National Consumers League

Worker Rights

Worker Rights

Shared history: NCL and working families

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NCL is America’s pioneer consumer organization, founded in 1899 on the principle of consumer responsibility for the welfare of workers. NCL began as an organization of women devoted to workers’ rights.

NCL drafted the nation's first minimum wage law in 1912 to protect women and children, the most severely exploited workers. NCL was among the first to champion the cause of child labor, campaigning for laws to protect against children working for long hours and pauper’s wages. NCL fought for the rights of African American workers in the early 20th century, including Black women, who were the lowest paid workers of all.

NCL’s early leaders, including Eleanor Roosevelt and consumer and labor rights advocate Esther Peterson, fought for national health insurance and a 40-hour work week.

The fight continues

Today, NCL is the only organization whose mission links consumer issues and fair labor standards. NCL supports the Employee Free Choice Act, making a connection between consumer rights and labor rights on Capitol Hill. NCL joins with the Labor Movement in supporting comprehensive healthcare reform. NCL is a world leader in the fight against child labor. It co-chairs, convenes, and staffs the domestic Child Labor Coalition and serves on the board of the International Cocoa Initiative.

In the 1990s, NCL helped establish the Global March Against Child Labor, the first global civil movement advocating for free, quality, basic education for all children and a world free from child labor. The League played a key role in the 1999 founding of the Fair Labor Association, addressing conditions for workers in the apparel industry. Comprising more than 200 colleges and universities, businesses, and NGOs, the FLA has helped to improve the lives of hundreds of thousands of workers in developing countries.