WASHINGTON - Most Americans know the drill: You call a company's customer service line and often, you end up speaking with someone in another country. This can be an inconvenience because of languages and accents, but the matter is more serious than just that. Information to that effect from a Communications Workers of America (CWA) report
is gaining attention in Congress.
CWA Legislative Director Shane Larson says they've detailed the economic damage done to communities when jobs are shipped overseas, and documented instances of fraud directly related to employees in overseas call centers.
"There's a basic lack of security protections for your data when it's housed overseas. I think that Americans would be outraged if every American knew that their data is that open to identity theft."
The report recommends that the U.S. strongly encourage other countries to pass data privacy laws.
Larson says new bi-partisan legislation, the U.S. Call Center Worker and Consumer Protection Act (H.R. 3496), would address some of the concerns, with such provisions as making corporations that send U.S. call center jobs overseas ineligible for direct or indirect federal loans and grants for five years.
The bill also gives consumers some basic rights.
"A foreign, overseas call center must notify a U.S. consumer where they are located, and that you also have a right to ask to be transferred to a call center based in the United States."
In addition, companies that off-shore their call centers would be put on a list available to the public. Larson says he hopes the report and legislation will encourage companies to take another look at their outsourcing decisions and consider bringing those jobs back, especially at a time when so many leaders are calling for job creation.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that the number of American call center jobs has declined by more than 500,000 over the past few years.
The CWA report, "Why Shipping Call Centers Jobs Overseas Hurts Us Back Home," is at bit.ly/zwflu4
H.R. 3596 was introduced by Rep. Tim Bishop (D-NY) and Rep. Dave McKinley (R-WV), and is co-sponsored by Reps. Michael Michaud (D-ME), Gene Green (D-TX), and Michael Grimm (R-NY). There are 57 co-sponsors.