Feds respond to CA lawmaker calling for investigation into Edison work outsourcing

A Southern California Edison sign outside the San Onofre Nuclear Plant.
A Southern California Edison sign outside the San Onofre Nuclear Plant.
Grant Slater/KPCC

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In a letter to a California lawmaker, Homeland Security officials say they will work with labor officials to “review visa petitions,” related to a complaint over how Southern California Edison Company laid off technology workers and replaced them with foreign workers.

Edison, which is headquartered in Rosemead, came under fire several months ago after announcing the layoffs of hundreds of employees and the outsourcing of jobs.

Rep. Judy Chu (D-Calif.) is one of a number of lawmakers who have called on federal officials to investigate. In a letter to Chu dated May 29, an official from U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services wrote that the agency strives "to do our work with the greatest possible integrity and efficiency." It continues:

"This includes following up on concerns such as those you raise regarding Southern California Edison to ensure that petitions are entirely consistent with our legal framework. USCIS will work with the Department of Labor to review visa petitions and labor condition and certification applications, as appropriate. If we receive information that alleges violations have occurred, the Department will take appropriate action to maintain the integrity of our programs."

Rep. Chu provided a statement Friday:

“The H-1B visa program is a valuable tool for bringing in the talent and skill necessary when there is a shortage of American workers. But clearly, the program is vulnerable to abuse. I look forward to hearing from the Department of Labor on their findings in this case as we move forward and consider possible fixes.”

The Los Angeles Times reported in April that the Department of Labor was not planning to investigate; labor department officials were unable to provide a reply Friday.

In a statement to KPCC, an Edison spokeswoman said the utility company contracts with two I-T vendors, Infosys and TCS, to find workers – and Edison requires those vendors to comply with all applicable laws, namely laws that require work authorizations. 

Last April, Edison announced layoffs and plans to outsource work. Computerworld reported in February that some Edison I-T workers complained about being replaced by workers from India, with some having to train the H-1B visa holders who would replace them.