The “U.S. Call Center Worker and Consumer Protection Act:” A Nice Gesture

Business, U.S. News

Dave Jamieson, Huffington Post reporter, published a recent article about a new bill that will soon be presented to the halls of Congress: “A bill that would punish American companies for sending their customer call centers overseas has caused an uproar in India and the Philippines, where politicians and corporations fear lost business due to the U.S. bill’s protectionist measures.”  

Call Center In India

The legislation is presented as a bi-partisan solution to the problem of corporate outsourcing, a common practice that has only been gaining popularity in recent decades.  The goal of the bill is to bring American jobs, made by American corporations, back to the United States.

Jamieson tells us: “The legislation, pushed by Rep. Tim Bishop (D-N.Y.) and the Communications Workers of America (CWA) union, would make companies that outsource their call center work ineligible for guaranteed federal loans and grants for a period of five years.”

The bill, entitled “U.S. Call Center Worker and Consumer Protection Act,” would place much tighter regulation on corporation in comparison to the current standard.

In response to the proposed legislation, both the India and the Philippines are planning on setting loose a pack of lobbyists, with the goal of shutting the bill down in its tracks: “Last week, a Filipino parliamentarian publicly urged President Benigno Aquino III to dispatch “a strong lobby team” in Washington… warning that it would “kill” the industry in the Philippines. Similarly, India’s ambassador to the United States has suggested that country also plans to lobby hard on the bill. “

Representative Bishop, the architect of the bill, responds to the Indian and Filipino response: “Frankly, the fact that both the Indian government and the Filipino government are reacting like this says that our bill is very badly needed,” he said. Most of the call center jobs lost in the U.S. are “sent primarily to India and the Philippines. So I hope [the bill] does have an impact.”

Bishop defends the legislation: “outsourcing is one of the scourges of our economy and one of the reasons we are struggling to knock down the unemployment rate and reduce the number of Americans who are out of work … We can’t prohibit it, but we can certainly discourage it.”

In the last decade, in light of rampant globalization, the practice of outsourcing has caused tension between corporations and the various labor groups that represent American workers.  So Rep. Bishop’s comes at a good time.  The nation has expressed widespread disapproval over outsourcing, especially at a time when the unemployment rate at home is so high.

Jamieson reports: “So far, Bishop has found a pair of Republican co-sponsors for the legislation in Reps. Dave McKinley (R-W.Va.) and Michael Grimm (R-N.Y.). In a statement, Grimm said, ‘This bill ensures that companies receiving taxpayer-funded federal aid or tax incentives don’t use those incentives to move their call centers abroad.’”

This legislation is not likely to make it onto the books however.  No, it will probably end up being little more than a gesture, as it has little chance passing the House of Representatives, where GOP politicians make up the majority.  That’s what happens to “honest-to-God bipartisan job bills”, they gain support, and then die at the hands of GOP gridlock.

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