Offshoring the American dream: Is this what a Trump presidency looks like?
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When Donald Trump ran for president, he promised he would stop the offshoring of jobs by American companies during his first 100 days in office. That promise really made me sit up and take notice.

Back in 2011, I was a call center worker with T-Mobile in Brownsville, Texas. It wasn’t an easy job — customer service never is — but I made good money, $18.25 an hour. I had just gotten married, and my wife and I had bought a brand-new house. It felt like we were well on our way toward building our own American dream. 

Unfortunately, what seems like a dream can sometimes turn into a nightmare.

My colleagues and I knew something was up. First, T-Mobile started cutting our hours. Then we started getting strange calls in which customers were complaining that they’d been connected to foreign customer service representatives who couldn’t answer their questions. The company sent us memos telling us how to respond to the influx of calls from angry customers.

That was bad enough, but it got worse when T-Mobile started firing workers in droves for small infractions that in the past would never have caused someone to lose their job. We went from 900 to 500 people in my call center in a short period of time. Those of us who were left were walking on eggshells. Every day, we were wondering who would be next out the door. 

We got the answer in 2012: all of us.

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T-Mobile shut down seven call centers across the country and laid off 3,300 workers, including me. Suddenly, those strange calls made sense. It seemed T-Mobile, which gets millions of dollars in contracts from the U.S. government, had decided that U.S. workers were simply too expensive.

 

T-Mobile denied that it had moved any of the work overseas, but it was doing just that. In fact, trainers had been sent to the Philippines and Honduras to train our replacements. Meanwhile, T-Mobile kept on receiving those big, fat government contracts — contracts funded by the 3,300 American taxpayers whose lives they’d just upended.

As you can imagine, losing my job to offshoring was extremely difficult for my wife and me. After the layoff, we depleted our savings of $8,000 and took out $12,000 in personal loans just to make our mortgage payments and to keep up with our bills. Even now, we’re still paying off the remaining $3,000 balance.

Thankfully, because the Communications Workers of America stood up and fought for us, we were able to prove that T-Mobile actually was offshoring our jobs. We won training and education benefits from the Department of Labor’s Trade Adjustment Assistance program. Those benefits allowed me to train for a different career, and today my family’s American dream is back on track. 

But not every worker who loses his or her job to offshoring is so lucky. And the taxpayer-funded pipeline of cash continues flowing to companies that ship good American jobs overseas and violate workers’ basic rights.

Even today, T-Mobile is fighting workers who are trying to organize a union, T-Mobile Workers United. These employees aren’t asking for much: better working conditions, more job security and fair job performance measures. T-Mobile refuses to even meet with the workers, and has resorted to illegal tactics including surveillance, threats, corporate policies to silence workers and even a fake company union.

Those anti-worker practices haven’t been enough to stop the government contracts rolling in to T-Mobile.

President TrumpDonald John TrumpAccuser says Trump should be afraid of the truth Woman behind pro-Trump Facebook page denies being influenced by Russians Shulkin says he has White House approval to root out 'subversion' at VA MORE likes signing executive orders, so how about an executive order to prevent companies that offshore American jobs from receiving federal contracts? That’s what a group of U.S. senators urged him to do after he took office. But he hasn’t even acknowledged receipt of the letter.

He could also support the bipartisan legislation in the U.S. Congress — The U.S. Call Center Worker and Consumer Protection Act — which would help prevent jobs like mine from being offshored.

Instead, in his first 100 days, he’s rescinded the Fair Pay and Safe Workplaces Executive Order, which protects over 20 million workers from violations of their rights. 

He said that under a Trump presidency, “the American worker will finally have a president who will protect them and fight for them.” But government contracts keep on going to companies like T-Mobile that violate the rights of their workers and ship jobs overseas. 

I guess American workers and taxpayers like me will be waiting a while longer. 

 

Jamone Ross is a former worker for T-Mobile who lost his jobs when it was offshored in 2011.


The views expressed by contributors are their own and are not the views of The Hill.