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April 22, 2019

Labor leaders optimistic bill penalizing companies for outsourcing call-center jobs will pass in Dem-controlled Albany

February 10, 2019
Since 2006, New York has lost roughly 40,000 call center jobs, advocates say. Last month, AT&T cut 150 jobs in Syracuse, moving the positions to Florida. In 2017, Verizon Wireless also closed two call centers in upstate New York, eliminating 850 jobs. (iStock)

Hold the phone.

Labor leaders and advocates in New York are optimistic that a bill punishing companies for shipping call-center jobs overseas is on track to become law.

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With Democrats in control of both chambers of the Legislature and the governor’s office for the first time in a decade, the legislation is one of many stalled agenda items that will likely pass both houses before the end of the current session.

“We are going to do something to get it moving,” Assemblywoman Linda Rosenthal (D-Manhattan) told the Daily News. “There are a lot of bills that have been stuck over the years. We’re working through many, many bills and are hopeful.”

The call-center bill, introduced in the Senate by Sen. Tim Kennedy (D-Buffalo), would include penalties for companies that move call center jobs to foreign countries and make them ineligible for state loans, grants or tax breaks. It would also require companies to notify the state 100 days before they intend to relocate jobs to a foreign country. If a company fails to inform the state, it could face penalties of up to $10,000 a day.

Since 2006, New York has lost roughly 40,000 call-center jobs, advocates say. Last month, AT&T cut 150 jobs in Syracuse, moving the positions to Florida. In 2017, Verizon Wireless also closed two call centers in upstate New York, eliminating 850 jobs.

The Communications Workers of America union backs the bill, arguing that corporations are reaping in profits thanks to the Trump administration’s business-friendly tax policies.

“It is time we stop rewarding companies that send jobs overseas. The current administration’s tax plan has only incentivized more offshoring and New Yorkers are sick of seeing good jobs lost and outsourced abroad so companies can take a tax break,” said Dennis Trainor, vice president of CWA District 1.

Lisa Tyson, the director of the Long Island Progressive Coalition, agreed.

“It is wrong to reward companies with tax breaks at the expense of working-class New Yorkers,” she said. “These jobs are vital to middle-class families across New York and we stand with the Communications Workers of America and the coalition to urge Albany to ensure these jobs stay in New York.”

Not everyone is on board with the legislation. Johnny Evers, the director of government affairs at the New York State Business Council, argues that “it’s just not a good business practice.”

Instead, the state should be encouraging companies to invest in New York by cutting down on “the massive regulation, the taxes,” and other “difficulties to do business in New York state.”

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