United States

Infosys Landing in Connecticut Becomes Campaign Issue

Last March, Gov. Dannel Malloy was joined by executives from the India-based IT company Infosys to announce the company would open an office in Hartford and hire 1,000 new workers.

At the time, Malloy described the announcement as a “landmark day in Connecticut’s economic development efforts at a time when our investments are bringing new life and vigor to our capital city.”

But Craig Diangelo says the company should not be applauded for opening a technology hub in Hartford. He, along with hundreds of colleagues, lost their jobs at Northeast Utilities as a result of outsourcing IT positions to Infosys.

“We were shocked that the state of Connecticut would give the company $14 million to set up shop in Connecticut,” he said.

Diangelo was one of more than 200 employees at the company formerly known as Northeast Utilities, now known as Eversource, that was required to train their replacements before losing their jobs.

“That is extremely humiliating to people, who knowing they are going to lose their jobs, and they are having to train their replacements who don’t have the skillsets that we had,” he said.

Infosys has become a centerpiece of attacks against Democratic Gubernatorial candidate Ned Lamont. He was instrumental in bringing the company to Hartford, capitalizing on a previous professional relationship he had forged with Infosys executives and selling them on Hartford.

Republican nominee Bob Stefanowski, a former corporate executive, who Lamont has accused of running his own outsourcing business, was openly critical of Infosys’ move to Hartford during a debate for governor less than two weeks ago challenging the company’s use of H-1B visas to bring in employees from outside the United States.

"Infosys was slapped with the largest fine in the entire country for bringing people in illegally on H1-B Visas, putting people in Connecticut out work,” Stefanowski said. “The people are training people from overseas to come in. They're taking over their jobs and putting Connecticut people out of work."

The Department of Justice in Washington fined Infosys $34 million for violation of immigration laws in October 2013.

Despite Connecticut’s economic struggles over the past eight years, corporate development expert John Boyd says the move to Hartford shows the state and city are improving when it comes to business friendliness.

“It came at a time when Connecticut was really desperate for a major win and this Infosys selection of Connecticut is very significant,” said John Boyd, whose firm specializes in corporate relocation for large companies.

“[Infosys} recently put technology centers in Raleigh and Indianapolis. They’re rapidly expanding their presence here in the US and this was a big win for Hartford,” Boyd said.

Lamont said criticism of the company is entirely unfounded.

“That was five years ago,” Lamont said during an interview. “Right now, Infosys is going to do nothing but hire Connecticut people for Connecticut jobs. It’s incredibly important for our city and our state. Jobs are going to keep coming back into Connecticut because of the quality of our workforce.”

Infosys’ agreement with the state of Connecticut is not yet finalized, but that’s expected soon, according to a spokesman with the Department of Economic and Community Development.

In a statement, a spokesperson for Infosys wrote, “We do not plan to fill any of these positions with H1-B visa holders. These positions will be filled by American workers/visa independent candidates.”

The spokesperson also said the company is still on target to meet its hiring goals.

Stefanowski remains critical of the agreement, but would not commit to trying to renegotiate the deal if he wins the race for governor next week.

“When you bring in a company like that and you pay them $14 million to come here, you would hope that it would create jobs for people in Connecticut and that would be my focus. I don’t think that was the focus on Ned when he brought it in,” said Stefanowski.

Lamont said it’s inappropriate to attack a company bringing jobs to the state and especially to Hartford.

“Bob Stefanowski to knock one of the biggest new employers to move into the city of Hartford is absolutely crazy,” Lamont said.

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