I am writing to share with you a letter that I’ve sent off to several US senators, in regards to the SMART Jobs Act recently introduced by Sen. Chris Coons (D) of Delaware and Sen. Lamar Alexander (R) of Tennessee. In light of the recent Washington Post article by Brian Vastag, I thought it would be good to share this letter with others (with my personal info removed, though details are in the original). Hopefully enough senators will have read the article, so it would be good if they heard from individual scientists about our situations, and about how this legislation could have a serious impact on our careers.
Too many times we chemists think that our voices won’t be heard, or we wait in vain for ACS, or NSF, or the NIH, or some university, or some professor to speak up for us. I believe that we ought to speak for ourselves. The more of us that contact the relevant senators about this Act, the more we balance out all the punditry out there that says “We Need More Scientists!!!”
Below are links to contact the main senators on the Judiciary subcommittee that would hold hearings on this Act, along with Sens. Coons and Alexander. I also encourage people to write to their own US senators.
Senator Chris Coons (D): http://www.coons.senate.gov/contact
Senator Lamar Alexander (R): http://www.alexander.senate.gov/public/index.cfm?p=Email
Senator Charles Schumer (D): https://www.schumer.senate.gov/Contact/contact_chuck.cfm
Sen. John Cornyn (R): http://www.cornyn.senate.gov/public/index.cfm?p=ContactForm
Senator Patrick Leahy (D): http://www.leahy.senate.gov/contact
Senator Chuck Grassley (R): http://www.grassley.senate.gov/contact.cfm
Senator Orrin Hatch (R): http://hatch.senate.gov/public/index.cfm/email-orrin
Senator Al Franken (D): http://www.franken.senate.gov/?p=email_al
I am a science professional with a Ph.D. in chemistry and 10+ years of experience in my field. I am writing to you about the recent introduction of the SMART Jobs Act (S.3192), which would change the law by giving green cards to all international graduate students in STEM fields upon completion of their degrees, once they find employment in this country.
If you value science as well as scientists already in this country, you should vote for removing the ‘Science’ portion from the ‘STEM’ designation in this proposed legislation. Speaking of my own profession, our country does not have enough jobs for chemists already here. Over the past 10 years, there have been thousands of chemists laid off from American chemical and pharmaceutical companies, while these same companies have permanently downsized labs and/or sent research jobs overseas. This somber situation has recently been profiled in the front page Washington Post article “U.S. pushes for more scientists, but the jobs aren’t there”, by Brian Vastag, published July 7th, 2012.
In my own case, the laboratory where I worked at “XYZ Company” closed 2 years ago and was moved to another state; one third of the research staff was laid off, fired, demoted or forced to retire early. I have been fortunate enough to find another job - at 60% of my former pay. And I’ve been luckier than many of my colleagues.
It is because of the above scenario, repeated over and over again, that the Bureau of Labor Statistics has predicted only 3.8% job growth for chemists over the next decade, far below the projected 14% growth for all occupations.For us chemists, the automatic green card effort would make the above poor job growth projections even worse.
The main premise of the SMART Jobs Act is that future scientists from other countries would start new companies and create jobs if allowed to remain here in the US. It is possible that a few exceptional individuals might indeed do so at some future time. But the great majority of these new scientists will not be starting companies. They will be competing with those already here for the decreased number of research jobs still available here in this country, making viable science careers in American industry even less attainable than they already are.
As you discuss this Act with your colleagues and hold hearings, consider the current situation of us chemists, and how many of us are without jobs, or without the decent salaries that we once had. We need persons such as yourself to make certain that our employment situations do not degrade any further. And so, I ask that you work to change this proposed legislation to remove the ‘Science’ portion from the ‘STEM’ designation.
James Doe, Ph.D.Thoughts?
UPDATE: I forgot the upper portion of the letter, where Dr. Doe explains the reasoning behind the letter. Ack. My fault. Apologies to Dr. Doe.