Call center bill released by Labor Committee

The Assembly Labor Committee released the call center bill with bipartisan support.

While Assemblyman Jay Webber (R-26) of Morris Plains voted no, his GOP colleagues, Assemblymen Ron Dancer (R-11) of Plumstead and Parker Space (R-24) joined Democrats to release the bill, A3775.

Assemblyman Nelson Albano (D-1) in particular expressed his fiery support for the bill.

“What they are doing (call center companies moving jobs overseas) is they are robbing people,” he said.

Communication Workers of America political director Bob Master was joined by heads of union locals who supported the bill. Among other things, the bill requires that any employer relocating a call center from New Jersey to a foreign country must notify the Commissioner of Labor and Workforce Development and remit the unamortized value of any direct or indirect state grant, loan, tax benefit, and any other financial support provided to the employer by the state.

Marion Cuttino of CWA Local 1022, who works for Verizon, supported the bill, questioning the logic of providing tax breaks to large multinational companies, and then seeing those jobs leave New Jersey to go to countries like India, the Philippines, and in some cases, Saudi Arabia and Egypt.

“That’s why we have high unemployment (in New Jersey),” she said. “It just makes no sense.”

The bill defines “call center” as a facility where workers receive incoming phone calls, emails, or other electronic communication to provide customer assistance. Also, the bill defines “employer” as any business entity that employs 50 or more full-time workers.

The bill also requires:

*maintaining a list of all employers that provide the notification required by the bill which will be updated monthly;

*Make the list available online to the public.

*Making companies ineligible for two years following the date upon which the employer is added to the list.

*Give state agencies the ability to award a contract to “qualified” businesses for which the agency has a preference.

Any unused grants they receive they could keep unless that money will be used for training for workers who are veterans.

Douglas Grant of CWA Local 1101 called Verizon’s action of moving call center jobs overseas “a backdoor layoff.”

“We need to address the issue of jobs in this country,” he said.

Call center job salaries in this country range from between $27,000 to more than $50,000.

Call center bill released by Labor Committee