Washington, D.C. – In the aftermath of news that Wells Fargo closed its Reno call center and laid off 340 employees, U.S. Senator Catherine Cortez Masto (D-Nev.) co-sponsored the United States Call Center Worker and Consumer Protection Act of 2017 to protect the rights of call center employees. Introduced by Senator Bob Casey (D-Pa.), this bill would require the Secretary of Labor to take certain steps to increase transparency and discourage corporations from shipping jobs overseas.
“Wells Fargo must be held accountable for sending the jobs of American call center workers overseas. It’s shocking that less than a year after receiving a massive tax break from Republicans in Congress, they’ve laid off 340 call center workers in Reno. I’m proud to co-sponsor the United States Call Center Worker and Consumer Protection Act of 2017, a bill to make it more difficult for employers like Wells Fargo to steal jobs away from American workers. This legislation would create a publicly available list so American taxpayers can see which corporations are shipping jobs overseas. It would also make corporations that callously lay off their workers and ignore the potential economic damage to their communities, like Wells Fargo, ineligible for federal grants and guaranteed loans. I’m working to pass this bill to finally grant call center workers the protection they deserve.”
Call centers are a major economic force in the United States. About four million people are employed by the industry, or three percent of the U.S. workforce. But the technology that is the infrastructure of the call center industry has made it possible for center operators to move tens of thousands of jobs overseas, where the workforce required for these jobs is available at much lower costs. U.S. companies have been exporting call center jobs to the Philippines, India, Mexico, Dominican Republic, Costa Rica, Honduras and other developing nations. Over the past decade, the U.S. has lost more than 200,000 call center jobs, according to U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics data.
This bill would help to ensure that taxpayer dollars are not rewarding companies that offshore their customer service work and would give consumers the power to decide where to have their calls handled. It would require the relocated overseas call center agent to disclose their name and physical location of their operation. 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
It would also require a publicly available list, kept by the Department of Labor, of all employers that relocated their call center or customer service work overseas. These companies would be ineligible for Federal grants or guaranteed loans. Employers that relocate a call center will remain on the list for up to 5 years after each instance of relocating a call center. If a ‘bad actor’ relocates a call center into the U.S. (brings jobs back) they will be removed from the list.
Earlier this month, Senator Cortez Masto called on Wells Fargo to explain its decision to lay off hundreds of workers in light of its recent tax windfall. In the letter, she expressed her serious concerns about the move.