Saturday, July 12, 2014

Casey unveils legislation to protect call center jobs

Law’s aim is to prevent companies from shipping work overseas

November 14. 2013 9:07AM

Casey also unveils new Pre-K approach

U.S. Sen. Bob Casey, D-Scranton, unveiled the Senate’s new comprehensive approach to universal Pre-K. The bill — the Strong Start for America’s Children Act — focuses on four key goals: boosting funding for high-quality preschool programs serving low- and moderate-income families; increasing the quality of infant and toddler care offered by providers; supporting quality improvements to child care programs; and encouraging continued support for the Maternal, Infant, and Early Childhood Home Visiting program.

The early childhood education proposal is a 10-year initiative to expand learning opportunities for young children. The bill would fund preschool for 4-year-old children from families earning below 200 percent of the federal poverty level, and encourage states to spend their own funds to support preschool for young children with family incomes above that income level.

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WILKES-BARRE — U.S. Sen. Bob Casey Wednesday joined other members of Congress to unveil bi-partisan legislation aimed at ending a decade-long exodus of call center jobs to overseas operations.

Casey, D-Scranton, said the loss of jobs has left many communities devastated, and he said call center workers in other countries are often exploited. He said human resource and information security practices are far inferior to those in the U.S. and the centers are often referred to as modern day sweatshops.

With almost 200,000 Pennsylvanians working in call centers, the bill aims to provide more transparency for consumers and ends tax breaks that promote outsourcing.

Casey said the bill — S.B. 1565, the “United States Call Center Worker and Consumer Protection act of 2013” — would require companies to disclose when a caller’s phone call is sent overseas and would remove tax breaks for any company that outsources call centers.

“Companies shouldn’t be rewarded for sending jobs overseas,” Casey said. “This bill will ensure that companies that outsource jobs will not see the benefits of government grants and loans. It is a common-sense bill that will protect middle class jobs in the United States, protect consumers personal and financial information and provide customers a choice in speaking with a U.S. employee.”

At a Wednesday press conference in Washington, D.C., the Communications Workers of America released a report: “Off-shoring Security: How Overseas Call Centers Threaten U.S. Jobs, Consumer Privacy and Data Security.”

The report revealed that shutting down call centers in the U.S. and moving them offshore is weakening the economic recovery, harming workers and communities, and putting U.S. consumers’ data at risk. Casey said the situation demands federal and state action.

The report can be found at:

Security breaches

According to John Rizzo, Casey’s communications director, a PricewaterhouseCoopers survey found that 83 percent of Indian outsourcing companies surveyed had information security breaches during the previous year.

“There is a strong link between overseas call centers and security problems, putting American consumers at risk for identity theft, fraudulent transactions, and general mishandling of sensitive information,” Rizzo said.

Rizzo said a growing trend for Indian call center companies is to sub-contract the call center work out to other politically volatile countries that often times have even worse security protections.

“U.S. taxpayer money should not be awarded to companies that make a practice of sending U.S. jobs overseas,” Rizzo said. “This epidemic has resulted in greater job losses here in the U.S and the erosion of middle class communities while risking the data of millions of American consumers.”

If passed, Casey’s bill would:

• Create a “bad actor” list of U.S. companies that make a practice of sending U.S. jobs overseas. The publicly available list, kept by the Department of Labor, would show all employers that relocated entirely or a significant portion of their call center or customer service work overseas.

• Make these companies 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.

• Would require a relocated overseas call center agent to disclose their name and physical location of their operation. For example, a customer may hear, “Hello, my name is Jane from Manila.”

• Reserve the right of U.S. consumers to request the call be transferred to a customer service agent who is physically located in the U.S.

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