NCL applauds Florida’s popular vote to raise state minimum wage

For immediate release: November 13, 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 League (NCL) applauds Florida voters who, on November 3, overwhelmingly approved a ballot measure—Amendment 2—to raise the state’s minimum wage to $15 an hour. The amendment was adopted with more than 61 percent of voters weighing voting for the measure.  This is an amendment to the state constitution that scales up the minimum wage to $15 by 2026, up from its paltry current $8.56 an hour.

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

With this vote, Florida joins seven other states in the process of raising their minimum wages to $15 an hour. And Florida is the first state to raise the minimum wage to $15 an hour via ballot measure and amendment to the constitution. We are very pleased that Florida voters so decisively supported this measure despite Republican leadership in Florida opposing the measure and refusing to bring it to the state legislature.  Florida Governor Ron DeSantis has been a vocal opponent, claiming it is ‘going to cause big, big upheavals for the restaurant industry.’ Yet the people of Florida disagree. They want increases in the minimum wage.

NCL notes that while working people in Florida will be the beneficiaries, workers in other states deserve the same increases. That is why NCL strongly supports federal legislation—passed by the House last year—to raise the minimum wage to $15 in every state from the paltry $7.25 an hour last raised by Congress in 2009.

This is a particularly gratifying vote given, that Donald Trump’s allies in Florida opposed the measure, while Trump won the election in the state of Florida by 51 percent to Joe Biden’s 47.9 percent. But that is not unusual. Minimum wage increases are typically popular among the electorate. Since 2000, states have held 21 referendums on the minimum wage, and all have passed, according to a tally kept by Ballotpedia. Public opinion surveys have shown broad support; a 2019 Pew survey found that two-thirds of Americans supported raising the federal minimum wage to $15 an hour.

States where legislatures have declined or been unwilling to pass minimum wage have seen victories on the ballot, including Arizona, Missouri, Montana, Colorado, and Ohio, while state legislatures in California, Connecticut, Illinois, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York, and DC’s City Council have all adopted increased minimum wage legislation.

Below are links to NCL’s statement on minimum wage and NCL’s “We Can Do This!” podcast episode with Fight for $15 Director Diana Ramirez.

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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.

NCL statement on vaccine for COVID-19

For immediate release: November 12, 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 League (NCL) welcomes the very hopeful news that a coronavirus vaccine with a reported efficacy rate of 90 percent may be approved and rolled out in the next few months. NCL has historically advocated for vaccines because they have overwhelming effectiveness and safety profiles, preventing billions of often debilitating and deadly diseases across the globe—from small pox to measles to polio. The clinical evidence on the coronavirus vaccine—developed by Pfizer Inc. and partner BioNTech SE—though incomplete at the moment, is very promising.

“We applaud the unprecedented cooperation by public and private entities, along with concerted coordination among scientists, doctors, and researchers that has gone into developing a vaccine to combat this terrible pandemic, which has killed over 237,000 Americans, struck 10 million people, and only shows signs of worsening over the winter months,” said NCL Executive Director Sally Greenberg. “As this vaccine moves closer to being cleared for widespread use and the safety data verified, we are grateful to the companies and government officials who urgently prioritized the development of an effective and safe vaccine to combat the scourge of COVID-19. We are also encouraged that other companies are in the later stages of reviewing their own COVID-19 vaccines, which use different technologies to fight the virus but hopefully will be effective and safe as well.”

The FDA will be reviewing the safety data in the next few weeks on the Pfizer vaccine and will then determine to whom the first doses will be directed. Pfizer has said the vaccine could become available before the end of the year and that the company can produce 50 million doses globally—equivalent to reaching 25 million people because two doses are required for maximum protection from the virus. The most vulnerable populations are likely to receive the first batch of vaccines.

NCL cautioned consumers that during this period, people should maintain all the safety practices for preventing spread of the virus—wearing masks and practicing social distancing and keeping social gatherings to a minimum.

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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.

NCL testified before FDA 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 – The National Consumers League (NCL) testified before the Vaccines and Related Biological Products Advisory Committee of the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). For over 120 years, NCL has advocated on behalf of consumers who depend on vaccines as lifesaving medical interventions. NCL extended its gratitude to the Vaccines and Related Biological Products Advisory Committee for all they do to protect public health and for the opportunity to speak before the Committee.

In its testimony, NCL highlighted the following priorities: the deployment of Emergency Use Authorizations; the safety and effectiveness of the vaccine; and the inclusion of diversity in clinical trials. These three concerns align directly with NCL’s efforts to enhance vaccine confidence and uptake, especially in the context of COVID-19.

Safety and Effectiveness:

NCL trusts that the FDA will release a vaccine only upon careful consideration of its safety and effectiveness. Post-market surveillance of the vaccine is imperative to determining the ongoing efficacy of the vaccine. Implementing the release of a vaccine on such a magnificent scale will involve precise coordination that traverses all levels of government and consumers will rely on public health agencies to communicate and respond to any potential adverse events regarding the COVID-19 vaccine.

Emergency Use Authorization (EUA):

There has never been a more critical time for consumers to have confidence in the Food and Drug Administration. The FDA is entrusted with ensuring the safety, efficacy, and security of the treatments needed to treat and prevent the spread of the virus.

Throughout the pandemic, consumers have received conflicting information from the Administration on various COVID-19 treatments. NCL is aware that developing a vaccine for COVID-19 is a time-sensitive priority, however, we are concerned that consumers may believe that the FDA is hastily approving investigational tests and drugs.

NCL appreciates that the FDA recognizes that EUA is not intended to replace randomized clinical trials and that clinical trials are critically important for the definitive demonstration of safety and efficacy of a treatment. Through our education and outreach of consumers, we support the FDA in its efforts to develop a safe, effective, and expedited pathway towards a COVID-19 vaccine.

Diversity in Clinical Trials:

Finally, to mitigate the disproportionate disease burden experienced by people of color during the pandemic, NCL requests that clinical trials for the COVID-19 vaccine are inclusive and consist of diverse subjects. People of color are significantly underrepresented in clinical trials and undertreated in medical settings. This phenomenon will prove to be a challenge when encouraging vaccine uptake. Ensuring adequate representation in clinical trials would foster vaccine confidence across all demographics.

In closing, to stem the tide of deaths from these vaccine-preventable diseases, NCL submits these comments for review by the Committee to ensure that consumers are afforded with safe and effective vaccines to combat the pandemic.

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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.

Fighting for crucial consumer, worker protections and fair outcomes in coronavirus environment

March 27, 2020: A message to our online community about how we are working hard to ensure crucial protections for consumers and workers in this time of uncertainty.

Sally Greenberg discussing CBD on Capitol Hill

Coronavirus update: Fighting for crucial protections, fair outcomes

A message to our online community

In this critical time, as our nation is gripped by the COVID-19 virus, we want you to know that we remain 100% committed to doing everything we can to help stop the spread of the virus and to fight for consumer and worker protections in this rapidly changing economy.

Although we are now doing so remotely in order to maintain our safety and the safety of our loved ones, NCL staff continues to work behind the scenes to ensure that the interests of consumers and workers are not forgotten in the rush to pass legislation and make executive branch decisions.

Below we’ve highlighted what’s happening and hope that you agree that our work – and your support – are more important than ever.

Pushing Congress to protect passengers in COVID-19 relief legislation

The pandemic has reduced passenger air traffic to a trickle, putting the airlines in deep economic distress. A strong, well-functioning, and safe airline industry is essential to our country. That said, NCL does not believe that giving a blank check to the industry is in consumers’ best interest. That’s why NCL led a coalition of consumer and air passenger advocates to call on Congress to include strong passenger protections in the COVID-19 relief bill. We will continue to advocate for reforms to the airline’s business practices, like excessive fees and shrinking seats, in the weeks and months to come.

Fighting COVID-19 scams

We are actively reaching out to consumers to educate them about how to spot coronavirus-related scams. We are already seeing reports of scammers using this moment of national emergency to sell bogus coronavirus “cures” and target seniors with phony investment scams. That’s why we issued a statement applauding Attorney General William Barr’s order to all U.S. Attorneys to ramp up efforts to shut down COVID-19 scams and are continuing to alert our readers about emerging trends.

We are also using our Consumers for Safe CBD platform (4safeCBD.org) to highlight false product claims made by unscrupulous CBD manufacturers who are using the crisis to promote their products .

Healthcare in the new environment

In response to a request for help from FDA, NCL is supporting the agency’s efforts to expose bogus coronavirus tests, treatments, and cures. In addition, we signed onto a letter as part of our adult vaccine coalition to ask for ZERO CO-PAYs for all Medicare Part D vaccines, which could include COVID-19 vaccines when they become available. With safety as a paramount concern, NCL is supporting the American Nurses Association’s call to action to increase Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) for nurses.

Crucial worker protections

NCL persists in its fight for worker protections and joined a letter opposing the exclusion of immigrants from the omnibus relief package. We also signed onto an effort to ensure the Postal Service can remain fully functional during this crisis and beyond. The USPS is predicting that an economic recession could pose a “serious threat to the near-term viability of the Postal Service,” and has asked Congress to give USPS more than $7 billion each year for the next two years.

NCL joined allies at farmworker organizations in expressing concerns related to exposure of the largely uninsured, financially fragile farmworker community to COVID-19 and asking political leaders to be mindful of the unique concerns, considerations, and risks confronting farmworkers.

Looking ahead

NCL remains actively engaged in working to properly ensure that relief packages address the interests of consumers and workers. We are very pleased that Congress will be providing cash assistance to our most vulnerable, and we continue to push for salary and benefit protections, particularly for those workers in the most seriously impacted industries.

In the coming days, stay tuned for news of our Trumpeter Awards Dinner, which we will host in October. We will be sending out a Save the Date and announcing our award recipients shortly.

Best wishes for staying safe and healthy, from all of us at NCL.

 

 

 

Sally Greenberg
Executive Director
National Consumers League

NCL: #NeverMoreRelevant

Capitol Hill briefing alerts lawmakers to public health ramifications of CBD proliferation

Lawmakers need to be aware of the threats to public health posed by the proliferation of unregulated, untested CBD products currently widely available in the marketplace. There is a great deal of work to be done in Washington to better understand the healing potential of CBD, while also protecting consumers from the dangers of what is currently an anything-goes market environment.

That was the compelling message participants took from a congressional staff briefing last week on “The Future of Cannabis as a Drug.” Expert speakers, including National Consumers League Executive Director Sally Greenberg, issued a two-pronged call for action: to intensify clinical research into new medical treatments containing CBD, while encouraging the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to proactively regulate non-medical, over-the-counter CBD products that are frequently mislabeled and contain potentially harmful ingredients.

The briefing featured opening remarks by U.S. Representatives Scott Peters (D-CA) and Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-WA) and was moderated by Ron Manderscheid, Executive Director of the National Association of County Behavioral Health and Developmental Disability Directors and the National Association for Rural Mental Health. “We would like to have more understanding and more confidence in CBD products,” Rep. Peters explained. “You should know what you’re getting”.

Attendees received eye-opening data about the ways in which readily-available CBD products—sold in the form of oils, lotions, food additives, and more—have the potential to make consumers ill. Few realize, for example, that an independent study found 70 percent of the top-selling CBD products contain substances such as pesticides, arsenic, and toxic mold.

NCL’s Greenberg previewed upcoming academic research that will place a spotlight on the questionable science being utilized by CBD and cannabis companies, often in partnership with academia, to lend legitimacy to these products and short-cut the regulatory approval process. “Not only are these products untested, but they are inaccurately labeled,” said Greenberg. “We want FDA to do what it’s supposed to do, and what we as consumers expect it to do.” 

NCL launched Consumers for Safe CBD to warn the public of the potential health and safety risks associated with unregulated and unlawfully marketed CBD products.

Susan Audino, a board member of the Center for Research on Environmental Medicine in Maryland, shared her findings on the lack of quality controls currently in the CBD marketplace and how product marketing is accelerating faster than the science used to substantiate claims of enhanced health and well-being. “We even trust McDonald’s to inform us of the number of calories in a Big Mac,” said Audino. “When it comes to cannabis, we are not afforded that same safety and assurance.”

James Werline, a pharmacist and the father of a daughter with a severe form of epilepsy, spoke to the promise and importance of CBD-related research. The only CBD medication currently approved by the FDA is used to prevent seizures caused by rare forms of childhood epilepsy. Angelique Lee-Rowley, Vice President, Global Chief Ethics and Compliance Officer at Greenwich Biosciences, discussed the importance of clinical research into new CBD treatments and shed light on the restrictions pharmaceutical companies have in educating consumers on product efficacy versus the retail and online marketers who have few boundaries in the claims they can make.

“We are on the verge of a major breakthrough,” said Rep. McMorris Rogers. “We want to be encouraging those breakthroughs. I am committed to helping with those developments.”

The briefing served to alert congressional staff to the seriousness of this issue. By 2022, the CBD marketplace is expected to reach $1.8 billion in sales, more than triple what it was just four years earlier. As the commerce expands, so do—without adequate consumer protections—the threats to health and safety.

DOT inaction leaves kids at risk, NCL tells Congress

September 26, 2019

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, today called on the House Aviation Subcommittee to compel the Department of Transportation (DOT) to follow through on its Congressionally-mandated passenger protection rulemakings.  

The Federal Bureau of Investigation recently warned that in-flight sexual assaults have increased by 66 percent and that children as young as 8 have been victims of such crimes in the air. New data uncovered by Consumer Reports found that children as young as two years old and kids who have autism or who suffer from seizures have been separated from their parents on airplanes. Airlines have pressured parents to pay expensive seat reservation fees or buy priority board passes so that they can be sure to sit with their small children. Incredibly, the DOT earlier this year decided that creating a consumer education website would be sufficient to fulfill Congress’ intent that it act to ensure that families can sit with their young children.   

 “How many children will have to be assaulted on aircraft before the DOT acts?” asked John Breyault, NCL’s vice president of public policy, telecommunications and fraud at a House Aviation Subcommittee hearing today. “The DOT’s inaction on this issue has put children at greater risk. Congress should demand answers from the DOT on the process it used to determine that it should do nothing substantive on this important children’s safety issue and mandate that the agency follow through on Congress’ clear intent.” 

Read Breyault’s full testimony here. 

The consumer group also highlighted the Federal Aviation Administration’s (FAA) inaction on setting minimum seat size standards despite a looming deadline to do so. The FAA has actively. The FAA is required to issue regulations no later than October 2019, yet consumer groups have seen no indication that the agency is prepared to initiate such a rulemaking. Instead, the FAA has actively resisted judicial efforts by consumer advocates pressing it to take action on the important safety issue.  

Congress must not allow the FAA to simply adopt whatever inhumane seat size standard the airline industry favors,” said Breyault. 

Breyault also testified about the impact of a lack of action by the DOT on Congressional mandates related to fee refunds, denied boarding (“bumping”), and the availability of fare, fee, and schedule data. 

“The DOT’s actions and inactions on important rulemakings paint a picture of an agency that places consumer protection and consumer safety at the bottom of its list of priorities,” said Breyault. “It is imperative that Congress act to ensure that its mandates are not unduly delayed, or worse, ignored completely.” 

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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 to testify at CDC ACIP in support of pneumococcal and other vaccines

June 25, 2019

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) will present testimony at the Centers for Disease Control’s (CDC) vaccine committee on June 26 in support of keeping an important vaccine to prevent pneumococcus disease on the schedule of recommended vaccines.

The Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) is revisiting their 2014 recommendation for the pneumococcal vaccine. NCL’s Executive Director Sally Greenberg will present testimony before the committee of vaccine experts in the defense of maintaining the current recommendation of keeping the vaccine, Pneumococcal Conjugate Vaccine 13 (PCV13), on the schedule for adults. NCL also recently joined a letter to ACIP with other health advocates urging the committee not changing the existing recommendation for coverage of the pneumococcal vaccine.

“…[n]early one million adult cases of pneumococcal disease are reported in the U.S. each year, resulting in 400,000 hospitalizations. Five to seven percent of those hospitalized will die, and a large percentage of them will be seniors…..Saving these costs is entirely feasible given that we have a safe and effective vaccine to prevent the pneumococcal illness.”

NCL has a long history of supporting childhood and adult vaccines as enormously safe and effective in reducing illness and death. NCL has sounded alarms about the outbreak of measles across the country, with 1,044 cases this year in the U.S.– the largest since 1992. NCL points out that communities of color and other lower-income Americans are particularly benefitted by keeping important lifesaving vaccines on the schedule.

The group letter noted, “We also recognize that many Americans, especially seniors, will not be able to afford vaccination if it is not provided by Medicare. Cutting back or eliminating Medicare coverage will affect older adults, especially in underserved populations that already see lower rates of vaccination.”

NCL strongly encourages the committee to maintain coverage for the pneumococcal vaccines to prevent disease and save lives.

Testimony will take place on June 26-27, 2019 at the CDC Tom Harkin Global Communication Center at the CDC’s main campus at 1600 Clifton Road NE, Atlanta, GA 30329.

To view NCL’s official statement to the ACIP panel, click the following link: bit.ly/2XAIok2.

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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.