Washington, DC – During a Senate Banking Committee hearing this week, Senator Joe Donnelly (D-IN) grilled Wells Fargo CEO Tim Sloan on the company’s practice of offshoring American call center jobs to cheaper overseas markets such as the Philippines. Upon questioning from Senator Donnelly, CEO Sloan admitted that recent rounds of layoffs at Wells Fargo call centers in America were directly related to the company’s increased hiring of call center workers in the Philippines – an admission at odds with the company’s supposed reasoning for the recent layoffs of hundreds of American call center workers.
Video of the exchange via CWA’s Twitter account:
In September 2017, Wells Fargo announced it would eliminate 120 jobs at its Fort Mill, SC call center. In August 2017, Wells Fargo announced that it would eliminate 72 jobs at its Vancouver, WA call center and eventually close the center. The latest round of American call center layoffs continues a trend we saw in 2011 and 2012, when Wells Fargo laid off hundreds of American call center workers in such locations as California, Florida, and Pennsylvania. While the company blamed this new round of American worker layoffs on the drop-offs in foreclosures and changes in the mortgage servicing marketplace, Wells Fargo failed to mention its significant and growing presence of call centers overseas that are servicing the U.S. marketplace:
Wells Fargo Enterprise Global Services, LLC-Philippines, a subsidiary to Wells Fargo Bank, began in 2011 with fewer than 100 employees and now has more than 4,000 employees. In May 2017, the company highlighted that it was building a new location in McKinley Hill, Philippines that will seat more than 7,000 employees. Of note, these workers provide “business processing services” for the U.S. marketplace. In other words, these are call centers for U.S.-based customers of Wells Fargo.
Shane Larson, CWA Legislative Director, said, “It’s clear that Wells Fargo and many other corporations are laying off U.S. workers and shipping those jobs to the Philippines and other offshore locations. That’s why my union is fighting for bipartisan legislation to safeguard U.S. call center workers, the consumers they serve and the communities that depend on these jobs.”
The U.S. Call Center Worker and Consumer Protection Act, co-sponsored by Senator Donnelly, requires that U.S. callers be told the location of the call center to which they are speaking; offers callers the opportunity to be connected to a U.S. based center if preferred; and makes U.S. companies that off-shore their call center jobs from the U.S. ineligible for certain federal grants and taxpayer-funded loans. A similar state bill in Indiana’s legislature, the “Call Center Worker and Consumer Protection Bill,” has been introduced by State Senator David Niezgodski.
Call center offshoring also was a major focus of the recent Midwest Pick-up Tour: a series of rallies and events sponsored by CWA and Good Jobs Nation (GJN) that held President Trump and other elected officials accountable for their failed promises to America’s workers and drew attention to the continued offshoring of American jobs by the call center industry. From the first rally in Indianapolis to the final rally stop in Erie, PA, CWA local leaders, call center workers, and allies called on elected officials to keep their promises about bringing back good jobs to the U.S. At the Bloomington, IN rally, as Indiana Public Radio highlighted, Liz Watson, Democratic candidate for Indiana’s 9th congressional district in the 2018 election, spoke in support of state and federal call center legislation, noting: “I stand with Sen. Donnelly and his support for federal legislation that would keep our call center jobs in southern Indiana and in the U.S. And I stand in support of state legislation that would do the same thing.”
Larson said, “We thank Senator Donnelly for his leadership and support of this critical effort to save good U.S. jobs. We call on all Senators and Members of Congress to support bipartisan call center legislation to keep these good jobs here at home.”