NCL statement applauding FCC action on Sports Blackout Rule – National Consumers League

September 9, 2014

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

Washington, DC—The following statement is attributable to Sally Greenberg, Executive Director of the National Consumers League:

Every fall, football fans across the nation run the risk of missing their favorite games because of an outdated Sports Blackout Rule that exists only to pad the bottom line of wealthy NFL team owners. Under this forty-year old rule, games can be blocked on television in local markets unless the games are sold out. The FCC should not be in the position of propping up ticket sales through an arbitrary, anti-fan rule designed for a bygone era.

Three years ago, NCL and other groups petitioned the FCC to end the Rule. Today we applaud FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler for taking the pro-consumer step of scheduling a vote to do so later this month. We urge all five Commissioners to listen to the voices public interest advocates, sports fans from across the county, academics, businesses and Members of Congress and vote to eliminate this anti-consumer rule.


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

Student financial literacy competition opens 2014-15 season – National Consumers League

September 9, 2014

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

Washington, DC – Today marks the official launch of the 21st season of LifeSmarts, with a new competition going live at the online home of the program, LifeSmarts, a program of the National Consumers League (NCL), is a national competition for middle school and high school students that tests knowledge of real-life consumer issues and aims to create a future generation of savvy-consumer adults.

“We are very excited to launch our 21st season of LifeSmarts,” said Program Director Lisa Hertzberg. “LifeSmarts gives students the skills they need to succeed as adults. The knowledge they gain will help them make smart decisions and avoid financial pitfalls when they hit the real-world.”

LifeSmarts focuses on five main content areas: consumer rights and responsibilities, personal finance, technology, health and safety, and the environment. Students are quizzed on their knowledge of these subject areas during online competition. Top-performing teams then advance to statewide competitions, and state champion teams advance to the national championship held each year in a different American city. The 2015 National LifeSmarts Championship will take place April 17-20, 2015, in Seattle, WA. Winning teams receive scholarships and other prizes.

Last year, students answered more than 3 million consumer questions about credit reports, recycling, nutrition, social media, state lemon laws, and everything in between. By being consumer savvy and quick on the buzzers, the LifeSmarts team from Valley Regional High School in Canaan, NH, took home top honors last April at the 20th anniversary national event at Walt Disney World.

“We are excited to continue to grow the LifeSmarts program into new states and regions, to educate students about financial literacy and being responsible consumers, and to create a new generation of savvy, market-ready consumers and workers,” said Sally Greenberg, executive director of NCL. “Too often traditional high school curriculum fails to teach students vital information that will be crucial once students go to college, get their first job, or move out of their parents’ house.”

In addition to hosting the official LifeSmarts competition, provides resources for teachers to supplement existing lesson plans. These include daily quizzes, educational videos, social media competitions, focused study guides, and scholarship opportunities. LifeSmarts lessons closely align with courses taught in Family and Consumer Sciences, business, technology, health, and vocational education. Math and English teachers have also had success with LifeSmarts, as have homeschool and community educators.

“The information is so practical,” says Lois Johnson, a Minnesota teacher who has been coaching LifeSmarts for 17 years. “You can take algebra or geometry and learn some stuff, but I tell my students, ‘I’m going to be teaching you things you’ll actually be using.’ It’s survival.”

Major LifeSmarts contributors include: UL, Visa, Experian, Western Union, Google, McNeil Consumer Healthcare, Comcast, Microsoft, Toyota Financial Services,, American Express, CBM Credit Education Foundation, and others. 

Visit for more information. LifeSmarts: Learn it. Live it.


About the National Consumers League and LifeSmarts

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

LifeSmarts is a program of the National Consumers League. State coordinators run the programs on a volunteer basis. For more information, visit:, email, or call the National Consumers League’s communications department at 202-835-3323.

Better poultry practices start with consumer demand – National Consumers League

Last week, Perdue, one of the nation’s largest poultry producers, announced the removal of antibiotics in its hatcheries.  It is the latest action in their 12 year plan to reduce antibiotics in poultry production.  Perdue has been a leader in the industry’s antibiotic reduction efforts, with 95 percent of its chickens never receiving human antibiotics and the remaining 5 percent administered human antibiotics for limited time periods, when prescribed by a veterinarian.  

In hatcheries, eggs are injected with drugs that can prevent common poultry diseases. A common practice is to use antibiotics to prevent infections that come from the hole in the shell left by the injection. Five years after implementation, Perdue eliminated antibiotics by improving cleaning procedures and administering vaccines to laying hens that improved eggs immunity. 

Perdue’s decision comes on the heels of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) guidance for industry recommending the removal of antibiotics used in food for growth promotion.  Perdue already eliminated the use of human antibiotics in feed in 2007.  The guidance, put out in December, is part of a larger plan to reduce antimicrobial resistance.  The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have quantified the toll antibiotic-resistance infections have on Americans annually, concluding that at least 2 million illnesses and 23,000 deaths are a result of antimicrobial resistance.

Perdue’s decision to eliminate antibiotics in their hatcheries goes beyond any of the FDA’s present industry guidelines. Setting new standards based on consumer demand holds other companies in the industry to improve their procedures.   

There is always more work to be done in ensuring the safest, healthiest animal production.  Antibiotics are still grossly overused in many circumstances and the government has yet to mandate eliminating antibiotic use for growth promotion let alone other practices such as those in hatcheries.  Progress requires engagement not only from government and industry but from consumers who demand safe and healthy foods.

President Obama should act to protect child tobacco farmworkers – National Consumers League

I bet you knew that a 12-year-old cannot legally buy cigarettes in the US. But did you know that it’s legal in America for the same 12-year-old can work in a tobacco field for 10- to 12- hours a day in 100-degree heat and suffer repeated bouts of nicotine poisoning.

It doesn’t pass the common sense test and President Obama should do something about it. That’s the message sent to the President last Thursday in a letter by the Child Labor Coalition (CLC), a group which the National Consumers League founded 25 years ago to protect child workers from exploitative child labor and dangerous jobs. Sixteen groups, including the NAACP the League of United Latin American Citizens, Oxfam America, and Public Citizen, joined 34 CLC members to urge the White House to take immediate action.

The members of the CLC have long known the dangers of tobacco work for children, but we have a relatively new weapon in our fight to educate the public about this issue: A recent report, “Tobacco’s Hidden Children: Hazardous Child Labor in United States Tobacco Farming,” published by Human Rights Watch found that three quarters of 141 child tobacco workers interviewed in North Carolina, Kentucky, Virginia and Tennessee-–the main tobacco-producing states—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 (also known as “Green Tobacco Sickness”).

To make matters worse, Human Rights Watch found that three of the four states that produce 90 percent of US tobacco (Kentucky, Virginia, and Tennessee) have failed to take sufficient measures to enforce the Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s (OSHA) Field Sanitation Standard. This standard requires workers to be provided with fresh drinking water, hand washing facilities, and toilets. Most of the children interviewed by HRW were not provided with hand washing facilities or toilets, and some were not given sufficient drinking water.  The absence of hand washing facilities significantly increases the risks of nicotine and pesticide exposure.

Using information from the OSHA Integrated Management Information System, HRW reports that from January 2010 to December 2013, Kentucky carried out only eight field inspections in tobacco, Tennessee carried out one field inspection, and Virginia carried out none. Only one of the four major tobacco-producing states – North Carolina – made meaningful attempts to enforce the Field Sanitation Standard, with 143 inspections during the time period, said HRW researchers.

In addition to nicotine, farmworker children may also be absorbing a range of toxic pesticides commonly used in tobacco fields. Children often wear black garbage bags to protect them from these dual exposures but you can imagine what it’s like to wear a plastic bag in the 90- and 100-degree temperatures often found in tobacco fields. And, the work is dangerous. Child tobacco workers often use sharp tools and can work in tobacco drying barns at two-, three- and four-story heights without protective equipment as they balance precariously on the top of beams that may be only one or two inches thick

Signed by 50 organizations, the letter to President Obama represents millions of Americans, including teachers, healthcare professionals, farmworkers, and advocates concerned about the safety, education, and welfare of children, and it asks the president to issue narrowly-tailored regulations to prohibit work by children in tobacco fields and calls on the Department of Labor to conduct targeted field investigations to ensure that no children under 12 are working in the fields illegally.

The letter to the president also calls on the Occupational Safety and Health Administration to issue “health hazard alerts” so that employers will know how they might mitigate risks of nicotine poisoning for their employees. And it cites the need for better data collection to allow an accurate count of the number of children who currently work in US tobacco fields and other farms.

The situation—with children as young as 12 (and HRW found about a dozen kids conducting lighter work in the fields who were under 12)—is so absurd that it proved great material for the satirists at The Daily Show with Jon Stewart, who produced a funny, but alarming, report called “Nicoteens.” The clip will make you laugh and allow you to hear young tobacco workers describing the work conditions in their own words.

In June, the CLC sent a letter to the top 10 tobacco companies signed by over 50 organizations, asking for voluntary action to limit tobacco work in the fields. Thus far, no concrete actions to remove children from tobacco fields have been initiated by the companies.

In 2011, the Obama Administration acted to implement regulations to protect working children from farm dangers, including tobacco work, but those rules were withdrawn because of opposition from the farm community. CLC members fought hard for those comprehensive protections, but were no match for the resources of the agricultural lobby. The wholesale withdrawal of occupational child safety regulations for farms left child workers in tobacco vulnerable to nicotine poisoning, pesticide poisoning, and other dangers. It’s time to fix this glaring consequence of the administration’s complete pullback and move forward to protect children in tobacco fields.

Readers who wish to send a quick note to the White House about this issue should go here.

A bill, HR 5327, in the House of Representatives, recently introduced by Rep. David Cicilline (D-RI) would classify tobacco work as hazardous labor, allowing the USDOL to ban work by children under 16. We encourage consumers to call or write their member of Congress and ask them to cosponsor the bill.

It’s time to stop the madness. We need your help.

Happy Labor Day! – National Consumers League

So far in 2014, labor advocates have celebrated an unusual number of victories. For 115 years NCL has fought for improved workplace protections, basic safety standards, and the empowerment of American workers. We are very happy that at this year’s Trumpeter Dinner, we continue on this long tradition of recognizing our labor leaders by honoring Richard Trumka, President of AFL-CIO.

Here in Washington, DC, NCL has been fighting to see the passage of important measures that will improve the lives of workers in the city. These include: 

  • Passage of DC’s new minimum wage law that went into effect July 1, 2014. The new law immediately raised the minimum wage to $9.50 and the wage will continue to increase until it reaches $11.50 over the next two years.
  • Passage of DC’s new Paid Sick and Safe Days law which into effect February 22, 2014. The new law closed the loophole in DC’s original law and now includes tipped workers and workers who have been on the job for less than one year.
  • Passage of DC’s new Wage Theft law that increases penalties on repeat labor offenders (employers), allows better legal access for victims, and creates a stronger system for DC’s Department of Wage & Hour investigations.

Nationally, NCL is part of a variety of coalitions that celebrated many important victories. These include: 

  • Presidential Executive Orders: After continued pressure from labor groups and fellow advocates, President Obama signed a host of labor related Executive Orders for federal contractors. These included: raising the minimum wage to $10.10, protecting LGBT workers from discrimination, raising the bar on federal contractors to disqualify labor violators from receiving federal contracts, retaliation protections for workers who share their salary information, instructing the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) to collect wage information from federal contractors including gender to further study the wage gap.
  • NCL participated in the planning and attended the White House Working Families Summit in July.
  • NCL wrote and submitted official comments on a variety of rules, including: DOL’s Family Medical Leave Act’s ‘spouse’ definition rule, OSHA’s record keeping rule, OSHA’s silica rule, OFCCP’s pregnancy discrimination complaint form, and the increase to the minimum wage for federal contract workers.
  • NCL also testified in support of strengthening the OSHA silica rule. 
  • In addition, NCL continued its work on federal economic security bills: the Health Families Act (paid sick days), the FAMILY Act (paid family & medical leave), the Paycheck Fairness Act (retaliation protection for workers sharing salary info – wage gap), and the Pregnant Worker Fairness Act (accommodations for pregnant workers).

There is much to cheer about and, all in all, we think it’s been a banner year for improving workers’ lives. There is, however, much work to be done, and Labor Day is a time to be optimistic about a future with more labor victories. We will continue to fight for better workplaces including: 

  • Creating stronger protections for all workers especially LGBT and pregnant workers.
  • Advocating for more cities and states to increase their local minimum wage.
  • Advancing city and state paid sick days campaigns.
  • Watching and participating in the Peggy Young v. UPS Supreme Court case. UPS refused to grant Peggy Young workplace accommodations (light duty) while she was 3 months pregnant, even though UPS grants accommodations to injured or disabled workers.

This Labor Day, while spending the day at the pool or hanging out barbequing with friends, please take a moment to think about the struggles of working Americans and hopefully thank one too.