Arguing that 3,300 working Americans should not face severe economic hardship because their employer chooses to offshore call center work, the Communications Workers of America (CWA) has requested that the U.S. Department of Labor grant Trade Adjustment Assistance (TAA) benefits to T-Mobile USA customer service representatives at seven U.S. call centers enters slated for closure in June.
If approved, following an investigation of the circumstances surrounding the layoffs by the Department of Labor, a TAA designation would make employees eligible for enhanced unemployment benefits, tuition assistance for job retraining programs and tax credits for family health insurance, among other things.
“The purpose of the TAA program is that workers should not bear the cost of corporate decisions to close U.S. facilities and send that work overseas,” said CWA Chief of Staff Ron Collins. “Instead of developing a business model based on quality customer service that customers clearly want, T-Mobile USA is following a low-road strategy that is harming U.S. workers.”
Last month T-Mobile USA, a subsidiary of German-based Deutsche Telekom, announced it would close seven U.S. call centers including two in Texas and one each in Florida, Kansas, Pennsylvania, Colorado and Oregon. The closures are expected to be completed with 60 days.
The filing for a TAA designation comes as support in Congress for the bi-partisan “U.S. Call Center and Worker Protection Act” (H.R. 3596) grew to more than 117 co-sponsors this week. The bill would prevent corporations from seeking any type of federal loan, grant or tax subsidy for five years if they decide to move U.S.-based call center jobs overseas. Further, the bill would require that U.S. consumers be told of the location of the call center in which they are speaking, and gives them the right to ask for a transfer to a U.S.-based call center.
The momentum both in Washington and at the state-level for similar legislation comes admidst new reports of fraud and data theft at overseas call center operations chronicled (CWA April 2012 report on consumer data theft by CWA over the past months.
CWA represents 700,000 workers nationally, including more than 150,000 customer service professionals.