New Bill to Keep American Jobs at Home

May 31, 2010 Updated: May 31, 2010

NEW YORK—Sen. Charles Schumer unveiled a new bill Sunday, which would help stop U.S. call center jobs from going abroad.

The legislation would require companies to disclose to customers when their call is being transferred to another country. The bill would impose a per-call excise tax on companies that transfer domestic customer service calls to foreign call centers.

The regulations are designed to keep jobs at call centers across the United States, as well as to regain domestic jobs that were previously outsourced to foreign facilities.

“If we want to put a stop to the outsourcing of American jobs, than we need to provide incentives for American companies to keep American jobs here,” Schumer said in a press release. “This bill will not only serve to maintain call center jobs currently in the United States, but also provide a reason for companies that have already outsourced jobs to bring them back.”

Under the new legislation, if a caller dials an 800 number and is subsequently transferred to another country, the call center would be required to disclose where their call is being rerouted to. The call center would also be obligated to inform the caller where their personal information—such as their bank account number, credit card number, or medical history—is being kept.

The bill would impose a $0.25 excise tax on any customer service call that originates domestically but is then transferred to an agent abroad. The money obtained through this tax would be used to address personal security issues.

“This bill will go a long way toward keeping American jobs right here at home,” Schumer said. “If we want to stop the exporting of American jobs, than we need to make it less beneficial for companies to lay off American workers and send jobs overseas, and we can do that by providing disclosure as to where calls are being routed and [making it] less financially beneficial to send them abroad.”

Call centers serve as companies' information clearing houses, answering a range of customer service questions and providing product support. The most popular destinations for calls transferred abroad include India, Indonesia, Ireland, Canada, Philippines, and South Africa.