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Providing for Consideration of H.R. 2578, Conservation and Economic Growth Act

Floor Speech

By:
Date:
Location: Washington, DC

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Mr. BISHOP of New York. I thank the gentlelady for yielding.

Madam Speaker, the U.S. Call Center Worker and Consumer Protection Act, H.R. 3596, is a bipartisan bill. It has 128 Democratic sponsors. It has seven Republican sponsors. And the bill is very straightforward.

It would do four things. It would require companies that plan to move a call center overseas to notify the Secretary of Labor no less than 120 days before the relocation occurs. If a company does move a call center overseas, that company would be ineligible for any Federal grants, contracts, or loans during the time that the call center workers are overseas. It would require the Secretary of Labor to maintain a publicly available list of all employers that relocate a call center overseas. And it would allow customers who are calling customer service communications at the beginning of the call to request that the call be transferred to a U.S.-based call center, if they so chose.

There are two dimensions to this bill: one is about jobs, and the other is about the security of consumer data. They are both very important. But let me start with the more important, which is jobs.

Now we talk a great deal in this Congress about how the number one priority has to be the creation of jobs. It does. And we have to move beyond the lip service that I think the Republican majority has given to the creation of jobs and actually put policies in place that will

create jobs. But we also have to protect the jobs that we have. And one of the scourges of our economy right now is the outsourcing of jobs. Just in call centers alone, in the last 5 years, we have lost over 500,000 call center jobs. These are good, solid middle class jobs. To add insult to injury, the companies that are offshoring the jobs have taken millions of dollars of incentives from local taxpayers to open call centers in the U.S., only to offshore those jobs a short time later and leave local communities devastated and still paying the bill.

And the U.S. consumers are getting it. U.S. consumers have become more and more skeptical of the toll that outsourcing plays on the American economy. A paper by the Council on Foreign Relations noted that over two-thirds of Americans think companies sending jobs overseas is a major reason why the economy is ailing. In a paper done by a Harvard economist, more recent polling data suggests that these feelings have increased, where now over half of all Americans are ``resentful of businesses that send jobs overseas,'' and over 80 percent have ``concern for their family future'' due to outsourcing. So this job creation and job protection dimension of the bill that I have filed--as I say, with bipartisan support--would address these issues at least in one piece of our economy, and that is call centers.

Let me move to the issue of the protection and security of consumer data. Outsourcing call center work exposes the confidential and vulnerable personal information of American consumers to foreign workers. Foreign call centers are not subject to the same rigorous oversight as American call centers. As American companies look to less developed countries for offshoring their jobs, call center companies are actually subsourcing call center work without their American customers' knowledge.

It's expensive and difficult to conduct proper background checks on foreign call center workers, and up to one-quarter of all foreign call center applicants provide false or incorrect information. Foreign call center workers have been caught offering to sell personal consumer data to undercover journalists, threatening to release Americans' medical records and employment disputes, misleading American bank customers in schemes to bolster sales, and attempting to sell trade secrets to their employers' competitors.

A March 18, 2012, article published in The Times of London cited that undercover journalists were offered data such as credit card numbers, medical records, and loan data for hundreds of clients for just pennies. So clearly, from both dimensions here--from a job protection dimension and from a consumer data security dimension--this bill addresses both of these issues; and we simply must put in place these kinds of protections.

States have already done this. State legislatures in Florida, Georgia, and New Jersey have all passed bills that are very similar to the bill that we have before us. This is a commonsense proposal that enjoys bipartisan support. Let's vote ``no'' on the previous question so that we may consider this job-saving bill.

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