U.S. Sen. Bob Casey on Wednesday introduced legislation to preserve Pennsylvania jobs by sanctioning businesses that outsource call center jobs.
Companies that move call center jobs overseas would be ineligible for federal funding, including grants and loans, according to the legislation introduced by the incumbent Democrat from Scranton.
Businesses that ship call center jobs overseas "shouldn't see the benefits of government grants and loans," Casey said.
In addition to restricting federal dollars, the legislation also would land those companies on a public list with the Department of Labor, and employers would remain on the list for three years after each location. Agencies, including the Department of Defense, would then be required to give preference to U.S. employers that are not on that list.
"We ought to put in place measures to protect workers and preserve jobs at a time when we need to preserve every single job possible," Casey said. "We've got to do both job creation and job preservation. This is one effort to have some job preservation for the people of Pennsylvania."
Nationwide, more than 4 million workers have call center jobs, and his legislation would preserve about 200,000 call center jobs in Pennsylvania, Casey said.
More than 6,800 Pennsylvania workers lost employment after their call center jobs were shipped, according to the Department of Labor's annual report for trade adjustment assistance. And 197 of those lost jobs were in York, according to the data.
"If a company is intent on outsourcing call center jobs, they should have to, at a minimum, notify the Department of Labor four months before relocating, and they should be subject to a fine," Casey said. Outsourcing, which seeks low-cost labor overseas and hit its peak in the early 2000s, was a subject of discussion early this week when Casey and five other senators drafted legislation in response to the U.S. Olympic Team uniforms' being made in China.
The bill would require the U.S. Olympic Committee to adopt a policy requiring uniforms be sewn or assembled in America.
"We're having a debate, as we speak, on outsourcing," Casey said. "We're had similar debates about that issue." Also focusing on call center jobs will help preserve jobs and keep companies from shipping them overseas, he said.
"If we're able to take steps like this, if we're able to ... expose this kind of activity, and make it more difficult for firms to do that, we can preserve a lot of call center jobs," he said. "If we're just going to allow this to continue to happen without consequences ... it's going to be difficult to reduce the numbers."
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