Do Not Call List costs women jobs

“I’m still saddened,” said Gayle Dupre. “Many of these people who lost their jobs are women, single mothers—and struggling.”

Dupre, 46, and almost 70 other employees of the Carson City-based Pet Pantry International Inc. were laid off in June because the corporation’s telemarketing operations have been relocated to the Philippines.

Don Lockman, president of the company, attributed the closure to the “landslide of adverse legislation passed,” such as do-not-call lists, and the resulting higher costs to keep the telemarketing jobs in Carson.

A single mother herself who suffers from hepatitis C, Dupre felt fortunate when she found a job quickly at the nearby 7-Eleven. The hepatitis limits what she can do physically, so stocking shelves was sometimes painful. And the late hours made it difficult to care for Josh, her 9-year-old. She hurt her elbow and had to leave the store job, she said.

Her luck finally improved when she found work recently at another Carson City business, Custom Office Supply.

“I’m very happy where I’m at,” Dupre said. “Things are OK now for me, but there are some people laid off from Pet Pantry who are still unemployed.”

The Pet Pantry shutdown might be the first of many telemarketing closures across the country once federal do-not-call rules begin in October. The state expects to start its own telemarketing regulation in mid-2004.

People weary of telephone sales pitches are gleeful about the Federal Trade Commission’s Do Not Call List, which will stop telemarketers from calling people who request not to be bothered. Thirty million people have signed up onto the list, and nearly 289,000 of them are Nevadans, the FTC reported earlier this month.

There are 4 million to 6 million telemarketing workers in the United States.

The state’s Department of Employment Training and Rehabilitation is preparing for the potential economic impact. The department, however, is still unsure how many workers will lose their jobs.

Businesses report how many employees they have but don’t specify what these employees do. There were, for example, eight telemarketing companies in Washoe County that employed 1,000 people at the end of 2002, said Karen Rhodes, department spokeswoman.

Many large businesses, such as banks and department stores, employ their own telemarketers. These employees aren’t included in the total number of telemarketers because they actually work in banking or retailing. And if these workers aren’t reassigned to other forms of marketing and sales or transferred to other departments within a given company, they could lose their jobs.

“A lot of people could be affected who we can’t even see right now,” Rhodes said.

The state will be ready to offer financial help, assistance in finding other jobs and training for a different career, she emphasized.

As many as one-third of telemarketing workers in the United States could lose their jobs if the FTC obtains 60 million requests for inclusion on the Do Not Call List, according to the American Teleservices Association. The trade group asserts that the list will hurt Americans who are struggling hardest because telemarketing employs workers considered unemployable elsewhere: minorities, single mothers, the disabled and people who haven’t graduated high school.

The Do Not Call List is a government response to a consumer preference and is “overwhelmingly popular,” said Dave Cook, business and economics professor at Western Nevada Community College.

“People lose jobs because of changes in the market, consumer preference and whim,” Cook said. “It’s unkind, but the workforce must shift, adapt.”

Though this isn’t a good time to lose a job—no time ever is—he said these jobs aren’t “career positions.”

Along with financial benefits, helping people upgrade their work skills is the best thing the government can do to assist these workers “shift their careers” toward making better money and obtaining decent benefits, he added.