmidt has been chairman of the "Russian Lawyers Committee in

Defense of Human Rights" since 1991. He is also a member of the

International Board of Lawyers in St. Petersburg and member of the

Presidium of the Board. He was head of the defense team in the Nikitin

case. When Schmidt appealed to the Constitutional Court, he cleared

the way for Nikitin to access a lawyer of his choice.

Mikhail Matinov is one of the founders of the Russian Lawyers

Committee

in Defense of Human Rights started in 1991. Since the end of the 1980s

he has been involved with many cases of persons who were persecuted

for their public and human rights activities. He defended Schmidt,

when he suffered trumped-up charges and repressive measures.

Fabrication

was proven and Schmidt was completely exonerated.

Nikitin’s case was supported by Vice President Al Gore and Secretary

of State Madeleine Albright, and this support contributed to the

Russian

Supreme Court’s decision not to prosecute environmental activists

in Russia.


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