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Bipartisan "Press One for America" Bill Unveiled That Lets Consumers Choose U.S. Based Call Centers

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Legislation Comes As CWA Releases Study Outlining How Overseas Call Centers Threaten U.S. Jobs And The Personal Data of American Consumers

WASHINGTON – Lawmakers from both sides of the aisle today joined together in support of legislation that would end tax payer subsidies for corporations that send U.S. call center jobs offshore, as the Communications Workers of America (CWA) released a report outlining massive data security issues at overseas call centers that leave Americans’ personal information at risk.

Senator Robert Casey (D-PA) joined House sponsors Rep. David McKinley (R-WV) and Rep. Tim Bishop (D-NY) to formally unveil the bipartisan “U.S. Call Center and Worker Protection Act of 2013.” (S. 1565/H.R. 2909)

The “Press One For America” section of the legislation requires call center employees to identify the country from which they are taking the call, and if outside the United States, offer the consumer the opportunity to be transferred back to a facility located in the U.S.  Further, companies that send U.S. call center jobs offshore would be barred from receiving federal loans, grants or subsidies for three years.

Finally, the bill requires that a list of companies that send call center jobs offshore be made available to the public, and allows firms that bring jobs back to America to be removed from that list.

“This bill would not stop a corporation from moving jobs overseas, but it makes it clear that those that don’t want to keep good jobs here in the U.S. won’t be able to benefit from federal grants and guaranteed loans,” said CWA Senior Director George Kohl. “There should be no more handouts from taxpayers for those who choose not to invest in American workers.”

CWA also has pointed out that the proposed Trans Pacific Partnership trade agreement, as currently structured, would enable other countries to challenge and potentially overturn U.S. legislation that seeks to promote quality U.S. jobs, including call center legislation, Buy American requirements or other measures. CWA and allies are fighting to stop “fast track” authority, also called Trade Promotion Authority, which would prohibit Congress from taking up any amendments to TPP. 

The call center bill, cosponsored in the Senate by Banking Committee Chair Tim Johnson (D-SD), is sponsored in the House of Representatives by Democrats Tim Bishop (NY-1), Mike Michaud (ME-2) and Gene Green (TX-29), along with Republicans David McKinley (WVA-1), Michael Grimm (NY-11) and Chris Gibson (NY-19).

CWA member Charlice Boston, a Winston-Salem North Carolina-based U.S. Airways reservations agent, is one of the 5,000 agents who filled jobs brought back to the U.S. from overseas as part of a collectively bargained agreement with the company.  

“I want to say ‘thank you’ from my co-workers and customers to Senator Casey, Rep. McKinley and Rep. Bishop for their leadership on this important legislation,” Ms. Boston said. “I encourage all of our Senators and Representatives to think of the impact quality jobs has on their constituents and to co-sponsor and pass this bill.”

Also today, CWA released a report entitled “Offshoring Security – How Overseas Call Centers Threaten U.S. Jobs, Consumer Privacy and Data Security.” The document outlines how U.S. corporations – many of whom receive millions in taxpayer subsidies -- hurt the economy here at home and put consumer personal information at risk by sending call center jobs overseas in the name of lowering labor and other business costs.

The report specifically calls out the “too big to fail” banks that received taxpayer bailouts during the recent financial crises who have summarily sent tens of thousands of call center jobs overseas. The worst offenders include Capitol One, JP Morgan Chase, Wells Fargo, Bank of America and Citigroup.

The report also gives the example of T-Mobile US, which closed seven U.S. call centers last year, putting 3,300 employees out of work and moving operations to Honduras and the Philippines, all after accepting $61 million in state and local subsidies. Even though the CWA won Trade Adjustment Assistance benefits for those workers after documenting their work had in fact been offshored, the company to this day denies the fact.

“What really ticks me off is that, instead of helping us get these benefits to re-start our lives, T-Mobile told the world they were not offshoring jobs. They told members of Congress and they told investors that the job losses resulted only from lower call volumes,” said Jamone Ross, who worked at a T-Mobile call center in Frisco, Texas that closed in June, 2012. “The Call Center and Worker Protection Act will require companies to be more honest.”

Read CWA’s report here.

 


CONTACT: Kendra Marr Chaikind or Chuck Porcari, CWA Communications, 202-434-1168, kchaikind@cwa-union.org, cporcari@cwa-union.org

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