The push to bring outsourced jobs back to American shores gained momentum last week, when recently proposed legislation to close tax loopholes for call centers received an overwhelming endorsement from lawmakers.
According to an article in last Friday’s Indian Express, 106 members of the U.S. House of Representatives signed on as co-sponsors to the U.S. Call Center and Consumer Protection Act (HR 3596), originally introduced toward the end of the 2011 congressional session by Rep. Tim Bishop (D-NY).
The goal of the bill is to stop the practice of call-center operations establishing an outpost in a U.S. community in order to receive taxpayer-funded federal aid, then moving those operations offshore shortly thereafter.
Part of the reason for the surge in support comes from new evidence that a consumer’s personal information is at greater risk when call centers are located offshore instead of in the United States. Bishop says:
It is clear that overseas call centers simply cannot provide the same level of security for sensitive personal data as facilities in the US, and Americans should be guaranteed the option of a domestic call center to conduct their business. Taxpayer dollars should not be supporting companies that choose protecting their bottom line over protecting their customers.
According to a March story by Billing World reporter Josh Long, call center jobs comprise about 3% of the American workforce. But in the last four years, at least half a million of these jobs have left U.S. communities.
Should the legislation pass, Long says the U.S. Department of Labor would be empowered to track call-center operations moving overseas. Firms engaging in this practice would lose their eligibility to receive federal taxpayer-funded support for five years. The law would further encourage consumers to use American-based call centers by requiring offshore employees to identify themselves as such and offer the option to be transferred.
While the enacting of such a law would certainly result in a positive impact for career opportunities for people with disabilities, the greater benefit could be the encouragement for similar legislation in other industries such as contract manufacturing.
As previously noted, President Obama has been urging manufacturers to restore domestic operations. These are the types of jobs that also create other jobs in the logistics supply chain, such as packing, sorting, and assembly work. By hiring people with disabilities to fulfill these tasks, A U.S. company can exert more control over the supply train and be more cost-effective than when moving their operations overseas.