July 16, 2018

Kaine Cosponsors Bill To Protect American Call Center Jobs & Consumers

Legislation protects American jobs from outsourcing and ensures Virginia consumers have access to U.S.-based call centers

WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senator Tim Kaine has joined a group of his colleagues to cosponsor the United States Call Center Worker and Consumer Protection Act, legislation to protect American jobs in call centers in Virginia and across the U.S. With over 67,000 Virginians working as customer service representatives, often in call centers, the bill would end tax breaks that promote outsourcing and provide more transparency for American consumers, who are sometimes targeted by scams coming from overseas call centers.

“The rise in call center jobs being shipped overseas is harming workers in communities across the country, and we need to take action to guard against offshoring,” Kaine said. “This bill would help keep jobs here in Virginia, protect consumers’ personal data, and could spur economic growth.”

There is an uptick in the practice of offshoring U.S. jobs – including call center positions – to other countries. A recent report by the Communications Workers of America (CWA) and the Committee for Better Banks highlighted how large banks have continued to send call center jobs overseas while laying off call center employees in the U.S. 

U.S.-based call centers typically ensure a high degree of security to protect customer information, while oftentimes, overseas call centers are in countries where workers are exploited and/or human resource and information security practices are far inferior to those in the U.S. Security breaches at foreign call centers have left American consumers vulnerable to fraud. 

If passed, this bill would accomplish the following goals:

  • Create a ‘bad actor’ list of U.S. companies that make a practice of sending U.S. jobs overseas: It would require a publicly available list, kept by the Department of Labor, of all employers that relocated entirely or a significant portion of their call center or customer service work overseas. These companies would be ineligible for federal grants or guaranteed loans. Preference will be given to U.S. employers that do not appear on the list for awarding civilian or defense-related contracts. Employers that relocate a call center will remain on the list for up to 5 years after each instance of relocating a call center.
  • List removal: If a ‘bad actor’ relocates a call center into the U.S., bringing jobs back, they will be removed from the list.
  • Disclose call center location to U.S. consumers: It would require the relocated overseas call center agent to disclose their name and physical location of their operation. 
  • Right to transfer: U.S. consumers would reserve the right to request the call be transferred to a customer service agent who is physically located in the U.S.

The United States Call Center Worker and Consumer Protection Act was originally sponsored by Senator Bob Casey (D-PA) and in addition to Kaine, has been cosponsored by Senators Sherrod Brown (D-OH), Claire McCaskill (D-MO), Joe Manchin (D-WV), Richard Durbin (D-IL), Tammy Baldwin (D-WI), Debbie Stabenow (D-MI), Joe Donnelly (D-IN), Heidi Heitkamp (D-ND), Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), Jon Tester (D-MT), Gary Peters (D-MI), Jeff Merkley (D-OR), and Kamala Harris (D-CA).

Text of the United States Call Center Worker and Consumer Protection Act is available here.  

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