University of California, San Francisco laid off 49 information technology staff on Feb. 28. Their positions will be outsourced to a company headquartered in India. In addition, the university eliminated another 48 vacant or contractor-filled positions.
The California university announced it would be laying off the IT staff in July 2016, along with a host of other money-saving measures. The university hopes to save $30 million over five years to offset the rising costs of technology. California's university system, which includes UCSF and its extensive health care and research facilities, has had difficulty raising revenue and offsetting expenses.
A spokeswoman for the school stated this was the University of California's first time outsourcing. The university previously had an IT staff of 565, reports KQED.
The layoffs generated plenty of criticism. In his campaign, President Donald Trump promised to focus on job training and job retention in the U.S. The university's move was widely regarded as evidence for the necessity of that policy, and its use of the H-1B visa program only confirmed this criticism.
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Under the H-1B visa program, U.S. companies can hire skilled workers from abroad, rather than hiring domestically. UCSF used the H-1B visa program to bring employees from India to the U.S. for training. The Indian employees have since returned to their home country and will work from there.
The departing UCSF IT staff spent the last four months of their contracts training their new Indian replacements.
Recently laid off systems administrator Kurt Ho, 58, was seen leaving the building with his personal items. He carried his son's artwork and an American flag.
Ho told KPIX he doesn't know how to tell his children to pursue a career in science like he did.
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"They may come back and say, 'Dad, you don’t have a job,'" said Ho. "They’re going to ship all of those jobs overseas, don’t tell me to join the science program."
Ho said he has been working in the IT field for the past 25 years. He was concerned the scientists he used to work for at the university will still get the reliable and secure network they're used to.
He said the experience changed how he voted in November.
"I voted Democratic all my life in California," he said. "For the first time this year, I voted for President Trump."
Ho's and 96 other IT jobs will be filled by multinational IT firm HCL Technologies Ltd. Last year, UCSF signed a five-year, $50 million contract with the India-based HCL.
"As an American, I think enough is enough," Ho said. "We need to say we're going to stop this now."