Leading consumer groups call on FTC and CFPB to update study on accuracy of consumer data

July 23, 2021

Media contact: National Consumers League – Carol McKay, carolm@nclnet.org, (412) 945-3242 and Linda Sherry, (202) 544-3088, linda.sherry@consumer-action.org

Washington, DC—Leading consumer groups are calling on the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) and the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) to update a key 2012 study on the accuracy of consumer data at the credit bureaus in a letter sent to both agencies.

The National Consumers League and Consumer Action, two leading consumer advocacy organizations working to promote pro-consumer policies on the federal level, noted in their letter to FTC Chairwoman Khan and Acting CFPB Dirctor Ueijo that policy leaders in Congress and the White House had been citing the 2012 study in recent hearings and events and they were concerned that the data policymakers were using was almost 10 years old.

“Much has happened since 2012 that impacts the accuracy of consumer data, starting with the rise of technology, increased data breaches by bad actors, the NCAP settlement and of course a pandemic and economic crisis. It is critical that we re- examine the accuracy of the credit bureau data in light of these developments…” the Consumer Action and National Consumers League letter reads. “…We worry about the unintended consequences if policymakers fashion new laws based on old facts.”

A full copy of the letter can be found 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 www.nclnet.org.

NCL commends HHS interim final rule regarding surprise billing protections

Media contact: National Consumers League – Carol McKay, carolm@nclnet.org(412) 945-3242

Washington, DC—The National Consumers League (NCL) welcomes the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) announcement of an interim final rule regarding surprise billing protections, to take effect on January 1, 2022. This rule is a major element of the implementation of the No Surprises Act, which was passed in December as part of the omnibus spending bill. It will eliminate surprise medical bills which have devastated American consumers for far too long.

Patients can be vulnerable to surprise medical bills when they unknowingly receive out-of-network care. This often happens in emergencies, where a patient does not have the luxury to choose an in-network provider, or when an out-of-network doctor such as an anesthesiologist provides ancillary care at an in-network facility. These charges can lead to sky-high bills for patients, often while they are dealing with unforeseen circumstances. Patients frequently forgo necessary care in fear of receiving surprise bills that could possibly subject them to medical debt. Surprise medical bills negatively impact patients, employers and taxpayers, leading to $40 billion in premium increases every year because certain providers can leverage their ability to leave the network for higher reimbursement rates.

Thankfully, the No Surprises Act and the new rule announced by HHS put a stop to most of these surprise billing practices, promising a major victory for consumers. The new rule:

  • Prohibits out-of-network cost-sharing for emergency care that is higher than in-network rates
  • Prohibits out-of-network charges for ancillary care provided at an in-network facility
  • Prohibits surprise billing for out-of-network air ambulance services
  • Requires advance notice and patient authorization for non-emergency care performed out-of-network

Under these new protections, consumers will be “held harmless,” and will gain relief from unscrupulous surprise charges. The requirements for transparency in billing and advance notice for out-of-network care will allow consumers to play a greater role in their own healthcare and ensure that they are safeguarded from unexpected costs while seeking care.

NCL applauds members of Congress and HHS Secretary Xavier Becerra for their bipartisan leadership in passing these protections into law and implementing the new rule. The No Surprises Act had been in legislative limbo for years, with no definitive agreement in place for its passage. The work of Senators Maggie Hassan (D-NH), Bill Cassidy (R-LA), and Patty Murray (D-WA) and former Senator Lamar Alexander (R-TN), alongside Representative Frank Pallone (D-NJ) and former Representative Greg Walden (R-OR) to at last secure the passage of the No Surprises Act is applauded. Their efforts will result in desperately needed protections for American consumers and fix one of the many flaws in America’s healthcare system.

As stated by Secretary Becerra, “Health insurance should offer patients peace of mind that they won’t be saddled with unexpected costs. The Biden-Harris Administration remains committed to ensuring transparency and affordable care, and with this rule, Americans will get the assurance of no surprises.” This rule will protect consumers and lead to a better functioning healthcare system. We hope that Secretary Becerra will continue to build on the positives of the new interim rule as HHS develops the final rule to implement the No Surprises Act and give healthcare consumers the protections that they deserve.

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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 www.nclnet.org.

National Consumers League applauds House repeal of national banking regulator’s Predatory Lending Rule; Urging Congress to act soon on interest rate cap

June 29, 2021

Media contact: National Consumers League – Carol McKay, carolm@nclnet.org(412) 945-3242

Washington, DC—The National Consumers League (NCL) applauds the House for voting for the Congressional Review Act resolution to overturn the OCC’s “fake lender” rule, which allowed predatory lenders to evade state interest rate laws by putting a bank’s name on the paperwork. In a 218-208 bipartisan vote, The U.S. House of Representatives voted to approve SJ Res 15, a resolution under the Congressional Review Act (CRA), which was introduced by Senators Chris Van Hollen (D-MD) and Sherrod Brown (D-OH). A companion resolution was introduced by Rep. “Chuy” García (D-IL). Now that both chambers of Congress have approved this resolution, we look forward to President Biden signing the bill into law.

“We applaud the House’s bipartisan vote to repeal this harmful rule which facilitates rent-a-bank schemes,” said NCL’s Public Policy Manager Sarah Robinson. “This is an important step in preventing predatory lenders from targeting vulnerable communities. We urge President Biden to quickly sign this bill into law to protect consumers.”

NCL was part of a broad coalition of more than 400 organizations representing all 50 states and the District of Columbia calling on Congress to overturn the “fake lender” rule, which threatens to “unleash predatory lending in all fifty states.”

The rushed “fake lender” rule took effect in December and was issued by the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency (OCC). The rule protected “rent-a-bank” schemes whereby predatory lenders (the true lender) launder their loans through a few rogue banks (the fake lender), which are exempt from state interest rate caps. The rule had overridden 200 years’ worth of case law allowing courts to see through usury law evasions to the truth, and replaced it with a pro-evasion rule that looked only at the fine print on the loan agreement.

broad, bipartisan cross-section of experts and officials have called on Congress to repeal the fake lender rule. They include a bipartisan group of 25 state attorneys general, concerned the rule would effectively gut their state usury laws. The Conference of State Bank Supervisors, National Association of Consumer Credit Administrators, National Association of Federally-Insured Credit Unions, Credit Union National Association, Military Officers Association of America, Faith for Just Lending, and many other groups also support Congress overturning the rule.

According to national polling, two-thirds of voters (66%) are concerned about the ability of high-cost lenders to arrange loans through banks at rates higher than the state laws allow.

This victory will stop predatory lenders from charging 100% to 200% APR and make all lenders adhere to state laws.

NCL now urges the Congress to take up the Veterans and Consumers Fair Credit Actand cap interest rates nationally on all consumer loans, including payday and car title loans. It is crucial that the Congress take up this bill that was introduced by Rep. Garcíaand Rep. Glenn Grothman in the last Congress. This is a critical piece of legislation that will protect all consumers from predatory lending. We look forward to working with Congress and our state delegation to pass this important piece of legislation.

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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 www.nclnet.org.

NCL comments on pediatric COVID-19 vaccines before CDC’s Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices

Media contact: National Consumers League – Carol McKay, carolm@nclnet.org(412) 945-3242

Washington, DC—Today, June 24, 2021, NCL Director of Health Policy Jeanette Contreras, submitted written testimony to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention’s Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices in support of pediatric COVID-19 vaccines. Her comments appear below.

José R. Romero, MD, FAAP, Chair
Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
1600 Clifton Road, N.E., Mailstop A27
Atlanta, GA 30329-4027

RE: Docket No. CDC- 2021-0060; rescheduled from June 18; new docket no. CDC-2021-0034

Good afternoon. My name is Jeanette Contreras, and today I am representing the National Consumers League (NCL), which for over 120 years has championed the overwhelming safety and efficacy of vaccines and promoted vaccine education. Consumer access to these lifesaving medical interventions is critical. I am also speaking today as a mother of two boys, ages 8 and 9. I appreciate the opportunity to provide public comment before this advisory committee.

The U.S. has reached a tragic 600,000 deaths as a result of COVID-19. The virus continues to spread and mutate around the world. Sadly, 330 children and adolescents are among the 600,000 deaths. Although preexisting medical conditions clearly predispose children to severe disease, healthy children are also at risk for severe COVID-19 and multisystem inflammatory syndrome (MIS-C). Though MIS-C is a rare condition associated with COVID-19, Black and Hispanic children are disproportionately affected, making up 64% of the cases observed in children 1-14 years of age.

Though there is reason to be concerned about the increase in cases of myocarditis or pericarditis following the second shot of the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines, consumers should be reassured that the safety monitoring system, Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System (VAERS), is working as intended. Federal health officials are investigating the rare cases of which the most common symptoms reported were chest pain, elevated cardiac enzymes, ST or T wave changes, dyspnea and abnormal echocardiography or imaging. We applaud the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) for releasing clinical guidance to providers alerting them to consider myocarditis and pericarditis in adolescents or young adults with acute chest pain, shortness of breath, or palpitations. So far, 80 percent of patients reported have made a full recovery.

We commend the coordinated efforts of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and CDC to monitor the safety and efficacy of the vaccine. The COVID-19 vaccine has been administered safely to over 150 million Americans, and we are on target to reach herd immunity by October, with at least 70% of Americans vaccinated. Given the remarkable evidence of safety and efficacy of the COVID-19 in adults, parents should be assured that the vaccine will keep their children safe.

Our children are vaccinated for measles, rubella, polio, diphtheria, typhoid, and other routine childhood vaccines that have for decades prevented deadly illnesses that historically killed millions of children. Today, thanks to vaccine adherence, these illnesses have virtually been eradicated and far rarer than COVID-19. Unfortunately, uptake for routine pediatric immunizations have declined during the pandemic. It is essential we ensure that children are up to date with their vaccines. We are excited that data show the COVID-19 vaccine can safely be co-administered along with routine pediatric vaccinations. As we consider future educational outreach campaigns to increase vaccine confidence, we should encourage families to seek recommended immunizations for their children along with the COVID-19 vaccine.

As states lift public health emergency protocols across the country, too many of our children remain unnecessarily unprotected. According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, as of June 10, over 4 million children have tested positive for COVID-19 since the onset of the pandemic. About 14,500 new child cases were reported last week. We are only beginning to understand the long-term health effects associated with COVID-19, which include extreme fatigue, rapid heart rate, memory loss, gastrointestinal problems and other symptoms that are lasting months after infection. There is a need to collect more data on the long-haul effects on children, and to provide assistance to families who are struggling to find care for their children. We urge the CDC to provide guidance to providers and patients on what to look for when treating children who were previously infected with COVID-19.

As I dropped my 8-year-old at camp yesterday, I was telling him how beginning July 1 we won’t need to wear masks. He asked me “is that because everybody will be vaccinated- except me?” My husband and I are vaccinated, but our family is still at risk of being infected by any of the emerging variants. And when school-aged children return to the classroom in the fall, we may face a spike in pediatric cases.

Through our education and outreach efforts, the National Consumers League will continue to support efforts to vaccinate the nation across lifespan. The absence of a COVID-19 vaccine for pediatric populations will lead to continued transmission and leave children at risk for infection. To achieve meaningful herd immunity, we will need to ensure that children have access to a safe and effective COVID-19 vaccine, and also consider the unique disparities that children of color experience in the face of the pandemic.

Thank you to the Committee for your consideration of our views on this important public health issue.

Sincerely,

Jeanette Contreras, MPP
Director of Health Policy
National Consumers League

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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 www.nclnet.org.

National Consumers League applauds the awarding of the prestigious Iqbal Masih Child Labor Award for the Elimination of Child Labor to Norma Flores López and the International Labour Organization

June 11, 2021

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 League (NCL), America’s pioneering consumer and worker advocacy organization and a leader in the fight to reduce child labor globally, welcomes the awarding of the Iqbal Masih Child labor Elimination Award to the Norma Flores López and the International Labor Organization on Thursday.

Iqbal Masih, for whom the award was named, was sold into slavery in his native Pakistan as a rug weaver at age 4, and escaped his captors at age 10. He became a prominent voice against child labor before he was murdered for his activism at age 12.

Norma Flores López, who is a member of NCL’s Board of Directors, works closely with NCL on the Child Labor Coalition (CLC), which NCL founded and has co-chaired since 1989. The following statement is attributable to NCL Executive Director Sally Greenberg:

Norma began working in U.S. fields as a small child, and as a teenager began to speak out against the exploitation of farmworker children – something NCL and the CLC has combatted for decades. She has been a tireless advocate against child labor and has shared her experiences and expertise at numerous international conferences, in newspapers, and on television news magazines, including 60 minutes. Today, Norma heads the CLC’s Domestic Issues Committee, helping us to develop strategies to equalize protections for children who have entered work at early ages. We’re so pleased that Norma’s passion and commitment for protecting children has been recognized with this prestigious award. NCL also works closely with the International Labour Organization, and applauds its recognition as a leading player in the fight against child labor.

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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 www.nclnet.org.

June 10 testimony before FDA’s Vaccines and Related Biological Products Advisory Committee

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, June 10, 2021, NCL’s Associate Director of Health Policy Nissa Shaffi, testified before the Food and Drug Administration’s Vaccines and Related Biological Products Advisory Committee, about the ongoing rollout of COVID-19 vaccines for pediatric populations. Her testimony appears below:

Arnold Monto, M.D., Acting Chair
Vaccines and Related Biological Products Advisory Committee
Center for Biologics Evaluation and Research
Food and Drug Administration
10903 New Hampshire Ave, Silver Spring, MD 20993

RE: Docket No. FDA- 2021-N-0458; for Vaccines and Related Biological Products Advisory Committee

Good afternoon. My name is Nissa Shaffi, and I am representing the National Consumers League (NCL). I have no conflicts of interests regarding today’s remarks.

The National Consumers League was founded in 1899, by the renowned social reformer Florence Kelley. General Secretary Kelley’s support of vaccinations played a key part in mitigating a critical smallpox outbreak towards the end of the 19th century, and her stalwart advocacy for immunizations has informed NCL’s bedrock principles for vaccine education, confidence, and safety.

122 years later, we are honored to persist in our pursuit to advance vaccines as vital public health interventions, and we extend our gratitude to the Vaccines and Related Biological Products Advisory Committee for the opportunity to present comment during this public hearing session.

Emergency Use Authorization (EUA)

NCL appreciates that the FDA recognizes that Emergency Use Authorization is not intended to replace the rigor of full approval, and that randomized clinical trials are critically important for the definitive demonstration of safety and efficacy of a treatment.

The diligent review and public engagement that went into the EUA process for the COVID-19 vaccines currently available have helped our nation reach key milestones in immunizations.

As our adult populations have benefitted from these critical public health efforts, we are energized to extend that momentum towards our youngest citizens. Through our education and outreach of consumers, we support FDA in its efforts to develop a safe, effective, and expedited pathway towards a COVID-19 vaccine via an EUA to help prevent the spread of the virus in pediatric populations.

Safety and Effectiveness

We have great trust in the FDA’s safety monitoring systems and call on the Agency to perform ongoing post-market surveillance to ensure the vaccine’s continued safety and efficacy.

As we’ve observed with recent vaccine safety concerns, consumers rely heavily on public health agencies to communicate and respond to any potential adverse events regarding the COVID-19 vaccine. We call on the FDA to continue to sustain its robust interagency collaboration as we endeavor to vaccinate the nation.

Pediatric Population Vaccine Uptake

Although children are at a lower risk of COVID-19 compared to adults, and tend to experience milder symptoms, pediatric populations now account for 22% of new COVID cases, compared to 3% last year. As with adults, children and adolescents with underlying chronic health conditions are at higher risk for COVID-19-related hospitalization and death.

The absence of a vaccine for pediatric populations will lead to continuing transmission that will consistently put children at risk for infection.

Furthermore, vaccine uptake for routine pediatric immunizations have declined dramatically during the pandemic. It is essential for public health officials, advocates, and parents to ensure that children are up to date with their vaccines, and that children eligible for the COVID-19 vaccine receive their shots. Data shows that the COVID-19 vaccine currently available for children ages 12-15 is safe and effective, and has been recommended to be co-administered along with routine pediatric vaccinations.

Health Disparities

While COVID-19 has impacted the entire country, it has largely devastated communities of color. Children of color, specifically Black and Hispanic youth, have been especially vulnerable. This has been even more apparent with the prevalence of Multisystem inflammatory syndrome in children, a rare but serious COVID-19-associated condition, that has been observed in children 1- 14 years of age, 64% of which were reported to be Black or Hispanic.

To achieve meaningful herd immunity, we will need to ensure that children have access to a safe and effective COVID-19 vaccine, and also consider the unique disparities that children of color experience in the face of the pandemic.

Thank you to the Committee for your consideration of our views on this important public health issue. 

Sincerely,

Nissa Shaffi
Associate Director of Health Policy
National Consumers League

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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 www.nclnet.org.

NCL concerned as Senate bill puts consumers at risk from unregulated CBD

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

Washington, DC—On May 19, Senators introduced the Hemp Access and Consumer Safety Act (S. 1698) which directs the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to regulate hemp-derived cannabidiol (CBD) products as dietary ingredients or supplements. The National Consumers League (NCL) has long been concerned about the risks posed to consumers by unapproved cannabis-derived products. There is little research on the health and safety of CBD products, and as such the NCL does not support any legislation that would bypass the FDA’s regulatory authority and rigorous scientific review.

Currently, manufacturers and distributors of products containing CBD can petition the FDA for review and approval of a new ingredient as a dietary supplement (21 U.S.C. 350b). This approval process requires manufacturers and distributors to submit scientific data showing that the product is generally regarded as safe (GRAS). “Not only is there insufficient data to designate CBD products as GRAS, the FDA needs further data to determine safe dosage and concentration levels in order to set manufacturing and labeling requirements that ensure consumer safety,” said Jeanette Contreras, NCL Director of Health Policy.

As demonstrated in a white paper published by NCL, companies selling CBD products often focus their research efforts on weak and inexpensive studies, and then use the results for marketing purposes. “Current studies have not enhanced our scientific understanding of CBD, and policymakers should focus on incentivizing further clinical studies to bring new proven medical treatments to patients,” said Contreras. By mandating the FDA to regulate CBD as a dietary ingredient, S. 1698 would only further incentivize CBD manufacturers to forego rigorous clinical trials and the development of FDA-approved medicines. Easier approval as a dietary supplement will disincentivize real scientific research into any potential health benefits or risks of CBD products.

Under S. 1698, CBD manufacturers that make unwarranted claims of treating medical issues will seek expedited approval for their products as dietary supplements, rather than as drugs. We should be encouraging the development of new cannabis-derived medicines that have gone through the rigorous processes of randomized controlled trials and FDA approval. Considering the lack of existing research on CBD, this bill classifying CBD products as dietary supplements would irresponsibly lead to increased consumption of these products and limit the future development of cannabis-derived FDA approved treatments—while putting consumers at risk.

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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 www.nclnet.org.

NCL supports the Protecting Seniors through Immunizations Act of 2021

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 League (NCL) is delighted to support the Protecting Seniors through Immunizations Act of 2021 (H.R. 1978/S. 912), introduced by Senators Mazie Hirono (D-HI), Tim Scott (R-SC), Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI), and Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV), and Representatives Ann Kuster (D-NH) and Larry Bucshon (R-IN). The bill would expand access to immunizations for seniors by eliminating cost sharing for vaccines covered under Medicare Part D.

The legislation would eliminate out-of-pocket costs for all vaccines recommended by Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and covered under Medicare Part D. This would apply to crucial immunizations such as the Shingles and tetanus, diphtheria, and pertussis, or Tdap, vaccines, along with future vaccinations. Currently all CDC recommended vaccines are covered with no out-of-pocket costs under private insurance, Medicaid, and Medicare Part B. Unfortunately, Medicare beneficiaries must often pay out-of-pocket costs of up to $160 for vaccines covered under Part D.

“As healthcare costs continue to skyrocket, policymakers should support legislation that eliminates financial barriers for Medicare beneficiaries to get their CDC recommended vaccines,” said NCL Director of Health Policy Jeanette Contreras. “Research shows that higher cost-sharing means fewer seniors will elect to receive their vaccines. By eliminating out-of-pocket costs for immunizations, older Americans will be better protected from vaccine preventable illnesses.”

More than 50,000 American adults die from vaccine-preventable diseases every year. Among other provisions, this bill would increase education about vaccines for Medicare beneficiaries and would authorize a study to find ways to boost adult vaccination rates. These steps are important at a time when misinformation regarding vaccine safety is spreading rampantly throughout society. Improving access to and utilization of vaccinations will enhance overall health outcomes and help to address existing racial and socioeconomic health disparities.

“Vaccines are amongst the most effective public health measures at our disposal. Routine immunizations can prevent diseases that have the potential to cause severe disease and wreak havoc on our most vulnerable communities,” said Contreras. “We urge Congress to pass the Protecting Seniors Through Immunization Act, to ensure greater equity in access to vaccines, in turn protecting the most vulnerable members in society from unnecessary and easily preventable illness and death.”

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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 www.nclnet.org.

National consumer organization throwing support behind three major labor rights bills in Congress

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 League (NCL), America’s pioneering consumer and worker advocacy organization, founded in 1899 to advance the needs of consumers and workers, is backing three important federal bills aiming to even the playing field between workers and employers. The three pieces of legislation—the Protecting the Right to Organize Act (PRO Act), the Farm Workforce Modernization Act (FWMA), and the Public Service Freedom to Negotiate Act—would strengthen labor laws and give workers greater opportunities to organize and form unions, protecting the most vulnerable in our labor force.

“Decades of industry lobbying have made it increasingly difficult for workers to organize,” said NCL Executive Director Sally Greenberg. “Employers enjoy unprecedented and unfair advantages during union organizing drives, which has led to far fewer opportunities for workers to make their voices heard in the workplace. NCL is pleased to support several legislative initiatives that would help right the course for America’s workers.”

According to a recent Gallup Poll, roughly two-thirds of Americans approve of unions—a number trending upwards up from about half in 2009.

“Consumers are recognizing that they are harmed when workers do not have a strong voice,” said Greenberg. “Industry abuses are more likely to go unchecked, resulting in unsafe and dangerous products making it to the marketplace. And when workers are fairly compensated on the job, they can afford to buy the products they create, stimulating further demand that benefits the economy.”

About the bills

The Protecting the Right to Organize Act (PRO Act) would enhance collective bargaining rights, impose penalties on employers if they retaliate against workers who are trying to organize, and update labor laws to protect workers. The bill passed in the House of Representatives with bipartisan support this spring on a 225-206 vote. The bill currently awaits action in the Senate. Of 50 Democratic and independent Senators, 45 are currently committed to supporting the bill. If the Senate passes the bill, President Biden has pledged to sign it.

NCL strongly supports the PRO ACT and urges the Senate to swiftly pass this important measure.

The Farm Workforce Modernization Act (FWMA) passed the House October 30, 2019, and was the product of bipartisan negotiations between leading Democrats and Republicans to modernize laws and treat with dignity and fairness our 2.4 million farmworkers, half of whom are undocumented immigrants. On March 18, 2021, the Farm Workforce Modernization Act, H.R. 1603, passed the House again by a bipartisan vote of 247-174, with 30 Republicans joining Democrats in support. H.R. 1603, like the earlier version of the legislation.

“America’s farms and food systems depend on immigrants who pick our crops. But because so many don’t have legal status, they live in fear of deportation and cannot challenge illegal or unfair treatment in their jobs or in their communities,” said Greenberg. “FWMA provides a path to lawful permanent residency for these workers. Under the bill’s provisions, farmworkers would be able to improve their wages and working conditions and seek enforcement when their rights are violated. It also makes America more food-secure by ensuring that farmers have workers to harvest their perishable crops.”

The FMWA is a pro-consumer, pro-worker, and pro-agriculture bill that NCL strongly supports. NCL urges the Senate to pass this legislation and send it to President Biden’s desk for his signature.

The Public Service Freedom to Negotiate Act (PSFNA, HR 3463 and S 1970), would set a minimum nationwide standard of collective bargaining rights that all states would have to provide to state and local workers.

There are nearly 17.3 million public sector workers across the country. Unlike private-sector workers, there is no federal law protecting the freedom of public sector workers to join a union and collectively bargain for fair wages, benefits, and improved working conditions.

Currently, 20 states do not provide all state and local public sector workers the ability to collectively bargain for fair wages and benefits.

Among the bill’s provisions is a requirement that public sector employers recognize labor unions chosen by a majority of the employees voting, and that they bargain with the labor organization over wages, hours, and other terms and conditions of employment. If states fail to meet these standards, the bill gives the federal government the authority to intervene on behalf of public-service workers, ensuring their rights to form a union and negotiate with their employer.

NCL strongly supports the Public Service Freedom to Negotiate Act and urges swift Congressional action in both the House and the Senate so that President Biden can sign the bill into law.

“America would be unrecognizable without the gains made by working families and unions,” said Greenberg. “The movement needs an even playing field to do its job. These three bills are a good start, and NCL is proud to support each of them.”

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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 www.nclnet.org.

Consumer group urges FDA and CDC to remain vigilant in enforcing hand sanitizer standards

April 27, 2021

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

Washington, DC—This week, the National Consumers League (NCL) wrote a letter to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), urging them to remain vigilant on the enforcement of proper manufacturing and distribution of hand sanitizers as we continue to fight the COVID-19 pandemic.

During the initial surge in demand for hand sanitizers, the federal government relaxed certain regulations in order to get over-the-counter products into consumers’ hands. The combination of a need for an immediate ramp-up of hand sanitizer distribution and reduced oversight led to a concerning trend of what NCL believes is a case of mislabeling — and unfortunately misleading — information regarding hand hygiene products.

While local and small businesses stepping up to produce products for their communities is admirable, hastily manufactured hand sanitizer operations have resulted in lower efficacy rates, with even some reports of products being made with dangerous ingredients. As a result, the FDA has currently identified 230 hand sanitizer products marketed in 2020 as unsafe or ineffective.

NCL commends the FDA and the CDC for their ongoing efforts to keep the American people safe. But the fight against this virus is far from over, and under-regulated hand sanitizer production and distribution will only prolong this public health crisis.

The following statement is attributable to NCL Executive Director Sally Greenberg:

“For more than a century, the National Consumers League has fought for access to quality products, honest labeling, and safe, effective medicines for American consumers and workers. And leaving this growing issue alone would be a disservice to the many people NCL has worked so hard to protect.”

NCL urges the FDA and the CDC to enforce the law and hold accountable those businesses engaged in the production and distribution of poorly manufactured and dangerous hand sanitizer products.

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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 www.nclnet.org.