The National Consumers League announces support for the pro labor “PRO Act”

March 2, 2023

Media contact: National Consumers League – Katie Brown, katie@nclnet.org, 202-823-8442

WASHINGTON, D.C. — The National Consumers League, the nation’s oldest consumer and labor advocacy group, announced support today for legislation known as the Pro Act. The bill is comprehensive labor legislation to protect workers’ right to stand together and bargain for fairer wages, better benefits, and safer workplaces.

The Richard L. Trumka Protecting the Right to Organize (PRO) Act, was recently re-introduced in Congress, will address those very critical issues.

“We applaud Senator Murray for leading the charge on passage of the PRO Act. Labor laws badly need  strengthening in the US. The PRO Act will protect workers trying to organize a union, and strengthen their ability to earn higher wages, quality health care, gain safe working conditions and a more secure retirement. It’s long past time that we pass the PRO Act, which will help build a stronger and fairer economy—and ensure workers get their fair share of the wealth they help create,” said Sally Greenberg, NCL’s CEO.

Congressional supporters and union leaders announced the introduction of the PRO Act at a press conference on February 28, 2023. Members of Congress supporting the legislation include Senator Patty Murray (D-WA), Chair of the Senate Appropriations Committee, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY), Senator Bernie Sanders (I-VT), House Democratic Leader Hakeem Jeffries (D-NY), Congressman Robert C. “Bobby” Scott (D-VA), and Congressman Brian Fitzpatrick (R-PA).

The PRO Act would protect the right to organize and collectively bargain by:

  • Bolstering remedies and punishing violations of workers’ rights through authorizing meaningful penalties for employers that violate workers’ rights, strengthening support for workers who suffer retaliation for exercising their rights, and authorizing a private right of action for violation of workers’ rights.
  • Strengthening workers’ right to join together and negotiate for better working conditions by enhancing workers’ right to support secondary boycotts, ensuring unions can collect “fair share” fees, modernizing the union election process, and facilitating initial collective bargaining agreements.
  • Restoring fairness to an economy rigged against workers by closing loopholes that allow employers to misclassify their employees as supervisors and independent contractors and increasing transparency in labor-management relations.

Senator Murray—former Chair of the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Committee—first introduced the PRO Act in the 116th Congress and held a hearing urging action to protect workers’ right to organize. Senators also held a roundtable in Seattle with U.S. Secretary of Labor Marty Walsh and Representative Pramila Jayapal (D-WA) to discuss the importance of protecting workers’ right to form a union and pass the PRO Act. In the spending bill passed into law last December, Congress secured a long overdue $25 million increase in funding for the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) to help ensure the agency can protect the rights of workers everywhere.

For the bill text of the PRO Act, click here.

For a fact sheet on the PRO Act, click here.

For a section-by-section summary of the PRO Act, click here.

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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 nclnet.org.

National Consumers League applauds nomination of Julie Su for Secretary of the Department of Labor

March 1, 2023

Media contact: National Consumers League – Katie Brown, katie@nclnet.org, 202-823-8442

WASHINGTON, D.C. — The National Consumers League welcomes President Biden’s announcement that he intends to nominate Julie Su to serve as Secretary of the Department of Labor. Su is an experienced labor expert who can continue the Administration’s commitment to a stronger, more resilient, and more inclusive economy for all Americans. She has been serving as Deputy Secretary of Labor since July 2021. As Deputy Secretary, Su has worked with Secretary Walsh to advance President Biden’s vision of a strong, resilient, inclusive economy with worker well-being at its center.

Under Walsh and Su’s leadership, the Department of Labor has witnessed an increase of more than 12 million jobs and the unemployment rate has inched down to 3.4 percent, the lowest rate since May of 1969.

Su previously led California’s Labor and Workforce Development Agency — the nation’s largest state Department of Labor – where she launched the “Wage Theft is a Crime” campaign with the support of both labor and management. During her tenure as Labor Commissioner, she cracked down on wage theft, fought to protect trafficked workers, increased the minimum wage, helped to create good-paying, high-quality jobs, and established and enforced workplace safety standards.

“We are excited by President Biden’s nomination of Julie Su as Labor Secretary and urge a quick confirmation,” said Reid Maki, Director of Child Labor Advocacy for the National Consumers League. “Her record of cracking down on illegal labor trafficking and her long career as a civil rights attorney gives her a unique understanding of the plight of the most vulnerable workers.”

“Given heightened attention to the scourge of hazardous child labor, as highlighted by a recent New York Times expose, we hope Su will make this issue a top priority,” added Maki. NCL chairs the Child Labor Coalition which has long raised concerns about the safety and health of young workers in meat processing plants and in agriculture. “Unaccompanied minors are working in dangerous conditions for long hours—in the fields and in meat processing plants and other factories. Many live in the US alone without family looking after their welfare, and thus they are easily exploited. They are  our most vulnerable workers,” observed Maki. “We hope that if Su is confirmed, she will make underage teens illegal employment a top priority; we also will press DOL and Su to address badly needed safety protections for children who work in agriculture, an issue before Congress that is urgently in need of a solution.”

NCL was founded by progressive era leaders at the turn of the 20th century with the goal of ending child labor in the United States and enacting minimum wage and maximum hours laws.

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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 nclnet.org.

Supreme Court should affirm legality of student debt cancellation

February 28, 2023

Media contact: National Consumers League – Katie Brown, katie@nclnet.org, 202-823-8442

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Today, the Supreme Court is hearing challenges to President Biden’s student debt relief program. With the potential to narrow the racial and gender wealth gaps, affirming the legality of debt cancellation would be transformative for over 40 million Americans.

The following statement is attributable to NCL Chief Executive Officer Sally Greenberg:

“We believe the Administration’s effort to cancel student debt is legal and long overdue. College tuition has grown substantially over the past few decades, and disproportionately burdens students of color and women. We hope that the Supreme Court will uphold the validity of the President Biden’s student debt cancellation and allow the Administration to ease the burdens associated with achieving an advanced degree.”

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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 nclnet.org.

As Ticketmaster tries to change the subject, NCL defends fans’ rights in Maryland and Colorado

February 24, 2023

Media contact: National Consumers League – Katie Brown, katie@nclnet.org, 202-823-8442

WASHINGTON, D.C. — This week, Ticketmaster’s parent company, Live Nation Entertainment, announced record quarterly results, underscoring their dominance of the live event industry. Not content with revenues of $16.7 billion (up 44% from the pre-pandemic era), Live Nation launched a glitzy nationwide public relations campaign to roll out the so-called “FAIR Ticketing Act,” a not-so-subtle attempt to create laws that would cement its monopoly power.

State and federal legislators should not be fooled by Live Nation’s new push to change the subject after months of well-earned bad publicity. Despite its fan-friendly name, the FAIR Ticketing Act is anything by fair for consumers. We agree with Live Nation that there should be curbs on speculative ticketing, better enforcement of anti-ticket bot laws, and industry-wide all-in pricing requirements. Unfortunately, the true aim of the bill appears to be to give Live Nation, not fans, the ability to set prices and terms of sale on the secondary market; the one part of the industry the company does not monopolize.

The National Consumers League (NCL) has been active in trying to push back against such efforts. On Wednesday, John Breyault, NCL’s Vice President of Public Policy, Telecommunications, and Fraud testified before the Maryland House of Delegates in support of House Bill 795, common-sense consumer protection legislation that would mandate all-in pricing of tickets, promote transparency of ticket holdbacks, and guarantee that consumers can benefit from a competitive secondary market.

“Fans in Maryland and throughout the country benefit from an open, competitive market for live event tickets,” said Breyault. “HB 795 would put Maryland at the forefront nationally of states that have made putting fans rights ahead of the interests of a monopolistic ticketing industry that is too often rigged against consumers.”

Breyault also testified before the Colorado Senate in opposition to SB 60, a bill supported by the ticketing industry that would allow multi-billion-dollar companies like Ticketmaster to dominate the secondary ticket market. The bill would allow Ticketmaster and sports teams like the Colorado Rockies or Denver Broncos to limit resale to ticket exchanges where they set the prices and terms of sale.

“Ticketmaster is already the 800-pound gorilla of the live event industry,” said Breyault. “If SB 23-060 was to become law, Ticketmaster would have free reign to cut off competitive choices for fans in Colorado”

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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 nclnet.org.

NCL urges House Transportation Committee to demand answers from FAA on aviation safety

February 7, 2023

Media contact: National Consumers League – Katie Brown, katie@nclnet.org, 202-823-8442

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Today, the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure will hold a hearing focused on the need to enhance America’s aviation safety system. The committee calls the U.S. system a “gold standard” for the world. Unfortunately, the Federal Aviation Administration’s (FAA) previously sterling record in this area has been badly tarnished by the Boeing 737 Max scandal, operational meltdowns, and scary near-misses. 

In particular, Congressional leaders must hold the FAA accountable for its failure to implement statutorily-required minimum dimensions for passenger seats. For decades, air carriers have reduced seat sizes across all fare classes. The result is that millions of travelers must fly under conditions that the FAA’s own advisory has deemed unsafe.  

Fortunately, thanks to advocacy by NCL and other passenger rights organizations, momentum is growing for reform. In November, NCL along with a coalition of six public interest groups, filed comments with the FAA calling for a moratorium on airlines reducing seat sizes until the FAA can update its emergency evacuation standards. In December, Senators Baldwin and Duckworth introduced legislation requiring the FAA to update evacuation standards to reflect the modern cabin environment. 

The following statement is attributable to NCL Vice President of Public Policy, Telecommunications, and Fraud John Breyault: 

“Shrinking seats on airplanes have serious consequences, from impeding emergency evacuations to raising the risk of serious negative health effects. The FAA is more than three years overdue in complying with the law and addressing this problem. As the only agency in the nation responsible for aviation safety, the House Transportation Committee must ensure that the FAA does not continue to slow-walk critical aviation safety issues like setting minimum seat size standards.  

We are disappointed that the first hearing on this issue in the new Congress will not feature any witnesses representing those who are most directly impacted by such safety oversight – namely, passengers. Nonetheless, NCL urges Congress to use this opportunity to ensure the executive branch’s compliance with air safety mandates.” 

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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 https://nclnet.org.

Top Ten Scams Report: Consumers reported massive uptick in crypto-linked fraud losses in 2022

February 6, 2023

Media contact: National Consumers League – Katie Brown, katie@nclnet.org, 202-823-8442

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Reports of scams tied to cryptocurrencies drove a significant increase in median losses in 2022, according to the National Consumers League’s annual Top Ten Scams report. The report, published annually, analyzed more than 3,500 consumer fraud complaints filed with NCL’s Fraud.org campaign last year. 

The report found that the median loss for investment frauds reported to Fraud.org was $18,700, compared to $1,750 in 2021. The complaints in this category frequently described schemes where victims were encouraged to put money into cryptocurrencies and cryptocurrency-linked investments that later turned out to be fraudulent. Such scams drove an increase in the median loss for all frauds reported to Fraud.org to $950, an eleven-year high. 

“Both median losses and the share of incidents reporting losses are up,” said John Breyault, NCL vice president of public policy, telecommunications, and fraud and the director of the Fraud.org campaign. “New technologies seem to be driving these trends, from crypto-related schemes to scammers using new technology to move victims’ money around.” 

Bank account debit, which includes peer-to-peer platforms like Zelle and Venmo, was the second most frequently mentioned way that victims reported sending money to fraudsters in 2022 (27.17% of complaints that included a loss). Compare this to 2021 when bank account debit was mentioned in 11.2% of complaints that included a loss. 

The top ten scam categories reported to Fraud.org in 2022 were: 

  1. Prizes/Sweepstakes/Free Gifts 
  2. Internet: General Merchandise 
  3. Phishing/Spoofing 
  4. Fake Check Scams 
  5. Investments: Other (incl. cryptocurrency) 
  6. Advance Fee Loans, Credit Arrangers 
  7. Friendship & Sweetheart Swindles 
  8. Family/ Friend Imposter 
  9. Computers: Equipment/Software 
  10. Scholarships/Grants 

“While we’re collecting data to better inform our efforts to combat fraud, we’re also aiding victims and connecting them with resources,” said NCL Consumer Services Coordinator James Perry. “It’s important to remember the person behind each report.” 

Notably, the share of reports involving romance scams declined by 31%. This trend may be attributable to last year’s significant media coverage of this type of fraud following the success of fraud-focused shows like “The Tinder Swindler” and “Inventing Anna.”  

“In real time, we are seeing the benefits of a national discussion around these types of fraud” said NCL Public Policy Manager Eden Iscil. “Having an open conversation about something as sensitive as romance scams helps to destigmatize the issue, provide space for victims to seek help, and put pressure on digital platforms to prevent misconduct.” 

To view the full 2023 Top Ten Scams report, click here. 

Methodology 

The National Consumers League Top Ten Scams report analyzed 3,503 complaints submitted by consumers to NCL’s Fraud.org campaign in 2022. This data is self-reported by victims and should not be considered a nationally representative sample. NCL shares complaint data with a network of law enforcement and consumer protection agency partners who combine it with other data sets to identify trends in fraud and build cases. 

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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 https://nclnet.org.

White House “taking the gloves off” in latest competition push

February 1, 2023

Media contact: National Consumers League – Katie Brown, katie@nclnet.org, 202-823-8442

WASHINGTON, D.C. – The National Consumers League (NCL) today applauded the White House Competition Council’s announcement of a new slate of executive actions to protect consumers and rein in corporate power. NCL has long championed many of the solutions that the White House today supported, including prohibiting family seating fees on airlines, mandating all-in pricing and greater transparency in the live event marketplace, and getting rid of deceptive hotel resort fees.

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

“More than 60 years ago, President Kennedy launched the modern consumer movement with a call to hold corporations accountable when they put profits over the public interest. We are thrilled today to see the Biden White House following in those footsteps. This Administration is taking the gloves off and putting corporate wrongdoers on notice that anti-consumer behavior will not go unchallenged. From airlines to banks to ticketing companies, businesses are leveraging their market dominance to squeeze every penny they can from hard-working families. We are thankful to have allies in the White House who are channeling consumers’ frustration into action.”

NCL has been pushing for reforms in the live-event ticketing industry for over a decade, including changes to the ticket purchasing process (some of which were adopted by the Competition Council) and the breakup of the Live Nation-Ticketmaster merger. In 2019, the League testified to Congress about the need for federal action to ensure that children are seated with their parents and caregivers without cost, something the Department of Transportation announced it would begin working towards today. Lastly, the Competition’s push to ban hotel resort fees and mandate all-in pricing echoes NCL’s previous calls on the matter.

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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 https://nclnet.org.

Advocates call on DOT to mandate easier airfare cost comparison

January 25, 2023

Media contact: National Consumers League – Katie Brown, katie@nclnet.org, 202-823-8442

WASHINGTON DC. – Yesterday, the National Consumers League (NCL) and a coalition of six consumer and passenger rights organizations filed comments with the Department of Transportation (DOT) in support of proposed regulations requiring the earlier disclosure of common airline ticket add-on fees. DOT’s proposed rules would require airlines and ticket agents to display fees associated with checked baggage, ticket changes and cancellations, and family seating on the first page of airfare search results. 

“It is extremely difficult and time-consuming for consumers to do accurate apple-to-apples comparisons when shopping for airline tickets,” said John Breyault, NCL Vice President of Public Policy, Telecommunications, and Fraud. “DOT’s proposed rules would promote competition by making it harder for airlines and ticket agents to hide some of the most egregious add-on fees in the fine print at the end of the ticket-buying process.” 

“The airlines love to nickel-and-dime passengers with junk fees, and in far too many cases travelers are hit with sticker shock when they finally realize the true cost of flying,” said William J. McGee, Senior Fellow for Aviation & Travel at American Economic Liberties Project. “We urge the DOT to address transparency of fees, and to eliminate certain fees altogether. This applies especially to fees for families with young kids to sit together, an issue Congress directed the DOT to address in 2016.” 

“If airlines are going to continue to devise and impose all sorts of unreasonable fees, they must be required to reveal each fee when travelers first search for price and availability,” said Ruth Susswein, Consumer Action’s Director of Consumer Protection. 

“Airlines have come up with all sorts of extra fees over the years: baggage fees, change fees, seat selection fees and more. We believe airlines should be required to disclose these fees before someone begins the actual booking process, not at the end. And these fees should be disclosed up front in real time to ticket agents that provide fare information. This would encourage price competition and ultimately give consumers more transparency in pricing,” said Teresa Murray, Consumer Watchdog for Public Interest Research Group. 

To view the coalition’s full comments to DOT, click here. 

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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 https://nclnet.org.

NCL urges FTC to prohibit user review manipulation

January 10, 2023

Media contact: National Consumers League – Katie Brown, katie@nclnet.org, 202-823-8442

WASHINGTON DC. – The National Consumers League (NCL) this week filed comments in support of a Federal Trade Commission (FTC) regulation to ensure the reliability of user reviews. In its comments, NCL urged the FTC to prohibit user reviews from individuals who did not purchase a product or service (or are misrepresenting their experiences with a product or service) and to prohibit sellers from manipulating consumer reviews. In addition, the League advocated for the Commission to require hosts of user reviews to implement measures to protect review integrity, such as requiring purchase verification.  

“Consumers frequently cite user reviews as a key factor when deciding what to buy,” said John Breyault, NCL Vice President of Public Policy, Telecommunications and Fraud. “As a result, fake endorsements steer billions of dollars each year towards certain products and away from competitors. The impacts range from buyers receiving goods of poorer quality than expected to serious safety risks.” 

NCL also encouraged the FTC to prohibit the commercial exploitation of social media engagement metrics, such as buying and selling likes, comments, or shares. Such practices can be used to boost fraudulent product reviews and endorsements, allowing bad actors to manipulate social media platforms to broaden their reach. 

“Right now, it is extremely easy to spend a few dollars and receive hundreds of likes, followers, or other signals that a product or service is of high quality,” said Eden Iscil, NCL Public Policy Manager. “By jumpstarting a post with purchased engagement, the content has a greater chance of reaching a real audience—and being believed by them. Such practices not only affect consumers making purchasing decisions but can also be used to spread other types of misinformation.” 

The FTC initiated this regulatory process following NCL’s request for greater federal enforcement against organized user review fraud, which can be found here 

NCL’s full comments to the FTC can be found here. 

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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 https://nclnet.org.

NCL supports FTC efforts to ban non-compete clauses

January 6, 2023

Media contact: National Consumers League – Katie Brown, katie@nclnet.org, 202-823-8442

WASHINGTON DC. – The National Consumers League (NCL), the nation’s pioneering consumer and worker advocacy organization, applauds the Federal Trade Commission’s (FTC) initiative to ban non-compete clauses. Such provisions prevent employees from taking new jobs in the same industry, violating free-market values and dampening fair competition. 

The following statement is attributable to NCL Chief Executive Officer, Sally Greenberg: 

“Non-compete clauses harm workers by blocking them from seeking better wages and working conditions. They also reduce market competition by barring other businesses from attracting talent and stopping employees from setting up their own shops. The FTC’s proposed ban on non-compete clauses is a significant step towards a more fair and free economy for all.

Allowing the unrestricted movement of labor will benefit consumers in addition to workers and competitive businesses. NCL has long believed that consumers stand to gain when purchasing goods and services provided by a healthy and robust workforce. We look forward to supporting the FTC’s efforts to prohibit non-compete clauses across the country.”

The FTC estimates that once its ban on non-compete clauses goes into effect, workers earnings would increase by nearly $300 billion per year, creating new opportunities for approximately 30 million individuals. Furthermore, these unjust clauses harm all incomes groups, with a 2019 report finding that 29% of workplaces offering an average hourly pay under $13.00 were subjecting their employees to a non-compete agreement. 

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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 https://nclnet.org.