NCL statement on ACIP pneumococcal vaccine recommendation decision

June 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) presented testimony at the Centers for Disease Control’s (CDC) vaccine committee today in Atlanta, GA in support of keeping an important vaccine to prevent pneumococcal disease on the schedule of recommended vaccines.

“We commend the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP)’s 2014 recommendation for coverage of the pneumococcal vaccine. However, we are disappointed with ACIP’s decision today that the vaccine should be administered ‘based on shared clinical decision-making’ in adults 65 years or older who do not have an immunocompromising condition. We think that ACIP’s failing to positively recommend the vaccine is a disservice to patients and is confusing to healthcare providers who administer these vaccines.” 

Nearly one million adult cases of pneumococcal disease are reported in the U.S. each year, resulting in 400,000 hospitalizations. Even in this era of multiple treatment modalities, five to seven percent of those hospitalized will die, and a large percentage of them will be seniors.

“We should strive to keep adult immunizations simple and accessible to ensure increased protection. This decision by the committee could negatively impact the perceived importance of vaccines and could compromise vaccine uptake, in turn posing a greater risk of infection amongst older Americans and those they come into contact with.”

NCL will continue to educate consumers about the importance of vaccines in protecting the public health and work to dispel the myths about the safety of vaccines.

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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 deeply concerned about Kavanaugh’s anti-consumer, anti-labor record – National Consumers League

July 12, 2018

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 nation’s pioneering consumer and worker advocacy organization today expressed its deep concern about the nomination of Judge Brett Kavanaugh to fill the seat of retiring Justice Anthony Kennedy on the U.S. Supreme Court. According to the National Consumers League (NCL), this is a critical moment in American history where the rights of consumers and workers hang in the balance.

“After reviewing his extensive record, we believe that Judge Kavanaugh is an extremist who is out of step with American values and in conflict with our mission to protect consumers and workers,” said NCL Executive Director Sally Greenberg. “We are particularly concerned about Kavanaugh’s record on crucial healthcare access decisions. We can’t afford as a country to step backwards when it comes to providing care for our nation’s families.” 

On the issues: consumer concerns

Abortion access. Kavanaugh consistently votes to limit access to abortion services. Just last year he dissented from a decision to allow an undocumented pregnant teenager in federal custody access to abortion. Judge Kavanaugh wrote that the majority’s reasoning was “based on a constitutional principle as novel as it is wrong: a new right for unlawful immigrant minors in U.S. government detention to obtain immediate abortion on demand.”

Affordable Care Act. When ruling on Seven-Sky v. Holder, Kavanaugh dissented from the majority opinion on the Affordable Care Act, which upheld its constitutionality.

Contraception coverage. In 2015, Kavanaugh dissented from the Court of Appeals’ decision not to rehear a case upholding an accommodation offered by the Obama Administration on access to contraception for employees of religious organizations.

Net neutrality. Judge Kavanaugh dissented from a full DC Court of Appeals decision on net neutrality. Judge Kavanaugh rejects the idea that Internet providers should remain neutral. His dissent included the following arguments: “The government can no more tell internet service providers what content to carry than it can tell bookstores what books they can sell,” and “The net neutrality rule is unlawful because the law impermissibly infringes on internet service providers’ editorial discretion.”

Hostility towards workers

Limiting collective bargaining. In 2007, Kavanaugh gave the Defense Department a temporary win against its 700,000 civilian workers, represented by a union coalition led by the Government Employees (AFGE). Kavanaugh wrote that the 2004 Bush-era Defense Department law gave Bush’s DOD temporary authority to curb civilian defense workers’ collective bargaining rights. Dissenting justices said Kavanaugh would let the government “abolish collective bargaining altogether.”

Undocumented workers’ right to organize. Kavanaugh, dissenting in a 2008 case involving Agri Processor, Inc., a Brooklyn kosher meat packer, said undocumented workers can’t unionize under the National Labor Relations Act. The appeals court majority said they could. 

Right to picket. In 2015, Kavanaugh gave the Venetian Casino in Las Vegas a win in a fight with union organizers over the right to picket on a public sidewalk. The National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) ruled they could, under their constitutional rights to freedom of expression and freedom assemble peaceably. The NLRB also tossed out the casino’s claims that the sidewalk, which was temporary due to road construction, was private property. The walk was on the Venetian’s land. “Where employers assert a private property right and ask the police to enforce that right against demonstrators, the employers are ‘seeking redress of wrongs committed against them.’”

“This is the most important Supreme Court vacancy in many years,” said Greenberg. “NCL stands with consumers and workers and with those groups who see the nomination of Brett Kavanaugh to the U.S. Supreme Court as a threat to our values and our mission.”

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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 https://nclnet.org.

National Consumers League statement on US opposition to breastfeeding at World Health Assembly – National Consumers League

July 9, 2018

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), the nation’s pioneering consumer organization, is expressing its disappointment at reports of actions taken by the U.S. delegation to the United Nations’ World Health Assembly opposing a resolution meant to promote breastfeeding worldwide. According to reporting by the New York Times and others, the U.S. delegation demanded that language encouraging governments to “protect, promote and support breastfeeding” be removed from a resolution – introduced by Ecuador — that had been expected to pass without issue.

The resolution, based on established research about the significant health advantages of breastfeeding to both mother and baby,  encouraged countries to promote breastfeeding and “strive to limit the inaccurate or misleading marketing of breast milk substitutes.”

“The United States delegation, embracing the interests of infant formula manufacturers, upended the deliberations,” reported The Times.

The National Consumers League (NCL) has long advocated for the promotion of breastfeeding for health and economic reasons, as well as for policies that support women’s ability to breastfeed, including in public places.

A study from the journal Pediatrics found that breastfeeding could save 900 lives a year and billions of dollars if 90 percent of women breast-fed their babies for the first six months of life. Research has determined that breastfeeding could prevent hundreds of deaths and many more illnesses such as asthma, diabetes, ear infections, stomach viruses, or even childhood leukemia.

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

Breastfeeding has long been hailed as the best source of nourishment for infants, providing the perfect mix of nutrition in an easily digestible form and lowering the risk of certain syndromes, diseases, and allergies.

That the United States delegation to the World Health Assembly would be compromised by the interests of infant formula manufacturers is a disgrace – and going so far as to threaten Ecuador with retaliation for introducing this fundamental resolution is an utter embarrassment.

It is troubling that corporate or other interests might be undermining America’s policy stances on basic health issues such as this. We are disappointed at the U.S. delegation’s void in leadership but pleased that the World Health Organization’s long-standing policy of encouraging breastfeeding prevailed.

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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 https://nclnet.org.

National Consumers League statement on Supreme Court’s 5-4 ruling in Janus v. AFSCME – National Consumers League

June 27, 2018

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

Washington, DC–The National Consumers League (NCL), the nation’s pioneering consumer and worker advocacy group, has announced its disappointment in today’s narrow 5-4 anti-worker and anti-union ruling by the U.S. Supreme Court in Janus v. AFSCME, in which the Court ruled that unions cannot collect “fair share fees” from workers who have not joined the union but receive the benefits of organizing.

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

Janus v. AFSCME is the unfortunate capstone of a decades-long assault on working Americans who choose to collectively stand up to improve their workplaces and their communities and is the result of a right-leaning court that favors business interests over workers.

The potential harm caused by this decision is great and will not only be felt by union members. Millions of individual consumers who rely on government services will feel the consequences of this decision as public servants choose to leave in search of better opportunities and as the ones who remain face greater workplace insecurity.  

The Supreme Court today sided against working families. We call upon Congress to step in to correct this injustice. Powerful lobbyists may have won today, but in the end working Americans understand the importance of joining together to create better working conditions. While this decision is disappointing, we will continue to fight alongside our labor allies for a fair and just workplace and marketplace.

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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 https://nclnet.org.

Leading consumer organizations decry ‘mutual fund industry giveaway’ by SEC – National Consumers League

June 6, 2018

Contact: Consumer Action’s Linda Sherry (202) 544-3088, NCL’s Sally Greenberg (202) 207-2830

Washington, DC–Despite overwhelming opposition to abandoning the default paper format delivery method for mutual fund disclosures, the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) yesterday voted behind closed doors to ignore investor sentiment and allow funds, as of Jan. 1, 2021, to deliver shareholder reports online, with a paper notice of online availability sent by mail. The adoption of Rule 30e3 flips the current process on its head—investors who already have chosen to receive paper mutual fund reports will now have to take the trouble to reach out to funds to request that paper versions (continue to) be mailed to them.

The National Consumers League (NCL) and Consumer Action have worked for more than two years to ensure that the delivery of paper fund disclosures wasn’t flipped. The organizations have filed comments opposing Rule 30e3, spoken at SEC Investment Advisory Committee meetings, and urged investors to press for the paper default. They were expecting to hear a public discussion of the rule at the SEC’s public meeting on June 5, before it was pulled from the agenda the evening before and circulated for written consent from the commissioners in lieu of a meeting.

Sally Greenberg, executive director of the National Consumers League, said: “We are very disappointed in the 4-1 vote—taken behind closed doors—from the SEC to make it more difficult for mutual fund investors who want paper documents to get fund disclosures delivered in paper; an SEC survey in 2011 found that one-third of consumers say they prefer paper copies of their mutual fund reports. The mutual fund industry trade association estimated in 2016 that this will save investors $2 billion in printing and mail costs over 10 years. The winners are clearly the companies, the losers are those consumers who need or want access to paper versions of fund disclosures and will have to know to sign up for paper delivery. We are disappointed the SEC didn’t take into account the extensive evidence that the change is likely to reduce investor readership of key disclosures.”

Linda Sherry, director of Consumer Action’s DC office, said: “More than 90 percent of the comments submitted to the SEC in 2016 opposed the idea to make electronic delivery the default delivery method for shareholder reports. Despite the concerns raised, which included lack of access to the internet by vulnerable populations, exposure to online fraud and difficulty of reading reports on mobile devices, the SEC chose to vote on its proposal before the public was able to read it.”

Currently (and for close to 20 years) investors have the option of requesting e-delivery. Some estimates say as many as half of all mutual fund investors have chosen e-delivery already. Those who have chosen to keep paper delivery will, under the new rule, be bothered to act to ensure paper reports keep coming. The new measure is an example of “negative consent—or “passive consent”—which means failure to take action is interpreted as agreement. This method of notification is know to decrease consumer participation and likely will reduce investor readership of important disclosures about fund performance, costs and makeup.

While the rule offers the switch to e-delivery as an “optional” method for delivering shareholder reports, it is highly unlikely that the mutual fund industry will choose to leave the status quo of paper statement delivery.

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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 https://nclnet.org.

About Consumer Action

Consumer Action has been a champion of underrepresented consumers nationwide since 1971. A non-profit 501(c)(3) organization, Consumer Action focuses on consumer education that empowers low- and moderate-income and limited-English-speaking consumers to financially prosper. It also advocates for consumers in the media and before lawmakers to advance consumer rights and promote industry-wide change.