National Consumers League urges Congress not to allow credit bureaus’ credit scoring company to dominate the credit scoring system

May 13, 2022

Washington, D.C. –

The National Consumers League has sent a letter to the Chairs of the Senate Banking and House Financial Services Committees asking these leaders to conduct adequate oversight on the nation’s credit bureaus, TransUnion, Equifax, and Experian. “The three bureaus keep financial records and establish credit scores for hundreds of millions of Americans. For years, consumer organizations like ours have been raising questions about the behavior and actions of these entities, who in recent years have together created their own credit scoring company called VantageScore.”

The letter noted that “On April 12th of this year, the Consumer Finance Protection Board (CFPB) filed a lawsuit against credit bureau TransUnion and their long-time CEO for willfully violating the law and defrauding consumers, with CFPB’s director saying that ‘TransUnion is an out-of-control repeat offender that believes it is above the law.’  The letter also noted that “In September of 2017, the nation learned that another of the big three, Equifax, had been breached and the financial records of close to 150 million Americans had been compromised. “Investigations …found that Equifax had failed to protect the data that they had been entrusted with and a global settlement was reached.”  The letter goes on to say “… the three credit bureaus own a credit scoring company called VantageScore. Vantage Score is vigorously lobbying the FHFA to spend millions of dollars to change the credit scoring system for the GSEs in order to win market share.”

The letter urges these members of Congress to “ask tough questions and share your concerns directly with the FHFA, especially before that agency takes any action that could send millions of dollars into the pockets of VantageScore.”

Read the letter 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 www.nclnet.org.

 

National Consumers League statement on the confirmation of Alvaro Bedoya as FTC Commissioner

May 11, 2022

Washington, D.C. – The National Consumers League (“NCL”), America’s pioneering consumer advocacy organization, today applauded the U.S. Senate for confirming Alvaro Bedoya to be the next Federal Trade Commissioner. The following statement is attributable to NCL Executive Director Sally Greenberg:

“American consumers are better off today because Alvaro Bedoya will be fighting for their interests at the Federal Trade Commission. As a champion of privacy rights, particularly the rights of consumers from historically marginalized communities, Bedoya has been at the forefront of efforts to protect consumers from intrusive surveillance by businesses and governments. We look forward to working with him as the FTC continues its important mission of protection consumers and promoting competition.”

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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 speaks out against the decision to overturn abortion rights

May 4, 2022

Washington, D.C. — The National Consumers League (NCL) is gravely disappointed to learn, through a prematurely leaked Supreme Court decision, that the Supreme Court is likely to overturn the right to abortion in the United States. The leaked opinion will overturn the 1973 Roe v. Wade decision, which made access to abortions a federally protected right, and is a radical departure from current law, not even protecting women in the case of rape or incest.

As an organization founded by women, NCL has a strong history of advocating for women’s health rights and equal access to reproductive health services for all. Whether to have an abortion is a deeply personal decision that must be left up to a woman and her doctor. The state should have to interest in regulating this fundamental right.

The Supreme Court’s decision to leave abortion rights up to the states will greatly exacerbate the already problematic health inequities in access to reproductive services. Numerous states around the country have already begun their legislative attacks, with an estimated 13 states set to ban abortion at just six weeks, a time when many women don’t even know they are pregnant. In fact, the frequency of abortion is on the decline and tracks closely with access to effective and affordable, and best of all, free, contraception.

Without access to services, women seeking abortion will once again be forced to consider unsafe measures. We sincerely hope that the decision that was leaked is not the final word from the Supreme Court. That decision will put women at great risk, and will add to the already high rates of maternal morbidity and mortality in the U.S.

NCL believes that abortion rights are an essential health care right, and every woman should have the ability to access abortion services. The right to abortion should remain a constitutionally protected right, and access to abortion should not be left to the state legislatures. Ensuring that all women have equal access to safe abortion services is crucial in making sure that all women have autonomy over their health and wellbeing.

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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 applauds FDA proposal to ban menthol cigarettes

May 4, 2022

Media contact: National Consumers League – Katie Brown, katie@nclnet.org, (202) 207-2832

Washington, D.C. – The National Consumers League (NCL) applauds the Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) proposed rule to ban menthol cigarettes and flavored cigars. This long overdue ban is a critical public health measure that is expected to save the hundreds of thousands of lives lost to lung cancer, and other smoking-related morbidities. The tobacco industry has had a long history of aggressive marketing of menthol cigarettes to Black smokers. Today, 85% of Black smokers use menthol cigarettes compared to 29% of all white smokers.

While consumers know that tobacco use is the number one cause of cancer and a preventable death in the U.S, it is a very addictive product and the industry knows that and capitalizes on it. The tobacco industry continues to prey on children with the lure of flavored tobacco products to ensure that young people become addicted. Flavored cigars are especially popular with Black and Latino teenagers.

The FDA’s proposed rule to ban flavored cigars and menthol cigarettes is not just important for preventing our young people from using tobacco; it will help to address a wide range of health disparities within the Black community.

The public will have the opportunity to comment on the proposed rule from now until July 5, 2022. We urge consumers to share their views with the FDA during this open comment period. Smokers interested in quitting should also visit smokefree.gov or call 1-800-QUIT-NOW to learn about cessation services available in their state.

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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: Musk must protect privacy of Twitter’s users, not allow platform to become a “cesspool”

May 3, 2022

Media contact: National Consumers League – Katie Brown, katie@nclnet.org, (202) 207-2832

Washington, D.C. – The National Consumers League (“NCL”), America’s oldest consumer advocacy organization, today urged Elon Musk to protect user privacy while continuing to regulate dangerous and misleading content when he acquires Twitter.

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

“Regardless of who owns the company, Twitter has a responsibility to police its platform for dangerous misinformation and disinformation, particularly as it relates to public health issues like the COVID-19 pandemic. Twitter, like other social media companies, has content moderation policies in place but routinely struggles to stop aggressive and pervasive misinformation and disinformation campaigns on the platform. This has wide-ranging and negative consequences for public health and the health of our democracy.

Further weakening or failing to enforce Twitter’s content moderation policies will not promote free speech. Doing so would simply make it easier for the most noxious voices on the Internet – racists, anti-Semites, anti-vaxxers, and many others – to drown out legitimate and important dialogue. Instead of allowing an unfettered free-for-all, Mr. Musk should use the opportunity of acquiring Twitter to increase privacy protections, such as by implementing end-to-end encryption for all direct messages. He should also maintain Twitter’s ban on the most egregious violators of the platform’s content moderation policies; particularly those who have used the platform to promote hate, public health misinformation, and attacks on democracy. The Internet’s town square must not become a cesspool, regardless of how much money the world’s richest man has at his disposal.”

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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.

 

Cumberland Valley High School team from Pennsylvania takes 2022 National LifeSmarts Championship in Washington, DC

April 26, 2022

Contact: National Consumers League, Katie Brown, (202) 207-2832, katie@nclnet.org

Washington, DC—The Varsity Wild Card 2 team from Cumberland Valley High School coached by Anne Marie Miller, was crowned the 2022 National LifeSmarts Champions in Washington, D.C. last week. In a close match against the team from Montgomery High School in New Jersey, the teens from the Cumberland Valley High School outplayed their opponents in an exciting end to the four-day competition.

2022 Team members include: Captain Anaya Kurup, Owen Reeves, Zade Elamir, David Cameron, and Derek Works. New Jersey finished in second place, and teams from Idaho and Wisconsin tied for third.  Fourth place team honors went to state champions from North Carolina, Arizona, Washington, and Varsity Wild Card 1 from North East High School in Pennsylvania.

“We are so proud of these students from Pennsylvania, this is the first time a Wild Card team has taken the championship,” said LifeSmarts Program Director Lisa Hertzberg. “They played hard and demonstrated their consumer smarts throughout the four-day event. They are true LifeSmarts champions.”

LifeSmarts is an education and scholarship program run by the Washington, DC-based National Consumers League (NCL), the nation’s oldest consumer advocacy organization. It competitively tests high school students’ knowledge of consumer awareness, with subjects including personal finance, health and safety, consumer rights and responsibility, technology and workforce preparation, and the environment. LifeSmarts is available in all 50 states, the District of Columbia, and in partnership programs with student leadership programs FBLA, 4H, FCCLA and SkillsUSA.

Each of the students on the first place teams receives a $1,500.00 scholarship, second place team members receive $1,000.00 scholarships and third place team members receive $750 scholarships.

Fourth place team members received gift cards.

Teens from each of the 38 champion teams represented at nationals competed as individuals, and the top five scorers received scholarships from NCL. This year’s winners were:

The 2022 winners in the Individual Category Assessments receiving a $500 scholarship were:
Environment: Catherine Feng from New Jersey
Personal Finance: Lucas Carver from Pennsylvania
Health and Safety: Julissa Freeman from Alabama
Consumer Rights and Responsibilities: Kyle Kintz from Pennsylvania
Technology and Workforce Preparation: Grace Ren from New Jersey

Clayton Adams from 4-H Wild Card team 1 from Madison County 4-H in Georgia, and Melissa Fraga from Florida’s Leto 4-H Gold team were honored as the 2021-2022 LifeSmarts Students of the Year.

LifeSmarts Coaches of the Year Awards went to Linda Huebner from FCCLA Wild Card 3 in Bartlett, Texas and Greg Henning of Varsity Wild Card team 1, North East High School in Pennsylvania.

Kim Edmonds from Virginia was named LifeSmarts State Coordinator of the Year.

Co – state coordinator of the year is Cherry Dale, Virginia Credit Union – Financial Education Director.

The Sarah Weinberg Memorial Scholarship, given each year to a student who demonstrates an extraordinary commitment to community service, was awarded this year to Sadie Heckert of Neligh Junior/Senior High School from Nebraska.

Johnson & Johnson Over the Counter Medication Mentor $1000 scholarships were awarded to students who participated in the health and safety-related youth mentoring program sponsored by LifeSmarts and Johnson and Johnson. Honorees were: Wheaten Smith from Arizona, Alyssa Goldman from Madison County 4-H in Georgia, Alexis Johnson from SkillsUSA Wild Card in Wyoming, Abigail Olstrup from Texas, and Angie Jacobo from Illinois.

The UL Be Safe Buy Real Digital Poster contest winners were: Jackson Miller, Arizona; Gabrielle Alljets, Colorado; Alex Runyan form Georgia; Sean Slattery from Illinois; Miles Flack from Minnesota; Levi Frisbie from Missouri; Aspen Busby from Texas; Abigail Olstrup from Texas; Michaela Joy Patterson from Texas; and Max Butler from Virginia.

NortonLifeLock Identity Theft Essay Contest winners were Julissa Freeman from Alabama, Sara Abernathy from Georgia, Alison Sporleder from Missouri, Tommy Wild from North Carolina, and Suzette Mejia from SkillsUSA Wild Card in Wyoming.

The Spirit of LifeSmarts Team Award, in honor of the late North Dakota Attorney General Wayne Stenehjem, was awarded to Sunrise Christian Academy in Kansas.

Seventy graduating seniors were presented with LifeSmarts Honor Cords to wear at their upcoming high school graduations and were welcomed as new LifeSmarts alumni. Additionally, several alumni assisted in various roles throughout the event.

Many teams competed in the February TeamSmarts Capstone quiz. Each of these teams earned a $100 cash award for their high scores.
The Varsity winner is Tescott High School in Kansas; the FBLA winner is UDHS_GormanBroker from Upper Dublin Senior High School in Pennsylvania; the FCCLA winner is Thedford High School FCCLA in Nebraska; and the 4-H winner is WYSIWYG from Hnerico County 4-H in Virginia.

Teams from 12 states submitted designs for this year’s t-shirt contest. This year’s judge’s awards went to 4-H Wild Card 3 – Columbia County 4-H from Georgia, Indiana, and the the People’s Choice t-shirt award went to Washington.

Missed the excitement? You can still watch the exciting final day of competition here.

All winners at the national LifeSmarts Competition received valuable prizes donated by sponsors to the National Consumers League, including scholarships, savings bonds, gift cards, and more.

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About LifeSmarts and the National Consumers League

LifeSmarts is a program of the National Consumers League. State coordinators run the programs on a volunteer basis. For more information, visit: www.lifesmarts.org, email lifesmarts@nclnet.org or call the National Consumers League’s communications department at (202) 835-3323.

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 Calls for Equity in Crash Testing at DOT

April 25, 2022

Media contact: National Consumers League – Katie Brown, katie@nclnet.org, (202) 207-2832

Washington, D.C. – The National Consumers League (“NCL”), America’s oldest consumer advocacy organization, today joined a bipartisan coalition of voices calling on Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg to update automotive crash testing standards to require the use of advanced female crash test dummies.

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

“Consumers count on the 5-Star Safety Ratings System to provide essential information about vehicle safety and crashworthiness. Sadly, even in 2022, these safety ratings are more protective of men than women. The mobile billboard on display outside the Department of Transportation this week provides a stark reminder that crash tests based on a 1970s stereotype that women don’t drive should have been fixed long before 2022. Consumers believe and expect that crashworthiness standards will be as strong for females as for males, with the same quality and quantity of crash testing. Disappointingly, that is not the case. Secretary Buttigieg has the opportunity to reduce the risk to women of injury and death by finally requiring the use of advanced female crash dummies. For the first time in the history of the 5-Star Safety Ratings System, DOT should put women crash dummies in the driver’s seat.”

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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.

 

National Consumers League Statement in Support of Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson

April 7, 2022

Media contact: National Consumers League – Katie Brown, katie@nclnet.org, (202) 207-2832

Washington, D.C. – The National Consumers League, America’s pioneering consumer advocacy organization, today called on all members of the United States Senate to vote to confirm Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson as the next associate justice of the Supreme Court. The following statement is attributable to Sally Greenberg, Executive Director of the National Consumers League:

“Consumers and workers across America look to the courts to protect their interests against the virtually limitless resources of big corporations. Judge Jackson’s experience as a federal public defender and her rulings in several important cases makes her uniquely qualified to understand the concerns of those who are underrepresented in our legal system. In her years on the bench as a federal district court and appellate court judge, Judge Jackson has proven to be one of the brightest legal minds in the country. Her character and qualifications have earned her bipartisan support in all of her past confirmations. On behalf of America’s consumers, we urge all Senators – regardless of party affiliation – to support this uniquely qualified jurist to be the next associate justice of the Supreme Court.”

Earlier this month, Greenberg and NCL Board Chair Joan Bray wrote to the Senate Judiciary Committee urging swift confirmation of Judge Jackson. That letter is available 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 www.nclnet.org.

 

National Consumers League Calls for Stronger Genetic Privacy Protections

April 7, 2022

Media contact: National Consumers League –  Katie Brown, katie@nclnet.org, (202) 207-2832

Washington, D.C. – The National Consumers League (“NCL”) today called on policymakers in Congress and the Biden Administration as well as industry leaders to adopt the organization’s new “Genetic Privacy Rights,” as guideposts for future actions to protect consumers’ genetic data. The group called for legislation, executive actions, and industry practices that protect the “complete confidentiality” of genetic data. The organization further called for the adoption of an “ethical use” standard prohibiting the use of consumers genetic data for military, surveillance, and similar purposes. Finally, given the emerging misuse of genetic data to violate human rights, the group called for protections against Americans’ genetic data being shared with countries deemed “foreign adversaries” of the United States.

“Unlike a password or credit card number, consumers’ DNA cannot be changed even if it has been compromised,” said John Breyault, NCL’s Vice President for Public Policy, Telecommunications and Fraud. “While personal data of all types can be misused to harm consumers, the unique and inalterable nature of genetic data makes special privacy and security protections necessary. As access to genetic data becomes increasingly widespread in both private and governmental contexts, the threats of misuse have only grown.”

The potential for misuse of genetic data has been highlighted by the activities of foreign adversaries of the United States. For example, entities associated with the Chinese government have made it a priority to collect genetic data of American citizens to help build more effective surveillance technologies. The Russian government has also sought to collect genetic data to build “genetic passports” that experts believe could be used to build lists of individuals’ genetic traits and health risks.

“Clear rules of the road that give consumers’ genetic data the utmost legal protection is urgently needed,” said Breyault. “Consumers should be confident that when they share their genetic data with health care providers or private entities, that data will not be shared for purposes beyond which it was provided or with entities that are not committed to the ethical use of that data.”

The full list of NCL’s proposed genetic privacy rights is available here. A roadmap of potential legislative, executive, and industry actions is available 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 www.nclnet.org.

National Consumers League support for investigation of anti-competitive practices in the live event ticketing industry

Media contact: National Consumers League –  Katie Brown, katie@nclnet.org, (202) 207-2832

 

April 1, 2022

 

The Honorable Jonathan Kanter

Assistant Attorney General

Antitrust Division

United States Department of Justice

950 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW

Washington, DC 20530-0001

 

RE: National Consumers League support for investigation of anti-competitive practices in the live event ticketing industry

 

Dear Assistant Attorney General Kanter,

On March 15, 2022, Senators Richard Blumenthal and Amy Klobuchar urged the Department of Justice (“the Department”) to investigate the state of competition in the live-event marketplace, including potential violations of Live Nation-Ticketmaster’s updated consent decree.[1] The National Consumers League, America’s oldest consumer advocacy organization, supports Senator Blumenthal’s and Senator Klobuchar’s request for the Department to take action on the issue of live entertainment marketplace competition.

As the Department is aware, just one company, Live Nation Entertainment (“LNE”), controls roughly 80% of the primary ticketing market following Live Nation’s vertical

integration with Ticketmaster.[2] In the Department of Justice’s own words, Ticketmaster benefits from “high barriers to other companies successfully, substantially, and profitably entering or attempting to expand in the market for primary ticketing services to major concert venues.”[3] There is no indication that the Live Nation-Ticketmaster merger (and further monopolistic actions since 2010) have reduced these barriers to entry.[4]

In fact, anticompetitive behavior in the live-event marketplace is so egregious that the Department was forced to obtain an updated consent decree with LNE in 2020.[5] Although the modified final judgement was a welcome act, consumers still suffer due to many of LNE’s business practices.[6] Since the announcement of the updated consent decree, Live Nation has continued to eliminate marketplace competitors, including an acquisition that received the Department’s approval.[7]

As a result of toxic market practices, concert attendees, sports fans, theater enjoyers, and other live-event goers must endure punishing hidden fees. In 2018, the Government Accountability Office found that on average, purchasers paid an additional 27% of the ticket’s original value in fees.[8] Recent media reports have found fees as high as 78% of the ticket’s starting price.[9] This is after consumers must contend with scalpers employing illegal ticket-buying “bot” software and other unscrupulous methods in order to even secure their tickets.[10]

The unfortunate state of the live entertainment marketplace warrants an investigation by the Department—with specific attention to LNE’s compliance with the updated consent decree. The harmful impacts of LNE’s near-monopoly are unacceptable. We urge the Department to conduct a thorough investigation of these practices and, if necessary, take action to ensure market health and consumer protection.

Sincerely,

Sally Greenberg

Executive Director

National Consumers League

 

[1] United States Senator Richard Blumenthal. Blumenthal & Klobuchar Urge DOJ Action to Restore Competition in the Concert & Live Entertainment Market. (March 2022). https://www.blumenthal.senate.gov/newsroom/press/release/blumenthal-and-klobuchar-urge-doj-action-to-restore-competition-in-the-concert_live-entertainment-market

[2] United States Government Accountability Office. Event Ticket Sales: Market Characteristics and Consumer Protection Issues. (April 2018). Pg. 4. https://www.gao.gov/assets/gao-18-347.pdf

[3] United States Department of Justice. Competitive Impact Statement, United States of America v. Live Nation Entertainment, Inc., No. 1:10-cv-00139 (D. D.C. Jan. 25, 2010). https://www.justice.gov/atr/case-document/competitive-impact-statement-209

[4] The Hollywood Reporter. Live Nation Accused of Shutting Out Venues That Don’t Use Ticketmaster. (January 2022). https://www.hollywoodreporter.com/business/business-news/live-nation-ticketmaster-class-action-1235070131/; Ticket News. Ticketmaster Resale Returns to Broker-Focused Conferences Despite Past Controversy. (July 2021). https://www.ticketnews.com/2021/07/ticketmaster-resale-returns-to-broker-focused-conferences-despite-past-controversy/

[5] United States Department of Justice. Justice Department Will Move to Significantly Modify and Extend Consent Decree with Live Nation/Ticketmaster. (December 2019). https://www.justice.gov/opa/pr/justice-department-will-move-significantly-modify-and-extend-consent-decree-live

[6] Variety. John Oliver Blasts Ticketmaster in Scathing Broadside Against Ticket Prices, Fees, Secondary Market. (March 2022). https://variety.com/2022/music/news/john-oliver-ticketmaster-prices-fees-secondary-market-1235204410/

[7] Complete Music Update. Ticketmaster gets approval for deal to buy Rival. (April 2020). https://completemusicupdate.com/article/ticketmaster-gets-approval-for-deal-to-buy-rival/

[8] United States Government Accountability Office. Event Ticket Sales: Market Characteristics and Consumer Protection Issues. (April 2018). https://www.gao.gov/products/gao-18-347

[9] The Guardian. John Oliver rips Ticketmaster and live music costs: ‘One of the most hated companies on earth’ (March 2022). https://www.theguardian.com/tv-and-radio/2022/mar/14/john-oliver-ticketmaster-live-music-costs

[10] United States Federal Trade Commission. Cracking down on ticket bots that leave you out in the cold. (January 2021). https://consumer.ftc.gov/consumer-alerts/2021/01/cracking-down-ticket-bots-leave-you-out-cold#:~:text=Ticket%20bots%20may%20also%20be,the%20tickets%20for%20higher%20prices

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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.