For far too long, our trade and tax policy has encouraged a corporate business model that shuts down operations in Ohio, cashes in on a tax credit at the expense of working Americans, and ships production to Reynosa, Mexico or Wuhan, China.
Jobs at call centers are some of the most vulnerable to offshoring. Too many companies have packed up their call centers in Ohio and across the country, and moved to India or Mexico.
While foreign workers are not to blame for outsourced jobs and are often victims of the same failed trade agreements as American workers, most Americans want to support American jobs by buying American whenever they can. That includes the customer service they get from call centers.
That’s why I’ve introduced a bill that would require call center agents overseas to disclose their location and guarantee U.S. customers the right to ask to transfer their call to a customer service agent who is physically located in the United States. It would also create a public list of companies that outsource call center jobs, and give preference in federal contracts to companies that haven’t shipped these jobs overseas.
The constant threat of outsourcing hangs over workers like Renee Rouser of Youngstown, who I talked with last week. Renee has worked at a Youngstown call center for 13 years and knows call center jobs are where people build careers.
So many companies wouldn’t be able to function without their customer service staff. Ohio workers like Renee contribute to their businesses and bring ideas to make it work better. We need to value their contributions – not end their careers and ship their jobs overseas.
Sherrod Brown represents Ohio in the Senate and is a weekly columnist.