Senate votes to undermine Americans’ right to a day in court – National Consumers League

October 25, 2017

Contact: Cindy Hoang (202) 207-2832,   

Washington, DC–The National Consumers League (NCL) condemns the Senate’s passage of a Congressional Review Act resolution to repeal the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau’s (CFPB) arbitration rule. The rule would have allowed consumers access to courts after big banks like Wells Fargo steal their identity, or credit bureaus like Equifax compromise consumers’ most personal information.

The following statement is attributable to Sally Greenberg, NCL executive director:

“Last night, while most Americans were sleeping, 50 Senate Republicans and Vice President Mike Pence voted to take away our sacred right to a day in court. Today, in the aftermath of massive financial wrongdoings like Wells Fargo’s nearly 1.4 million fraudulent accounts scandal or Equifax’s massive data breach, financial companies will continue to be free to bury binding arbitration clauses in their terms of service. These ‘rip-off clauses’ are designed to prevent consumers from having their day in court or joining together to form a class action lawsuit after they are harmed.

In fact, earlier this year the NCL Board of Directors voted to take NCL’s operating capital out of Wells Fargo and switch to Bank of Labor precisely because of Wells’ requirement that customers to give up their rights. Bank of Labor, Bank of America and many credit unions are thriving without forcing their customers to sign away rights through these odious ‘rip-off clauses.” We applaud CFPB director Richard Cordray, whom NCL is honoring this evening, for his efforts to protect the consumer rights that were just taken away in one fell swoop by this unfortunate Senate vote.

The Senate’s decision to side with Wall Street over consumers is shameful. The denial of one of our most basic rights as Americans — the right to our day in court — is a massive step backwards for consumers and our nation. While this may be a setback, the National Consumers league will continue fighting before Congress and the Administration to reaffirm consumers basic rights, including, the right to justice.”


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

Congressman John Lewis, CFPB’s Richard Cordray to receive highest honor from pioneering consumer watchdog org – National Consumers League

October 24, 2017

FDA’s Dr. Janet Woodcock to receive Florence Kelley Consumer Leadership Award

Contact: Cindy Hoang (202) 207-2832,   

Washington, DC—The National Consumers League (NCL), the nation’s pioneering consumer and worker advocacy organization, will honor Georgia Congressman John Lewis and Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) Director Richard Cordray with its highest honor, the Trumpeter Award, on Wednesday, October 25 in Washington, DC. The award has honored leaders in the fight for consumer and workers’ rights for more than 40 years, and past honorees include: Senator Ted Kennedy, the award’s inaugural recipient, as well as Labor Secretaries Hilda Solis, Robert Reich, and Alexis Herman, Senators Carl Levin and Paul Wellstone, Delores Huerta of the United Farm Workers, and other honored consumer and labor leaders. Last year’s recipient was Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan.

“The Trumpeter Award is given to leaders who have dedicated their lives to social justice and to fighting for those who cannot defend themselves. This year’s Trumpeter recipients, the legendary Georgia Representative and Civil Rights leader John Lewis, and the indomitable head of the CFPB, Richard Cordray, will join this esteemed group as true American heroes. Congressman John Lewis embodies these values throughout his six-decade career representing citizens of the state of Georgia and across the nation, in his pivotal role in the Civil Rights Movement, and in his continued work in Congress today,” said NCL Executive Director Sally Greenberg. “CFPB Director Cordray’s commitment to regulating industry practices that prey on the most vulnerable consumers have earned him universal respect. As first director of the CFPB, he has set an inspirational trail for others to follow.”

Florence Kelley Consumer Leadership Award

In addition to the Trumpeter Award, NCL will the honor the recipient of this year’s Florence Kelley Consumer Leadership Award: Dr. Janet Woodcock, Director of the Center for Research and Drug Evaluation at the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

“Dr. Woodcock is a passionate advocate for American patients and consumers, an ally to patient advocacy groups, and a fearless leader at the FDA,” said Karin Bolte, NCL health policy director. “Dr. Woodcock has helped transform the FDA into the agency it is today, one that strives to put patients at the center of its decision-making. We are delighted to celebrate her leadership and the difference it has made for America’s health.”

The event will feature a reception, dinner, and speaking appearances by NCL leadership and the honorees, as well as Maria Cardona, CNN/CNNE Commentator & Principal of Dewey Square Group, and Ellen Sigal, Chairperson and Founder of Friends of Cancer Research.


What:  National Consumers League’s 2017 Trumpeter Awards
When: Wednesday, October 25, 2017 | 7 pm Dinner and Presentation of Awards

Omni Shoreham Hotel
2500 Calvert Street, NW
Washington, DC 20008 

Members of the media are welcome to attend this event but must RSVP. For questions or to RSVP: Call Cindy Hoang, (202) 207-2832 or Carol McKay, (724) 799-5392.


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 condemns Trump Executive Order undermining Affordable Care Act – National Consumers League

October 13, 2017

Contact: NCL Communications, Cindy Hoang, (202) 207-2832,

Washington, DC—The National Consumers League (NCL) condemns the Executive Order issued Thursday by President Trump that would undermine the Affordable Care Act, weaken or eliminate critical consumer protections, make it difficult for those with pre-existing conditions to afford health coverage, and destabilize the individual insurance market.

The Trump Administration’s Executive Order would allow Association Health Plans to offer coverage across state lines that would not be subject to state insurance regulations or the ACA’s requirement to cover the Essential Health Benefits, such as hospitalization; prescription drugs; pregnancy, maternity, and newborn care; mental health and substance use disorder services; preventive and wellness services; and other critical health services.

The availability of Association Health Plans would bifurcate the market, with healthy people buying skimpier, non-ACA compliant policies and sicker people seeking to buy more expensive, comprehensive plans. By thrusting people with pre-existing conditions into a separate risk pool, the Executive Order would result in a death spiral and a return to the pre-ACA days in which those with pre-existing conditions were unable to get affordable coverage on the individual market.

Ignoring the pleas of millions of consumers to protect their care, President Trump’s Executive Order is the latest in a long line of Trump Administration actions to undermine the Affordable Care Act — starting with Congress’ multiple unsuccessful attempts to repeal the law, the President’s refusal to guarantee payment of the Cost-Sharing Reduction subsidies that allow people to afford health coverage, and the sabotage of Open Enrollment by cutting the enrollment period in half, slashing federal support for advertising and navigators, and completely shutting down for 12 hours every Sunday throughout Open Enrollment.

“President Trump’s actions are inexcusable,” said Sally Greenberg, NCL executive director. “Rather than promoting Association Health Plans, the Trump Administration should allow Congress to continue the bipartisan process started by Senators Lamar Alexander (R-TN) and Patty Murray (D-WA) in the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee to strengthen the ACA and stabilize the health insurance marketplace so that all consumers can have access to quality, affordable healthcare.”


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

Cheesy distractions … – National Consumers League

Amid all the craziness of the last few weeks – the hurricanes that destroyed so much of Puerto Rico and the islands, the earthquake in Mexico City, the horrific mass shooting in Las Vegas – I find myself gravitating to anodyne parts of the newspapers I love to read daily. Case in point, the Food Section of the Washington Post

And I happened to come upon a most interesting article on American cheeses – not the orange kind in cellophane wrapped slices, but intensely aged flavorful artisanal cheeses that are now competing with their European counterparts for the first time.

Why is this relevant to NCL? I’m getting there! The article appeared on the front page of the food section with the headline “All American contenders, At an International Cheese Festival, experts deem US-made varieties on par with Old World Stalwarts.” There they were in Bra, Italy with cheese aficionados from across the world touting the qualities of great new American cheeses. But when I looked inside for the jump page, all I could find was a headline that said “Raw milk producers look to make their case to wary American consumers.”  Wait, that wasn’t what I was reading about!

All of a sudden the article morphed into a discussion on the superiority of raw milk cheeses and the FDA’s rules about them, about which I know very little. Well, raw milk is important to NCL because, it’s dangerous to consume: it hasn’t been pasteurized. 

The American Cheese Society’s Nora Weiser was quoted: “ In the United States, we’re still in the phase where we’re trying to prove the safety of raw-milk cheese.”  NIH found that 90 outbreaks attributed to raw milk between 1998 and 2011 had caused 1,1882 illnesses, 230 hospitalizations, and six deaths. Forty-two percent of those were from raw milk cheese. And two people died eating cheese just this past March in New York, according to the article. That’s pretty scary! Ms. Weiser has an uphill battle, it appears. 

I learned that there’s a way to make raw cheeses safe to consume: age them for 60 days, per FDA rules. But then no soft, young raw milk cheeses allowed like those you find in Europe. Andy Hatch of Uplands Cheese in the United States complained that the FDA’s processes are opaque and not based on science. I don’t know if he’s right or not. I do know that for the consumers’ sake, anything made with raw milk should be made safe. Where the FDA is going to land on this is anyone’s guess. That said, this is why I LOVE newspapers, because at least for a few moments, this trip to an international cheese festival and celebration of new American artisanal cheeses – and discussion of raw milk  – took my mind off the depressing news of the week. 

Major consumer & passenger rights groups launch ad opposing air traffic privatization – National Consumers League

October 6, 2017

Contact: NCL Vice President of Public Policy, Telecommunications, and Fraud, John Breyault, (202) 207-2819,

Washington DC—Today, leading airline passenger, consumer and rural organizations, including National Consumers League,, Consumer Action, the Alliance for Aviation Across America and In The Public Interest launched an ad to set the record straight on the airlines’ push to privatize the air traffic control system. The ad specifically aims to correct a number of misleading claims put forth by the airlines and their paid front groups that privatization would somehow benefit passengers or communities.

Under the airlines’ privatization plan, oversight of air traffic control would be transferred from the FAA to a corporate board essentially controlled by industry with zero seats for consumer or passenger rights organizations. This unaccountable body would have unlimited power to raise fees and taxes on passengers, cut critical access to community airports and make decisions based on their own business priorities instead of in the interest of safety and the public.

“From major computer meltdowns, lost luggage and children, and dragging their passengers through the aisles of aircraft, the airlines have repeatedly demonstrated an inability to manage their own operations, let alone oversee the world’s busiest air traffic control system. They point the fingers at air traffic control, but the DOT’s own data confirm that the airlines themselves are responsible for the vast majority of delays” said Paul Hudson, President of

Notwithstanding the efforts by airline-backed lobbying and PR groups to mislead the public, a wide range of consumer, business, labor stakeholders and notable experts strongly oppose privatization.

“Our air traffic control system is a public good that should not be gifted over to the same big airlines that assault and drag paying customers off flights, shrink seats to medically unsafe proportions and invent increasingly outrageous new fees”; said Linda Sherry, Director of National Priorities at Consumer Action.

John Breyault, Vice President of Public Policy at National Consumers League stated: “In just the past few weeks we’ve witnessed big airlines engaging in troubling hurricane-related price gouging to go along with the ongoing passenger abuses and unsavory marketing and pricing practices that harm consumers. This industry continues to put profits before passengers; based on their track record, they would likely do the same if handed control of our air traffic system.”

“Privatizing air traffic control system would allow the airlines to run it for their own benefit and further direct investment and infrastructure away from thousands of smaller communities around the country, including many towns that have already lost commercial air service,” said Selena Shilad, Executive Director of the Alliance for Aviation Across America.

“Why would we take a critical piece of our national, public infrastructure and turn it over to one, self-interested private interest in the system, without any oversight from Congress? The airlines continue to be the only ones pushing for this risky idea, because they are the only ones that would benefit.  =Our national airspace system should be operated in the public’s best interest, not any one customer’s private interest,” stated Donald Cohen, Executive Director of In the Public Interest.   

To view the ad, click here 


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 pro-consumer additions to autonomous vehicle (AV) legislation – National Consumers League

October 4, 2017

Contact: NCL Communications, Cindy Hoang, (202) 207-2832,

Washington, DC—The National Consumers League (NCL) is applauding a series of positive changes adopted by the Senate Commerce Committee today on a bill that will set the regulatory and legal framework for the deployment of autonomous vehicles in America in for years to come. The bill, the American Vision for Safer Transportation through Advancement of Revolutionary Technologies Act, or AV START Act (S. 1885), is still undergoing changes that the advocates hope will make the AV deployment safer and more consumer-friendly.

Sally Greenberg, NCL executive director said: “Thanks to robust consumer advocacy and the support of consumer champions on the Committee, including Ranking Member Nelson (D-FL), Senators Blumenthal (D-CT), Markey (D-MA), and Baldwin (D-WI) and many others, the bill is much improved, though we still have concerns about AV rollout’s impact on consumer safety protections. We are very pleased to finally have a provision that will address the problem of children dying in hot cars, and provisions giving consumers access to information about AVs.”

NCL, along with other consumer and auto safety organizations, raised concerns at a press conference on October 3 about the bill, including that it contained provisions that would weaken auto safety laws, preempt localities from protecting their own citizens, restrict the right of consumers to go to court if they are injured by faulty designs, and generally leave consumers at risk. NCL also worked with a coalition that included members of industry who share concerns about consumers controlling their data related to AVs and support a provision setting up a federal commission to study the issue. Such a commission would include consumer advocates with expertise on safety and privacy – and make recommendations to Congress on how best to protect the privacy of those data. Many – though not all – of those concerns were addressed at the Senate Commerce Committee markup today.

NCL noted that consumer advocates remained concerned by how the legislation would undermine some of the safeguards on which consumers rely and intend to work with senators to further improve the bill so that it sets up a safety framework that better protects consumers in AVs. “We are getting there,” said Greenberg. “All in all, the bill the Committee adopted today is a vast improvement over the initial drafts. We are grateful to members of the Committee who embraced the need for far greater consumer and privacy protections and supported these critical improvements to the bill.”


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: Hands-off approach to autonomous vehicles is ‘dangerous’ – National Consumers League

October 2, 2017

Contact: NCL Communications, Cindy Hoang, (202) 207-2832,

Washington, DC—In a letter to Congress, the National Consumers League (NCL) is expressing grave concerns about Senate legislation to promote the deployment of HAVs or “Highly Autonomous Vehicles.” The bill — S. 1885, the AV START Act — sponsored by Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee Chair and Ranking members Senators John Thune (R-SD) and Gary Peters (D-MI), would alter existing consumer protection laws and regulatory authority for auto safety in favor of speeding the rollout of these autonomous vehicles.

NCL’s letter to the Committee outlines concerns that the bill does not adequately protect consumers or ensure that the self-driving cars of the future will be safe. The letter noted that Congress seems willing to allow massive deployment of this new and –in many ways untested -technology with no strong federal or state oversight.

On Wednesday, Oct. 3, NCL Executive Sally Greenberg will participate in a press conference with a coalition of leading safety and consumer advocates, and families of victims of deadly vehicle defects, to call on the U.S. Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation to stop and fix this dangerous bill.

NCL notes that this legislation would:

  • Allow untold millions of cars on the market that are exempt from federal safety standards and do not adequately protect occupants in a crash
  • Block states and local highway officials from enforcing their own laws through a sweeping provision – federal preemption – that prevents state and local entities from supervision and regulation of the safe operation of vehicles on their roadways
  • Ignore the auto industry’s long history of introducing dangerous and defective vehicles into the marketplace by taking a largely hands-off approach to the deployment of HAVs, which NCL notes, will undoubtedly have design flaws and be involved in fatal accidents.

NCL’s letter noted the auto industry’s long and unfortunate history of introducing dangerous automotive vehicle designs into the marketplace, including Ford Pinto’s exploding gas tank, the Chevy Corvair collapsing tires, the Ford Explorer tires detreading at high speeds, huge blind zones causing backovers of toddlers, ignition switch defects causing untold deaths, and defective airbags impaling drivers.

The letter sent by NCL on S 1885, the AV START Act,” NCL stated the following additional concerns:

  • The bill has no provisions for a public database – despite requests from consumer advocates – so the public can see impending hazards that will be identified when HAVs are deployed and track communications and responses about AVs between NHTSA and manufacturers. Other federal safety agencies, like the Consumer Product Safety Commission with  and the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau,, make such information publicly available.
  • Safety exemptions for vehicle safety are far too numerous. They must be strictly limited in scope and any increases must be controlled based on real-world safety performance.
  • NHTSA must be given imminent hazard authority to protect against potentially catastrophic AV defects and the ability to institute recalls quickly.
  • NHTSA must be given adequate and sufficient resources to properly regulate AV technology and should establish an office dedicated to ensuring oversight and accountability.
  • NHTSA needs to be able to hire experts in automotive software technology who are independent from the industry to oversee the safe deployment of AVs
  • Consumers should have information about vehicles at point of sale or upon hiring the vehicle through ride sharing services

“While we are excited about the potential for autonomous vehicles to improve mobility and safety, it cannot be done in a vacuum. This is new and untested technology. Now more than ever, in these early stages, we need strong oversight and regulation to track problems and ensure consumers’ lives aren’t jeopardized when the inevitable happens: systems go down, hacking occurs, software malfunctions, crashes happen. Under S. 1885, the AV START Act, the protections aren’t there.  We are calling on Congress to address this problem, to give NHTSA authority to develop a safety net for this critical technology and provide the resources needed to take action quickly,” said NCL Executive Director Sally Greenberg.


About the National Consumers League

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