Seven tips for giving tickets for the holidays – National Consumers League

November 29, 2012

Contact: Chris Grimm, (202)-250-3099,
Carol McKay, (412) 945-3242,

Washington, DC – Are you thinking about giving someone on your holiday gift list a pair of tickets to a fabulous concert or an important game? This could be the gift of a lifetime – or it could be a major disappointment, according to new tips from the Fan Freedom Project (FFP) and National Consumers League (NCL).

“Tickets make great gifts this time of year, but consumers need to watch closely and make sure they know exactly what they are purchasing and from whom,” said FFP Consumer Advocate Elizabeth Owen. Too often consumers are confused and frustrated when they buy and share concert and sports tickets. This holiday guide will give them a chance to better understand the process, and make the best choices possible.”

John Breyault, Vice President of Public Policy, Telecommunications, and Fraud at NCL added, “Bottom line, we want consumers to enjoy the option of giving sought after tickets as a holiday gift this season.  But as with any purchase, we encourage consumers to know the rules in advance, so they won’t be disappointed, and neither will the recipient.”

To help consumers avoid purchasing fraudulent tickets or even genuine tickets that aren’t transferable, FFP and NCL advises consumers to:

1. Know what type of ticket you are buying: Just because you bought a ticket doesn’t mean you can easily give it as a present. Some events have restricted “paperless tickets, which require the buyer to show up at the venue and present the purchasing credit card and photo ID.  This means you still have to go to the event with them – or they will not be able to get in. This can be inconvenient at the very least, or even impossible if you plan to give tickets to someone who lives far away.

2. Be prepared to pay additional fees: Unlike airline fares, now required by law to include all taxes and additional fees in the advertised price of a ticket, concert and sporting events tickets are not required to include fees upfront, leaving many consumers shocked at the final price of a ticket.

3. Use Reliable sellers: Beware of fly-by-night ticket sellers. If you’re unsure about a company, check with the Better Business Bureau. If you’re buying from a ticket broker, make sure they are members of the National Association of Ticket Brokers, whose Code of Ethics requires members to adhere to basic consumer protections.

4. Pay Attention to URLs: Check any website’s URL to ensure that you don’t get duped by an imposter. Remember, even if a website looks like the official site, it may be bogus.

5. Check Your Ticket Vendor’s Guarantee Policy: For example, websites like Stub Hub, TicketsNow, Ace Tickets and All-Shows guarantee every ticket sold on their sites and will replace them or refund money to consumers if they receive wrong or invalid tickets, or if an event is cancelled. Craigslist and other online classifieds sites do not offer such guarantees; it’s “buyer beware” when shopping there.

6. Buy with a Credit Card: Regardless of where you buy tickets, be sure to use a credit card so you can dispute any unfair or unauthorized charges. Before entering your credit card information online, be sure the site has “https://” at the beginning of the website address. This means the site is encrypted and safer for use.

7. Know the Rules: Some venues limit the number of tickets you can buy.


About The Fan Freedom Project

Launched in February 2011, the Fan Freedom Project is supported by more than 150,000 live-event fans and is backed by leading consumer and business organizations such as the American Conservative Union, National Consumers League, Consumer Action, the Institute for Liberty, and Net Choice. For more information, visit

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

Book review: Bair’s ‘Bull by the Horns’ – National Consumers League

By Sally Greenberg, NCL Executive Director

Several weeks ago I dropped by my local book store to hear former Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) Director Sheila Bair read from her new book, “Bull by the Horns.” The place was packed. I had no idea so many people would come out to hear her read and be so eager to talk about the FDIC’s role in the near-collapse of the economy and the sub-prime lending debacle.

The FDIC plays a critical role in protecting bank depositors and overseeing the bank to ensure they are making wise investments and their finances are sound. When they are not, the FDIC can also oversee the process of winding down a bank’s business. The agency was created after the Great Depression to prevent a repeat of the run on banks by depositors desperate to get their money out for fear of losing it all. Today the agency ensures most bank deposits up to $250,000.

I admit that when I bought the book for the NCL library I thought, “I’ll never get around to reading this; furthermore, it’s probably a snooze.” I opened up the first page, began to read, and was hooked. It reminded me why Sheila Bair was always held in such high esteem in the consumer community during her tenure at the FDIC. She was often a voice in the wilderness, standing by her beliefs that investors–and not taxpayers–be on the hook if a bank or investment firm failed. She was frequently fighting NY Fed and then Secretary of Treasury Timothy Geithner, Larry Summers, OCC’s John Dugan, and the Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke and was often the only woman. As such she was routinely excluded from meetings and decisions involving the other regulatory agencies.

Bair paints a picture of her counterparts at the Fed, the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency, the Office of Thrift Supervision, all financial heads of agencies – especially Geithner – as being more interested in protecting the big banks and Wall Street, rather than taxpayers, especially Citibank, where Geithner had close ties. Geithner, Bair says, was often eager to commit FDIC’s funds to help bail out firms that had engaged in high risk lending and slip shod investment practices. Bair resisted them at different times, and though she chose her battles carefully, they pilloried her for it. She also compromised more than she felt comfortable doing, if only to be a team player and put in place stronger standards in place for risk-taking among financial institutions. The expression that “Wall Street wants risk socialized and profits privatized” applies never seems more fitting than when reading Bair’s book.

I highly recommend it. It has some good Washington gossip and more than a few glimpses inside the world of the Washington financial regulators. Her meetings with President Obama are far more positive than her interactions with his appointees. It makes you wonder why the President put Wall Street types like Geithner and Summers in charge of agencies that needed an independent, fair-minded regulator.

If I ever run into that guy named Barack Obama, I’m going to recommend he read the book and think about Sheila Bair for Secretary of Treasury. That would be a great appointment.

NCL statement on tragic Bangladeshi factory fire – National Consumers League

November 28, 2012

Contact: Carol McKay, NCL Communications, , (412) 945-3242

Washington, DC–The National Consumers League (NCL) today expresses sincere condolences to the families of the more than 100 workers killed in a factory fire in Bangladesh. “We see a consistent pattern of indefensible and preventable loss of life in Bangladesh factories. In the past six years, over 600 workers have been killed in these deadly fires,” said Sally Greenberg, Executive Director of the National Consumers League. 

NCL noted that the Banglideshi factory fires that keep killing workers are reminicient of the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire in the United States in 1911. That fire in New York City killed 146 mostly immigrant workers and galvanized workers and government to make workplaces far safer, put in place fire codes, sprinklers, strict fire codes related to smoking and open flames inside the factory, and keeping the factory free of flammable piles of fabric. 

“United States companies that buy from firms that run these factories must insist on strict fire codes, training of workers and owners, or stop doing business with them immediately. American and Western companies can do a great deal to improve the conditions of these workers and keep them safe from hazardous working conditions. NCL intends to inform American consumers which companies are doing their part to improve safety standards and acting to protect the vulnerable workers in these factories,” said Greenberg. 


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

Number of companies pledging to avoid Uzbek cotton Zooms past 100 – National Consumers League

By Reid Maki, Director of Social Responsibility and Fair Labor Standards

The Cotton Campaign recently passed an important milestone in the fight to protect children in Uzbekistan from forced child labor: more than 100 companies have signed a pledge to try to avoid purchasing Uzbek cotton. Consumers will recognize a lot of the names on the list—Levis Strauss, Fruit of the Loom, GAP, Ann Taylor, Wal-Mart—comprising many of the largest apparel companies in the world. To date, 124 companies have signed the pledge.

Each fall, the country of Uzbekistan compels hundreds of thousands of school children to leave their classrooms and perform back-breaking labor harvesting cotton. The children typically earn only pennies for their work and experience harsh, uncomfortable conditions. In many countries of the world cotton is harvested with machinery, but in Uzbekistan using school children, college students and adults forced into labor has proven to be a cheap solution to harvest needs and picking by hand results in cotton that can draw top prices. Ruled by a totalitarian dictator, Islam Karimov, Uzbekistan is the only country in the world whose government is compelling the widespread use of child labor for non-military purposes.

For years, the members of the Cotton Campaign, including the National Consumers League (NCL) and the Child Labor Coalition, which NCL co-chairs with the American Federation of Teachers, have applied pressure on companies that use cotton to eliminate their use of Uzbek cotton until Uzbek leaders allows the International Labour Organization to monitor the cotton harvest and until Uzbekistan eliminates exploitative child labor and forced adult labor from the harvest.

According to reports coming out of Uzbekistan during this fall’s harvest, more schools have remained open this year and the use of child labor has fallen somewhat. Apparently, Uzbekistan has allowed some younger children to focus on their studies by turning to increased forced labor of older kids in the 15- to 19-year-old range. Advocates see this as a sign that pressure is beginning to work. And having 100 companies sign the pledge to avoid Uzbek cotton sends a powerful message to Uzbekistan: you must do more to eliminate the use of forced labor and child labor and you must let the ILO monitor your next cotton harvest.

One obstacle that companies face who have signed the pledge is ensuring that no cotton actually enters their supply stream—despite their intentions to keep it out. Advocates and companies are working to make certain that the pledge is meaningful and that cotton does not pass through so many middlemen that its country of origin is no longer recognizable.

NCL and the Child Labor Coalition encourage consumers to look at the list of companies that have signed the pledge and if their favorite company is not yet on the list, let it know that it should be.

For more information about child labor in Uzbekistan’s cotton fields, please visit the Cotton Campaign here

House and Senate hearings begin to shed light on compounding pharmacies and meningitis outbreak – National Consumers League

By Sally Greenberg, NCL Executive Director, and Ayanna Johnson, NCL Health Policy Associate

This past week, the House and Senate held hearings on the fungal meningitis outbreak and the state of compounding pharmacies in the US. Both the current FDA Commissioner, Dr. Margaret A. Hamburg, and the Massachusetts Department of Health Interim Commissioner, Dr. Lauren Smith, testified at the hearings, offering accounts of the roles their respective agencies played in the issue. The hearings highlighted the slipshod practices of drug compounding by the New England Compounding Center (NECC) in Massachusetts, which at times reached a scale of production resembling drug manufacturing. The co-owner of NECC, Barry Cadden, was subpoenaed and present at the House committee hearing, but invoked his 5th amendment right. The hearings are a part of the ongoing investigation into the outbreak and what can be done to prevent future threats to public health, like this, from happening again.

To date, the outbreak has left 34 patients dead, over 400 sickened and more than 14,000 patients who received injections wondering what is next. At the House hearing, the wife of a deceased victim gave a compelling account of her husband’s unexpected and rapid demise due to receiving a contaminated injection to relieve pain, stemming from a car accident. One thing was clear from her account: she and her family “have lived a nightmare” and had no idea what was happening to her husband. Unexplained headaches and periodic numbness were the only symptoms that signaled something was going terribly wrong. Stories like these put a name and face to the tally of victims. Our thoughts and condolences go out to all those who have lost loved ones or had loved ones sickened by this outbreak. Patients and consumers should be able to rest assured that their medicines are safe; the House committee members pledged to provide bipartisan support to finding a solution.

Since its opening in 1998, NECC has come under fire for numerous violations at both the state and federal levels. The hearings often focused on a timeline of events where NECC was inspected, was cited for violations and unlawful interstate commerce, or even risked closure for copying a manufactured prescription drug. NECC’s consistent interaction with government begs the question why was something not done earlier, but—as pointed out by numerous testimonies—the authority with which FDA can act in these situations is unclear. In fact, Dr. Hamburg brought a map of FDA jurisdiction over compounding pharmacies across the US, describing it as a patchwork of laws lacking clear lines of regulatory oversight.

Neither Dr. Hamburg nor Dr. Smith were heading their respective agencies when the state board of pharmacy or FDA interacted with NECC, each described her role, potential next steps, and why FDA’s jurisdiction over compounding pharmacies needs to be clarified through legislation. As we sat in the hearing room, we were startled at the questions directed at Dr. Hamburg by certain Committee members. They struck us as disrespectful and offensive. Committee members demanded a yes or no answer for complicated issues. There is a difference between compounding and drug manufacturing, which lawmakers must recognize in order to make substantive headway in creating an effective law. Additionally, the compounding industry has evolved substantially and new laws are required to reflect that. We appreciate the close regulatory attention that Dr. Hamburg and Dr. Smith are advocating for, to ensure that tainted drugs never get into the marketplace.

One congressman asked the FDA what it would need to prevent this from happening again, which we thought this was constructive. While it is important to determine what went wrong, pointing fingers and playing the blame game will not protect consumers and patients in the end. Finding out how to increase our public health agencies’ power to protect is important.

Dr. Hamburg agreed that FDA was in need of increased funding if all compounding pharmacies are to fall under FDA jurisdiction. The 7,500+ compounding pharmacies need to be registered with the FDA, and currently they are not. Dr. Hamburg also proposed a tiered system of management for compounding pharmacies that leaves traditional compounding under the jurisdiction of the state, and non-traditional compounding becomes FDA regulated. The Senate committee commended the work of the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) in investigating and reporting on the outbreak. It was encouraging to see Congress recognize the importance of public health, and the need for continued funding to support its efforts in the broader health care arena.

As the events surrounding the meningitis outbreak continue to unfold and more holes in regulation are exposed, it is important that efforts are directed to closing these gaps in the law. FDA’s commitment to bring those compounding pharmacies that are actually making drugs under its regulatory umbrella is laudable and the appropriate next step. The president of the International Association of Compounding Pharmacies also testified at the Senate hearing that legislators would have his organization’s support and commitment to collaborate on a bill to protect the public’s health. We hope he makes good on that promise.

Finally, the National Consumers League also calls on all members of Congress to support legislation introduced by Congressman Ed Markey (D-MA) —whose district includes NECC headquarters—to clarify FDA’s regulatory role and that of the state health departments and require registration of these pharmacies and labeling of all products they make.

Shop smart online this holiday season – National Consumers League

As Americans return to the workplace next Monday after the long holiday weekend, many will spend a portion of their day surfing the Internet for deals from online retailers. Monday, December 2 — “Cyber Monday” – is what the retail industry claims to be one of, if not the, busiest Internet shopping days of the year, and with more and more consumers opting to avoid the mall, e-shopping next week is expected to be higher than ever. Spending on Cyber Monday is expected to be in the billions of dollars.Whether consumers do their shopping online at the workplace or at home, advocates are reminding them to practice safe e-shopping habits in the coming weeks and year-round. The Internet can make your shopping faster and easier, but there can also be pitfalls if you’re not careful. There are ways to ensure you have a safe online shopping experience, so that gift-giving is a joyous occasion, not an opportunity for cyber thieves.

NCL’s Top Ten Cyber Monday Shopping Tips

  1. Don’t shop online on an unencrypted or open wireless network. As convenient as they seem, an airport or coffee shop’s wireless network is not an appropriate place to conduct financial transactions. Entering personal financial information over an unsecured connection may leave your computer open the to hackers and thieves to capture your financial information. Home Wi-Fi networks can also be compromised, so consumers should find out how to secure their connections.
  2. Secure your computer before shopping online. Before connecting to the Internet or shopping online, take the following three core protections: 1) Install anti-virus and anti-spyware programs and keep them up to date; 2) Install a personal firewall; 3) Regularly update operating system and anti-virus programs to current protections.
  3. Know who you’re dealing with. Before shopping online with an unknown e-store, check out the seller and be sure to get the name and physical address of the vendor in case something goes wrong. If you’re buying gifts on an online auction site, check the track record of the seller before you bid.
  4. Pay the safest way – by credit card, especially when you’re purchasing something that will be delivered later. Under federal law you can dispute the charges if you don’t get what you were promised. You may also dispute unauthorized charges on your credit card. Consider using a “virtual” credit card number.  These numbers replace your plastic credit card number with a new number that is linked to your real account number.  When you’re prompted to enter your credit card number at checkout, you enter the virtual number instead of the real number.  These “virtual” numbers can be set to have a low credit limit, to only work at certain Web sites, or to expire after a certain period of time (two months from date of purchase is a good rule of thumb).  This way, if the Web site you’re shopping at is compromised, the crooks likely won’t be able to run up charges on your real credit account since the virtual number.  A note of caution, however: think twice before using a virtual credit card number for services where you will be billed repeatedly or for things like rental car reservations, since the card may not be billed until you pick up the car.
  5. Only shop on safe sites. When providing payment information, the Web site URL address should change from “http” to “https,” (or, less frequently, “shttp”) indicating that the purchase is encrypted or secured. Look for an icon on the browser (generally in the bottom right of the window), such as an image of a padlock closing, to indicate that the page is secure.
  6. Don’t fall for a phishing email or pop-up. Legitimate companies don’t send unsolicited email messages asking for your password, login name, or your financial information. But scammers do, and it’s called “phishing.” Crooks often send emails that look like they’re from legitimate companies – but direct you to click on a link, where they ask for your personal information. Delete these emails.
  7. Be careful when shopping for a gift in an online auction. Consumers sometimes turn to auctions for harder-to-find collectibles or expensive electronics. Understand how the auction works, and check out the seller’s reputation before you bid. Use safe ways to pay, like a credit card. If you use a 3rd party payment system, read the terms carefully to understand what protection, if any, it offers if you don’t receive what you were promised. Always ask about terms of delivery and return options. Be especially wary of auctions that ask for payment via wire transfer.
  8. Turn your computer off when you’re finished shopping. Many people leave their computers running 24/7, the dream scenario for scammers who want to install malicious software—“malware”—on your machine and then control it remotely to enable them to commit cyber crime. To be extra safe, switch off your computer when you are not using it.
  9. Don’t be tempted by offers of free money. Con artists take advantage of cash-strapped consumers during the holidays to offer personal loans or credit cards for a fee upfront. These scammers simply take the money and run. Beware of emails offering loans or credit, especially if you have credit problems.
  10. Visit to learn more about protecting yourself from online scams year-round and to report suspicious sites, sellers, or scams. You don’t have to be a victim to report a scam, and your information will help law enforcement go after cyber grinches.

Above all, look into the business or individual with whom you are doing business before making the transaction. For more information on avoiding scams throughout the year, visit

Poultry ‘modernization’ bad news for consumers and workers – National Consumers League

By Michell K. McIntyre, Director of NCL’s Special Project on Wage Theft and Teresa Green, Linda Golodner Food Safety & Nutrition Fellow

What do you call a proposed federal regulatory rule that looks to help make hundreds of millions of dollars for industry at the expense of worker and the public’s safety? Irresponsible? Reckless?

In a nutshell, that’s what’s happening with the Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) proposed changes to the poultry inspection process. It sounds like a lot of legal mumbo jumbo, but what is boils down to is that it allows the fox to guard the hen house – almost literally. The changes allow the government to layoff federally trained and experienced poultry inspectors, who are tasked with keeping American poultry safe, and allows the poultry plants to hire private employees to carry out those duties. These private employees do not have mandatory training nor would have the same level of experience. The workers would also be at the mercy of their employers of when they could blow the whistle and stop an unfit carcass from getting mixed in with poultry sent to consumers’ tables. Poultry plants would also be permitted to speed up the inspection lines in order to make more profits. But at the cost of what?  Increased risk of worker injuries? Increase in foodborne diseases like salmonella and campylobacter?
A retired federal poultry inspector has been blowing the lid about what she’s seen at a pilot plant and calling into question the wisdom of the proposed change.  Phyllis McKelvey, grandmother of 8 and the whistle blowing retired poultry inspector with over 40 years of experience, took her concerns public through a petition that more than 177,000 people signed.  Last week, she delivered the petitions to USDA and called on them to stop this new inspection process from spreading to a majority of poultry plants.
The proposed rule would allow the poultry plants to speed up the lines of inspection to 175 birds per minute – that’s 3 birds per second and 1 bird per 1/3 of a second.  You can’t even wink that fast!
What makes USDA think untrained private inspectors can inspect a bird in that time? Can they find the puss, scabs, tumors and fecal contamination in that time?  Can even trained and experienced federal inspectors catch defects in that short period of time? And should we put public’s safety on the line in order for the poultry industry to make more profits?
That’s a gamble we’re not willing to take.
For more information on the USDA’s proposed changes to the poultry inspection process and what you can do, please visit UFCW and National Council of La Raza.

“Modernization” of poultry slaughter under fire

Now that the election is over, advocates in Washington, DC and the Obama administration can refocus their energy on pressing policy issues. One of the biggest issues facing the food safety community right now is the modernization of the food system. New rules meant to modernize poultry inspection has advocates from many areas concerned — is 1/3rd of a second enough to properly inspect a chicken? We don’t think so.

With the two-year anniversary of the passage of the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) approaching, this topic is foremost in the minds of many food safety advocates. The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), which has regulatory jurisdiction over meat and poultry, is also focusing on modernization. To this end, they have issued the proposed rule, “Modernization of Poultry Slaughter Inspection.” NCL has joined a diverse group of labor, food safety and good government groups in opposing this rule.

What does the rule do?

Since the passage of the 1906 Federal Meat Inspection Act, USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) has been responsible for carcass by carcass inspection in slaughter plants throughout the country. These inspectors are trained and, because they are employed by the government and not the plant, are assured job security regardless of whether they uncover issues at a plant. Under the proposed rule, many inspection duties would be reassigned to plant employees.

What worker safety concerns does this proposed rule present?

  • Aside from shifting inspection duties from government inspectors to plant employees, this proposed rule also allows for increases in line speed. While several inspectors currently man the slaughter line, the proposed rule will decrease their presence. The result is that while under traditional inspection each inspection looks at about 30 birds per minute, under the proposed rule each inspection would look at about 175 birds per minute. This means that he or she spends 1/3 of a second on each bird.
  • Under the new system, inspectors are also unable to look at the whole bird. This is a problem because fecal contamination, which often indicates the presence of foodborne illness, can often occur inside the bird as well as outside it.
  • While USDA claims that this proposal will decrease the prevalence of foodborne illness, in their own data analysis, they admit that the proposal’s impact on campylobacter, which is responsible for close to a million illnesses each year, is “ambiguous.”
  • Under the new system, plants will be allowed to create their own standards for testing of foodborne illnesses and other defects, such as scabs, feathers and bile. This means that checking how plants are doing in implementing this rule will become quite a challenge.

What food safety concerns does this proposed rule present?

  • While FSIS inspectors receive uniform training, the proposed rule does not mandate any specific training requirements for plant employees who would take over inspection duties. This is a concern both for food safety and for the workers themselves who may likely not be adequately prepared for their new responsibilities.
  • Even at much slower line speeds, the poultry slaughter industry is notorious for high rates of repetitive motion injuries. Advocates are concerned that increases in line speeds will only increase the rate of injury. Despite these widely raised concerns, the proposal has been advanced without the benefit of any comprehensive study of the impact of line speeds on worker injury.
  • Because many of those employed in the poultry industry are new immigrants or women, and because only around 30% of the industry is organized, these workers are particularly vulnerable. Will these workers, who depend on the plant for their job, be willing to speak up when they spot food safety problems?

Because of these concerns, NCL has joined with other leading groups to urge USDA to withdraw the rule until it can address the many concerns raised about both food and worker safety. If you eat chicken, or if you feed it to your children, you should be concerned about this rule too.

Black Friday lurking for shoppers, workers – National Consumers League

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

Thanksgiving – a day set aside to spend with family and friends and give thanks for one’s blessings. However, more and more often, shopping and the rush for the almighty deal has changed the meaning of the holiday. Stores in search of a new gimmick have decided that opening at midnight on Black Friday is no longer early enough and have moved up the opening time to Thanksgiving evening. This year, four major retailers: Walmart, Toy-R-Us, Kmart, and Sears will open at 8pm, with Target following at 9pm. While the new opening times give the public additional time to shop for deals, what does it mean for the workers forced to give up their precious time with their friends and family?
Are corporations and executives thinking about their employees when deciding to open so early on a national holiday? Do the workers’ lives and well-being factor into the decision? Or is the pursuit of profits all that’s considered? Time after time, companies put their well-being ahead of their employees’. These policies do not take into consideration the lives of the workers and are particularly disrespectful when one understands that most workers will have to be at work well before 8pm to open the stores. What happened to the workers’ Thanksgiving dinner and their time to spend with friends and family?
Workers across the country have been trying to stand up and fight for their well-being and challenge the corporate dogma of profits before anything else.  Last week, Hostess Brand workers went on strike to protest the company’s lowering of wages, slashing benefits, and halted contributions to pension plans. Instead of working with their employees, Hostess decided to blame their workers for Hostess’s financial problems and shut down the company. Walmart workers from Chicago to Dallas and Miami to Los Angeles have threaten to walk out on Black Friday if the company does not address the longstanding workplace issues including low wages, spiking health care premiums, and management retaliation for attempting to organize or even talk about joining a union. OUR Walmart and Making Change at Walmart, a coalition of labor organizations, civil rights groups, and religious institutions, have come together to support the workers of Walmart including the warehouse workers who have been going on rolling strikes from port to port. Besides walking out, Walmart workers may stage protests and rallies outside the stores and consumers should be aware of what happens behind the scenes at their retailers. What goes into those low prices and Black Friday deals? Management threats, closed-door mandatory lectures on the evils of collective bargaining, retaliation in the forms of decreased work hours, and unjustified terminations coupled with low wages and increasing health care premiums have left Walmart workers at the end of their ropes.
Do consumers take into account the working conditions at their favorite retailers? According to NCL’s spring 2012 survey, 94 percent of Americans say the way workers are treated is “very important,” “important,” or “somewhat important” to them personally in that the products they buy are not made under unfair, overly harsh, and dangerous working conditions. Instead of shopping at retailers that cut corners when it comes to their employees, we should reward companies who treat their workers with respect, livable wages, and benefits with our consumer dollars.

Shedding tears for workers — not Twinkies – National Consumers League

We are saddened by the closing of Hostess Brand plants in cities throughout the country and have issued several statements to the press in support of the Bakery workers. The Bakery workers had gone on strike because they, in the past, had provided many wage and benefit concessions, which the company promised to use toward rebuilding the brand and improving the capital structure. Hostess did none of this, according to a report by a nonpartisan bankruptcy analyst and was terribly managed. Now the company is blaming the striking workers instead of taking responsibility for abysmal management and giveaways to six CEOs in 10 years who have failed to turn the company around and squandered the savings provided to the company by the workers. Now, 18,000 workers will lose their jobs. It’s shameful.