Workers rally for bill penalizing companies that off-shore call center jobs

The rally comes a week after the Communications Workers of America - which represents workers at major companies like AT&T, Verizon, and General Electric - launched a digital ad campaign supporting the bill, which has already passed the Assembly with overwhelming bipartisan support.

Despite 38 co-sponsors from both parties, enabling it to easily pass the divided Senate, Senate leadership is refusing a vote on the measure, union leaders said.

"I don't know what the State Senate leadership is waiting for," said Bob Master, assistant to the vice president at CWA, District 1. "New York has the opportunity to make it clear that companies can't get tax breaks for shipping jobs overseas. We hope they seize that opportunity before the end of session."

New York State has lost almost 40,000 call center jobs between 2006 and 2016 while companies have received significant tax breaks from state and local governments, advocates say.

"Why on earth would corporations proactively move good jobs out of New York State? Across the country, the corporate race to the bottom has driven call center jobs overseas by the hundreds of thousands, and CWA and I are determined not to let that happen here," Assemblywoman Linda B. Rosenthal, D-Manhattan, said.

The legislation, which would impact call center employers with 50 or more full-time workers, would require companies to notify the Public Service Commission if they intend to relocate at least 30 percent of call volume in a year. Those companies would lose all grants, loans, tax benefits and state contracts.

Opposed to the bill is the New York State Business Council, which cites federal jobs data indicating that the number of call center jobs in New York has actually increased in New York over the past 10 years, from 127,140 to 159,390.

Business Council vice president Ken Pokalsky called the proposed financial penalties "draconian."

"This is simply bad legislation, pushed by unions and targeting several major New York employers. However, it could capture a wide range of employers in its provisions, and would also be a powerful disincentive for a business to locate such jobs in New York State in the future, potentially causing broad damage to the state's economic climate," Pokalsky said.

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