Wagner, Eustace, DeAngelo & Benson Bill to Protect Taxpayers from Companies that Relocate Call Center Services Overseas Gets Final Legislative Approval

(TRENTON) – Legislation sponsored by Assembly Democrats Connie Wagner, Timothy Eustace, Wayne DeAngelo and Daniel R. Benson to require any employer relocating a call center from New Jersey to a foreign country to notify the state and remit the unamortized value of any state grant, guaranteed loan, tax benefit and other financial support was approved Thursday by the Assembly, giving it final legislative approval.
“Jobs are being lost and customer service jeopardized as companies move their call centers overseas. Companies have a right to invest elsewhere if it benefits their bottom line, but they should not be able to benefit from financial resources from the state when they do,” said Wagner (D-Bergen/Passaic). “That help should be limited to those who contribute to our economy. You can’t have your cake and eat it too.”
“This bill is intended to protect New Jersey jobs and ensure New Jersey taxpayers aren’t providing their hard-earned tax dollars in the form of grants, incentives, or loan guarantees to companies that are taking money out of our state economy, not to mention compromising customer service for our residents, by sending their call center jobs overseas,” said Eustace (D-Bergen/Passaic). “It’s common sense.”
“We need to keep jobs here in New Jersey,” said DeAngelo (D-Mercer/Middlesex). “Companies that ship jobs overseas hurt our economy and hurt our residents. Such companies should not be receiving our support.”
“Companies that ship jobs overseas should not benefit via New Jersey taxpayers, and this is one way to put a stop to it,” said Benson (D-Mercer/Middlesex). “This is the right thing to do, especially when we face 9 percent unemployment and residents are struggling to make ends meet.”
The bill (A-3775) requires any employer that relocates a call center, or transfers one or more facilities or operating units comprising at least 30 percent of a call center’s total operating volume of communications, when measured against the previous 12 month average volume of those operations, to one or more foreign countries to notify the commissioner at least 90 days prior to the relocation or transfer.
The bill makes any employer that violates the notification requirement subject to a civil penalty of up to $7,500 for each day the violation continues.
It defines a “call center” as a facility or operation where workers receive incoming telephone calls, emails, or other electronic communication to provide customer assistance or other service. The bill defines “employer” as a business entity that employs 50 or more full-time workers or 50 or more workers at a call center for at least 1,500 hours per week, excluding overtime hours.
The bill requires the commissioner to maintain a list of all employers that give the notice required by the bill and update the list on a monthly basis. An employer will remain on the list for a period not to exceed 35 months after giving the required notification. The bill also requires the commissioner to make the list public, including through the internet. An employer’s being on the list will not prevent the employer from receiving, or require the employer to remit, training grants or other employment assistance to members of groups with particular need of training or other assistance, including veterans, minority groups and women.
The bill also bars any employer added to the list from receiving any direct or indirect State grant, guaranteed loan, tax benefit, or other financial support from the State for 35 months following the date on which the employer is added to the list. An employer added to this list is also required to remit to the commissioner the unamortized value of any such financial support already provided to the employer.
The commissioner may waive the remittance requirement if the commissioner finds that the requirement would result in a substantial loss of jobs in this state or harm the environment.
Finally, the bill provides that a state department or agency, in making or awarding a contract for call center services, will grant a preference to qualified businesses located in the state and employing residents of the state, as set forth in regulations adopted by the commissioner.
The bill now goes to the governor.