Honoring MLK – National Consumers League

By Sally Greenberg, NCL Executive Director

Today as we celebrate the life of Martin Luther King, Jr. it’s helpful to look around and see where we are in 2012 in the battle against racism and the poverty that is a direct byproduct of racism. I recently heard an astounding statistic: the United States imprisons more Black men today – often for nonviolent drug offenses – than were enslaved in 1850 before the Emancipation Proclamation.

A historical look back is helpful. NCL’s founding in 1899 dates back to the Progressive Era, which was a time of historic reforms in America, but also a time of incredible backlash against former slaves and freedmen and women. Southern governments imposed a wide range of Jim Crow laws – laws and policies requiring Blacks to use different public facilities, live in different neighborhoods and go to different schools, during the Progressive era, often using the rationale that segregation resulted in a more orderly, systematic electoral system and society. Many of the steps that had been taken toward racial equality during the Reconstruction period were undone. The result is that Blacks were denied access to decent schools, housing, and good jobs that paid a living wage.

The founding of the NAACP was precipitated by this series of events. The Jim Crow practices of Southern leaders were regrettably given the blessings of the American judicial system, as in the famous case upholding the principle of racial segregation in the U.S. Supreme Court in Plessy v. Ferguson (1896). Plessy found that as long as blacks were provided with “separate but equal” facilities, Black and White segregated schools were acceptable. The problem is, they weren’t equal at all. They were inferior school facilities.

Black leaders were divided on how best to respond cases like Plessy. Booker T. Washington urged that blacks should not actively agitate for equality, but should acquire craft skills, work industriously, and convince whites of their abilities. W. E. B. Du Bois insisted instead (in The Souls of Black Folk, 1903) that black people must ceaselessly protest Jim Crow laws, demand education in the highest professions as well as in crafts, and work for complete social integration. They didn’t like each other much, and their enmity grew. DuBois, who was close to Florence Kelley, NCL’s leader for our first 33 years, was the driving force behind the formation of an organization to fight for the rights of Black Americans. In 1909 the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) was founded to advance these ideals and Florence Kelley was involved in these early gatherings and today continues to be a vital and critically important organization as does the NCL.

Indeed, as I listened this week to financial guru Suze Orman, Harvard Professor Cornell West and media personality Tavis Smiley continue on their Poverty Tour of America this week, I was flanked on either side by friends from the NAACP. As we continue to work together to battle poverty and racism here are some stark statistics to contemplate:

  • the black unemployment rate is twice that of whites.
  • the average Black family’s household income fell 3 percent from 2009 to 2010, while white and Latino income fell only 1.7 and 2.3 percent, respectively.
  • While poverty rates for all ethnic groups were in the double digits in 2010, the African-American community was faring the worst, by far. More than one in four Black Americans is now living below the poverty line.
  • The economic gains made by African-Americans since the end of World War II and into the aughts have now been mostly decimated. Beyond that, the longer people are unemployed and poor, the less likely they are to be able to take advantage of educational opportunities, and the more likely the are to fall into bad habits

So while we celebrate the life of the great Martin Luther King, Jr. we can’t look at these terrible numbers and do justice to his memory unless we rededicate ourselves to fighting against the effort to destroy the middle class in America, to dismantle union and the decent jobs they provide paying good wages and benefits.

A local minister, Rev. William Lamar, the senior pastor at Turner Memorial AME Church in Hyattsville, Md says it well:

“When it comes to political discourse, during this presidential campaign season, I don’t hear the language that I think honors Dr. King. I don’t hear much talk about poverty, policy solutions to help with the large number of children in American who are living in low income situations. To really honor King, we need to reinvigorate King’s message of uniting Americans around solving the poverty and vast income inequality that exists in America.”

Thank you for those words, Reverend Lamar, and we join you in honoring the work of Dr. MLK Jr. by speaking out against poverty and encouraging our leaders to do so as well.

You go, Suze! – National Consumers League

By Sally Greenberg, NCL Executive Director Financial guru Suze Orman launched her “Approved Card” this week to much fanfare – on Sunday Ron Lieber profiled the card in the New York TimesOrman appeared on the daytime television show, The View, hosted by Barbara Walters and Whoopi Goldberg, and she strolled through the Paramus, NJ mall on camera and talked with average consumers. Lieber is a columnist with a bias in favor of consumers who are getting slammed by big corporate interests. His response to Suze’s card  was mostly high praise; he ended the column with this:

“…I asked her to put her hand on one of the money bibles she has written and swear not to raise Approved card fees in the next 24 months. She said she would shut the card down before that happened. ‘I am not going to make money off the 99 percenters’ backs,’ A pledge like that takes guts, and anyone who has browbeaten TransUnion into even considering a big change deserves praise. Here’s hoping that she succeeds in her credit mission — and that other media personalities like Dave Ramsey and Jim Cramer put the heat on companies in other high-fee, low-service industries and make them sweat, too.

If you’re like me, the Suze Orman you know is the very charismatic – and bossy – TV personality who tells  Americans to stop spending beyond their means, to figure how to improve their FICO scores, and get a budget you can afford and stick to it. But yesterday another  – and equally admirable –  Suze Orman appeared at the National Press Club –  flanked by radio talk show host Tavis Smiley and the Harvard Professor Cornel West and the topic was poverty, the disappearance of the middle class and how big banks and credit card companies with their hidden and predatory fees are taking money from the pockets of poor people.

And that scenario, Suze said, is what motivated her to develop a prepaid debit card that isn’t out to earn its namesake – the card is called “The Approved Card from Suze Orman” – big bucks, but instead has a salutary goal: first, you can’t spend beyond your means as so many consumers do with credit cards because the Approved Card is like cash – you only load the cash you have onto the card,  and second, and more important, over time if consumers use the card wisely,  those who don’t have a FICO score or have a low one, and are thus punished by exorbitant fees on insurance, house or car loans, can get build up their credit and get a decent FICO score.

The card has minimal fees – $3 a month maintenance and ATM usage charge of around $2 a transaction, none of those hateful Kim Kardashian card -fees which charged you to load the card, to cancel the card, and a huge monthly maintenance, etc etc etc Orman, Smiley and West were heading to George Washington University last evening for a forum on poverty in America and how to get America – and our presidential  candidates –  talking about it again.

Suze Orman – who understands financial products better than anyone – and preaches personal financial responsibility  like no one else– also says that many Americans have been driven into bankruptcy, unemployment and poverty often through no fault of their own – they were directed to subprime loans, they are underwater on mortgages they didn’t understand (by design) they were issued credit cards and opened bank accounts that imposed every sort of  fees and penalties that eventually ate away at their savings.

It’s a narrative that rings true for so many of the people we represent at the National Consumers League. So I’m with the New York Times: Go Suze! Here’s hoping that your card puts the heat on companies with high fees and low services,  and ultimately helps consumers climb out of debt and build back their credit. And keep doing it: help build back the middle class and using the bully pulpit to talk about poverty in America and what can be doing to fight it – you have the floor – and the microphone – and we thank you for using it on behalf of those who voices are so rarely heard.

Child Labor Coalition announces Top 10 Child Labor Stories of 2011 – National Consumers League

January 12, 2012

Contact: Reid Maki, (202) 207-2820, reidm@nclnet.org

Washington, DC—Advocates from the Child Labor Coalition (CLC), a group representing more than two dozen organizations concerned with protecting working youth, has released a list of the top ten child labor stories from 2011. The list represents international and American issues in child labor that received considerable attention in 2011 and what advocates hope is an increase in attention to exploitation faced by vulnerable child workers that has previously gone unnoticed by mainstream media.

“The year brought some much needed attention to serious child labor problems in the supply chains of some of the world’s largest companies,” said Reid Maki, Coordinator of the Child Labor Coalition and the Director of Social Responsibility and Fair Labor Standards for the National Consumers League (NCL). “However, we also saw a disturbing move in a few states to roll back long-standing child labor protections and a much-publicized attack on child labor laws by a presidential candidate.

The year’s 10 biggest stories, according to the CLC, included (in no particular order):

    1. Apple admits products manufactured by Chinese child laborers
    1. Victoria’s Secret’s dirty secret about child-labor harvested cotton
    1. DOL proposes rules to protect child farmworkers for first time in 40 years
    1. NBC News spotlights dangerous child labor in gold mining
    1. Newt Gingrich calls child labor laws “stupid”
    1. Advocates oust Uzbek designer from NYC Fashion Week
    1. Nestle hires independent monitoring group to examine supply chains
    1. Media reports highlight backbreaking child labor in American agriculture
    1. States try to turn back the clock on child labor protections
    1. Obama approves miliary aid to countries employing child soldiers

1) Apple hit with allegations that its iPhones and other electronic gadgets are manufactured in Chinese factories by child laborers. In February, Apple announced that it had found 91 children worked at its suppliers in 2010—a nine-fold increase from the previous year. The company also acknowledged that 137 workers had been poisoned by the chemical, n-hexane, at a supplier’s manufacturing facility and that less than a third of the facilities it audited were complying with Apple’s code on working hours. In the year prior to December 2010, Apple had sales of over $65 billion.

2)  Victoria’s hidden “secret”: children help harvest the cotton that goes into garments. Bloomberg Markets Magazine revealed in December that some of the cotton retail giant Victoria’s Secret uses is harvested by young children in the West African nation of Burkina Faso. The piece profiled 13-year-old Clarisse Kambire, who works on a cotton farm, where she said she is routinely beaten by the owner. By hand, Clarisse performs work that many farmers use a plow and oxen to perform and often works in 100-plus degree heat and eats just one meal a day. Some days she gets no food. Many of the children like Clarisse are considered “foster children” and receive no wages— most do not attend school. Limited Brand, the parent company of Victoria’s Secret, has annual sales in excess of $5 billion.

3)  U.S. DOL issues proposed child labor rules to protect children on farms from dangerous work. For the first time in four decades, the Department of Labor has issued proposed rules to prohibit work on farms that is dangerous for teen employees. The regulations would ban kids from driving tractors and other machinery, work from heights greater than six feet, work in grain facilities, and other dangerous activities. Despite a far-reaching “parental exemption” that would exempt the sons and daughters of farmers from the proposed protections, many members of the farm community and many farm-related groups attacked the proposed regulations as an assault on the family farm that would make it hard to train the next generation of farmers. DOL received more than 18,000 comments about the regulations. CLC members remain strong supporters of the proposed protections, which we believe will save 50-100 teen workers over the next 10 years.

4)  Human Rights Watch and NBC News draw much needed attention to child labor in gold mining. Artisanal mining for gold is a common but brutal and dangerous form of child labor for West African children. In early December, the NBC News show Rock Center featured a chilling report about child gold miners in Mali, Africa. As many as 20,000 kids are estimated to work in artisanal mines, according to Human Rights Watch (HRW), which found that kids as young as six years old “dig mining shafts, work underground, pull up heavy weights of ore, and carry, crush and pan ore.” As if this backbreaking labor wasn’t bad enough, many children also work with toxic mercury to separate the gold from the ore. Many child miners are not paid wages for their labor, receiving bags of dirt which may or may not have any gold dust in them. Many children work instead of going to school.

5)  Presidential candidate Newt Gingrich calls child labor laws “stupid” and urges U.S. to save money by hiring school children to clean school bathrooms. Republican Newt Gingrich made headlines this November when he suggested that poor kids in struggling schools be given jobs as janitors. Gingrich suggested that poor children typically lack the example of a working parent and that cleaning school bathrooms would help develop a strong work ethic. Gingrich has previously made headlines for having spent $750,000 on jewelry at Tiffany’s, raising questions about his ability to empathize with the struggling poor.

6) Advocates draw attention to the forced labor in Uzbekistan to harvest cotton by getting a dictator’s daughter ousted from Fashion Week. It’s not always easy to get the attention of one of the world’s most brutal dictators, but that’s what the advocacy community did during New York City’s Fashion Week in September 2011, when several CLC members and the Cotton Advocacy Network successfully got Uzbekistan’s Gulnara Karimov ousted from the prestigious fashion show. A designer and a Uzbek diplomat, Gulnara is the daughter of Uzbekistan’s brutal leader Islam Karimov. Each fall, Uzbek school children and their teachers are forced to leave their classrooms and perform arduous hand-harvesting of cotton for up to two months. The children, whose numbers are estimated to range from several hundred thousand to almost two million, receive little or no pay. Recently, the European Union voted not to ease import rules for Uzbek cotton, hoping to force the regime to allow independent investigators to survey child labor in the country.

7)  Nestlé agrees to hire a third-party monitor to examine child labor in its supply chain. For a decade now, the world has known that cocoa in West Africa is often harvested by children under difficult and dangerous conditions. That cocoa is purchased by the world’s leading chocolate companies and eventually becomes the chocolate treats that we all love to eat. For years, the advocacy community has pushed the chocolate industry to do more to combat this intractable problem. This year, Nestlé agreed to hire the Fair Labor Association, a nonprofit monitoring group, to look for child labor and other problems in the Côte d’Ivoire.

8)  60 Minutes and “The Harvest” film bring much needed attention to the problem of child labor in American agriculture. Children as young as 12—and sometimes even younger—toil in the fields beside their migrant farmworker parents, harvesting fruits and vegetables. The work—legal under U.S. child labor law—is often back-breaking and sometimes dangerous. “The Harvest,” a brilliant and poignant film by director Roman Romano and producers Shine Global, followed the lives of three migrant children as they struggled to overcome exhausting work, missed educational opportunities, and social disruption.

9)  State attempts to roll back child labor laws. Conservative legislators in Missouri, Wisconsin, and Maine worked to reduce child labor protections in 2011. The Maine legislature increased the number of hours teens can work during the school week from 20 to 24 and allowed them to work till 11 p.m. at night. In Wisconsin, legislators pushed through changes—without a public hearing or debate—that removed restrictions on the total hours that 16- and 17-year-olds can work. A bill to weaken protections in Missouri went down to defeat but legislators essentially got their way by defunding the state labor investigation team.

10) President Obama issues waivers for countries that use child soldiers. For the second year in a row, the President decided to waive congressionally mandated restrictions on giving military assistance to Chad, the Democratic Republic of Congo, South Sudan, and Yemen because they continue to use children in their armed forces. Issued in the name of “national security,” the waivers will result in thousands of children—some of them very young—being forced into armed conflict, including many young girls forced into sexual slavery.

“This list serves as a painful reminder that much work needs to be done in 2012,” said Sally Greenberg, a co-chair of the CLC and NCL’s executive director. “Corporations need to tighten their supply chain monitoring. Consumers need to make informed purchases and let companies know that child labor is an issue that they care about. It’s also imperative that we let the Department of Labor and congressional members know that the safety of children working in U.S. agriculture requires the immediate implementation of the proposed child safety rules, which are 40 years overdue.”


About the Child Labor Coalition

The Child Labor Coalition is comprised of 28 organizations, representing consumers, labor unions, educators, human rights and labor rights groups, child advocacy groups, and religious and women’s groups. It was established in 1989, and is co-chaired by the National Consumers League and the American Federation of Teachers. Its mission is to protect working youth and to promote legislation, programs, and initiatives to end child labor exploitation in the United States and abroad. For more information, please call CLC Coordinator Reid Maki at (202) 207-2820[reidm@nclnet.org].

Cephalosporin prohibition a step in the right direction – National Consumers League

By Teresa Green, Linda Golodner Food Safety and Nutrition Fellow

Last week, the FDA made an important decision to prohibit the extra-label use of cephalosporin drugs in certain kinds of livestock. This means that these drugs can no longer be used for purposes other than their intended use. This is an important decision and one NCL supports.

When considering the issue of antibiotics in food-producing animals, it’s important to understand just how widespread antibiotic use is.  80% of the antibiotics used in this country are used in animals. Why is this number so astronomically high?  There are several reasons why farmers use antibiotics in their livestock.

  • Farmers use antibiotics when their animals become ill.
  • Farmers raising large herds of animals will often put antibiotics in their feed preemptively.  Because disease can spread quickly and widely in a crowded setting like a feedlot, many farmers see preemptive treatment with antibiotics as a necessary part of business.
  • Farmers also give their livestock antibiotics for growth promotion. In these instances, antibiotics are given to a healthy animal to promote faster and more widespread growth. This treatment with antibiotics helps farmers’ bottom lines.

Unfortunately, the widespread use of antibiotics in livestock is leading to the development of antibiotic resistance in disease-causing bacteria. This is especially problematic when animals are treated with the same drugs that doctors give us when we become ill. Bacteria develop resistance to these medications, creating a situation where a doctor must utilize another treatment option, often one that is less effective, more expensive or has more negative side effects.  The result is increased health costs and more people succumbing to illness.

FDA’s decision to prohibit the extra-label use of cephalosporin drugs is an important first step in the fight to maintain the efficacy of drugs critical to treating human illnesses.  The FDA should continue to examine this issue and consider further banning the use of other important antibiotics in animals. The U.S. Department of Agriculture, the government department in charge of meat safety, should also make it illegal to sell meat that is infected with drug resistant bacteria.  These two steps would go a long way towards protecting the efficacy of crucial antibiotics Americans use everyday.

NCL: ICANN’s domain name expansion plan a boon for scam artists – National Consumers League

January 6, 2012

Contact: 202-835-3323, media@nclnet.org

Washington, DC – The planned expansion of the generic Top-Level Domain (gTLD) name system poses significant threats to consumer protection from online scam artists, according to the National Consumers League. Starting January 12, 2012, the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) plans to begin accepting applications for new gTLDs despite the significant concerns expressed by hundreds of stakeholders in the non-profit and business communities as well as the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) and members of Congress. As an organization that receives thousands of complaints from consumers about online fraud, NCL is extremely concerned that expansion of the gTLD system will be a boon to scam artists intent on deceiving consumers.

In particular, NCL is troubled by the findings of the FTC that:

“[a] rapid, exponential expansion of gTLDs has the potential to magnify both the abuse of the domain name system and the corresponding challenges we encounter in tracking down Internet fraudsters. In particular, the proliferation of existing scams, such as phishing, is likely to become a serious challenge given the infinite opportunities that scam artists will now have at their fingertips.”

In a letter sent today to ICANN Board Chair Stephen Crocker and ICANN President and CEO Rod Beckstrom, NCL called for a delay in the implementation of the gTLD expansion program until safety and security concerns can be more adequately addressed.

“We are wary of changes to the domain name registry system that could allow unscrupulous scam artists to proliferate to an even greater extent than they exist today,” said NCL Executive Director Sally Greenberg. “A delay in the implementation of the new gTLD program is urgently needed to allow adequate time to address pressing security concerns and, ultimately, to better protect consumers from abuse of the domain-name system by fraudsters.”

To view the full text of NCL’s letter to ICANN, click here.


About the National Consumers League

The National Consumers League, founded in 1899, is America’s pioneer consumer organization. Our mission is to protect and promote social and economic justice for consumers and workers in the United States and abroad. For more information, visit www.nclnet.org.

Good way to start the New Year – National Consumers League

By Michell K. McIntyre, Director of NCL’s Special Project on Wage Theft 

What a way to start the New Year! This week saw three exceptional events that signal an optimistic outlook for 2012.  President Obama not only decided to use his executive power to make recess appointments but he used them to appoint Richard Cordray to the head of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) and filled the three vacancies at the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB).

With Cordray’s appointment to the CFPB, the Bureau can finally begin its vital mission of standing by consumers, demanding greater transparency about consumer financial products and pursing enforcement actions against financial firms who have defrauded consumers or otherwise violated federal rules. Without a director, the CFPB could not have moved forwarded with its critical work and consumers would be left at the mercy of financial institutions.

Later that same day, President Obama appointed three very qualified individuals to the NLRB – Sharon Block, Terence F. Flynn and Richard Griffin. With these appointments the NLRB can continue to police employers, unions, and workers. Without these bipartisan appointments the five seat NLRB would not have had a quorum, having only two seats filled as of January 3rd, and would have been paralyzed until the Senate confirmed the nominees.

None of these events could have happened without President Obama taking the step to stop the nullification of these federal agencies by the minority in the Senate.  According to USA Today, when the Senate minority filibustered Cordray’s nomination last month, it was the first time in history the Senate blocked an appointment in an effort to effectively shut down an agency.  Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell stated, “We won’t support a nominee for this bureau – regardless of who the president is.” While Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid called it “the first time in Senate history a party blocked a qualified nominee solely because it disagrees with the existence of an agency that was created by law, through a bipartisan vote.”

When President Obama stepped up to the plate on Wednesday and used his executive power to make recess appointments, he not only hit it out of the ballpark but he hit a grand slam for American consumers and workers.

A big welcome to Mr. Cordray, the new head of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau! – National Consumers League

By Sally Greenberg, NCL Executive Director  

A big thumbs up to President Obama for his bold recess appointment of Richard Cordray as head of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.  This is a federal agency created by and Act of Congress no less – that sets up a bureau of protection for consumers in their financial transactions with banks, pay day lenders, student loan companies, and many more entities. NCL strongly supported the establishment of the CFPB and we were enthusiastic supporters of its first interim director, Elizabeth Warren. The conservatives in Congress wouldn’t vote to confirm her so she left town and returned to Massachusetts, where she is running for Senate.

Richard Cordray delivering his speech at the Brookings Institute Yesterday

Cordray, however, believes in the same simple goals that Warren was so adept at articulating. I was fortunate to be in attendance yesterday when the Brookings Institution hosted Mr. Cordray’s “virgin” speech shortly after his appointment as he spoke on importance of the new bureau: “Consumer finance is a big part of our economy and it plays a large role in the daily life of almost every American,” said Cordray. “We are rightly concerned about these things because consumer finance clearly has become more complicated and more risky in recent years.  Hidden fees and exploding interest rates have infected more products and services, novel and exotic mortgages, battered housing markets, and triggered the financial crisis that wrecked the economy and hurt millions of people,” he continued.

It’s as simple as that – consumers are faced with myriad financial decisions as a fact of daily life in America; unfortunately, the instruments they must sign, and the documents they agree to are far too complicated – indeed, they are a minefield. The Bureau aims to reduce these overly complex documents to a few pages of understandable prose and keep consumers out of trouble and financial institutions on the up and up.

I like Cordray; he’s a “steady-Eddie,” and though I must say that he lacks charisma or charm, he is utterly solid and thoughtful. How Congress gets away with not even holding a hearing on this very accomplished public servant and lawyer—Cordray’s a former Ohio States Attorney General, a former state treasurer, clerk to two Supreme Court justices, and a partner at a white shoe law firm—is beyond me. All consumers – left, right or center – will benefit from Cordray’s leadership at the Bureau to help set a model for uncomplicated financial documents and oversee financial institutions, from banks to pay day lenders.

If it has to be a recess appointment, so be it. We’re glad to have a leader at the Bureau and we wish him all the best in this tough but critically important new role.

NCL statement on the new NLRB appointees – National Consumers League

January 5, 2012

Contact: NCL Communications, (202) 835-3323, media@nclnet.org

Washington, DC—The National Consumers League (NCL) issued this statement: The National Consumers League (NCL) applauds President Obama for appointing Sharon Block, Terence F. Flynn and Richard Griffin to fill the vacancies at the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB).

“These three appointments to the NLRB, a five seat board which as of January 3rd had only two members, helps to ensure that the Board is able to continue in its vital role,” said Sally Greenberg, NCL Executive Director.

All three appointees are exceptionally qualified sit on the NLRB.  Block was the Senior Labor & Employment Counsel to the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee under Senator Edward M. Kennedy and most recently served as the Deputy Assistant Secretary for Congressional Affairs at the Department of Labor. Flynn served as Chief Counsel to NLRB Board Member Brian Hayes and has previously served as Chief Counsel to former NLRB Board Member Peter Schaumber. Griffin was the General Counsel for the International Union of Operating Engineers and serves on the Board of Directors for the AFL-CIO Lawyers Coordinating Committee.

“We applaud these appointments, ” said Greenberg. “We applaud President Obama for ensuring that an independent NLRB is able to continue in its mission of safeguarding employees’ rights to organize and promoting civil and efficient union-management relations and collective bargaining.”

“There is a common misperception that the NLRB is merely ‘pro-labor’,” said Michell McIntyre, Project Director for NCL’s Special Project on Wage Theft. “The reality is that the NLRB is an impartial independent agency designed to foster open, productive dialogue between employers and employees on fair labor practices, including collective bargaining, elections, and union representation—common sense goals intended to benefit both labor and management.”


About the National Consumers League

The National Consumers League, founded in 1899, is America’s pioneer consumer organization. Our mission is to protect and promote social and economic justice for consumers and workers in the United States and abroad. For more information, visit www.nclnet.org.

NCL statement on the new FDA limits on antibiotic use in livestock – National Consumers League

January 5, 2012

Contact: NCL Communications, (202) 835-3323, media@nclnet.org

Washington, DC—Sally Greenberg, Executive Director of the National Consumers League (NCL), issued the following statement today applauding the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for banning the extralabel (“extralabel” means use of a drug for a purpose not intended when the drug was originally developed) use of a class of antibiotics, cephalosporin,  in livestock.

“NCL applauds FDA for issuing an order of prohibition regarding cephalosporin antibiotics.  Use of these medications in cattle, swine, turkeys and chicken will now be limited.  The order will go into effect on April 5, 2012.

80% of antibiotics used in this country are administered to livestock, not only when the animal is ill but also, unfortunately as a prophylactic measure against possible infections. This vast overuse of antibiotics in livestock has been mirrored by an increase in antibiotic resistant- disease-causing bacteria.  The trend means that we have fewer treatment options to treat sick patients, leading to higher health costs and sadly, more patients succumbing to illnesses caused by antibiotic resistant bacteria.

Cephalosporin drugs many important applications in treating human infections and illnesses. A reduction in the use of these antibiotics in animals will be enormously helpful in reducing antibiotic resistance in humans and in treating disease.

NCL applauds FDA for its actions in limiting the use of cephalosporin in livestock.  This is an important first step toward reducing antibiotic use across the board in animals. NCL urges FDA to continue studying the issue and to take steps to limit the livestock applications of other drugs important to treating human illnesses.”


About the National Consumers League

The National Consumers League, founded in 1899, is America’s pioneer consumer organization. Our mission is to protect and promote social and economic justice for consumers and workers in the United States and abroad. For more information, visit www.nclnet.org.

NCL applauds appointment of Richard Cordray to head CFPB – National Consumers League

January 4, 2012

Contact: NCL Communications, (202) 835-3323, media@nclnet.org

Washington, DC–The National Consumers League today applauded President Obama’s recess appointment of Richard Cordray to head the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. The following statement is attributable to Sally Greenberg, Executive Director of the National Consumers League:

“Over more than two decades of public service, Richard Cordray has built a sterling record as a advocate for the nation’s consumers. We can think of few better candidates to be the first head of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. In reaction to the worst financial crisis since the Great Depression, Congress created the CFPB to protect American consumers from the financial tricks and traps that contributed to the near-destruction of our economy in 2008 and 2009. Through sensible regulation, the CFPB will ensure that consumers are treated fairly in the marketplace and financial firms compete on a level playing field.

The urgent need for a strong CFPB should not fall victim to political bickering. Unfortunately, Congressional opposition — backed in large measure by the very financial industry whose irresponsibility cost consumers trillions of dollars — has delayed the implementation of the CFPB’s legal mandate. Congressional delay has forced the President’s hand and we believe he rightly chose to exercise his recess appointment authority in this case.

We look forward to working with Director Cordray to protect the nation’s consumers and put an end to predatory lending practices that have hurt consumers for far too long.”


About the National Consumers League

The National Consumers League, founded in 1899, is America’s pioneer consumer organization. Our mission is to protect and promote social and economic justice for consumers and workers in the United States and abroad. For more information, visit www.nclnet.org.