Wells Fargo has announced plans to lay off approximately 400 workers at a Shoreview, Minnesota call center and customer service support center. 

A Wells Fargo spokesperson told the StarTribune, “While we recognize some current jobs will be eliminated with this business decision, the work will be absorbed by other domestic contact center locations.” 

In a press statement, the Communication Workers of America (CWA) think offshoring is the real strategy, 

Wells Fargo is failing to disclose its growing reliance on call center workers overseas in countries such as the Philippines and the likely role that offshoring plays in the new Minnesota layoffs.

AT&T has engaged in similar tactics and CWA represenatative were similalry concerned about offshoring jobs to the Philippines. 

As we reported in April.

CWA local 7250 President Shari Wojtowicz shared her view that the goal is not to take work from overseas employees, but that it is clear that these are jobs that initiated in the USA. Following a teleconference where Wojtowicz had the opportunity to speak to AT&T call-center workers in The Philippines, she learned of working conditions that are unthinkable by US labor standards, such as the reported practice of verifying that female employees have their monthly periods, because being pregnant would be a breach of their contract. These types of practices coupled with unbelievably low wages for overseas workers contributed to AT&T’s $30 billion in profits last year. 

Reuters reported in December 2018 that a U.S. Department of Labor Trade Adjustment Assistance (TAA) determination found that Wells Fargo had shifted U.S. jobs overseas in the call center and customer service industry and that laid off workers were eligible for TAA as a result. 

As Deon Roberts of the Charlotte Observer reported 

“Wells Fargo has not always disclosed that it was relocating U.S. jobs in announcing the layoffs. But the documents — findings of Labor Department investigations into the cuts — show the bank has sent the work outside of the country.” 

The new Minnesota layoffs may follow a similar pattern.

Alex Ross, a member of the Committee for Better Banks and Bankruptcy Specialist at Wells Fargo in St. Louis Park, MN said, 

“Instead of reinvesting its billions of dollars from corporate tax breaks into the U.S. workforce and communities, Wells Fargo is laying off my fellow employees in Minnesota while it continues to hire overseas. The company’s pattern of laying off U.S. workers and its insistence on offshoring is harmful to workers and consumers and means that all of us work in fear of losing our jobs.”

According to Shane Larson, Director of Legislation, Politics and International Affairs at the Communications Workers of America (CWA), 

“Wells Fargo is not only laying off U.S. call center workers in Minnesota and elsewhere but also is relying on misinformation and flat-out falsehoods to minimize the connection to offshoring and their growing overseas presence. Meanwhile, the company has made billions of dollars out of corporate tax cuts and insists on lining the pockets of their wealthy shareholders through stock buybacks rather than reinvesting in their workforce. The Minnesota workers deserve real answers and accountability from Wells Fargo about the role offshoring played in their pink slips.”

CWA argues that the layoffs also make a strong case for anti-offshoring call center legislation, such as the bipartisan federal “U.S. Call Center Worker and Consumer Protection Act” (S.1792 and H.R. 3219). The bill would ensure that taxpayer dollars are not rewarding companies that offshore their customer service work and would give consumers the power to decide where to have their calls handled. At the state level, call center legislation has passed in both Democratic and Republican-controlled legislatures in 2018 and 2019, including in Alabama, Colorado, Louisiana, Maine, Nevada, and New York. 

CWA graphic on call center bill legislation

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