Washington, DC – Today, in a near party-line vote of 238-178, the U.S. House of Representatives voted against considering legislation sponsored by Rep. Tim Bishop (D-NY) and Rep. Dave McKinley (R-WV) entitled the U.S. Call Center Worker and Consumer Protection Act. The legislation would have helped to revitalize a U.S. call center industry that has lost over 500,000 jobs just in the past six years, per the Bureau of Labor Statistics. In the process, the legislation also would have strengthened American consumer security against ongoing security problems associated with overseas call centers.
According to Ron Collins, Chief of Staff of the Communications Workers of America (CWA), “The House of Representatives faced a stark choice today – side with American consumers’ security while revitalizing the job prospects of thousands of American workers or side with actors in corporate America content to ship jobs overseas at any cost. It’s both unfortunate and unsurprising that today’s result broke along party lines and that most House Republicans sided with corporations like Bank of America, T-Mobile, and Wells Fargo ahead of the best interests of the American public.”
The legislation would require that U.S. callers be told the location of the call center to which they are speaking and offer callers the opportunity to be connected to a U.S. based center if preferred. The legislation also would make companies who off-shore their call center jobs from the U.S. ineligible for taxpayer funded grants and loans.
A series of revelations over the past few months underscored the importance of this legislation – including, the news of U.S. taxpayer money going to train workers in overseas call centers, revelations of multiple scams operating out of overseas call centers, and disturbing findings that the Big 4 Wall Street banks moved their call center operations to the Philippines despite a lack of rudimentary security precautions, privacy standards, and legal accountability. Not to mention, the ongoing need for domestic job creation due to high levels of unemployment and the related fact that the call center industry continues to shed jobs due to corporate off-shoring.
Rep. Bishop recently highlighted the common sense rationale behind the legislation during an appearance on the Thom Hartmann Show: “When we first introduced legislation, the government of the Philippines fought back strenuously and began a lobbying effort to see to it that my bill never came up for legislation. If call center outsourcing is so important to the Filipino economy, imagine how important it is to our economy. We ought to be more concerned about the implications to our economy than the implications to the Filipino economy.”