Outsourcing jobs… to low-wage Wisconsin

Mention outsourcing and many think of sweatshops in low-wage places like China or Mexico.

And outsourcing has certainly become an issue in the Governor’s race, with incumbent Scott Walker charging challenger Mary Burke with outsourcing jobs during her time with Trek Bicycle Corp.

But a Neenah-based company that is adding 600 new jobs here proudly touts itself as a leader in global corporate outsourcing. In the case of Alta Resources, it means bringing $10 an hour jobs to Wisconsin.

Alta Resources operates call centers and other remote business services in health care, entertainment and manufacturing industries. It clients include Fortune 500 companies.

“By outsourcing to us, we save companies the hassle, time and expense of revamping their infrastructures, staff levels and solutions,” the company website reads. “With those savings, companies can pour more focus into what they do so well: enhancing their products and services.”

In total, the company is looking to add 2,500 jobs across its locations in Wisconsin, California, Florida and the Philippines, reports the Appleton Post-Crescent. Alta is holding a job fair Aug. 12 in downtown Neenah to interview applicants.

Alta says most of the new jobs will support health insurance companies that need additional staff to handle the upcoming November enrollment period for the Affordable Care Act. It expects the volume of calls will only increase as more people are covered under the ACA, aka Obamacare.

“We’re looking for people who, in embodying our guiding principles, are eager to learn, excel and deliver defined results for our leading client brands,” Lisa Schulze, vice president of human resources at Alta Resources, said in a statement.

What the announcement shows, of course, is how corporations are constantly looking to increase profits by lowering labor costs as much as possible. That can mean outsourcing manufacturing jobs to Asia or, in the case of Alta, providing outsourcing services in Wisconsin.

Moreover, in a global marketplace, creating jobs on home turf is no longer a concern for most CEOs. But it’s a touchy issue for politicians, notes West Bend businessman John Torinus in a recent blog.

“In their world, I guess all jobs would stay in the U.S., and we would export freely to other countries. But it just doesn’t work that way,” he says.

Meanwhile, the liberal group One Wisconsin Now is criticizing the state’s largest business lobbying group for not defending Trek from criticism from Walker.

”Wisconsin Manufacturers and Commerce has spent millions of dollars to put Gov. Scott Walker into office, so it’s no surprise they won’t complain about his irresponsible attacks on a home-grown Wisconsin business,” executive director Scot Ross said in a statement.

That follows a statement from WMC president Kurt Bauer on Tuesday saying that outsourcing is driven by the state’s high cost of production.

“If the goal is to reduce the number of outsourced Wisconsin manufacturing jobs, then lower the costs of production for Wisconsin manufacturers, including taxes, regulations, energy, health care and frivolous lawsuits,” says Bauer.

The outsourcing debate has also found its way to Washington, where Sen. Tammy Baldwin (D-Wis.) is pushing a measure called the “Bring Jobs Home Act” which seeks to close a tax loophole that she says rewards firms for sending jobs overseas.

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