NILES - Donald Harshbarger Jr. is hoping legislation co-sponsored by U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown will help ensure that his job at the Boardman AT&T Call Center, where he has worked for little more than a year, remains secure.
Brown, D-Ohio, visited Niles on Tuesday to promote the bill that would punish companies that move call center jobs overseas. Brown pointed out that other legislation has called for punishment of overseas manufacturers that use unfair trade practices to compete with American jobs. The legislation also should help protect American call center jobs.
''There's about 200,000 Ohioans that work in call centers, and those numbers are dwindling," Harshbarger said.
The Communications Workers of America estimates that Ohio saw a net loss of more than 2,300 call center jobs between 2008 and 2011. Brown is hoping the bill will help slow that trend.
''I am always concerned about what happens to American jobs,'' Brown said.
Under the plan, companies would be required to disclose to callers when their calls are transferred abroad. The bill also would make businesses that move call center jobs overseas ineligible for federal grants or loans. The bill also would direct the U.S. Department of Labor to make a public list of such companies who would remain on the list for three years. It also would require agencies, like the Department of Defense, to give preference to U.S. employers that do not appear on the list.
''I have customers tell me at least once a day, 'Thank God you are an American,' or 'Thank you for being in America,''' Harshbarger said.