Sen. Bob Casey (D-Pa.) has just proposed a bill that would limit access to federal contracts for companies that ship call center jobs overseas.
The bill, if it passes the Senate, would give companies who keep call center jobs in America priority over companies that outsource call center jobs to other countries when bidding on federal contracts.
“We ought to put in place measures to protect workers and preserve jobs at a time when we need to preserve every single job possible,” Casey told phillyBurbs.com. “We’ve got to do both job creation and job preservation. This is one effort to have some job preservation for the people of Pennsylvania.”
Casey’s proposal would require companies that outsource call center functions internationally to report to the Department of Labor and to pay a fine.
Telecommunications carrier T-Mobile (News - Alert), which recently closed seven call centers at a cost of 1,900 American jobs, would have been subject to such a fine under the Casey bill.
In late 2011, Rep. Tim Bishop (D-N.Y.) proposed a similar bill called the U.S. Call Center Worker and Consumer Protection Act. The bill had union backing from the Communications Workers of American union.
“Americans are fed up with good call center jobs here in the United States being shipped overseas," CWA (News - Alert) chief of staff Ron Collins told Information Week. "The bill does not prevent a corporation from moving, if they want, but it prevents them from gaining access to our tax dollars while they do that.”
The bill, which had 22 Democratic co-sponsors and three GOP co-sponsors, languished in committee and failed to come to the Senate floor for a vote. A variety of organizatins including the National Retail Federation, the Consumer Electronics Association (News - Alert) and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce wrote a letter to Congress opposing Bishop’s bill.
Casey’s new bill injects new urgency into the outsourcing debate. “If we’re able to take steps like this,” Casey said, “if we’re able to insist upon that kind of notice and expose this kind of activity, and make it more difficult for firms to do that, we can preserve a lot of call center jobs. If we’re just going to allow this to continue to happen without consequence, it’s going to be difficult to reduce the numbers.”
Edited by Juliana Kenny