NASHVILLE — Amended legislation creating a Save Tennessee Call Center Jobs Act of 2021 was sent to summer study by a House Banking and Consumer Affairs Subcommittee on Wednesday.
The bill was sponsored by state Rep. Bud Hulsey, R-Kingsport.
This measure requires an employer to notify the commissioner of Labor and Workforce Development at least 60 days before relocating from Tennessee to a foreign country. It also prohibits employers in violation from receiving any state grants, guaranteed loans, tax benefits, tax credits, or refunds for five years. It requires that call center employers in violation of this act remit unamortized value of any grant, guaranteed loans and tax benefits.
Robbie Pace, lead local coordinator for the Communications Workers of America, testified there are 103,000 call center workers in the state.
“Since 2006, we’ve had over 3,200 call center jobs shipped overseas,” Pace said. “That is approximately $106 million out of the Tennessee revenue system. It is very easy for companies to come in and outsource work. A big danger of this is the security in foreign countries is drastically behind what we have here in place in the United States.”
Pace noted the average call center job carries a $33,000 salary.
“That’s not a lot, but it is enough to raise a family and stay off public assistance,” he pointed out. “We just want Tennessee tax dollars to stay in Tennessee.”
Hulsey testified that in 2012, Conduit Global got $2 million from Tennessee taxpayers to open an $8 million call center in Memphis.
“They hired 1,000 people just like they promised,” Hulsey stressed. “But 11 months later, they laid off 750 of them, and you and I and our tax dollars paid for the next seven years for these 250 people to work. This bill tries to get all the money back.”