Legislation to Promotes U.S. Contact Centers

Written by KOVA Corp

A bipartisan team of Washington lawmakers recently unveiled a bill meant to penalize organizations that outsource U.S. contact center jobs to other countries, called the “U.S. Call Center and Worker Protection Act of 2013” (S. 1565/H.R. 2909).

Supported by Senators Robert Casey (D-PA) and Tim Johnson (D-SD), and House of Representatives Democrats Tim Bishop (NY-1), Mike Michaud (ME-2) and Gene Green (TX-29), along with House Republicans David McKinley (WVA-1), Michael Grimm (NY-11) and Chris Gibson (NY-19), this bill approaches the issue of overseas contact centers from various angles.

First of all, it would create a “bad actor” list of American companies whose contact centers are in foreign countries. This list would be maintained by the Department of Labor and available to the public. Any company on this list would not only be ineligible for federal grants, subsidies, and guaranteed loans, but would remain ineligible for three years. In addition, companies not on this list would be given preference when awarding civilian and defense-related contracts. Companies that moved their operations back to the United States would, however, be allowed to have their names removed from the list.

Secondly, the “Press One For America” section of the legislation would require call center agents overseas to disclose their name and the physical location of their contact center at the beginning of each call; saying, for example, “Hello, this is Ryan in Manila.” The bill then gives the consumer the right to request that his call be transferred to a contact center located in the United States.

Communications Workers of America Senior Director George Kohl explained: “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. There should be no more handouts from taxpayers for those who choose not to invest in American workers.”

The creation of this bill was motivated by the ever-growing number of American contact center jobs lost to overseas outsourcing. “Outsourcing is one of the scourges of our economy and one of the reasons we are struggling to knock down the unemployment rate and reduce the number of Americans who are out of work. We can't prohibit it, but we can certainly discourage it,” said Representative Tim Bishop.

Another reason for its development was a recent report on the prevalence of data security issues at call centers in other countries, putting Americans at risk for identity theft.  According to this report, released by the Communications Workers of America, call center employees in centers overseas have been caught stealing credit card numbers, mortgage information, and medical records.

According to the CWA, “Action by legislators at the state and federal level is essential because the consequences of offshoring are destructive in many ways, devastating individuals, communities, and the nation.” The “Press One for America” bill would take decisive action against companies that outsource contact center jobs to other countries. What are your thoughts on this proposed piece of legislation?

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