Consumer guide to general purpose reloadable cards – National Consumers League

General Purpose Reloadable prepaid cards (GPR) are the fastest growing payment method in the country. They are increasingly popular with consumers who can’t qualify for traditional credit or debit cards or for those who need a convenient way to help them stick to a budget, since the cards generally can’t be overdrawn. While GPR cards have similar uses and even look nearly identical to credit or debit cards, consumers should know that there are important differences in terms of fees and consumer protections.

 

This guide is designed to help consumers learn what makes GPR cards different from other types of plastic cards, about the fees associated with the cards, and understand their rights under the law.

What is a GPR card?
General purpose reloadable prepaid cards (GPR cards) are much like the debit cards that many consumers use. However, they are not linked to a traditional checking account. Consumers can use them to purchase retail items at stores or online, pay bills online, get cash from ATMs, and have paychecks directly deposited onto them. GPR cards can be purchased from retailers like drug stores, grocery stores or check-cashing outlets, bank branches, and online.

  • What is the difference between a GPR card and a bank account debit card?

    • A bank account debit card is linked to your bank’s checking account. GPR cards are not linked to a personal checking account.

    • Your bank account debit card may allow you to spend more than the amount that is in your account if you have opted in to an overdraft service. Prepaid debit cards do not let you spend more money than you have loaded on to a card.

  • What is the difference between a GPR card and a credit card?

    • When you use a GPR card, you are using your own money that you have already loaded on to the card. You can only spend as much money as you have pre-loaded.

    • When using a credit card, you are using borrowed money that you have to pay back at the end of each month (with interest, if you carry a balance). Credit card use is limited by the credit limit on the card.

  • What is the difference between a GPR card and a gift card?

    • GPR cards are reloadable, so when the money on the card is used up, you can add additional funds. Gift cards are often not reloadable.

    • GPR card users can withdraw cash from their cards at an ATM. Gift card holders cannot.

  • What is the difference between a GPR card and a payroll card?

    • A payroll card is an alternative to paper checks and to bank account direct deposits. Your employer can load your pay directly to a payroll card.

    • Payroll cards are provided by employers to their workers and are not typically marketed or purchasable by consumers. GPR cards are marketed to consumers and available for purchase by the general public.

For tips on how to choose the right GPR card for you, click here.

To learn more about your rights and what steps to take if your GPR card has been compromised, click here.

View this consumer guide in PDF format.

NCL commends two GOP senators who will oppose Beck nomination to lead consumer safety agency

June 22, 2020

Media contact: National Consumers League – Carol McKay, carolm@nclnet.org, (412) 945-3242 or Taun Sterling, tauns@nclnet.org, (202) 207-2832

Washington, DC—The National Consumers (NCL) League greatly appreciates the principled stance of two GOP senators who have stated publicly that they cannot support Dr. Nancy Beck for the Chair of the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC). One of those senators, Shelly Moore Capito (R-W.Va.), holds a critical seat on the committee of jurisdiction over the CPSC. That committee will vote either to send her nomination to the full Senate or not.

“Dr. Nancy Beck’s record as it relates to PFAS chemicals, as well as her responses to my questions and the questions of other senators at yesterday’s Commerce Committee hearing have led me to conclude that she is not the right person to lead the Consumer Product Safety Commission,” Sen. Shelley Moore Capito, a member of the U.S. Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation, which heard from Dr. Beck at her nomination hearing this week.

“I do not believe that Dr. Nancy Beck’s views on chemical safety, including on PFAS substances and asbestos, align with the Consumer Products Safety Commission’s mission,” Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME) said in a statement.

Republicans currently hold 53 Senate seats. If two more Republicans announce their opposition, the party would lack a majority to confirm Beck, assuming all Democrats and independents who caucus as Democrats oppose her.

PFAS Concerns

Concerns about Beck’s responses on PFAS (per- and poly-fluoroalkyl substances) and asbestos were evident during Tuesday’s Senate Commerce, Science, and Transportation Committee nomination hearing. Beck promised senators to champion policies “supported by objective and transparent science.”

Beck’s previous position as a political appointee in the Environmental Protection Agency’s Office of Chemical Safety and Pollution Prevention and her work for the American Chemistry Council raised concerns.

The Commerce panel won’t schedule a vote on Beck’s nomination for at least two weeks to allow for members to ask additional questions for the record, a Republican committee aide said.

Sen. Maria Cantwell (D-WA), the top Democrat on the Commerce Committee, also will vote against Beck’s nomination; Cantwell asked Beck a number of probing questions, as did Senators Tom Udall (D-NM), Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), Jon Tester (D-MT), Tammy Baldwin (D-WI), and Jacky Rosen (D-NV).

Democrats, environmental, and consumer groups have criticized Beck’s nomination to lead the commission, citing her consistent actions to slow or block banning dangerous chemicals and advancing the interests of the chemical industry.

The following letters were sent to the Senate Commerce Committee’s Chairman Roger Wicker and Ranking Member Maria Cantwell, opposing the nomination of Nancy Beck to the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC).

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About the National Consumers League (NCL)

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 www.nclnet.org.

Consumer groups: Proposed DOT rules will undermine agency’s ability to protect passengers

May 28, 2020

Media contact: National Consumers League – Carol McKay, carolm@nclnet.org, (412) 945-3242 or Taun Sterling, tauns@nclnet.org, (202) 207-2832 

Washington, DC—Consumer groups today called the Department of Transportation’s (DOT) proposal to modify how it protects passengers from unfair and deceptive acts and practices in the air travel marketplace “fatally flawed” and urged the agency to abandon its rulemaking. In comments filed with the agency, the National Consumers League and Consumer Action questioned why the Department would begin such a far-reaching rulemaking, which it apparently did at the request of the nation’s largest airline lobbying group.

“The proposed rules, formulated at the behest of the airline lobby, would not benefit consumers,” said John Breyault, NCL vice president of public policy, telecommunications, and fraud. “If adopted, they would give airlines even greater incentives to engage in the kinds of anti-passenger practices—like leaving passengers stuck on the tarmac for hours on end—that Congress intended the DOT to prevent.”

The DOT’s proposed rules (“Defining Unfair or Deceptive Practices,” Docket No. DOT-OST-2019-0182), would also require the agency to overcome burdensome hurdles before any new enforcement actions or consumer protection rulemakings are initiated.

DOT’s enforcement activity is at the lowest level in a decade. Last year, the DOT initiated the fewest number of enforcement actions (9) and the second-lowest amount of civil penalties ($2.2 million) since 2010. Compare this to the $1.4 billion in baggage fees that the eleven biggest U.S. airlines collected in the fourth quarter of 2019 alone. The groups’ comments questioned how such metrics could square with the airline industry’s portrayal of the DOT as a consumer protection agency run amok.

“We understand that the airlines are facing severe economic headwinds due to COVID-19,” said Linda Sherry, Consumer Action’s director of national priorities. “That should be no excuse for the DOT to cave to industry pressure and abandon its critical consumer protection role in the air travel marketplace.”

The organizations’ full comments are available here.

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About the National Consumers League

The National Consumers League, founded in 1899, is America’s pioneering 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 www.nclnet.org.

 

Consumers should never ingest or inject disinfectants!

By Sally Greenberg, NCL Executive Director

The President of the United States speculated at a press conference this past week that since disinfectants kills germs on surfaces, perhaps someone should look into whether humans should ingest or even inject disinfectants.

“I see the disinfectant that knocks it out in a minute, one minute,” Trump said during Thursday’s coronavirus press briefing. “And is there a way we can do something like that by injection inside, or almost a cleaning? Because you see it gets inside the lungs and it does a tremendous number on the lungs, so it would be interesting to check that.”

Under no circumstances should any of these cleaning products be ingested! THEY ARE POISONOUS!

Sadly, some consumers considered seriously Trump’s suggestion. Poison centers in New York and Illinois reported a doubling of calls after Trump’s statements.

Consumer and product safety groups like NCL have worked for years with makers of disinfectants and bleaches with brand names like Lysol, Chlorox, and Fantastic to prevent accidental ingestion of these products. Children used to die in large numbers from ingesting cleaning products, but they can harm or kill adults too.

To its credit, Proctor & Gamble, makers of Clorox, issued this statement after Trump’s remarks: “Bleach and other disinfectants are not suitable for consumption or injection under any circumstance.”

Makers of Lysol issued this statement: “As a global leader in health and hygiene products, we must be clear that under no circumstance should our disinfectant products be administered into the human body (through injection, ingestion or any other route).”

Consumer organizations were behind passage of the Poison Prevention Packaging Act of 1970, which provides child-resistant packaging to protect kids from getting into products under the sink. Since the PPPA’s implementation, deaths in children aged five and under went down by 1.4 per million.

With COVID-19 overtaking this country, resulting in more than 53,000 deaths in the United States alone to date—and growing daily—we need accurate and honest information from our leaders. We do not want consumers exposing themselves to hazards from ingesting cleaning products.

Consumers: do not ingest or inject household cleaning products. THEY ARE POISONOUS if consumed. A network of poison control centers exist around the nation. Visit https://aapcc.org to get your questions answered 24 hours a day. They are the experts!

Special message from NCL’s Fraud.org about coronavirus scams – National Consumers League

Special COVID-19 warnings: Scammers are pouncing on the opportunities presented by fear and uncertainty in our new environment. Don’t be a victim!

Fraud.orgIt’s a stressful time for consumers across the United States, with businesses closed, schools shut down, and more than a hundred million citizens under shelter-in-place orders. Unfortunately, scammers see this emergency as an opportunity to defraud consumers of hard-earned money we will all desperately need in the weeks and months ahead.

We’ve seen disturbing reports of all kinds of scams linked to the coronavirus epidemic, from sham “cures” being hawked on fly-by-night websites to phishing schemes seeking consumers’ mouseclicks with scary messages about economic collapse, and “pump and dump” schemes to get consumers to invest in coronavirus-related stocks.

With the end of the national emergency nowhere in sight, the situation with coronavirus scams is likely to get much worse before it gets better. Here at Fraud.org, we have many years of experience witnessing how scammers prey on citizens in times of disaster and distress, and we foresee challenging months ahead for consumers. But we are on your side, and we’ll be doing our best to bring you information you can use to spot and avoid these scams, as well as resources you can use to help protect your friends and family. For right now, here are some basic tips you can use to reduce your risk of becoming a victim:

  • Trust the experts. If a message you’re seeing is at odds with information being put out by trusted sources like the Centers for Disease Control, Federal Trade Commission, Food and Drug Administration, or your local health officials, there’s a high likelihood it’s a scam.
  • Check out this message from the FDA about Fraudulent Coronavirus Tests, Vaccines and Treatments.
  • You are likely to see messages urging you to act quickly, whether to buy a coronavirus “treatment” or send money for a can’t-miss investment. Remember that fraudsters try to get you to act before you think. Take your time.
  • In a time of social distancing, scammers will likely try to prey on consumers’ isolation to ensnare them in schemes like romance scams, lottery scams, or other scams where the criminals earn their targets’ trust over time.
  • Remember that scammers follow the headlines just like the rest of us. In particular, we expect scams promising COVID-19 stimulus checks to get more prevalent as the government’s coronavirus relief efforts ramp up.
  • The Federal Trade Commission has a wealth of information about coronavirus-related scams. Visit ftc.com/coronavirus for up-to-date information.

 

Idaho Patient Act a model for other states for protecting consumers from medical debt

I spent a week last month in Boise with two members of the staff of Melaleuca—a company that makes more than 400 nutritional, cleaning, personal care, and cosmetic products—making lobbying visits to the Idaho legislature. Katie Hart and Jay Cobb work for Frank Vandersloot, CEO of Melaleuca. Vandersloot is a highly successful, conservative businessman who is committed to protecting Idaho residents from abusive medical debt collection practices after discovering that one of his employees was hit with thousands of dollars in bills—including hefty lawyers’ fees and court costs—based on a $294 medical debt that she couldn’t even identify. The stark reality is that 50 percent of bankruptcies in America are caused by medical debt. He was championing a bill called the Idaho Patient Act, House Bill 515.

Many people believe federal law provides broad protections for people in debt. While the federal Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA), enforced by Federal Trade Commission, makes it illegal for debt collectors to use abusive, unfair, or deceptive practices when they collect debts, it doesn’t address how debts are calculated or curb predatory fees, penalties and court costs.

NCL has worked with Melaleuca for several years, first to fight a bill in Congress that would have essentially legalized pyramid scheme activity. Last October, I flew to Melaleuca headquarters in Idaho Falls to meet nearly half of the state’s legislators who came to town as part of their tour of businesses in Idaho. At that gathering, Vandersloot discussed his hope to pass a bill to address these predatory collection practices, aiming his fire at the practice of ginning up the cost to patients of medical debts with thousands in lawyers’ and court fees; often patients have no idea where the debt is from and debt collectors aren’t required to provide that information to them. The Idaho Patient Act addresses that issue.

Vandersloot also puts his money where his mouth is: not only did he propose a legislative remedy, he and his wife Belinda created a $1 million fund to provide legal counsel to Idahoans who have been hit with these attorney bills. Consumer advocates like NCL have been working for decades to curb the excesses of this industry. But to see  a conservative CEO take on this issue gives the effort a new push.

Sticking up for the little guy is not out of character for Vandersloot. He spoke with the same fervor when we worked together fighting a bill that would have legalized pyramid schemes. In neither case was there any financial reward coming to Melaleuca—Vandersloot took a stand on this issue because he felt it was the right thing to do. Though we may disagree on a host of other matters, on this we are aligned and that is a good thing for vulnerable consumers. Strange bedfellows are a big advantage when it comes to getting things done in the political arena.

Katie Hart has been wisely deployed to live and work in Boise while the legislature is in session and navigate this important bill through the complicated legislative process. She’s a smart and charismatic lawyer—she and Jay Cobb, an expert strategist, could teach Lobbying 101: they’ve met with the Idaho Hospital Association, Idaho doctors, insurance companies, and the Idaho trial lawyers and revised the bill to address their concerns. 

Specifically, the Idaho Patient Act proposes the following:

  1. All health care providers must submit all charges for procedures performed to an insurance carrier within 45 days.
  2. Within 60 days, the patient must receive a summary of services rendered during treatment and recovery, including the names and contact information for all entities that may be billing the patient separately, such as an individual doctor.
  3. All providers must then send a final statement with a total amount owed by the patient after insurance. The bill must correspond with the original list of services.
  4. Health care providers must wait 60 days after sending the final notice before charging a patient interest on an outstanding bill and hiring a collection agency. They must wait 90 days from the final statement before they take “extraordinary collection actions,” which means a lawsuit, or reporting a patient to a credit bureau for failure to pay.
  5. Finally, in medical debt cases that result in litigation, the legislation limits the amount attorney fees and costs that can be shifted to the patient to $350 for uncontested cases and $750 for contested cases. Currently, there is no official cap for fees that can be charged to delinquent patients by collection agencies and their representing lawyers.

In Boise, my first order of business was to register in the Idaho capitol building as a lobbyist, even though I was only going to be there for the day.  We wanted to do everything by the book! For $11 the Secretary of State’s office put me into the system and off we went.

Jay Cobb explained that Idaho is very conservative where rules or regulations are frowned upon. Of the 70 members of the Idaho House, 56 are Republican and some of those lean far right. 14 are Democrats. Of the 35 members of the Senate, only 7 are Democrat. The Governor is Republican, as is the Secretary of State and the Attorney General.

Katie and Jay have been working for months with elected officials, revising the bill without compromising its impact, and last week the measure was  reported favorably from the House Business Committee by a 15-2 vote (after a 5 hour hearing with many witnesses and terribly sad stories). Adding to the challenge of getting this bill enacted the second Vice Chair of the Republican Party in Idaho, and a member of the Idaho legislature were adamantly opposed to the legislation because as their egregious medical debt collection practices were epicenter of the problem.  Now the bill goes to the full House and over to the Senate.

While in the state house, we met with Senator Grant Burgoyne, a democrat who has provided legal representation to the collections industry. His observation? this bill would rein in “bad actors,” and the collections industry as a whole doesn’t oppose it. Senator Michelle Stennett, a democrat from Ketchum, told us about the challenges of getting what she thought were reasonable measures out of committee in Idaho because members are so loathe to pass any laws. The longest serving Democratic House member told us she believes the bill will pass, and the very smart and entertaining newly elected Boise Representative Steve Berch, who ran five times as a democrat in a red district and finally got elected, also predicts a positive outcome for this bill.  

To cap off the day, both U.S. Senators were in the State House and I had the chance to say hello to one of them, Senator James Risch (R-ID) and meet his DC staff.

The calculus changes when a conservative CEO with political clout backs a bill to offer protections to consumers who -through no fault of their own -have medical debt. Thanks to Frank Vandersloot, Katie Hart and Jay Cobb and the whole team at Melaleuca for making their case to the Idaho legislature so persuasively.

We hope this bill gets enacted in Idaho. If it does, the law will become a template for other states to put reasonable guardrails around collection of medical debt and offer some much-needed consumer protections. And maybe we can even hope that Vandersloot’s willingness to use his clout and bully pulpit to speak out on behalf of those who have no voice will be emulated by other CEOs.

Postscript

On March 9, the Idaho Senate passed the Idaho Patient Act 32-1. On March 16 Idaho Governor Brad Little signed the bill into law.

Congratulations to Frank Vandersloot, Melaleuca’s CEO, to his talented team of Katie Hart and Jay Cobb, and to all the members of the Idaho state legislature, who stood up for consumers and understood that one in seven Idahoans struggle with medical debt.

To quote the words on the Hanukkah dreidel, “A great miracle happened there.”

New study says Chipotle management presses workers to work sick and skip food safety practices, creating health risks for consumers

February 6, 2020

The Unsavory side of ‘Food with Integrity.’ ” report details management practices that lead to worker abuses and call into question protocols Chipotle put in place after recent food safety crises

Media contact: National Consumers League – Carol McKay, carolm@nclnet.org, (412) 945-3242 or Taun Sterling, tauns@nclnet.org, (202) 207-2832

New York — After dozens of outbreaks of food borne illness incidents over the past four years, Chipotle gave lip service to reforms in their work practices, but the fast-casual restaurant has continued to engage in management practices that lead to abuses of workers that may create food safety risks for consumers, a new study says.

Scores of employees interviewed for the study reported management pressure to work fast without following proper food safety procedures, such as:

  • One worker being pressured to work while sick, even after the worker vomited  part way into his shift;
  • Undercooked chicken being served to a customer because the grill cook out in place had not been properly trained;
  • Workers pressured to work so fast that during lunch and dinner rushes, they often flipped over  chopping boards used to cut raw meat, and reused the boards without washing them;
  • One worker who cooked food had to clean feces off the floor or ceiling of a bathroom multiple times without hazmat suit or adequate protection equipment;
  • Pressure to work without stopping, with no time left to wash their hands for hours on end.

In the report, “The Unsavory Side of ‘Food with Integrity,'” workers told researchers that their managers often knew when supposedly independent audits were coming because other managers or field leaders who have undergone inspection often tip them off. Workers reported that managers relax rules outside of inspection periods and tightened up adherence to food safety protocols when inspections are imminent.

“The findings of this report call into question the effectiveness of measures that Chipotle put in place to solve their food safety crises of a few years ago,” said Sally Greenberg, executive director of the National Consumers League, which co-authored the report. “If Chipotle executive management and the Food Safety Advisory Council are responsible for making sure that this program is implemented effectively to keep the public safe, they have been asleep at the wheel.”

The National Consumers League, America’s pioneering consumer advocacy organization which has been representing consumers and workers on marketplace and workplace issues since their founding in 1899, undertook the study after SEIU Local 32BJ brought the organization information from field organizers about what were learning about practices that could affect consumer food safety from Chipotle workers they were supporting in their organizing efforts.

Organizers and researchers spoke to hundreds of workers, then undertook formal interviews with 47 workers at 25 stores in New York City. These interviews and statements form the basis of the report, which also included analysis of a variety of corporate filings, press reports, and other publicly available documents.

“We chose to blow the whistle on these practices and abuses because our Chipotle managers did not listen to us,” Jeremy Espinal, a Chipotle worker, said. “It’s a pressure-packed workplace where supervisors intimidate you and retaliate against you.”

“I am speaking out because I want to make Chipotle a better place to work and a better place for customers to eat,” Jahaira Garcia, another Chipotle worker, said. “This job is how I support myself, how I help my father out with expenses at home and how I am able to partly pay for my school fees.”

32BJ President Kyle Bragg thanked the National Consumers League for working with the union and thanked the workers for their courage.

“I believe that these workers are Chipotle’s best assets,” Bragg said. “They can put the integrity back into ‘food with integrity.’ Give them a voice on the job and they will help Chipotle achieve the lofty ideals of its marketing.”

Report findings include:

  • Managerial pay incentives that promote cutting food safety corners:  managers can earn up to an additional 25% of base pay by meeting performance goals that include reducing labor costs, creating a highly pressurized work environment. This bonus program may incentivize managers to meet productivity goals by cutting corners on food safety or by violating worker protection laws.
  • Ineffective store audits: Worker interviews revealed that general managers frequently know when supposedly independent audits are coming because other managers or field leaders who have been inspected often tip them off. Workers reported that managers have relaxed rules following outside of inspection periods and tightened up adherence to food safety protocols when an audit is imminent.
  • Pressure to work sick: New York-based workers reported that managers have pressured crew members to work while sick or retaliated against workers for taking paid sick leave.
  • Minimal training: Despite the substantial skills needed to safely prepare Chipotle’s fresh food menu, many new hires receive minimal training and “learn as they go” from co-workers who may not have received much training themselves.

“As chairman of the New York City Council Public Health Committee, this is deeply troubling to me,” said New York Councilmember Mark Levine. “Risk of contagion should not be aggravated by an aggressive incentive structure that encourages managers to abuse workers and cut food safety corners. The public needs to know more and Chipotle needs to change their policies. That is why I am calling for a public hearing in the Council. I encourage Chipotle workers and consumers to come forward to discuss these issues. I also invite the company to be there to engage in this conversation.” 

Nick Freudenberg, distinguished professor of Public Health at the CUNY Graduate School of Public Health & Health Policy and Director of the CUNY Urban Food Policy Institute, discussed Chipotle’s history of food borne disease outbreaks.

In 2015 and 2016, Chipotle was rocked by a series of food safety crises that sickened hundreds of customers across the country and included exposure to virulent pathogens like E. coli, salmonella, and norovirus, resulting in vomiting, pain, and in some cases hospitalizations. Despite claiming major food safety reforms instituted in 2016 to recapture consumer confidence, the company continued to have food-borne illness problems in 2017 and 2018, including an Ohio outbreak in which 647 people were sickened.

Despite Chipotle implementing an “enhanced food safety program” in 2016, the City’s Department of Health found 260 critical violations at 74 out of 84 restaurants from 2017 to 2019. Critical violations are those most likely to pose “a substantial risk to the public’s health” and lead to food-borne illness. The critical violation examples found by health inspectors include food left at dangerous temperatures that allow for the growth of pathogens, practices that allow for the contamination of ready-to-eat foods, evidence of various pests, and stores supervised by managers without a certificate in food protection. Just two weeks ago, the City cited a Chipotle restaurant where they found a crewmember working while “ill with a disease transmissible by food or [an] exposed infected cut or burn on [their] hand”.

Worker advocates and community groups were surprised by the findings and expressed support for Chipotle workers:

“Chipotle has not only acted duplicitously—championing a mission of integrity and freshness in public while speeding up production and cutting corners behind the counter—the company has created added risks for workers and consumers in the pursuit of profits,” said Ana Maria Archila of the Center for Popular Democracy. “Outlined in this report are issues that range from cautionary to alarming. Will Chipotle wait for another outbreak before they take corrective action—or will they take action ‘with integrity’ now to reduce potential harm?”

“This report is vital to understanding that the exploitation of workers in the food industry does not just impact workers and their families, it impacts everyone, including consumers,” Suzanne Adely of the Food Chain Workers Alliance said. “Chipotle and all food service workers deserve fair working conditions. Denying them basic, humane rights like sick days, proper healthy and safe working spaces, cannot be justified. Exploiting food workers for profit does not only harm workers and their families, it harms everyone, including consumers.”

“Chipotle is another example of worker safety and consumer safety being undermined together,” said Charlene Obernauer of the New York Committee for Occupational Safety and Health (NYCOSH). “Chipotle has a legal responsibility to provide a safe and healthy workplace and they need to take the appropriate steps to make this possible.”

“This report details how Chipotle’s low-road labor standards and incentives for managers to cut corners are endangering the dining public,” said Paul Sonn, State Policy Program Director for the National Employment Law Project. “Chipotle needs to recognize that investing in its workforce with stable, quality jobs is essential for delivering a safe and healthy dining experience for its customers.” 

“We are deeply concerned with the workplace issues, especially that of forced arbitration described by Chipotle workers in this study,” Deborah Axt of Make the Road said. “We stand with Chipotle workers, the majority of whom are workers of color and many of whom are from communities like the ones our members are from, in calling for company-wide reforms and a commitment to invest in a stable workforce.”

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About 32BJ SEIU

With 175,000 members in 11 states, including 85,000 in New York, 32BJ SEIU is the largest property service workers union in the country. 

About the National Consumers League (NCL)

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 www.nclnet.org.

LifeSmarts program awards scholarships to five student leaders from Morehead City, NC, Bedford, TX, and Ellenboro, WV

January 30, 2020

Contact: National Consumers League – Carol McKay, carolm@nclnet.org, (412) 945-3242 or Taun Sterling, tauns@nclnet.org, (202)  207-2832

Washington, DC—The National Consumers League (NCL) has announced five scholarship recipients, honored for their involvement in a community service and leadership initiative made possible through its consumer literacy program, LifeSmarts  (LifeSmarts.org). The students have been awarded $1,000 academic scholarships for winning entries based on their experiences serving as Safety Smart® Ambassadors, a partnership between LifeSmarts and Underwriters Laboratories (UL) that pairs high school students with elementary classrooms to teach lessons about health, safety, and the environment. 

Scholarship winners 

  • Addison Jones, (11th grade), West Virginia – Ritchie County High School
  • Allison Little, (10th grade), Texas – Midcities Montessori
  • Matthew Loynes, (12th grade), North Carolina – West Carteret High School
  • Abby Olstrup, (10th grade), Texas – Midcities Montessori
  • Destinee Smith, (11th grade), West Virginia – Ritchie County High School

In 2019, more than 300 LifeSmarts students became Safety Smart Ambassadors. Working as teams, high school students made more than 500 interactive, 30-minute presentations, sharing empowering and educational safety messages with 13,600 young children throughout their communities. LifeSmarts is a national program that competitively tests high school students’ knowledge of consumer awareness, with subjects including personal finance, health and safety, consumer rights and responsibility, technology, and the environment.

“We are so proud of our students who participated in the Safety Smart Ambassador program and the positive impact they made on their communities, and especially these five stand-outs,” said Lisa Hertzberg,  LifeSmarts program director. “We truly appreciate this partnership with UL. It has been extremely gratifying to see LifeSmarts students embrace the Safety Smart Ambassador program, provide education and mentoring to younger children, and learn about themselves in the process.” 

The LifeSmarts and UL partnership has underwritten the Safety Smart Ambassador program and provided LifeSmarts with access to the vast knowledge base of UL’s educational programs, including resources for LifeSmarts to bolster its science and environment curriculum, resources, and competitive opportunities. 

For more information, please visit LifeSmarts.org/SafetySmart.  

Winter 2020 Safety Smart Ambassador award winners – in their own words  

Addison Jones (WV)

I have never been good at public speaking. Throughout this experience, I have learned how to adapt to a younger audience and how I can improve my public speaking skills. This truly was an amazing learning experience and I am grateful to have such amazing partners, along with an amazing group of children as an audience.

Allison Little (TX)

Safety Smart has always been one of the highlights of my year. I love teaching kids new things especially when it’s meaningful for all of us. Teaching kids to wash their hands correctly helps them prevent illness and keeps others from getting sick as well. It’s a win, win. 

Matthew Loynes (NC)

This program is more than a community service project to me. It has enriched my High School career in a way that nothing else has. The main draw is interacting with children and feeling like I am making a difference. Safety Smart allows me to step into the education of hundreds of kids and teach them about something that I find very important. This program has gone a long way in teaching me the value of youth education. It has also shown me how much of a difference I can make.

Abby Olstrup (TX)

I brought out a blacklight so we could see all the germs on their hands. They were intrigued as they searched for germs on their hands. I heard one kid talking to his friend saying, “I could feel the germs on my hand.” Then we came around and gave them hand sanitizer to clean off their hands and brought out the blacklight again to see if the germs were still there. We explained that hand sanitizer is good to use if you don’t have soap or warm water. They counted to twenty so they could see how long they should scrub their hands. After this we discussed other ways they could stay healthy. We then passed out “germ fighters” stickers that we created. With what they know about germs and staying healthy, I can officially say that they are “germ fighters” and Safety Smart.

Destinee Smith (WV)

Honestly, I’d never known children had such a narrow understanding of how treacherous the online world could be, or how important it was to make sure they knew these things at such a young age. I’m thankful I had the opportunity to open up their young minds to something that will quite literally affect them for the rest of their lives.

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About LifeSmarts and the National Consumers League 

LifeSmarts is a program of the National Consumers League. State coordinators run the programs on a volunteer basis. LifeSmarts educational resources are available online throughout the year at LifeSmarts.org. Competition begins again in September. For more information, visit: LifeSmarts.org. 

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  nclnet.org. 

New study reveals promising progress in fight against cancer

Nissa Shaffi

A recent study released by the American Cancer Society (ACS) shows that breakthrough treatments for lung cancer have resulted in a 26-year record low for cancer mortality overall. Cancer-related deaths have dropped at an average rate of 1.5 percent from 2008 to 2017 and between 2016–2017, cancer mortality rates dropped to 2.2 percent. This translates to nearly three million fewer American cancer-related deaths than would have occurred if mortality had remained stagnant.

ACS revealed that much of this success is due to declines specifically in lung cancer mortality. This is a promising development as lung cancer leads to more cancer-related deaths than colorectal, breast, and prostate cancers combined. Steady reductions in smoking and advancements in early-detection practices have created the perfect environment for dramatic drops in lung cancer rates. Technologies like video-assisted surgeries have enabled doctors to more clearly scan stages of tumor growth, providing patients with higher eligibility for operations and more targeted radiation treatments. Additionally, groundbreaking immunotherapies for both lung cancer and melanoma have acted as a catalyst for an expanding area of research, providing renewed hope to cancer patients with metastatic disease.

Despite the welcome decline in deaths associated with lung cancer, the death rates of breast, colorectal, and prostate cancers have plateaued. Progress for the treatment of prostate cancers has been especially compromised due to growing skepticism from health officials regarding prostate-specific antigen (PSA) screenings. While the original intent of reducing PSA screenings was to prevent over-diagnosing and unnecessary treatments for potentially benign tumors, fewer treatable cancers are being detected as a result.

The National Consumers League (NCL) lauds this truly welcome progress in reducing cancer deaths. At the same time, we would like to echo ACS’s call for better testing, which will lead to accurate and better screening of cancers. It takes a village to see progress of this magnitude in public health. Doctors, researchers, advocacy groups, drug companies, and access to life-saving preventive care afforded by the Affordable Care Act can all take credit for this very good report. NCL recognizes the many factors that helped to reduce the incidence of a terrible disease that takes the lives of more than 600,000 people a year. Let’s keep the progress going into 2020 and beyond!

Script Your Future launches ninth annual student competition for innovations in medication adherence

January 20, 2020

Media contact: National Consumers League – Carol McKay, carolm@nclnet.org, (412) 945-3242 or Taun Sterling, tauns@nclnet.org, (202) 207-2832

Washington, DC—Today marks the launch of the ninth annual Script Your Future Medication Adherence Team Challenge, a two-month-long intercollegiate competition among health profession student teams and faculty for creating solutions to raise awareness about medication adherence as a critical public health issue. The Challenge, hosted by the National Consumers League (NCL), is returning to university campuses across the country after eight years of successful student competition and innovation.

The Challenge is an integral part of Script Your Future, a campaign launched by NCL and its partners in 2011 to combat the problem of poor medication adherence in the United States, where nearly three out of four patients do not take their medication as directed.

“Today’s medications are better than ever at treating and curing people, but these treatments can only work if patients know the importance of taking their prescriptions as directed. It takes all members of the health team to make that happen, and pharmacists play a big role in that circle of trust,” said Sally Greenberg, NCL Executive Director. “For nine years, our Script Your Future Medication Adherence Team Challenge has galvanized student health professionals to explore creative, interprofessional approaches, in encouraging medication adherence. To usher Script Your Future into the next era of improving adherence, we have implemented two new components to the Team Challenge: technology innovation and vaccine adherence. We have been blown away by the ingenuity of our student teams, and we look forward to how they will contribute to their communities in this year’s Team Challenge.”

The Challenge is sponsored by the American Association of Colleges of Pharmacy (AACP), the National Association of Chain Drug Stores (NACDS) Foundation, the National Community Pharmacists Association (NCPA), and the American Pharmacists Association (APhA).

Starting today through March 20, inter-professional teams—including student pharmacists, nurses, doctors, and others—will implement creative outreach approaches in their communities to raise awareness and improve understanding about medication adherence. At the end of the Challenge, teams submit entries for review by national partner organizations, and winners are recognized for their efforts to improve medication adherence.

“The Script Your Future Medication Adherence Team Challenge has provided a tremendous opportunity for health professions students to demonstrate how they can work collaboratively to improve patient care through better medication adherence,” said Dr. Lucinda L. Maine, Executive Vice President and CEO at the American Association of Colleges of Pharmacy. “This Challenge, now in its ninth year, is a powerful example of the impact health professions teams can have on the public health issue of medication adherence.”

Since the Challenge began in 2011, more than 18,800 future health care professionals have directly counseled nearly 78,000 patients and reached more than 26 million consumers about the importance of medication adherence. Last year’s National awardees were Pacific University School of Pharmacy, University of Pittsburgh School of Pharmacy, North East Ohio Medical University College of Pharmacy (NEOMED), Touro University California College of Pharmacy, and the University of Charleston School of Pharmacy. Wilkes University Nesbitt School of Pharmacy earned the Rookie Award for their outstanding contribution during their first year of participation in the Team Challenge.

In addition to the national-level awards, the Challenge also honors teams with focused awards in the areas of health disparities, communications and media outreach, and creative inter-professional team collaboration. In 2019, the Challenge honored the following schools with focused awards: Northeast Ohio Medical University College of Pharmacy (Health Disparities), Touro University College of Pharmacy (Media Outreach), and the University of Charleston School of Pharmacy (Creative Inter-professional Team Event).

To learn about previous winners, visit https://www.scriptyourfuture.org/

For more information on the Challenge, visit the Challenge Community website at

https://syfadherencechallenge.ning.com/. Tweet along with us during the Challenge using #SYFchallenge, and follow the campaign @IWillTakeMyMeds.

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About Script Your Future 

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