WASHINGTON - Citing overwhelming popular and bipartisan support, the Communications Workers are launching an advertising and ground game campaign in 50 legislative races nationwide around the issues of offshore call centers and bringing the jobs back to the United States.
"The issue has real salience, and officials should be paying attention to it," said CWA Chief of Staff Ron Collins in a telephone press conference on Aug. 14.
"The call center industry is three percent of the entire [U.S.] workforce, but because of offshoring, it lost 500,000 jobs from 2006 to 2010.
"The debate about sending good jobs overseas is more than just politics. The question is does it help our economy or not?" he added.
The survey of 805 likely voters, commissioned by CWA, showed that, by a 78-13 percent margin, voters have a negative view of foreign call centers, pollster Celinda Lake reported. Even Republicans oppose such call centers, by 75-14 percent. Feelings are so high that Lake compared them to overwhelming support for raising the minimum wage.
"The intensity of this one is off the charts" to the point where voters consider opposition to offshoring not just an issue but a fundamental value, she said.
"Voters strongly and broadly support a variety of proposals in response to the offshoring of call center jobs, including ending tax breaks, grants, and loans to companies that offshore jobs, and another proposal that would give consumers the right to be transferred to a customer service agent in the United States," the survey adds.
CWA will launch a two-pronged ad campaign. One set of ads will praise the bipartisan group of lawmakers, led by Reps. Tammy Baldwin, D-Wis., Tim Bishop, D-N.Y., and David McKinley, R-W. Va. who authored legislation to curb the offshoring and return call center jobs to the U.S.
The other set of ads will demand that other lawmakers support bringing the call center jobs back - carrying the implication that voters would remember those who don't.
"In addition to the media campaign, we'll have our local political action committees in 900 locals" publicize the call center issue, and put it on the lawmakers' radar for the November election, Collins said.
"We also have many many members who have been laid off" from call centers when firms closed those facilities and moved them to low-wage nations overseas, he added. "We'll get those folks involved, too."
Photo: U.S. call centers like this empty one lost 500,000 jobs from 2006 to 2010 due to offshoring. Petiatil/Wikipedia