Although there is a place for international trade and genuine comparative advantage, there is no doubt that unfair trade and tax policies that protect certain industries from international competition while encouraging others to send jobs overseas have encouraged a wave of outsourcing that has not benefited the blue collar workers of the 99 Percent (white collar workers are protected by all sorts of trade barriers, as economist Dean Baker has shown). In 2002, a Forrester Research report estimated that 3.3 million jobs would be outsourced between 2000 and 2015.
Now, four members of the House of Representative are stepping forward to try to slow the wave of outsourcing. They are introducing legislation that won’t stop companies from outsourcing call centers — that’s completely compatible with free market philosophies — but would tell companies that if they choose to outsource their call centers, the taxpayers of the United States will not be handing them any grants or loans. The bill would also require disclosure and that companies give 120 days’ notice before any offshoring:
The bill would make any company that moves a call center offshore ineligible for any federal grants or loans. It would require the U.S. Labor Department to maintain a list of employers who relocate a call center overseas and force companies to provide at least 120 days’ notice before doing so. […] The U.S. Call Center and Consumer Protection Act (HR 3596), was introduced by U.S. Rep. Timothy Bishop (D-N.Y.) and announced at news conference that included representatives of the Communication Workers of America. The measure’s co-sponsors include David McKinley (R-W.V.), Gene Green (D-Texas), and Michael Michaud (D-Maine). “Outsourcing, in my view, is one of the scourges of our economy, and one of the reasons we are struggling so to knock down the unemployment rate,” said Bishop. He said there are 4.7 million call center employees today, while in 2006 there were 5.3 million.
To read the full text of the bill, go here.