WA bill would keep call centers in state

Tax incentives to businesses that pay above minimum wage and don't oppose unions.
Written by Richard Koman, Contributor

Washington state legislators want to pass a law that will reward employers for keeping tech call centers in the US, the Washington Alliane of Technology Workers says.

"The idea behind this bill is very simple," said state Zack Hudgins (D-Tukwila), the prime sponsor of the bill. "We are trying to raise the competitive nature of call centers around the state. I think that (the bill) protects the good players in the market place and at the same time discourages folks from under cutting the market."

The proposed legislation would give a tax incentive of up to $1,000 per newly hired employee to call centers that keep jobs in the United States, pay at least 120 percent above minimum wage and remain neutral if employees try to organize into unions.

"In my current position I am represented by the Communications Workers of America and my contract gives me access to affordable family health care, three wage increases a year and job security," said Les French, who is a WashTech/CWA vice-president and shop steward at AT&T, where he has worked since 2004. "Because of this improvement in working conditions and pay, I am in favor of this legislation and believe the standards at the new AT&T should be the norm throughout the call center and the entire call-center industry in the state of Washington, not the exception."

Many of the bill's provisions are based on the union contract between AT&T (Cingular) and the Communications Workers of America, which is supporting the legislation.

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