Bid to cut grants to outsourcing firms

Congressman Tim Bishop

NEW YORK: In a move that will have a direct bearing on India, Congressman Tim Bishop (D-NY) introduced a bipartisan legislation to bar corporations that send US call center jobs overseas from receiving federal grants and loans.
Bishop’s “US Call Center and Consumer Protection Act,” which is co-sponsored by Reps. Dave McKinley (R- WVA), Mike Michaud (D- ME), and Gene Green (D-TX) also requires overseas call center employees to disclose their location to US consumers and gives customers the right to be transferred to a US-based call center upon request. The bill also has the full support of the 700,000-member Communications Workers of America (CWA).
The US Call Center and Consumer Protection Act is also designed to limit the threat of consumer fraud and identity theft at foreign call centers. A new CWA study is expected to spotlight the fact that foreign call centers often lack the type of security measures common in the United States, potentially putting financial, medical, and other sensitive customer information at risk.
Based on the CWA study, Congressman Bishop said that Indian call center companies are sub-outsourcing work to developing countries with potentially corrupt or unstable governance, like Egypt, Mexico, the Czech Republic, China, and Thailand, complicating efforts to identify and prosecute fraud.
The legislation would require the US Department of Labor to track firms that move call center jobs overseas; the firms would then be ineligible for any direct or indirect federal loans or loan guarantees for five years.
“It’s common sense that we should not be rewarding companies that ship jobs overseas while millions of qualified Americans are looking for work,” Bishop said. “Taxpayer dollars should only be used to incentivize good corporate citizens who create American jobs.”
Bishop has been a leader in Congress on ensuring that taxpayer dollars do not benefit companies that choose to relocate jobs overseas despite slow job growth in the United States. Last year, his efforts helped force the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) to drop a program that would have used approximately $10 million in taxpayer funds to help train workers in Sri Lanka for jobs in the outsourcing industry.
In the 111th Congress, he sponsored The Stop Outsourcing and Create American Jobs Act of 2010 (H.R. 5622), which would have required federal agencies to request information about a corporations’ outsourcing practices when it applies for government contracts and allows preference for companies that have not outsourced jobs in the last year.
According to CWA, total customer service/call center employment has dropped from 5.2 million in 2006 to 4.7 million in 2010, a loss of approximately 500,000 jobs lost in 4 years. Companies have also taken millions in incentives from local taxpayers to open call centers in the US, only to off-shore their operations a short time later and leave local communities devastated and still paying the bill, the Congressman said.
“Congressman Bishop’s bill will help to address a serious issue that has bothered most Americans for a long time,” said Michael Gendron of Communications Workers of America Local 1108 in Patchogue. “If you are frustrated by dealing with call centers that are located overseas and having to worry about the security of your personal information, this bill will give you a choice to deal with American workers who must comply with American laws.”
India Post News Service

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