Lawmakers look to limit outsourcing

Staff Report

PARKERSBURG – A West Virginia lawmaker is trying to stop companies from moving their call centers to foreign nations.

The U.S. Call Center Work and Consumer Protection Act, House Resolution 2909, was introduced by Rep. David B. McKinley, R-W.Va., and Rep. Tim Bishop, D-N.Y.

The act prohibits federal funding such as grants and loan guarantees to those companies that move call center jobs from the United States and provides security by protecting personal information. There have been numerous examples where private and personal information has been compromised at foreign call centers, McKinley said.

“Companies that ship jobs overseas should not get taxpayer dollars,” McKinley said. “Our No. 1 priority in Congress is not only creating but keeping West Virginia jobs and this bill could help save thousands of them. This bill does not mandate that companies keep all of their call centers here in America, but simply says if you move call center jobs offshore, you don’t receive funding from the government. It protects both jobs and taxpayers.”

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, call centers employ thousands of West Virginians as operators, credit authorizers and loan interviewers.

In other congressional issues, Sen. Jay Rockefeller, D-W.Va., Sen. Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio, have introduced legislation to expand and permanently extend the Health Coverage Tax Credit included in the Trade Adjustment Assistance program. Sens. Mazie Hirono, D-Hawaii, and Debbie Stabenow D-Mich., are cosponsors.

The tax credit helps workers afford health coverage after they’ve lost their jobs to foreign outsourcing, Rockefeller said. The credit will expire at the end of the year without congressional action.

The Health Care Coverage for Displaced Workers Act would permanently extend the credit so that it no longer requires reauthorization and expands the credit to 80 percent, a 7.5 percent increase.

“The Health Coverage Tax Credit gives workers who lost their jobs to foreign outsourcing much needed relief in paying for their health care coverage. This cost can be an overwhelming strain on their pocketbooks, especially while they’re out of work,” said Rockefeller. “Permanently extending this credit is the right thing to do for these men and women who’ve spent their lives supporting the backbone of our economy.”

The credit is available to laid-off employees receiving trade adjustment benefits and retirees who receive pension payments through the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corp.