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AT&T Employees Appeal to Keep Call Centers Local
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AT&T employees say safety and customer service is being sacrificed as call center jobs leave Connecticut. WNPR’s Harriet Jones reports.

Richard Power used to work for AT&T as a local dispatcher sending crews to emergency situations such as utility poles that come down. He says those calls now go to a center in St. Louis.

"What happens is they call there, they then have to call a department, I believe in Texas, for dispatch.  Texas then, they get calls, they go to the wrong town, they misname things.  Call any local police chief, especially in the smaller towns, and they'll tell you the problems they've had."

Power was testifying before the legislature’s energy and technology committee. They are considering a bill that would require companies to disclose to callers where their call centers are located, and reroute the call to a Connecticut center on request. The legislation would also favor companies for state contracts if they keep a percentage of their customer service work in Connecticut.

John Emra from AT&T told the lawmakers that placing restrictions on the company’s practices won’t save jobs.

"I think we all know this is a global economy.  Yes, we have dispatches and call centers that are located not in Connecticut that handle Connecticut customers. At the same time, we have call centers in Connecticut that handle customer inquiries and other customer issues for customers outside of Connecticut, so in many respects, this cuts both ways."

AT&T announced earlier this year that it would lay off 160 Connecticut employees, and move call center work south.

For WNPR, I'm Harriet Jones.