Store your medicine up and away and out of sight – National Consumers League

By Nikola Sirovica, Communications Intern

Nikola Sirovica is a recent graduate of McGill University with a double major in Political Science and History. He is interested in the growth of social media and how the abundance of information influences the way individuals operate in a market economy. In his spare time he enjoys playing basketball, reading up on Eastern European history, and writing.  

Medications bear a striking resemblance to candy. And while most adults can easily distinguish between an Advil and a Jelly Bean, young children probably cannot. This makes it vitally important to know exactly where you store your medication. Over 60,000 young children end up in the emergency room each year because they accidentally swallow their parent’s medicine thinking it is candy. Never tell your child that medicine is candy to get them to take it.  Improper storage of medicine can lead to fatal accidents. Don’t let this happen to your child; make sure your home and medicine cabinet are childproof and safe. Here are some guidelines on how to keep your kids safe from your meds:

  1. Keep medicine and vitamins in an area out of reach and out of sight. This can include the top shelf to a closet, a high cabinet, or above the fridge. Make sure the area is cool and dry. If you have a medicine cabinet, invest in a lock so that kids can’t open the door without a password.
  2. Keep your medicine in their original containers. Not only is there important information such as dosage instructions, expiration dates, and disposal methods, medical containers typically have child resistant casing and safety caps. Should your child accidently ingest the wrong medicine, the information on the bottle can help emergency personnel assess the risk and danger your child is in.
  3. Memorize the poison control hotline 1-800-222-1222. Keep it in your phone in your emergency contact list and don’t hesitate to contact the number if you think your child has consumed the wrong medicine.

Travelling can be an even bigger issue. When staying in a hotel keep your meds in the safe. Even when you’re visiting your relative’s house inquire about where they keep their medicine and make sure your friends keep them in a place safely tucked away from your children. Always remember that children are curious creatures, and a brightly colored pill bears a striking resemblance to brightly colored candy. Don’t let them get their hands on those meds without your supervision.

The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), is encouraging consumers to share pictures of where they put their meds to make sure they are up and away and out of sight of children. If you think you have a good spot to keep your medicine share it online, and submit a picture of your safe medicine storage place. Safety should be everyone’s top priority, especially when it involves your children and your medication.

Child Labor Coalition welcomes reintroduction of Children’s Act for Responsible Employment (CARE Act) – National Consumers League

June 17, 2013 

Contact: Reid Maki, (202) 207-2820,

Washington, DC—The Child Labor Coalition (CLC) applauds Rep. Lucille Roybal-Allard (D-CA) for introducing the Children’s Act for Responsible Employment (CARE), H.R. 2342, on World Day Against Child Labor, June 12th. The legislation would close loopholes that permit children in agriculture to work for wages when they are only age 12 or 13–and sometimes even younger. The bill would also limit hazardous work on farms by workers under the age of 18.

“Agriculture is the only industry governed by labor laws that allow children as young as 12 to work with virtually no restrictions on the number of hours they spend in the fields outside of the school day,” Rep. Roybal-Allard said in a press release this week. “We need this legislation because we know that agriculture is one of this country’s most dangerous occupations.”

“Children working for wages on farms are exposed to many hazards—farm machinery, heat stroke, and pesticides among them—and they perform back-breaking labor that no child should have to experience,” said CLC co-chair Sally Greenberg, the executive director of the National Consumers League, a consumer advocacy organization that has worked to eliminate abusive child labor since its founding in 1899. “Child farmworkers deserve the same protections that all other American kids enjoy. We applaud Rep. Roybal-Allard’s leadership in introducing CARE.”

AFT Secretary-Treasurer and CLC Co-Chair Lorretta Johnson added that child labor and migration have a profound impact on the education of child farmworkers. “Fifty percent of children who regularly work on farms will not graduate from high school. That is unacceptable,” said Johnson. “Until all children, regardless of where they are born, have the same opportunity to receive an education, we will continue advocating and fighting on their behalf. 

“In the U.S., approximately 400,000 children are picking the very fruits and vegetables we eat today for low pay and with few protections,” said Norma Flores López, Director of the Children in the Fields Campaign at the Association of Farmworker Opportunity Programs (AFOP) and Chair of the CLC Domestic Issues Committee. “Through the protections offered by the CARE Act, we will ensure that farmworker children can break the cycle of poverty by providing them with healthy, happy childhoods.”

“For too long, children laboring in U.S. agriculture have been denied the protections they deserve to ensure their health and well-being. Too often, kids working on commercial farms are subjected to dangerous, unhealthy, work that’s detrimental to their education and far too often results in harm or even death. The CARE Act would address this problem and give children working on farms the same protections as children working in other industries,” said Bruce Lesley, president of the First Focus Campaign for Children, a bipartisan children’s advocacy organization.

Passage of CARE is a priority of the CLC, whose membership includes many groups that work to protect child farmworkers in the U.S., including AFOP, Farmworker Justice, Human Rights Watch, Migrant Legal Action Program, the National Association of State Directors of Migrant Education, and the National Migrant and Seasonal Head Start Association. The CLC, founded in 1989, has 28 organizational members, including several of America’s largest unions.

In addition to raising the minimum age at which children could work in the field, CARE would establish minimum fines and raise them for employers who violate agricultural child labor laws when those violations lead to serious injury, illness, or death of minors. The legislation would also strengthen regulations that protect minors from pesticide exposure.

The children of farm owners, working on their parents’ farms, will continue to be exempted from US child labor law even if the CARE Act is enacted.


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 [].

Meet the top ten scams – #2 Internet merchandise sales scams – National Consumers League

This is part two of our 10-part series taking a closer look at the top scams of 2012. The number two scam reported to NCL’s Fraud Center in 2012 was Internet merchandise sales scams. To see an overview of our complete report on the top scams of the year, visit our Web site at

The second most common type of scam reported to the National Consumers League this year were general merchandise sales – online sales in which purchased goods are misrepresented or are never delivered. These scams come in many different forms. One of the most commonly-reported types of Internet merchandise scams involved fake pharmaceuticals, such as diet pills and male-enhancement pills. Other popular variations on this scam involve fraudsters creating realistic-looking e-commerce sites advertising discounts on high-dollar merchandise such as jewelry or electronics. While these scams are difficult to stop, consumers should take some of the following precautions to avoid this theft:

  • Obtain a physical addresses and a phone number for the company or person you are buying from. Call the number to ensure it is legitimate.
  • Be skeptical of extremely low prices compared to other sites selling similar goods.
  • Pay with credit cards when buying something online since fraudulent purchases can be disputed with your card issuer. Remember to promptly report suspicious activity on your credit card bill since there is a limited window of time to dispute a charge.
  • Do not give out sensitive information such as a Social Security number or a debit card a PIN number when purchasing merchandise online.
  • Keep records of sales by printing out receipts or saving them on your computer.

For more information on general merchandise sales scams, visit

NCL praises outgoing Surgeon General Benjamin – National Consumers League

June 14, 2013

Contact: NCL Communications, Ben Klein (202) 835-3323,

Washington, DC– The National Consumers League (NCL), the nation’s pioneer consumer advocacy organization, today is expressing its gratitude for the service of Vice Admiral Regina Benjamin, who announced her forthcoming resignation from the position of United States Surgeon General.

“As ‘America’s Doctor,’ Dr. Benjamin was both a caring clinician and an outstanding leader on patient-centered initiatives, such as her push to recognize the importance of breastfeeding for a family’s health,” said Sally Greenberg, Executive Director of the National Consumers League, which honored Benjamin with its highest honor, the Trumpeter Award, in 2010.

As the 18th Surgeon General of the United States, Benjamin has been charged with the task of providing the public with the best scientific information available on how to improve their health. She oversees the operational command of 6,500 uniformed health officers who serve around the world to promote, protect, and advance the health of the American people. In 1995, Benjamin was the first physician under age 40 and the first African-American woman to be elected to the American Medical Association Board of Trustees.

“The National Consumers League is grateful for its opportunities to work alongside Dr. Benjamin on initiatives such as our Script Your Future program, for which she was a longtime and steadfast supporter,” said NCL’s Rebecca Burkholder, Vice President for Health Policy. Benjamin will speak at a meeting of the Script Your Future Committed Partners in Washington, DC on July 10.


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

Meet NCL’s public policy summer interns – National Consumers League

Sam Hamer – Yale University, ‘14 I am a senior at Yale University majoring in History. When not playing on the Yale Club Baseball team, I devote much of my time outside of the classroom to organizing a student-run clinic that prepares income tax returns for low-income individuals in New Haven. I am also a Yale Urban Fellow, part of a cohort of students interested in issues of poverty and urban development. From September – December 2012, I served as a White House Intern in the Office of Public Engagement. I’m originally from Chicago and am an avid White Sox fan. I come to NCL this summer via a partnership with the Google Policy Fellowship, a program that matches students interested in technology policy with leading nonprofit organizations in that field. I have a passion for social justice and I’m eager to learn how NCL is leading the charge to support consumers in the realm of telecommunications and technology policy. To that end, I will be spending my time abetting NCL’s efforts to stem phone bill cramming, expand access to telecommunications services for low-income consumers, and combat ID theft and fraud. With an eye toward a career in public service, I am excited to immerse myself in an organization that champions progressive causes. In addition to getting my feet wet in consumer advocacy work, I am looking forward to taking full advantage of the summer intern Mecca that is Washington, DC. 

Robert “RJ” Smith – Indiana University of Pennsylvania ‘14 Originally, I am from a town right outside of Philadelphia, called Pottstown. I am a senior at Indiana University of Pennsylvania, or IUP for short. At IUP, I am pursuing a double major in both International Studies and History as well as a minor in Economics. Being a History major, I was immediately drawn the NCL because the historic legislation and importance the League has played since its founding in 1899. During my American History Studies I developed a fascination with the early 1900’s and the Progressive Era. The fact that I am now working with an organization that was and continues to be so influential in passing legislation that helps and protects the average American, is a dream come true. During my internship at NCL, besides developing an understanding of the internal workings of a non-profit organization and Washington policy making, I am looking forward to representing and protecting consumers. There are many public policy issues that I feel strongly about and would love to work on, but if I had to pick one, it would be workers’ rights, not only in the United States, but also in the factories used by American-run companies around the globe. I am passionate about this topic because I am a firm believer that the relationship between a company and its employees should be mutually beneficial.


 Heather Yoon – Brandeis ‘15 I am a rising junior at Brandeis University majoring in International & Global Studies and Politics with minors in Legal Studies, Women & Gender Studies, and East Asian Studies. I love to travel and dream of visiting Africa, Dubai, and Egypt in the near future. Service has been at the heart of many of my previous travels abroad. After the devastating earthquake broke out in Haiti, I spent two summers there and in the Dominican Republic implementing the “Relief for Haiti Project.” Through this effort, my team members and I provided victims with medical aid, emotional support, and basic necessities. My growing concern for poverty, human rights, and gendered violence inspired me to join the National Consumers League this summer as a public policy intern to address international consumer and worker issues to a wider audience. During the past three years, I had the honor of interning for Mayor Steven Choi in Irvine, California. Shadowing Mayor Choi’s position helped me to adopt a very important philosophy for serving the community – “Listen, Learn, Respond.” With this philosophy, I will effectively help represent and respond to public interests and concerns of constituents on a daily basis at the League. I admire the League’s commitment to assisting consumers and workers on issues of fair labor standards. I am excited to be part of the team that continues to engage with a wide community of leaders and influencers. My goal is to use my international experiences and leadership skills to learn how to accentuate the rights of consumers and workers using public policies relating to consumer fraud.

Tread cautiously before investing in a college degree – National Consumers League

By Zoe Stahl, Food and Labor Policy Intern
As a college student, I have acutely felt the rising cost of tuition and the anxiety inherent in a rapidly changing job market. Like many others, I have begun to question the value of a college degree, but a recent study by the Department of Labor (DOL) left me feeling reassured in my decision.

In April, the unemployment rate for college graduates was 3.9 percent, while the rest of the workforce experienced a 7.5 percent unemployment rate.  In November 2010, when the unemployment rate for college graduates was at its highest during this economic downturn, it was at just 5.1 percent—a figure near to the jobless rate of high school graduates when the economy is healthy. However, not all college attendees or graduates enjoy these benefits. Students who enroll in for-profit colleges such as The University of Phoenix, Kaplan Colleges, National American University, and Alta Colleges, do not guarantee a higher quality of life for themselvesFor-profit colleges often charge prices just as high as their non-profit counterpart, however, their attendees and graduates—often lower-income, military, and minority students—do not enjoy the same success. They often are unable to secure jobs and, as a result, default on their loans. Luckily, there are available and accessible resources to help students make more informed decisions about where to attend college—making sure we get as much bang for our buck. Some available resources are the Department of Education’s College Scorecard, which provides graduation rates, average tuition and default rates for American colleges and universities. Another tool is Accredited Online Schools & Colleges, an online database of accredited colleges. Using the website will help you find credible schools that provide an education that will serve you well in the marketplace.  These resources will help make you a more informed consumer and ensure paying for a college degree is a smart investment!

Cheers and jeers for American meat industry – National Consumers League

It’s been a month of cheers and jeers for the American meat industry. The good news? According to a recent study by the American Meat Institute Foundation, meat producers have significantly reduced listerosis outbreaks, a foodborne illness, by sharing effective food safety practices and research within the industry. The bad news? Where to begin?

Earlier in the month, the United States Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) internal watchdog released a scathing report of the Food Safety Inspection Service’s (FSIS) inspection of pork slaughterhouses. The Office of the Inspector General (OIG) made three key discoveries: many slaughter plants are committing the same food safety violations again and again; more than 25 percent of the plants visited did not examine the internal organs of the carcasses after processing; and OIG witnessed widespread mishandling of animals. The companies, which routinely flouted food safety rules, did so at no consequence as Food Safety Inspection Service (FSIS) failed to use the aggressive enforcement actions – suspensions and withholding the mark of inspection – available to them. Also, plant workers have replaced FSIS inspectors on the inspection lines. They have received little guidance or training. And, as a result, many have failed to inspect the carcasses’ internal organs, thereby eliminating the possibility of detecting contamination. Finally, inspectors failed to report humane handling violations, further allowing the animal abuse.

What particularly concerns NCL is the report’s review of the pork slaughterhouse pilot program, which is remarkably similar to the poultry pilot program FSIS seeks to implement throughout the poultry industry. This is a program that NCL, along with a robust coalition of food safety and workers’ rights groups, has been fighting against. More specifically, the report describes the effects of the HAACP-based Inspection Models Project (HIMP), a pilot program that began in 1997 that increased line speeds – in other words, the speed at which the meat passes through human inspection—and reduced the number of FSIS inspectors in a handful of pork facilities.

This report raised a number of concerns with the program. First, the USDA failed to conduct a comprehensive review to gauge whether HIMP has increased food safety and plant efficiency as intended. Despite limited oversight, OIG was still able to identify major flaws with the inspection procedure. With three of the HIMP plants receiving most noncompliance reports (formal write-ups of food safety violations), the program may increase the potential for food safety risks. Even more alarming, inspectors failed to manually inspect the internal organs in which disease and contamination may lurk. Second, HIMP plants, which lack any formal agreements with FSIS, have greater flexibility than other plants. As a result, HIMP plants have faster production lines and fewer inspectors, limiting their ability to improve food safety and to comply with food safety regulations.

HIMP has also been piloted in poultry slaughterhouses, and FSIS plans to expand the program to all poultry plants. As in swine slaughterhouses, the program would increase the speed of the poultry line and replace FSIS inspectors with plant workers, who would not be required to receive any new training. Like many consumer advocacy groups, NCL is particularly concerned about this program’s extension. Workers would have a third of a second to examine the chicken, meaning contamination and defects could go undetected. It is not only a food safety issue, but also a worker safety issue. Faster line speeds mean a higher incidence of repetitive-motion injuries, such as carpal tunnel syndrome, for slaughterhouse employees. And many of these workers, who are often new, undocumented immigrants, women and non-native English speakers, may be hesitant to speak up for fear of being fired or even deported.

Given the OIG’s findings in pork slaughterhouses, you may be wondering how USDA could even consider industry-wide HIMP implementation. Here at NCL, we are too. NCL’s conviction that implementing HIMP is a bad idea has now only deepened given the overwhelming evidence.

Food and Drug Administration announces grant funds for ‘Script Your Future’ medication adherence campaign – National Consumers League

June 11, 2013 

Contact: NCL Communications, Ben Klein, (202) 835-3323,

Washington, DC—The National Consumers League, the nation’s pioneering consumer and worker advocacy organization, has been notified by the Federal Drug Administration (FDA) of the availability of grant funds to support its Script Your Future campaign. The multi-year groundbreaking national campaign ( aims to raise awareness among consumers, family caregivers, and health care professionals about the importance of medication adherence. Nearly three out of four Americans do not take their medication as directed; one out of three people never fill their prescriptions. Poor medication adherence results in 125,000 deaths per year. Improving adherence could save $290 billion in unnecessary health care costs.

The recent Federal Register announcement that the FDA has committed to support the continued efforts of Script Your Future is welcome news to the campaign’s 130 Committed Partners, including health care professionals, pharmacies, patient groups, insurers, governmental agencies, and researchers. The grant will assist in the development of new online resources, provide additional support for counseling and consumer education, and increase awareness and understanding of medication adherence.

“We are excited that the FDA has recognized the Script Your Future campaign as a leader in taking on the nation’s medication adherence problem,” said Sally Greenberg, NCL Executive Director. “Improving medication adherence among patients is a multi-stakeholder effort. Just as it takes a dedicated team of engaged patients, health care professionals, family caregivers, and support systems to improve adherence, Script Your Future’s ongoing success has been due in part to the support and collaboration by stakeholder organizations throughout the public and private sectors. We look forward to continuing to work with FDA on this campaign.”

Since Script Your Future’s national launch in May 2011, dozens of new partners have joined, and the campaign has generated hundreds of millions of impressions. Strong local coalitions in six cities nationwide have conducted community outreach and stimulated innovate and creative approaches for health care professionals to use as they encourage their patients to take their medications as directed. “The FDA’s support is further evidence,” Greenberg added, “of the seriousness of the adherence problem and of the importance of Script Your Future in addressing it successfully.”

On July 10, 2013, Script Your Future will hold its annual meeting of the Committed Partners in Washington, DC. United States Surgeon General Dr. Regina Benjamin and Dr. Janet Woodcock, Director, Center for Drug Evaluation and Research, FDA will speak at the meeting.

To learn more about Script Your Future or to inquire about becoming a Committed Partner, contact Rebecca Burkholder at


About Script Your Future

Script Your Future is a campaign of the National Consumers League (NCL), a private, non-profit membership organization founded in 1899. NCL’s mission is to protect and promote social and economic justice for consumers and workers in the United States and abroad.For more information about the Script Your Future campaign, visit For more information on NCL, please visit

The 50th anniversary of the Equal Pay Act is a reminder that there is more work to be done – National Consumers League

By Michell K. McIntyre, Director of NCL’s Special Project on Wage Theft “When women enter the labor force they will find equality in their pay envelopes,” declared President John F. Kennedy as he signed the Equal Pay Act into law on June 10th, 1963. Today marks the 50th anniversary of President Kennedy signing the Equal Pay Act, making equal pay for equal work the law of the land. In 1963, women were paid just 56 cents for every dollar men made. While times have changed, the wage gap between men and women remains. Today, women make 77 cents for every dollar a man makes – better but still far from equal. Equal pay is not only a question of equality – it’s a question of morals, economics and family values. The wage gap means less money for the needs of families across the nation – less money for rent, groceries, child care and medical bills. The newly published PEW Research Center study shows that in 40 percent of households with children, mothers are either the sole or primary breadwinners. This type of wage discrimination hurts us all. This practice unfairly targets children in households with single mothers, same-sex couples, and families where both parents work. The pay gap, when calculated over the course of a year, means women receive on average $11,084 less than men performing similar work. That figure is increased among African American women and Hispanic women, who make $19,575 and $23,873 less respectively than a white non-Hispanic male performing the same job. Using these figures, the National Women’s Law Center estimates that women make on average $443,360 less over the course of their careers. That is a huge sum of money when trying to put a child through college, buying healthy groceries for the dinner table, or paying the rent. Despite the passage of the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act, the first bill signed into law by President Obama in 2009, more work needs to be done to ensure women have the resources and tools they need to confront discrimination and challenge unfair practices in the courts. Current law forces women to jump through too many hoops in order to make claims of gender discrimination. The Paycheck Fairness Act (S. 84 & H.R. 377) would reduce those obstacles and lower those walls in an attempt to finally achieve equal pay for equal work. After 50 years, women are still struggling to find equality in their paychecks, it’s time to pass the Paycheck Fairness Act!

Public interest groups call on FTC to rein in wireless cramming fraud – National Consumers League

June 7, 2013

Contact: Ben Klein, NCL Communications, (202) 835-3323,

Washington, DC – A coalition of public interest organizations today called on the Federal Trade Commission to consider additional regulations to address the growth of cramming fraud on cell phones. Cramming – the unauthorized placement of charges on consumers’ phone bills – is a threat to millions of wireless subscribers that demands action by federal regulators.

Based on data reported by the California Public Utilities Commission, the Federal Communications Commission and the Vermont Attorney General’s office, the public interest organizations estimated that wireless cramming costs American consumers as much as $887 million per year.

“Wireless cramming fraud is practically the perfect scam for unscrupulous con artists,” said Sally Greenberg, Executive Director of the National Consumers League (NCL), which organized the coalition. “Most consumers don’t even know that their cell phone bills can be used to commit fraud. Add in an insecure wireless third-party billing ecosystem and scam artists are set up to have a field day at consumers’ expense.”

In comments filed at the FTC, the groups urged the Commission to consider the failure of more than a decade of self-regulation and limited “Truth-in-Billing” rules in preventing cramming on landline phone bills. Instead the groups called on the FTC to take a more active role in regulating billing aggregators and third-party content providers to address wireless cramming fraud. The groups called for a range of reforms, including requiring third-party service providers to post bonds before being allowed to begin billing, prohibiting the use of negative option confirmations, and better reporting of consumer cramming complaints.

NCL was joined on the comments by the Center for Media Justice, Citizens Utility Board (CUB) of Illinois, Consumer Action, Consumer Federation of America, National Consumer Law Center, on behalf of its low-income clients, Public Knowledge and the Virginia Citizens Consumer Council.

To view the organizations’ comments, click here.


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