Following a tragic December 23 fire at a call center in Davao City, Philippines, that claimed the lives of 38 call center workers, CWA President Chris Shelton has sent letters to the CEOs of AT&T, T-Mobile, and Verizon seeking to ensure that workers in these companies' offshored call centers in the Philippines and beyond are "employed in a safe and healthful manner."
While the investigation into the cause and liability of the Davao City fire is ongoing, the CWA letters note that "reports indicate that faulty sprinkler and alarm systems, along with dangerously designed fire escapes – including potentially serious violations of fire codes – were major contributors to this terrible loss of life."
In light of the large numbers of call center jobs that AT&T, Verizon, and T-Mobile have offshored from the U.S. to the Philippines, the CWA letters urge these companies "to require extensive safety inspections in all of the offshore call centers that handle…calls, and to ensure that safety equipment and procedures meet international standards, even if above and beyond domestic laws. No worker, anywhere, should be employed in a center that does not properly provide for the protection of their life."
The CWA letters also note "that the lax labor and safety regulations in the Philippines and other offshore call center destinations are among the reasons companies…choose to offshore their work," while condemning "offshoring as a means to avoid corporate responsibility for the safety of workers."
CWA, which believes that the offshoring trend has harmed American communities, workers, and consumers, also urges the companies to "take all steps necessary to bring work back to the U.S." CWA is a strong supporter of federal call center legislation that would add more accountability and transparency to offshoring and would make U.S. companies that offshore their call center jobs from the U.S. ineligible for certain federal grants and taxpayer-funded loans.