Holiday Weekend Reflections: Honoring a Social Justice Hero – National Consumers League

by NCL staff

As we all pack up for the long weekend and imagine how we’ll use our Monday holiday (a trip to the outlet malls, cleaning out the basement, finally putting away holiday decorations, etc.), we thought it was a nice time to reflect on January 21 and why it’s an important day.

This coming Monday is a federal holiday to honor Martin Luther King, Jr., remembered for his leadership in the civil rights movement. Martin Luther King Day became a holiday at the insistence of unions, which King long supported.

Nearly 40 years after his assassination, King’s legacy of nonviolence and social justice lives on. We at NCL hold a special place in our hearts for King and other leaders in social justice over the decades because of our shared history.

NCL was founded more than 100 years ago out of concern for workers and consumers rights in light of the horrendous conditions of sweatshops. NCL’s commitment to social justice – playing an instrumental role in Muller v. Oregon, a landmark U.S. Supreme Court decision that upheld state law protections against overwork by women, has remained over the years.

Today, NCL continues to protect and promote social and economic justice for consumers and workers in the U.S. and abroad:

  • Running the Child Labor Coalition, which aims to protect working minors and end child labor exploitation. At a meeting of the CLC this week, we heard from representatives of China Labor Watch, a New York-based group that concerns itself with workers’ rights in China. (Pictured at right are David Shih, Executive Assistant and Li Qiang, Executive Director, China Labor Watch.)
  • Drawing attention to the link between consumer issues and fair labor standards
  • In our October 2007 testimony before the President’s Working Group on Import Safety we pointed out the link between recent revelations about lead-based paint in toys and reports of poor working conditions in the factories that produce them.
  • Playing a vital role in writing the first international standard on social responsibility, as one of the only consumer delegates involved

NCL honors King, the great leader of the U.S. nonviolent movement for justice, equality and peace, and we reaffirm our commitment to continue empowering consumers’ and workers’ interests through our education and advocacy efforts.