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New Report Shows New Jersey Has Lost Thousands Of Call Center Jobs; NJ Senate Hears Testimony On 'Save NJ Call Center Jobs Act'

Coalition builds Senate support to hold companies like Verizon accountable for taking taxpayer dollars and then shipping jobs overseas

CWA New Jersey — Thursday, June 14, 2012

Trenton, NJ — A new report confirms today that the "Save New Jersey Call Center Jobs Act," now working its way through the state legislature, would help New Jersey retain thousands of call center jobs at risk for being shipped overseas. The bill (S1920/A2651), would require companies to notify policymakers when they outsource New Jersey call center work, and ban firms who engage in offshoring from receiving tax breaks and other subsidies.

In particular, the report highlights:

"Even as New Jersey struggles to lower its unemployment rate, today's report makes clear that thousands of call center jobs are at risk of being sent overseas," said Bob Master, regional political director of the Communications Workers of America. "The Save New Jersey Call Center Jobs Act would hold corporations like Verizon accountable for keeping jobs in New Jersey. Companies taking taxpayer money to create jobs in New Jersey should be held accountable to create jobs in New Jersey—or taxpayers should stop subsidizing them.

James E. Harris, New Jersey NAACP President, added, "I've been following similar legislation on the national level with high hopes. The 'Save NJ Call Centers Jobs Act' in New Jersey would help to protect many of these middle class jobs held by people of color. Therefore, I urge the State Senate to follow the Assembly's lead and pass this bill.

Rita Spaulding, President of the National Organization for Women–New Jersey, added, "This is a commonsense piece of legislation that would help to protect many of these middle class jobs held by women and minorities. NOW-NJ is pleased to be a coalition partner and strongly urges the State Senate to pass the 'Save NJ Call Centers Jobs Act' without delay.

Phyllis Salowe-Kaye, Executive Director of New Jersey Citizen Action said: "All too often, offshoring call center jobs not only means more unemployment in New Jersey, it also puts consumers private data at risk. Trenton must pass take action to protect our jobs and our personal security."

The Senate Economic Growth Committee will hear testimony today on the Save New Jersey Call Center Jobs Act (S1920), at 10:00AM in Committee Room 1, First Floor, State House Annex.

Earlier this week, a new coalition led by the Communications Workers of America District One (CWA) and the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW) Local 827 launched a multi-faceted campaign — NO TAX BREAKS FOR OFFSHORING JOBS — to urge the New Jersey Senate to pass the Save New Jersey Call Center Jobs Act, which passed the New Jersey State Assembly with broad, bipartisan support in March. The Act would require public disclosure of off-shoring jobs and eliminate tax breaks and subsidies for companies that relocate call center jobs overseas. The coalition of labor, advocacy and grassroots organizations began its campaign with a website and online advertisements.

Bill Huber, Business Manager of IBEW Local 827, added, "The loss of thousands of high-quality jobs with good benefits is devastating to New Jersey's economy and working families. The NJ Senate should follow the Assembly in passing this common sense legislation so that companies are held accountable for their promise to create and keep jobs in our state."

Companies like Verizon have increasingly sent call center jobs abroad, eliminating thousands of solid, middle-class jobs in New Jersey while continuing to receive taxpayer subsidies. Verizon's NJ call centerworkforce has shrunk by roughly 2/3 in the last ten years- from a peak of 3,700 jobs to a little over 1,300 today, sending many of these jobs to places like India, Mexico, and the Philippines, or to low-wage, non-union contractors in places like Virginia. At the same time, however, New Jersey has given millions in taxpayer dollars to these same companies to open and keep their call centers within the state- including over$113 million in subsidies to Verizon alone since 1998.

Nationally, the US has lost over 500,000 call center jobs to offshoring, with Verizon responsible for shipping 40,000 call center and technical support jobs overseas in the past three years alone.

Yet Verizon still managed to pay no Federal corporate income taxes from 2008 to 2010 AND receive $951 million in taxpayer-funded rebates. All this while Verizon earned $44.6 billion in profits and paid its top five executives $271 million.

The Save New Jersey Call Center Jobs Act reflects the fact that New Jersey simply cannot afford to subsidize companies that send good jobs abroad, and instead should be adopting policies that create desperately needed jobs within the state.

Recent reports suggest rampant black markets of consumer data in countries with little or no protections for American customers that place medical records, credit card information at increased risk of being stolen and sold to criminals. A PricewaterhouseCoopers survey found that 83% of the participating Indian outsourcing companies had information security breaches during the previous year, and scams are so rampant in India that officials recently called the situation "out of control."

New Jersey is not alone in attempting to hold companies that offshore call center jobs accountable to taxpayers. In Washington, there are more than 130 co-sponsors of similar federal legislation, including Democratic and Republican members of Congress from New Jersey. A similar bill was overwhelmingly passed by the New York State Assembly Labor Committee last week and is working its way through the New York State Legislature, and an even stronger measure passed unanimously in the Republican-controlled Florida State Senate.

Members of the NO TAX BREAKS FOR OFFSHORING JOBS coalition include: The New Jersey Working Families Alliance, New Jersey Tenants Organization, Grassroots4Change, 1199 SEIU United Healthcare Workers East–NJ Region, 32BJ United SEIU, IFPTE 194, Council of NJ State College Locals, NJ State AFL-CIO, Housing & Community Development Network of New Jersey, NJ Citizen Action, New Jersey Communities United, People's Organization for Progress, NJ Industrial Union Council, National Organization for Women New Jersey (NOW-NJ), AFT-NJ, Amalgamated Transit Union (ATU), Bergen Grassroots, BlueWave NJ, NAACP-NJ, Black Ministers Council, New Jersey Education Association (NJEA), Jewish Labor Committee, Next Step, Paterson Housing Authority, AFSCME NJ-Council 1, Latino Action Network, New Labor, New Jersey Work Environment Council, New Jersey Policy Perspective, Lutheran Office of Governmental Ministry, and the Professional Firefighters Association of New Jersey.

FULL REPORT HERE: "How State Legislation Can Protect Consumers and Keep Call Center Jobs in New York and New Jersey" (741K PDF).

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