The Business Council of New York State, the state’s largest statewide business and industry association, strongly opposes this legislation that would amend the Labor Law to impose severe restrictions on businesses operating call centers in New York State.
Contrary to what some advocates have claimed, “customer service representative” jobs, i.e., call center jobs, are up in both the U.S. and New York State. In fact, jobs in this occupation code are up by 32,000, or 26%, in New York over the past ten years.
Even so, this bill imposes significant restrictions on employer with call center jobs in New York, impacting a wide range of business sectors, including financial services, utilities, communications, transportation and others.
Among other things, this bill would make an employer that relocates call center operations from New York State to a location outside of the United States ineligible for any “tax benefit,” state grant, or other form of “governmental support,” for a five year period. This prohibition would apply regardless of the business’ ongoing level of in-state employment, wages, new capital investment, or other business presence, and regardless of the business reasons for the relocation and any beneficial impact that the relocation would have on overall customer services.
It would also require any call center operators put on the state’s “black-ball” list to repay the value of any tax credits, grants or state support received after the effective date of this bill. Therefore, this bill would impose significant financial penalties on businesses with significant ongoing New York State business operations. These take-back provisions would apply regardless of the business’ number of, or increase in, other categories of jobs in New York State.
The bill would also require current state contractors that are performing state-business-related call center and customer service to perform such work entirely within the state of New York, and if they currently perform any such work outside the state, to move those jobs into New York State within two years. This creates an ex post facto legal requirement on pre-existing contracts. The bill also raises questions as to the constitutionality of its restriction on interstate commerce that it would undoubtedly lead to costly litigation.
This bill will over-regulate call centers by adding more costly mandates on companies seeking to improve service, customer satisfaction, and system reliability. This is counterproductive. New York State should be seeking ways to assist providers in making customer service a top priority, not (as evidenced in this bill) adding more costly burdens that divert resources from the industry’s core mission of customer service.
This bill is simply wrongheaded and self-defeating, and we oppose its adoption.