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Worker Retention in State Contracted Call Centers

Responsible Contracting for State-Contracted Call Centers (Ramos S.6328 / Joyner A.2052)

The Problem

The good, union jobs of nearly 300 workers at the State-contracted E-ZPass Customer Service Center in Staten Island are in jeopardy after the State rebid the contract to a new company and did not ensure any retention protections. 

  • New York contracts with private sector employers to provide call center services. By law, the government is required to periodically rebid the work and sometimes chooses a new contractor.
  • Without requirements to retain the already trained and experienced workforce, the contract changing hands can mean mass layoffs for the workers, due to no fault of their own and causing significant harm to the workers, their communities, and the public who will experience a disruption in service as the new company gets up to speed. 
  • Working for the State should not be precarious work. The State of New York should be an exemplary employer and follow best practices for contracting and procurement by protecting the workforce if the contract changes hands.

The Solution

This bill requires that the State protects its workforce by requiring that bidders for call center contracts agree to retain the existing workforce for a period of 90 days. During the 90-day period, the employees may be dismissed only for just cause. After that time, the employee must be evaluated and, if the work has been satisfactory, the employee must be offered continued employment.

Worker retention policies are established best practices in state procurement. Nondisplacement requirements for government service contractors ensure the continuity of a well-trained and experienced workforce, which can help ensure high service quality. It also prevents disruption to vulnerable frontline workers. This is why several states and cities have workforce retention requirements on certain publicly-funded service contracts, including California, Rhode Island, and New York City.