NCL decries Supreme Court rulings in Harris v. Quinn and Burwell v. Hobby Lobby – National Consumers League

June 30, 2014

Contact: Ben Klein, National Consumers League,, (202) 835-3323

Washington, DC–Today’s Supreme Court decisions on Harris v. Quinn and Burwell v. Hobby Lobby is a sharp rebuke to working families and especially female employees across the country, according to a statement released by the National Consumers League (NCL).

In the Harris v. Quinn decision, the Supreme Court ruled 5-4 that Illinois home healthcare workers cannot be forced to pay an agency fee to the labor group negotiating their employment contract. This ruling creates insecurity and instability for employers and unions throughout the public sector. The decision creates a special class for Medicaid and state funded home healthcare workers as neither private nor public, but rather “partial public employees.”

At issue in this case was whether non-union members could reap the wages, benefits, and protections negotiated in a collectively bargained contract without being required to pay union dues. As “partial public employees”, the Court decided that the same labor rules do not apply and that workers can opt out of joining a union and go without contributing dues to the labor union that is responsible for negotiating their employment contract.

“At a time when many wages are stagnant, others are eroding, and income inequality is out of control, joining together to collectively bargain is one of the only proven ways that home care workers can improve their working conditions,” said Sally Greenberg, executive director of the National Consumers League.  

“NCL calls on the Obama Administration to stick to the promise it implement long-awaited federal companionship worker regulations for 2.5 million home care workers by January 1, 2015. The new rules will extend basic federal minimum wage and overtime protections to the millions of workers who care for seniors and people with disabilities living independently in their homes.”

Also today, by the same margin of 5-4, the Supreme Court ruled in the Burwell v. Hobby Lobby case that for-profit employers’ religious beliefs can determine a workers’ access to healthcare. The ruling makes it acceptable for closely-held corporations to use their religious beliefs to take away benefits guaranteed to their employees by law. This decision allows bosses to deny women coverage for basic needs such as birth control. 

This case challenged a part of the Affordable Care Act requiring health plans to cover contraception without a co-pay.

“The Court’s decision prohibits female workers from making their own health decisions without intrusion from their bosses,” said Greenberg. “This ruling is a step in the wrong direction for women, workers, and employers.”


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

New Javelin Strategy & Research/National Consumers League Study: Consumers Losing Trust in Businesses, Expect Government Action on Fraud and Data Breach – National Consumers League

June 30, 2014

National Consumers League #DataInsecurity Cross-Country Tour kicks off today in Miami; slate of national events to feature FTC Commissioner Terrell McSweeny, Florida U.S. Attorney Wifredo Ferrer and other leading experts.

NCL and Javelin to Host Media Teleconference on Study Findings on Tuesday, July 1 at 1:30 PM EDT. RSVP to for dial-in details.

Contact: National Consumers League, Ben Klein, (202) 835-3323,
Carol McKay, (412) 945-3242,
Javelin Strategy & Research,  Danielle Ostrovsky 410-302-9459,


Washington, DC – Today, the National Consumers League #DataInsecurity Project released a new survey of identity fraud victims which finds that Americans are urgently calling out for government action on the growing threat posed by data breach and identity theft.

The study, conducted in partnership with Javelin Strategy & Research, shows that the consumer impact of data breach is indeed severe: 61 percent of data breach victims surveyed reported that the breached information was used to commit fraud against them. What’s more, nearly half of victims–49 percent–do not know where the information used to defraud them was compromised.

The National Consumers League has launched the #DataInsecurity Project to raise awareness and push for action on consumer data security. NCL kicked off its cross-country series today in Florida, the state that is the source of more ID Theft complaints per capita than any other in the nation, with an event in Miami featuring United States Attorney for the Southern District of Florida Wifredo Ferrer. The next event is July 8 in Los Angeles featuring Federal Trade Commission Commissioner Terrell McSweeny and Joanne McNabb, Director of Privacy Education & Policy for the California Department of Justice, Office of the Attorney General.

“Data insecurity is leading to real consumer harm and this report confirms consumers are at a loss for where to turn in the face of this national problem,” said John Breyault, NCL’s Vice President of Public Policy, Telecommunications and Fraud. “As consumers share vast amounts of personal data with businesses, government and other entities, they expect their information to be protected from malicious hackers.”

The NCL/Javelin study, which includes surveys of fraud victims from Los Angeles, Chicago, Minneapolis and South Florida, along with additional Javelin research on national fraud trends, found that consumers are calling for government to take action. A mere 28 percent of victims surveyed said the government’s requirements for protecting healthcare and financial data were “sufficient.”

“In this polarized political climate, it’s rare for Americans to express such agreement on any issue,” said Al Pascual, Javelin’s Senior Analyst of Fraud & Security. “But when it comes to the security of their personally identifiable information, the respondents said with one voice that the government must do more.”

According to the new study, the consequences of consumer fraud have a serious ripple effect: fraud victims report losing trust in the businesses where their data was compromised. For example, 59 percent of respondents report whose data was breached at a retailer expressed  “significantly decreased” trust in retailers who failed to protect their information. “When consumer trust drops, so do sales,” added Breyault, “This study is only the latest evidence for why the business community should be one of the most vocal advocates for protecting consumer data.”


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

NCL applauds Supreme Court ruling requiring warrants to search suspect’s phone – National Consumers League

June 27, 2014

Contact: Ben Klein, National Consumers League,, (202) 835-3323

Washington, DC — In a victory for consumer and individual privacy, the US Supreme Court ruled this week that police must obtain a warrant before searching a suspect’s phone. The Justices said that a cellphone holds the “most personal and intimate details of someone’s life and its contents are under the jurisdiction of the Fourth Amendment’s privacy protections.” The following statement can be attributed to National Consumers League, Executive Director Sally Greenberg:

The National Consumers League is gratified by the Supreme Court’s unanimous vote to reiterate that cell phones hold extensive personal information and therefore a search warrant is needed before information from the phone can be obtained. American citizens have a right to privacy. This ruling protects all of us against unfettered invasion of individual privacy. We applaud the decision of the Court – it’s good for citizens and good for consumers.


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


NCL statement on NLRB v. Noel Canning Supreme Court ruling – National Consumers League

June 26, 2014

Contact: Ben Klein, National Consumers League,, (202) 835-3323

Washington, DC–Today’s Supreme Court decision on the NLRB v. Noel Canning case is a sharp reminder that the U.S. Senate sometimes functions under outdated procedures that need to change. It also clears up the legal landscape on the circumstances under which the U.S. Constitution allows presidents to make temporary recess appointments to Executive Branch positions.

In this case, the Senate minority set out to prevent President Obama from replacing judges on the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) when other judges were cycling off, thus making the NLRB inoperable due to a lack of members. The President was forced to make the recess appointments to the Board due to obstructionism and filibuster threats during the normal term. Without the Supreme Court-mandated quorum, the NLRB would cease in its mission to protect workers and employers – essentially stopping the cop on the beat from carrying out its duty.

Fortunately, Senate leaders in November 2013 changed Senate rules so that Executive Branch appointments can now be confirmed with a simple majority of the Senate and can’t be blocked by a filibuster. The move was a step closer to a functional Senate that, once again, will ensure that qualified nominees can receive an up-or-down vote and the important work of federal independent agencies will not be held hostage by the Senate minority.

With President Obama’s NLRB nominations ruled invalid, some 120 decisions made by the Board in the period contested may be challenged and justice for thousands of workers will be delayed, and in some cases, denied. NCL is confident the NLRB will handle the pending cases effected by Noel Canning efficiently and expeditiously.


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

Tobacco Companies Should Prevent Child Labor in U.S. Tobacco Farming – National Consumers League

June 26, 2014

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

Washington, DC – Over 50 US-based organizations called on leading tobacco companies to address hazardous child labor in US tobacco farming in a letter released today. The groups expressed alarm that children are risking acute nicotine poisoning and other health and safety hazards in US tobacco fields.

“Children in the US can’t legally buy cigarettes, but children working in tobacco fields are suffering acute nicotine poisoning,” said Sally Greenberg, co-chair of the Child Labor Coalition (CLC) and executive director of the National Consumers League. “Tobacco companies need to ensure that their products are not made with child labor.”

The organizations, representing millions of teachers, healthcare professionals, workers, farmworkers, and advocates concerned about the safety, education, and welfare of children, called on the chief executive officers of the top ten global tobacco companies and tobacco leaf merchants to adopt and implement policies that prohibit children under age 18 from hazardous work in tobacco farming, including direct contact with tobacco.

A recent report, “Tobacco’s Hidden Children: Hazardous Child Labor in United States Tobacco Farming,” by Human Rights Watch found that of 141 child tobacco workers interviewed in North Carolina, Kentucky, Virginia, and Tennessee, three-quarters reported getting sick while working on US tobacco farms. Many of their symptoms—nausea, vomiting, loss of appetite, headaches, and dizziness—are consistent with acute nicotine poisoning.

“Child tobacco workers also reported working long hours, often in extreme heat and without protective gear,” noted Dr. Lorretta Johnson, co-chair of the CLC and the secretary-treasurer of the American Federation of Teachers. “Unfortunately, child labor is a common practice in the United States, and it’s legal. We stand with Human Rights Watch, Sen. Tom Harkin, the CLC and many others to call attention to the great dangers faced by children working on tobacco farms, and we urge the world’s largest tobacco companies to take measures to end hazardous child labor in tobacco farming.”

Under U.S. law, children as young as 12 can work for hire on any farm with their parent’s permission. Even younger children can work on small farms.

“Agriculture is already the most dangerous area of employment open to children in the US,” said Norma Flores López, the director of the Children in the Fields Campaign for the Association of Farmworker Opportunity Programs and the chair of the CLC’s domestic issues committee. “Tobacco farming is particularly hazardous because of nicotine exposure and toxic pesticides.  We worry about children developing cancer—and neurological and reproductive health problems—linked to the exposure of toxic pesticides. We also need to prevent injuries from working with machinery and dangerous tools, lifting heavy loads, and climbing to significant heights in curing barns.”

In addition to adopting effective child labor policies, the organizations also urged tobacco companies to:

  • include provisions prohibiting child labor in all contracts with growers and suppliers that child labor is prohibited;
  • implement both internal and external monitoring to ensure effective enforcement of child labor policies;
  • provide support to remediate child labor in tobacco, including educational, recreational, and vocational programs for children in areas where the companies source tobacco; and
  • establish and enforce policies that will ensure fair compensation for adult tobacco workers so that they receive a living wage.

The letter was addressed to the chief executive officers of Altria Group, Inc., British American Tobacco PLC, China National Tobacco, Imperial Tobacco Group PLC, Japan Tobacco Inc., Lorillard, Inc., Philip Morris International Inc., Reynolds American Inc., Alliance One International, Inc., and Universal Corporation.

The letter with full list of signers can be found here.


About the Child Labor Coalition

The Child Labor Coalition represents 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. The CLC’s website and membership list can be found at

NCL Statement on Court Ruling on Sugary Drink Portion Sizing – National Consumers League

June 26, 2014

Contact: Ben Klein, National Consumers League,, (202) 835-3323

Washington, DC–The New York State Court of Appeals today upheld a lower court ruling that regulating the portion size of sugary drinks to 16 ounces was an overstep of Board of Health’s authority. The following statement can be attributed to National Consumers League Executive Director Sally Greenberg:

The National Consumers League is disappointed in this decision. The science shows that soda and other sweetened drinks are clearly linked with diabetes, obesity, and heart disease. We heartily supported the regulation from the New York City Health Department and even traveled to New York City to testify in support. Reducing the consumption of empty calories, like those provided by sweetened drinks, should remain a priority for health departments across the country. We regret the court’s decision and look forward to the day when such health-promoting efforts by local, state, and federal governments aimed at reducing soda consumption, such as warning labels and taxes, is not stymied by the courts.


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

Cash-register-tape ads: one more thing for consumers to worry about – National Consumers League

Jane_Daugherty_mug_shot.jpgThis blog was submitted by guest blogger Jane Daugherty who is a doctoral candidate and instructor in the School of Communication at the University of Miami.

Those ubiquitous color ads printed on the backs of grocery store checkout receipts appear to be a boon to everyone: shoppers get special discounts at local businesses including mechanics, roofers and dry cleaners, the supermarkets get cash register tapes for free and the companies selling the ads make a tidy profit.

I’ve used them numerous times to save money on dry cleaning, oil changes for my Honda CRV and free tire rotations. The last coupons I got at my local Winn-Dixie supermarket in West Palm Beach even included an ad for the people who print the cash register ads and an invitation to visit them on Facebook and “download coupons on the go.”

And cash–register tape ads create jobs. Tens of thousands of people around the country get hired to sell the ads or work at call centers to contact potential advertisers while thousands of sales reps go to local businesses to sell the ads, I discovered with a little research. To my surprise, I also found that some of the sales managers for register-tape ads make six-figure salaries plus six-figure commissions, a lot more than I’ll ever make as a university professor. Executives and owners of register-tape advertising firms can make millions.

This piqued my ex-investigative reporter‘s curiosity. It turns out that hundreds, perhaps thousands of U.S. workers are employed by one of the largest cash-register tape advertising companies, Register Tapes United Inc. (RTUI) based in Houston, TX.

Many of RTUI’s workers get nothing or a fraction of what their would earn hourly for their fulltime and overtime work selling ads, according to two large class-action lawsuits filed against RTUI in Maryland and California. The lawsuits charged RTUI with illegal labor practices that deprive their sales representatives and call center employees of minimum wage pay, workers’ compensation, medical benefits, expenses, while RTUI promised hefty sales commissions and flexible working conditions. And although most of those who sued worked fulltime or more on a regular schedule, they also submitted evidence that they were also deprived of overtime.

But what about the discounts I’ve become accustomed to using those cash register ads in the past? A little more checking with the grocery stores where I shop showed that RTUI provides most of the free advertising-laden cash register tapes to supermarkets in Palm Beach County, where I live. In fact, the lawsuits charging them with cheating their workers by classifying them as contract employees say RTUI is likely the largest firm in the country producing advertising-backed cash register tapes for grocery stores.

So once again, as a consumer I face the dreaded decision I think of as my Walmart morality test. Sure, I can buy numerous products I need for my home, my car, my dog, even groceries and discounted gas at Walmart, often cheaper than I can buy them anywhere else.

But three years ago, after reading a case study on Walmart’s employment practices for a graduate school class showing the company skirts labor laws by employing mostly part-time employees with no benefits, I did what I knew I should do as a former union member, a worker in an underpaid profession (teaching) and someone who actually hears sad tales about Walmart working conditions from a young friend who currently works at a South Florida Walmart because he couldn’t find another job. I actually quoted Nancy Reagan to the Walton family in my mind so I could “Just say no.” And I don’t shop at Walmart anymore.

Also somewhat of a geek – it is not an accident that I am finishing my Ph.D. in Communication at the University of Miami in my early 60s — I wanted to know more about the cash-register-tape ads. I poked around a little more to see if I needed to employ my “just say no” approach to those big-discount ads from RTUI.  As a journalist for almost 25 years before I became a university professor in 2005, I know my way around legal databases.

One of the recent class action lawsuits I found against RTUI was filed in Maryland District Court by Taj Grayson, who claimed RTUI routinely classified him and other hourly workers as independent contractors, although they worked regular, fulltime, employer-set schedules in RTUI call centers. The lawsuit said the workers were closely supervised and did not have the freedom to set their own hours or the special skills required to be independent contractors under U.S. labor laws.

RTUI has been the defendant in multiple lawsuits alleging that the company also fails to pay its sale representatives promised commissions, car expenses and overtime also by calling them  “contract employees.”

One of the plaintiffs in the Grayson case, Sally Henson, then 53, worked for RTUI in Southfield, MI, just north of Detroit where I lived for nine years, so using the court file to find her, I called her up.

Now a sales representative for ADT, Henson said she “had extensive sales experience when she went to work for RTUI, which, she said promised her a sales job with commissions,  “I was promised an outside sales job. They seemed eager to get me because of my experience.”

But first Henson said she was told she had to work  “a couple of days in the call center to see how it works.” The call centers booked appointments with local business owners, then RTUI sales representatives would keep the appointments and to sign the business to multi-year contracts for their ads to appear on the cash register tapes of local supermarkets, she said.

“I worked 8 to 5 or 5:30,” Henson said, “Five days a week. You had to be in the office making calls reading the scripts the whole time. There was no lunch hour and workers were not allowed to leave, she said.

“I was an idiot. I worked there two or three months in the call center before I realized they were never going to keep their often repeated promises to let me be a outside sales rep where you earn commissions,” said Henson, who now works for ADT in Michigan doing outside sales. “Some weeks I literally got paid nothing. I think the most I ever made was $200 for a week.”

Without admitting any wrong-doing, RTUI settled the Grayson lawsuit last year. The 40 plaintiffs received $50,000 and their court costs and lawyers fees totaling $73,906 were also paid by RTUI under the agreement.

How widespread is the is misclassification of  workers charged in the class action lawsuits filed against RTUI, I wondered. At the National Employment Law Center, I contacted Catherine Ruckelshaus, general counsel and program director, to ask her about the labor practices Henson described.

A veteran labor lawyer, Ruckelshaus said, “Call centers have been a real hotbed of wage and hour abuses. The practice has become increasingly common, although it has been a problem for decades. The increase in (misclassifying) independent contractors has been driven by the downturn in the economy, which helps employers perpetrate these schemes.

“Greed is also a factor because often they can get away with it… There has been very little enforcement (of labor laws including the Fair Labor Standards Act).”

Ruckelshaus said unemployed workers who get contract employee jobs, then discover they are being exploited, are often reluctant to complain, which is often the only way the employers get caught. At the same time, she said, the federal and state governments lose billions of dollars every year that companies who misclassify hourly workers as contract employees fail to pay for Social Security withholding, payroll taxes, unemployment coverage and workers’ compensation taxes.

But the practice of illegally classifying hourly workers as independent contractors is so widespread today in construction, home care, sales, housekeeping and light manufacturing, that employers who violate labor laws gain an unfair advantage over businesses who use temporary employment agencies, Ruckelshaus said.

“Workers don’t feel they have any power today,” she said,  “And federal and state agencies who regulate labor practices are now under-funded and under-staffed.”

But many RTUI call-center workers did complain, including Henson and Grayson, who on April 5, 2011 filed their class action lawsuit. The lead plaintiff, Taj Grayson, worked for RTUI’s Columbia, Maryland’s call center fulltime, usually 46 hours a week, from August 2010 until January 2011, the suit alleges. Paid as an independent contractor, he received at total of  $2,560 from RTUI for five months’ fulltime work with no benefits, no federal or state taxes paid, and no choice of what hours he worked. In fact, Grayson was paid less than one third of what he would have been paid at the hourly minimum wage, the lawsuit said. What he received amounts to $98.46 a week take-home pay for a 46-hour workweek.

I did the math. If RTUI had paid Grayson as the hourly employee on a regular schedule, with supervision and no special skills required to read the company’s highly scripted pitches to local business to advertise with them, he would have been paid $8,671, plus benefits, plus Social Security credits, plus better working conditions, including regular breaks.

In Michigan, Henson said she took the 45-48-hour-a-week job with RTUI during the recession and if she had tried to live on her tiny paychecks, “I would have starved, if I didn’t have a husband who was working.”

But many RTUI workers, according to the lawsuits filed in Maryland and California, were hardly their own bosses. The class-action suits allege both sales and call-center workers were closely monitored by supervisors and required to literally read scripts to potential advertisers, trying to sign them multi-year contracts. Neither were they “growing their own businesses” or benefitting from sales commissions, which the legal definition of  “independent contractor” classification requires.

More research revealed that misclassification hourly workers as independent contractors has become so widespread nationally that the federal government has allocated $25 million for a joint IRS-Department of Labor initiative to attempt to make it harder, if not illegal, to class workers without the independent schedules and a share of profits as independent contractors. Texas, where RTUI is base, is one of the 16 states so far to join in the federal effort to prosecute businesses that misclassify hourly workers as independent contractors to illegally avoid paying federal and state taxes.

I also found that RTUI has run afoul of tax laws before.  Since 1995, nearly a million dollars in state and federal tax liens have been filed against RUTI including state liens in California Texas, Ohio, Mississippi, New York, Washington, Maryland, Wisconsin and Kentucky.

Ruckelshaus, who has represented numerous under-paid or unfairly treated employees, said companies who misclassify hourly workers as contract employees don’t just pay workers less than minimum wage and deprive them of benefit, they “cost the states billions in workers’ compensation non-payments… and cost the federal government billions in payroll taxes.”

Today an estimated 10.3 million people in the U.S. are employed as independent contractors, according to the U.S. Department of Labor. “Many, many of them are improperly classified to avoid taxes and to pay much lower compensation,” Ruckelshaus said.

Improper classification as contract employees is also claimed in the California in a still pending class action lawsuit against RTUI filed in 2011 in Los Angeles County. The lead plaintiff in the case is Allen Hamburger, employed as a RTUI sales representative since 2004 and fired without warning in 2009, when he was 66, for allegedly failing to meet his sales quota.

Joined by 50 other former RTUI employees, Hamburger’s lawsuit alleges that he and the others were improperly classified as contract employees, forced to work mandatory and unpaid overtime, denied payment for business expenses including mileage and tolls, not paid promised sales commissions, not provided with itemized wage statement in violation of California’s Labor Code and not paid for their final weeks of work.

A tentative settlement, in which RTUI makes no admission of “liability, culpability, negligence or wrong-doing,” would set up a settlement fund of $75,000 for the case, pay Hamburger an additional $2,000 for his work as the lead plaintiff, pay plaintiffs’ lawyers $30,000 and court costs of up to $6,368.18. The agreement awaits approval by a district court judge later this year.

Hamburger’s several attorneys did not return calls and emailed requests for comment. RTUI’s attorney in the case, David J. Hamilton, said when I talked to him on June 18 that the district judge has not yet signed the negotiated settlement , but RTUI did not break labor laws, “We take the position that they all independent contractors.”

Jane Daugherty, a doctoral candidate and instructor in the School of Communication at the University of Miami, is also a journalist who was a Pulitizer Prize Finalist at the Detroit Free Press. She is a four-time winner of the national Robert F. Kennedy Journalism Award for Coverage of the Disadvantaged and was a Nieman Fellow at Harvard University. From 2005-2010, she was Associate Professor of Journalism at Florida International University after working as an investigative reporter and editor at the Palm Beach Post, the Miami Herald, the St. Petersburg Times and the Austin (TX) American-Statesman.

Harrowing tales about child domestic workers – National Consumers League

By Alesha Mitchell, Communications Intern

I knew about its existence in Africa, in Asia, and even some parts of Europe, but never have I heard of child labor right here in the United States. June 12 was World Day Against Child Labor, and the Child Labor Coalition in conjunction with The Alliance to End Slavery and Trafficking, held a congressional briefing. 

The briefing was hosted by Senators Tom Harkin (D-IA), Marco Rubio (R-FL), and Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) as well as Representatives Lucille Roybal-Allard (D-CA) and Ted Poe (R-TX). The congressional hosts, victims, and advocates all met to discuss child labor and child domestic workers. Each of the panel members took us on a journey through the lives of child domestic workers. Upon meeting the panel, Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) reminded us that this is one of few issues that has bipartisan support. Rep. Lucille Roybal-Allard (D-CA) suggested, “We can’t just look globally, we have to start right here…at home.” Many of us in the audience never knew we had to consider this regressive issue in our progressive country.

Jo Becker of Human Rights Watch introduced us to a young girl named Fatima who is a child domestic worker in Morocco. Fatima, at a very young age, cared for children that were not her own, was only allowed to eat twice a day, and was beaten if her tasks were not completed flawlessly. Fatima was not provided education and was not allowed to visit her family. Fatima told Jo that she did not mind working, but she did not deserve to be beaten and starved. As an advocate for human rights, I believe neither Fatima nor any other child should ever endure involuntary servitude. Unfortunately, we learned from the next speaker that right in our own backyard, people in America are treated as slaves.

Evelyn Chumbow, a child domestic worker turned survivor, was abducted from her home in Cameroon at the age of nine. She was brought to the US and lived as a household servant from the ages of 9-17. She spoke about the horrific encounters of being beaten and assaulted during her years of enslavement. Without the help of a priest, foster care, and trafficking prevention organizations, Evelyn could have remained in her oppressed state. She would not have the courage to speak out about this growing epidemic as she does today.

With Congress unwilling to move forward with this much needed legislation, the onus falls on the American people to pressure our lawmakers to make the right decision and do what is in their power to protect child domestic workers abroad and in America. 

The Child Labor  Coalition, in it’s 25th year, is co-chaired by the National Consumers League and the American Federation of Teachers.

Teens do not realize the dangers of energy drinks – National Consumers League

Many student athletes are loading up on highly caffeinated energy drinks before practices and competitions.  In some cases, parents are providing these beverages.  What both the parents and teens may not realize is that energy drinks are leading to death, especially among individuals with heart complications or defects. Too many young people are unknowingly hurting their bodies from energy drink overconsumption.

For starters, energy drinks contain large amounts of caffeine and are designed to be consumed more quickly than a cup of coffee or tea.  While some smaller servings of energy drinks contain less than 200 milligrams of caffeine, a normal amount to consume in a day according to doctors, many come in 20 – 24oz cans which contain far higher levels of caffeine.  Not to mention there are endless accounts of teens drinking multiple energy drinks at one time.  One product, Mio, comes in a small squeeze bottle and is intended to be added to water.  The entire bottle in whole contains 18 servings coming in at around 1060mg of caffeine.  This sort of product is begging to be abused by students. 

High levels of caffeine in energy drinks aren’t the only dangerous component.  Thanks to loopholes and a lack of enforcement on behalf of FDA, energy drink companies use additives (like guarana and l-carnitine) that are not proven to be safe.  Not to mention that guarana contains caffeine that isn’t included in the total amount of caffeine.  Taurine, another common additive, also affects the heart and cardiovascular system.  Mysterious additives in combination with the tendency to consumer these beverages in large amounts lends to a rather dangerous brew. 

With so much contention surrounding youth consumption of energy drinks, why does the U.S. continuing to allow marketing and sales to minors?  In 2011, Canada set limits on the amount of caffeine in energy drinks. Canada also required on package labels that identify groups sensitive to caffeine and warning labels advising against mixing energy drinks with alcohol.  At the very least marketing to minors in the U.S. should be eliminated and age restrictions put in place on sales.  

The unit-price is right: advocates commend large retailers for agreeing to provide unit prices online – National Consumers League

June 18, 2014

Contact: Ben Klein, National Consumers League,, (202) 835-3323

Washington, DC—The National Consumers League (NCL) applauds the outstanding work by New York’s attorney general, Eric Schneiderman to reach an agreement with six retailers—including Costco, CVS, and Walmart—to ensure that these retailers display unit prices of products listed on their websites. Currently, 19 states and the District of Columbia require unit pricing on in-store products. Unit pricing will now be available online to customers of the six retailers, regardless of which state they live in.

Unit pricing is a cornerstone of consumer protection, providing cost per pound, quart, liter, or another unit of weight or volume of a food package. With unit prices, consumers can compare the cost of food packaged in different sized containers or across different brands.

“This is a monumental advance for consumers, who can thank the New York Attorney General for striking this groundbreaking agreement with some of the nation’s biggest online retailers,” said Sally Greenberg, executive director of NCL. “Providing unit prices helps consumers compare prices between items quickly and easily. Particularly important for consumers on a budget, unit pricing gives them the information they need to make informed purchasing decisions.”

“We hope that other retailers follow the lead of Costco, CVS, and Walmart by providing transparent, clear pricing information for consumers, both on their websites and in their retail stores,” said Greenberg.

The six retailers include Costco, Walmart, CVS, Walgreens,, and FreshDirect. Each will implement online unit pricing between the end of this year and March 2015.


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