NCL expresses support for ending the subminimum wage for tipped workers in the state of Connecticut

March 4, 2024

Media contact: National Consumers League – Melody Merin, melodym@nclnet.org, 202-207-2831

Washington, DC – NCL CEO Sally Greenberg recently testified to the members of the Committee on Labor and Public Employees of the Connecticut General Assembly urging the inclusion of ending the subminimum wage for tipped workers in SB 221. In Connecticut, the subminimum wage for tipped workers is currently at $6.38 per hour.

The restaurant industry in Connecticut “needs to stop basing its business strategy on a 150-year-old system that is the direct legacy of slavery and join the modern working world,” says Greenberg. “It is time to raise the wage and ensure Connecticut’s restaurant industry does not get left behind.”

Greenberg cited One Fair Wage’s recent report claiming the current restaurant industry isn’t facing a worker shortage but rather a wage shortage. One Fair Wage recently published a fact sheet showing a comparative analysis of small business restaurants in Connecticut vs in California.

Greenberg’s full testimony 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 nclnet.org.

NCL applauds FTC action to stop imminent grocery monopoly 

February 26, 2024

Media contact: National Consumers League – Melody Merin, melodym@nclnet.org, 202-207-2831

Washington, DC – Today, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) and bipartisan state attorneys general sued to block the proposed merger between Kroger and Albertsons. The $24.6 billion deal—the largest supermarket merger in U.S. history—would create a near monopoly by consolidating 5,000 stores and 4,000 pharmacies under one corporation. Without FTC action, consumers would see inflated prices and workers would be stuck with anticompetitive compensation.

“Decades of ignoring federal law have allowed industry consolidation to grow unchecked, leaving everyone worse off except for a handful of executives at the top,” said NCL CEO Sally Greenberg. “The FTC is rightfully asserting its authority and putting the interest of consumers and workers first. Monopolists should know that they can no longer take advantage of the American public without facing legal challenges.”

The proposed deal would eliminate competition between Kroger (including Fred Meyer, Fry’s, and Harris Teer) and Albertsons (among its subsidiaries are Haggen, Safeway, and Vons). Last year, a coalition including NCL and 250 national, state, and local organizations urged the FTC to prevent this merger from taking place. Joining the FTC’s lawsuit are bipartisan attorneys general representing Arizona, California, D.C., Illinois, Maryland, Nevada, New Mexico, Oregon, and Wyoming.

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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.

PBM reforms needed now in order to expand access to lower cost biosimilars that would benefit all Americans

February 22, 2024

Media contact: National Consumers League – Melody Merin, melodym@nclnet.org, 202-207-2831

Washington, DC – The National Consumers League (NCL) recently submitted a letter to the U.S. House and Senate leadership expressing our collective support for Pharmacy Benefit Managers (PBM) reforms to improve consumer and patient access to biosimilars. Given the ongoing surge in prescription drug costs, expanding access to lower cost biosimilars represents a bipartisan solution that would benefit all Americans.

“We are hopeful PBM reforms will be included in a final March healthcare package,” said NCL CEO Sally Greenberg.

The letter 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 nclnet.org.

NCL comments on Proposed Rule – Fish and Shellfish; Canned Tuna Standard of Identity and Standard of Fill of Container

November 21, 2023

Media contact: National Consumers League – Melody Merin, melodym@nclnet.org, 202-207-2831

The National Consumers League recently submitted comments regarding the Proposed Rule, “Fish and Shellfish; Canned Tuna Standard of Identity and Standard of Fill of Container.” We believe that the Proposed Rule, when implemented, will modernize the standard of identity for “canned tuna,” 21 C.F.R. § 161.190 (“canned tuna SOI”), to require an accurate measure and declaration of weight, and to allow for “safe and suitable” ingredients to provide manufacturers with the flexibility to keep up with changing consumer tastes.

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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 comments regarding Proposed Rule: Medication Guides: Patient Medication Information Docket No. FDA-2019-N-5959

November 21, 2023

Media contact: National Consumers League – Melody Merin, melodym@nclnet.org, 202-207-2831

The National Consumers League recently submitted comments regarding the Proposed Rule, Medication Guides: Patient Medication Information, that we believe will greatly improve the information patients receive with their prescription medicines.

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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 applauds President Biden’s landmark AI executive order 

October 31, 2023

Media contact: National Consumers League – Melody Merin, melodym@nclnet.org, 202-207-2831

Washington, DC – Yesterday, President Biden signed an executive order to establish the most comprehensive standards to date regarding artificial intelligence (AI). The following statement is attributable to National Consumers League (NCL) Chief Executive Officer Sally Greenberg:

“NCL applauds the Biden Administration for centering consumers and workers in its landmark executive order addressing AI. It is critical that the development of artificial intelligence aligns with our democratic values, preserves civil rights, and protects consumers’ health and safety as well as our privacy. Importantly, the Biden Administration has made clear that there is no exception for AI from the law as it continues to model how policymakers should tackle this issue. While the president’s order is a critical step forward, Congress must pass a robust bill to ensure lasting and comprehensive federal law governing AI.”

As part of the sweeping executive order, federal agencies are to provide clear guidance to landlords, federal benefits administrators, and federal contractors to ensure that AI does not discriminate against consumers and beneficiaries. The president also addressed the potential harms to workers from the use of AI in workplace surveillance, job displacement, union-busting, and discriminatory hiring practices.

NCL has been advocating for consumers and workers in our push for AI regulation, including requiring the labelling of AI-generated content to minimize deception to users.

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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 statement on PBMs and new GAO report

September 18, 2023

Media contact: National Consumers League – Melody Merin, melodym@nclnet.org, 202-207-2831

WASHINGTON, DC – The National Consumers League (NCL) today released a statement following a recently released U.S. Government Accountability Office (“GAO”) report on Medicare Part D rebates.

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

“Investigation after investigation, report after report, and study after study prove that pharmacy benefit managers (“PBMs’) do not provide benefits to consumers. To the contrary, we believe PBMs, who are middlemen, drain billions of dollars that should be going into the pockets of patients and consumers and help them defray their healthcare costs. The evidence mounts that PBMs, which once had a noble purpose, have lost their way and become profit centers unto themselves, adding costs to our drug supply system at the expense of patients. This latest report by GAO underscores that our nation’s seniors – often our most vulnerable patients who rely most on medications – pay the highest price for PBM practices.

“In just one year, GAO found that the PBMs collected almost $50 billion in rebates from prescription drug manufacturers under the Medicare Part D program alone. These savings should go directly to Medicare beneficiaries, but for the nearly 80 of the highest rebated drugs analyzed, GAO found that seniors paid more than $20 billion, while their plan sponsors — often vertically integrated with PBMs — paid only $5.3 billion. PBMs are able to enrich themselves because they control access to prescription drugs, block competition, conduct business in the shadows, and pocket discounts meant for patients. PBMs simply driving up out-of-pocket costs for Medicare beneficiaries to the tune of millions of dollars.

“Congress has an opportunity to enact meaningful PBM reforms to prevent such behavior. We urge our leaders in Congress to closely examine the findings of the GAO report, and put a stop to the practices of PBMs to profit off of vulnerable patients. In doing so, our elected representatives will put money back in the pockets of patients and help them to better afford the medications they need.”

Learn more about NCL’s work to address the PBM problem at nclnet.org/pbms.

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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 welcomes FDA heightened concerns related to CBD products

December 29, 2022 [Updated]

Media contact: National Consumers League – Melody Merin, melodym@nclnet.org, 703-298-2614

Washington, D.C. – The National Consumers League (NCL), the nation’s oldest consumer advocacy organization, is welcoming of the FDA’s heightened concern and attention to consumer safety risks in the CBD or cannabidiol consumer product market.

“The FDA’s continued engagement and work in the CBD consumer product market is critical to protecting consumer safety – the agency’s increased attention to CBD products is welcome news,” said Sally Greenberg, NCL’s Chief Executive Officer.

In 2019, in response to the proliferation of unreviewed and untested CBD products, NCL identified the need for greater education among consumers about CBD and better enforcement of regulations in the CBD marketplace. NCL created Consumers for Safe CBD to address this need, champion the rights of consumers, and call on government and industry to do better – to ensure safety and promote a pathway for new products through clinically tested scientific research.

Since then, action has been taken on the state and federal levels to increase access to cannabinoids beyond CBD, which is why NCL is now shifting its focus to cannabis more broadly with the establishment of Cannabis Consumer Watch. Cannabidiol (CBD) is a chemical compound found in cannabis plants. It is one of the main ingredients in cannabis, but unlike THC, it does not cause a high or have psychoactive effects.

“NCL called on the FDA to develop regulations for the CBD marketplace. We also asked the CBD industry to ensure safety and promote a pathway for new products through clinically tested scientific research,” said Greenberg.

The 2018 Farm Bill legalized hemp cultivation in the U.S., which led to significant growth in the CBD marketplace.

“Since 2019, NCL and other groups like the Consumer Federation of America and Community Anti-Drug Coalitions of America have been asking the FDA to step in and address the CBD marketplace – which is currently a ‘Wild West,’ with myriad unsubstantiated claims made by many in the industry about the so-called benefits of CBD products for everything from sleep disorders to cancer to pain relief, without regard to safe dosages,” Greenberg noted. “We want the agency to establish a regulatory framework for the legal sale of appropriate cannabis and cannabis-derived products. Some industry members have been asking for rules of the road as well. Any regulatory framework FDA recommends for cannabis-derived products must prioritize consumer safety and address the safety risks the agency has identified.”

There is only one FDA-approved drug on the market that employs CBD as its active ingredient – Epidiolex – a medication to treat a rare form of childhood epilepsy. That drug has undergone the rigorous FDA approval process and thus has substantiated therapeutic benefits that outweigh the risks which can be managed by prescribing physicians.

Cannabis Consumer Watch will continue to work to educate consumers about the potential dangers of CBD in an unregulated market and encourage the FDA to take strong, effective, and prompt action to protect the public from the potential harms posed by unregulated, untested CBD.

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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 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.