NCL is pleased that the long overdue Silica Rule has been released – National Consumers League

August 26, 2013

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

Washington, DC — The National Consumers League cheers the release of the long overdue rule that will shield workers from excessive exposure to silica dust. The rule, released by the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), lowers the legal limit of silica dust that workers are permitted to breath to 50 micrograms per cubic meter of air.

There are an estimated 2.2 million American workers exposed to silica dust every year; about 1.8 million of those work in the construction industry. Many of these workers are exposed to silica dust when cutting, drilling, or grinding material.  Exposure can lead to silicosis, as well as increased susceptibility to lung cancer, kidney disease, and autoimmune disorders. This new regulation is estimated to save 700 lives and prevent 1,600 new cases of silicosis annually, according to OSHA.

“The release of this critical worker safety rule is long overdue,” said Sally Greenberg, NCL Executive Director. “For over a decade limits on worker exposure to silica dust have been stymied by industry opposition and stalled by needless bureaucracy. During that time, thousands of workers have lost their lives or suffered grave illness. We are pleased that OSHA has finally taken necessary steps to address safety for millions of construction workers. There was no excuse for this rule to be held up.  NCL, the nation’s oldest consumer and worker advocacy group, urges the Obama administration to release other common sense rules passed by Congress or developed by federal agencies to improve worker safety.”


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

A day of celebration and reflection at the National Mall – National Consumers League

By Sally Greenberg, NCL Executive Director
Yesterday, Washington celebrated the 50th Anniversary of one of the world’s greatest events for the cause of civil rights. There were Americans from all states of the union at the March, and many great speeches. I joined the ceremonies in the morning by participating with citizens and elected officials working for DC Statehood at the DC WWII Memorial, then walked to the Lincoln Monument with the crowd to hear the speeches.  I also took a lot of pictures.


Congressman John Lewis, who was a King confidant and who was himself arrested many times, beaten and bloodied, and who is now a member of Congress from Georgia, spoke, as did Ben Jealous, head of the NAACP, Arline Holt Baker of the AFLCIO, Mary Kay Henry, head of SEIU, Randy Weingarten, head of AFT, Attorney General Eric Holder, and Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, who drew a rousing round of applause. Pelosi told the crowd she was at the march 50 years ago and heard MLK Jr. speak. She observed that then there were 4 Black members of Congress back then and a Catholic in the White House; today there are 43  Black members of Congress and an African American in the White House. The Black Caucus members “are the conscience of the caucus” Pelosi said. And I was personally so pleased that she also said we need “not just a minimum wage but a livable wage.” That’s what we are fighting for right now in DC!

We ought to have been celebrating the gains made in the last 50 years and there have been many. The overwhelming sense I had from the crowd, however, which was both heavily African America and union, is that while many important gains have been achieved since Martin Luther King made his “I Have A Dream Speech”, just when you think things are going well, something monumental sets you back. The theme for this march was why the senseless killing of Trayvon Martin, the FL teenager shot while he walked back from a convenience store carrying nothing more than a bag with Skittles, ever happened? Are “Stand Your Ground” laws a chance for racists to carry out vigilante justice and get away with it? And how different is Trayvon Martin from Emmett Till? Nevertheless, it was a great day in Washington, with excellent speeches and an opportunity to reflect on King’s Dream – with the Trayvon Martin case, immigration reform stalled, and 15 million workers making minimum wage and having to work 2-3 jobs to get by, though, today was a reminder of how much more we need to do to get our house in order.

Consumer, worker advocacy group congratulates UMWA for ratifying union settlement – National Consumers League

August 14, 2013

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

Washington, DC — The National Consumers League, the nation’s pioneering consumer and worker advocacy organization, congratulates members of the United Mine Workers of America (UMWA) who work at Patriot Coal plants in Kentucky and West Virginia for ratifying a settlement the union reached with the company.

“We are gratified for our UMWA brothers and sisters, active workers and retirees alike, that a settlement with the company has been reached. We applaud union members for making it clear that they are willing to do their part to keep Patriot operating, keep their jobs, and ensure that thousands of retirees continue getting the health care they depend on and deserve,” said Sally Greenberg, the League’s Executive Director.

“This agreement will provide a way forward for current mine workers to continue in their jobs, provide for their families, and be strong economic drivers of their local communities. We realize that the current agreement will not provide lifetime health benefits to retired worker, but we are hopeful that Congress will enact legislation that ensures the government’s promises to provide health care to retired miners is kept.”

NCL has long been allied with the cause of American workers and has a close and abiding relationship with the UMWA. In 2012, NCL honored UMWA President Cecil Roberts with the Trumpeter Award, NCL’s highest honor.

In April of this year, NCL joined a protest in St. Louis aimed at Patriot Coal’s bankruptcy that placed in jeopardy the pension and heath care benefits of UMWA retirees. NCL believes that Patriot was set up to fail when it was formed by Peabody with more liabilities than assets in 2007. We stand with our brothers and sisters at the UMWA and will continue to pressure legislators, Peabody, and Arch, to live up to the agreements they made with workers. There’s no harder or more arduous job than going down into the mines for 12 hours a day. The work results in ailments from breathing in coal dust and Black Lung disease to injuries caused by the hard labor involved in mining. It’s only fair that these miners and their families get good lifetime health care and a decent retirement plan.


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

Additional consumer protections could help prevent more Jamster’s – National Consumers League

By John Breyault, Vice President of Public Policy, Telecommunications and Fraud The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) today announced its second major enforcement action against a wireless cramming scheme – a $1.2 million settlement with Jesta Digital, a.k.a. Jamster. While enforcement actions may give some scammers pause, the dozens of FTC enforcement actions against landline cramming scammers since the early 2000’s show that enforcement alone isn’t the answer.

As the FTC itself has stated, wireless cramming is a “significant consumer problem,” demanding action by federal regulators. We couldn’t agree more. Based on data reported by the California Public Utilities Commission, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) and the Vermont Attorney General’s office, we estimated that wireless cramming fraud is costing consumers as a much as $887 million per year. As we have said before, the Jamster case as well as Wise Media and JAWA before it, are likely just the tip of a very large iceberg when it comes to wireless cramming. Unfortunately, the wireless industry seems determined to defend its assertion that there is not a significant wireless cramming problem in the U.S. For example, in June, CTIA, the wireless industry’s association, published an industry-funded study the called into question the results of an earlier study by the Center for Rural Studies at the University of Vermont.

The Vermont study found that 60% of third-party charges on consumers’ wireless phone bills were unauthorized. An earlier analysis by the Illinois Consumer Utility Board found that 44% of third-party charges were unauthorized. NCL has advocated for stronger consumers protections to address the growing problem of wireless cramming fraud.  Earlier this year, NCL and seven other public interest groups, called on the FTC to take a more active role in addressing wireless cramming fraud. Examples of reforms that could address the problem include requiring billing aggregators to obtain bonds from third-party service providers before initiating billing; prohibiting the use of negative option confirmations; and better reporting of consumer cramming complaints. As the primary regulator of the wireless industry, the FCC should also take action to address the role that carriers play in protection consumers from wireless cramming.

Reforms called for by NCL and others include requiring better disclosure of third-party charges on consumers’ bills; requiring consumer affirmative consumer opt-in consent before third-party charges can be billed; and improving cramming dispute resolution processes. When cramming fraud first emerged in the landline telephone space in the late 1990’s, the industry response was essentially “trust us, we’ll fix this.” More than a decade later, the problem persisted and the industry – under pressure from Congress, regulators, and public interest groups – finally took the right steps to end most third-party billing. How many more Jamster’s do we need to have before the industry gets serious about reforming a third-party billing system that enables wireless cramming?

Fast food workers plan a day of protest on August 29 – National Consumers League

A coalition of national labor unions and community groups announced a national fast-food worker walk-out scheduled for August 29.  This announcement follows a summer of protest, during which workers from across the country have protested against low-wages and unfair working conditions.

Striking fast-food workers have cried foul over unpaid overtime, wage theft, and a lack of upward mobility. Nationally, these workers earn a median pay of $8.94/hr. The planned walk-out is a precursor to Labor Day, a day our nation pauses to recognize the economic and social contributions of America’s workforce.  And while some workers are doing exceptionally well, median pay for chief executives at the nation’s top corporations jumped 16 percent last year, low wage workers – the bottom 20 percent of the workforce – have seen their incomes fall 5 percent in the last seven years.

Low-wage workers are demanding a $15 minimum wage. Many pro-business advocates have made claims that such an increase would harm consumers and cause prices to skyrocket. In fact, Rep. Markwayne Mullen (R-OK) stated at a town hall meeting earlier this month that a $10 minimum wage would increase the price of a hamburger 438 percent. Such a statement is intended to startle consumers and turn the public against the idea of increased wages. A close examination of the claim, however, proves it to be false. In Australia, where the minimum wage is $16.88/hr., a Big Mac costs $4.94.

Australia’s minimum wage is more than double America’s measly $7.25/ hr., and yet a Big Mac is only 74 cents more. Social media outrage has fueled a renewed invigoration to increase wages and the mainstream media is paying attention. Earlier this week, a Seattle campaign announced their push for a city-wide $15/hr. minimum wage. As public sentiment turns against corporate business greed, the reality of higher wages – and perhaps living wages – for fast-food workers inches towards a reality. On August 29, the nation will be tuned in and alert to the plight of America’s low-wage worker.

Meet the top ten scams – #4 phishing scams – National Consumers League

This is part four of our 10-part series taking a closer look at the top scams of 2012. The number four scam reported to NCL’s Fraud Center in 2012 was phishing scams. To see an overview of our complete report on the top scams of the year, visit our Web site at Phishing scams clocked in at #4 on NCL’s 2013 Top Ten Scams report. These scams, come in a practically infinite number of variations, but a common theme involves a scammer getting their marks to click on malicious Web links or otherwise divulge sensitive information.

Through the installation of tracking software on a victim’s computer or getting the victim to divulge sensitive information voluntarily scammers are able to get the information they need to commit identity theft or other frauds. Phishing emails often are made to look like they come from a trusted entity, such as a bank or other financial institutions, complete with logos or other graphics that make the emails look legitimate. Warning signs of phishing scams include:

  • Requests to “verify” information (such as a social security number, a bank PIN numbers, credit card account numbers, etc.)
  • E-mails from organizations that contain misspellings and/or poor grammar
  • Calls or e-mails from organizations that threaten to close accounts
  • Links or pop-ups that direct the users to unusual websites (such as .ru, .cn or other overseas web domains)
  • E-mails that do not contain your name

To ensure that more people are not tricked by one of these scams, consumers should take the following precautions:

  • If an unsolicited email or phone call from your financial institution asks for personal information, do not reply. If you are concerned about your account, contact the financial institution directly via the phone number or website listed on your statement
  • Take precautions to keep your computer secure. This includes ensuring that your e-mail provider and/or security provider scans email for threats and scans your computer for viruses regularly.
  • Do not click on links or open attachments in emails from people you do not know
  • If you are concerned that you’ve been a victim of a phishing scam, contact your financial institutions (banks, credit cards companies, etc.) and ask them to put a fraud alert on your account. You should also contact the three major credit reporting bureaus (Equifax, Experian and TransUnion) to alert them to the possibility of unauthorized individuals attempting to take out loans in your name.

For more information on phishing, please visit

Why Anthony Stokes should not have been removed from the transplant list – National Consumers League

According to news reports today, Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta refused to put Anthony Stokes, a 15-year-old boy with an enlarged heart, on the heart transplant list due to his failures to take his medication as directed.

The doctors claimed his previous issues with non-compliance should bar him from being eligible for a new heart. What sad news coming out of Atlanta! As advocates, we believe we must educate patients that are non-adherent, not punish them. Three out of every four Americans do not take their medication as directed, making non-compliance a flimsy excuse for refusing to treat someone or eliminating their path to a potentially life-saving procedure. Non-adherence is a widespread and complicated issue that requires communication and support from doctors and healthcare providers. If the doctors feared a heart transplant would be unsuccessful because the patient didn’t take his medications properly, the onus should be on them to educate the patient as to why adherence is necessary to improve overall health results. Did his doctors take the time to ask him WHY he wasn’t taking his medication as directed? To find out more information about the importance of taking medications as directed and pledge that you will adhere please visit

National Consumers League statement on FCC actions to make prison phone rates affordable – National Consumers League

August 14, 2013

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

Washington, DC – The National Consumers League, the nation’s pioneering consumer and worker advocacy organization, today applauded the Federal Communications Commission for taking action to make prison telephone calling rates more affordable for millions of inmates and their families. The following statement is attributable to Sally Greenberg, Executive Director of the National Consumers League:

“Years of struggle by prisoner justice advocates were rewarded last week when the FCC passed long-overdue reforms to cap inmate calling rates. We applaud not only their efforts, but also the leadership shown on this issue by acting FCC Chairwoman Mignon Clyburn. By capping rates for interstate long distance calls, the Commission ensured that millions of incarcerated Americans and their loved ones will be able to stay in touch without imposing exorbitant costs on strained family budgets.”


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

Safe foreign travels: learn about human trafficking – National Consumers League

International travel allows you to experience different cultures, but vacations that are meant to be carefree and fun pose some threats as well. Among these threats is the risk of becoming a victim of human trafficking.

An estimated 5.5 million children are victims of human trafficking globally. Everyone, but especially young women, must stay alert when traveling abroad and make responsible, smart decisions to avoid falling victim to ruthless human traffickers. When traveling keep these tips in mind:

  • Know the facts. Before you travel make sure you are informed about the prevalence of human trafficking. Find out information about who are most likely victims, what warning signs to look for, and what steps you can take if you find yourself in a precarious situation.
  • Register with the local U.S. embassy. Know the address and telephone number of the embassy closest to where you are staying. Alert them of your travel plans and keep the contact information with you at all times. Find a full listing of U.S. embassies around the world here.
  • Protect your passport: Do not give your passport to anyone to keep or hold on to. Make sure you keep a copy of your passport information in a safe place where only you can find it.
  • Beware of strangers. Sex traffickers often seem harmless and might be well-dressed, young, and good looking. Don’t ever tell a stranger your full name, where you are going, or if you are staying alone.
  • Avoid unsafe situations. You should avoid traveling alone, at night, or on deserted side streets. If you think you are being followed, find a crowded place. Don’t hesitate to alert police to your suspicions, and give friends and family members a description of the potential perpetrator.
  • Volunteer with caution. When traveling abroad for volunteer opportunities, only pick reputable agencies that have strict protocols and thorough supervision. Before you sign up with an organization do some research to make sure they are a legitimate charity organization. Be aware that there are organizations trying to exploit foreign citizens.
  • Support responsible businesses. If you see a club or bar that employs extremely young looking workers or seems to be engaged in questionable practices, do not give them your business.
  • Buy a TassaTag. These bright, hand-made and fair trade luggage tags support efforts to reduce human trafficking. TassTag stand for Travelers Take Action Against Sec Slavery and Trafficking. Find out how to get a TassaTag.
  • Don’t support trafficking. Don’t give money to child beggars who may be the victims of trafficking. If you give money to these children, you are helping the trafficking industry remain profitable. Instead, donate money to a local charity, school, or clinic.

Efforts to curb human trafficking are ongoing, yet millions of people remain trapped in slave-like conditions around the world. Support responsible businesses and organizations that are fighting to eliminate trafficking and aid former child slaves. To report potential human trafficking activity: call the National Human Trafficking Hotline at (888) 373-7888.

NCL applauds the fifth anniversary of Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act – National Consumers League

August 12, 2013

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

Washington, DC—The National Consumers League joins with our consumer colleagues and all other Americans in celebrating this week the fifth anniversary of the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act (CPSIA). The Act was signed into law by President George W. Bush on August 14, 2008 and was the first major update to the authorizing legislation of the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), the federal safety agency created in 1974.

The Commission came into being after Congress concluded that thousands of injuries annually from consumer products – including those leading to deaths of infants and young children from such diverse products as ingested nonfood items, poisons under the sink and in the medicine cabinet, over the counter drugs, dangerous garage doors, or poorly designed cribs, high chairs, and toys – needed the attention of a federal safety agency.

The CPSC today conducts research, holds hearings, issues safety regulations, and recalls products. And like the CPSC, the CPSIA had the overwhelming support of a bipartisan group of Senators and House members. The reforms include:

CPSIA enabled several significant safety breakthroughs:

“The reforms put in place by the CSPIA were long sought efforts by consumer advocates: a database for consumers to check safety before buying, a more effective recall system, mandatory testing of infant and toddler products before they hit the market, all of these sometimes seemed like impossible goals. It took a crisis and parents realizing that many children’s toys contained unacceptable levels of lead to get Congress to act.”

“NCL applauds the many consumer groups who worked overtime to get this law over the finish line, and thank the bipartisan group of Senators and Representatives who saw the need for these reforms and supported the bill. Today’s families are far less likely to face the terrible consequences of a toy laced with lead or a poorly designed crib,” said Sally Greenberg, NCL’s Executive Director.

“It’s hard to account for tragic events that don’t happen because of stronger safety standards. One statistic helps prove the point: 50 years ago, about 400 children a year died from unintentional poisoning, mostly from aspirin. Today, about 40 children a year die, still too many, but a 90 percent reduction in deaths that is due directly to CPSC regulations on packaging and child proof caps. And they work. We know that CPSIA reforms will work as well to save lives and prevent injuries. Happy Fifth Anniversary to this important legislation.”


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