Thanks in part to the hard work of Communications Workers of America (CWA) members, the stream of call center jobs leaving New York may slow to a trickle. This is because after several years of lobbying by the union, to which many of our Association members belong, the New York State Senate has finally passed the New York State Call Center Job Act in a 58-3 vote.
The situation is getting dire: over 40,000 New York call center jobs have been cut since 2006, with AT&T recently announcing plans in Syracuse to slash another 150 despite a $20 billion tax windfall. In 2017, Verizon also closed two call centers in upstate New York, eliminating 850 jobs.
While some of these jobs are lost due to technological advancements and automation, many were also shipped to states with weaker worker protection laws and lower wages. To combat this growing issue, the Call Center Job Act would require call center employers like AT&T and Verizon with 50 or more workers to notify the Department of Labor if they wish to relocate 30% or more call volume in a year. If they choose to proceed, the companies would lose all grants, loans, tax benefits and state contracts for five years.
Additionally, the bill would also ensure that all state business-related call center work is performed by New York State companies. The CWA helped get the same bill passed in the New York State Assembly in 2017 and 2018, only to see it die in the NYS Senate, making 2019’s result a big victory. The CWA estimates there are about 260,000 call center workers left to protect in New York, with the CWA representing about 5,000 of them, mostly at Verizon.