Consumer group hails vote on California table saw safety bill – National Consumers League

July 6, 2012

Contact: NCL Communications: (202) 835-3323, media@nclnet.org

Washington, DC—The National Consumers League (NCL) is celebrating the July 3 passage of the Table Saw Safety Act in the California Senate Judiciary Committee, receiving the three votes needed to move it from the Committee to the full State Senate. The California State Assembly had already passed the bill by a vote of 64-4.

NCL Executive Director Sally Greenberg, who traveled to Sacramento to speak in support of the bill, commended its author, Senator Das Williams (D-Santa Barbara), and the three members of the Judiciary Committee for their support. Greenberg testified that “based on national data, California consumers suffer 6,700 injuries each year from table saws and about one amputation each day. And the grave hazards posed by a 100mph-spinning table saw blade can be completely eliminated by technology either currently available or in development. We urge the Committee to act on this critical consumer safety measure.”

The California bill requires that, after January 1, 2015, any new table saw sold in the state of California must be designed with an “active injury mitigation system.” Such technology must be able to prevent or detect contact with, or dangerous proximity between, a hand or finger and the teeth of a spinning table saw blade, and act to prevent severe injury to the hand or the finger. Similar technology is already available on table saws in the market and they have proven successful at virtually eliminating the horrific lacerations and amputations that occur on table saws without the technology. The legislation is supported by consumer organizations, labor unions, and medical associations. It is opposed by table saw manufacturers and associated industry groups.

Daniel Curtin, Director of the California Conference of Carpenters, endorsed the legislation. He said, “The carpenters proudly support AB 2218 (Williams) because safety devices on table saws protect our members from severe injuries and possible loss of their livelihood.”

“The technology required by AB 2218 would help ensure that construction workers using dangerous table saws would have one more way to remain safe on the job,” said Cesar Diaz, Legislative & Political Director, State Building and Construction Trades Council, AFL-CIO.

The federal Consumer Product Safety Commission is also working on a proposed rule for a mandatory safety standard on table saws, but the time it will take for completion of a federal safety standard is unknown.

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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.

NCL Applauds Supreme Court decision on individual mandate in health care law – National Consumers League

June 28, 2012

Contact: NCL Communications: (202) 835-3323, media@nclnet.org

Washington, DC—The National Consumers League (NCL), the nation’s oldest consumer group, announced today that it is pleased at the Supreme Court’s action to uphold the individual mandate of the Affordable Care Act (ACA), a move that will extend health care coverage to more than 30 million Americans who currently lack it. NCL stands with other consumer, health, and worker groups, in support of the ACA. For decades, NCL has advocated for substantive reform to America’s health care system and was a staunch supporter of the Affordable Care Act when it passed in 2010.

“The Supreme Court’s landmark decision upholding The Affordable Care Act is a giant step toward the goal of providing health insurance for all Americans,” said Sally Greenberg, NCL Executive Director.  “We applaud the Court’s decision and look forward to broad implementation of the law. This decision brings the United States into league with the ever-growing number of nations – rich and poor – that have found it to be economically prudent to provide health care to their citizens. NCL hails this historic decision as a great victory for consumers, one that signifies a move toward a more patient-centered and cost effective health care system. We stand by the law, and the protections and coverage it has already afforded millions of Americans.”

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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.

Consumer organization to air concerns before Aviation Consumer Protection Board – National Consumers League

June 28, 2012 

Contact: NCL Communications, (202) 835-3323, media@nclnet.org

Washington, DC–The National Consumers League is testifying today before the newly formed federal Advisory Committee for Aviation Consumer Protection, calling on the Committee to address consumer concerns and provide basic consumer protections to the flying public. “We welcome the formation of this critical Advisory Committee to hear concerns from consumer and business groups and the flying public,” said Sally Greenberg, NCL’s Executive Director. “We look forward to sharing the experiences and frustrations of so many passengers who deal with the airlines,” said Greenberg. She is giving testimony today at the Department of Transportation (DOT).

NCL will be discussing a range of issues, from consumer privacy, the explosion of fees for luggage, seats, food, pillows, etc., above and beyond ticket prices, the need for greater fare and fee transparency, added scrutiny on change and cancellation fees, contract protections for consumers in frequent flyer programs, and opening consumer access to state courts in airline suits.

The FAA Modernization and Reform Act of 2012 (Pub. L. 112-95, 126 Stat.11 (2012) mandated the establishment of a committee to advise the Secretary of Transportation on airline customer service improvements. The Secretary established the Advisory Committee on May 24, 2012 and appointed four members, Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan as chair, David Berg from Airlines for America, Deborah Ale-Flint, Oakland International Airport’s director of Aviation, and Charles Leocha of the Consumer Travel Alliance. The meeting is scheduled to run from 9 am to 5 pm in the Oklahoma City Room at the US Department of Transportation.

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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.

NCL’s Greenberg testifying before CPSC: Table saws, ATVs, fire hazards – National Consumers League

June 20, 2012

 

 

 

 

Chairman Inez Tenenbaum
Commissioners Robert Adler, Nancy Nord and Anne Northup
U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission
4330 East-West Highway
Bethesda, Maryland 20814

 

SUBJECT: Agenda and Priorities FY 2014 

Dear Chairman Tenenbaum and Commissioners Adler, Nord and Northup:

On behalf of the National Consumers League,  I urge the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission to place the following issues among its top priorities in fiscal year 2014:

I. Table Saw Safety

On October 11, 2011, CPSC published an Advanced Notice of Proposed Rulemaking to consider whether to promulgate a mandatory performance standard to address the unreasonable risk of injury associated with table saws.  The National Consumers League, joined by Consumer Federation of America, Consumers Union, Public Citizen, and U.S. PIRG, submitted comments urging the Çommission to move forward with the rulemaking.

Our comments noted that tens of thousands of serious injuries occur every year as a result of contact with a table saw blade while in operation.  These injuries cost society well over $2 billion every year.[1] The benefits of reducing these injuries outweigh the costs to manufacturers of re-designing their saws.  The voluntary standard that has existed, with modifications, since 1971, now requires table saws to be equipped with a modular blade guard and riving knife.  While the latest version of the standard is a modest improvement over previous versions, blade guards, riving knives and other anti-kickback devices alone are not effectively addressing the tens of thousands of serious blade contact injuries that continue to occur.

We urged CPSC to enact a technology-neutral performance standard that would require manufacturers to equip table saws with safety devices that would mitigate injury when the operator comes in contact with, or in close proximity to, the spinning blade.

The comment period for the ANPR has passed, and we understand the CPSC staff is currently reviewing the comments to determine whether to recommend that the agency published a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking.  We hope that the Commission will publish an NPR soon, so that a standard can be enacted as quickly as possible.  With every day that goes by, approximately ten more people lose fingers in preventable table saw accidents.

We urge the Commission to budget staff time and resources in fiscal year 2014 for what we hope will be the final stages of the rulemaking process for a table saw safety standard.  It is long overdue.

II. All Terrain Vehicle Safety

We also urge the Commission to budget staff time and resources in fiscal year 2014 for All Terrain Vehicles.  We recognize in 2012 that the Commission is expected to complete its 2006 rulemaking. However, we urge the Commission specifically to commit resources to continuing research related to ATV safety in fiscal year 2014 and beyond.

III.  Fire and Carbon Monoxide Hazards 

We urge the Commission’s continued commitment to technical research in the areas of fire and carbon monoxide hazards. CPSC’s own data indicate that there are annually 386,000 fires, 2,390 deaths, 12,530 injuries and $6.92 billion property losses related to fires. Cooking equipment and heating equipment account for the largest shares of these fires. We need federal safety agencies with CPSC’s jurisdiction to continue research into ways to make cooktops and space heaters safer and less likely to start fires.

Regarding carbon monoxide, CPSC’s own data indicate that there are close to 200 unintentional, non-fire CO deaths a year from consumer products such as generators and gas fueled furnaces. This does not count the more than 200 deaths a year CDC attributes to CO exposure from automobiles. We urge CPSC to remain focused on technological solutions that will prevent  these useful products from silently killing consumers. Finally, both hazards can be mitigated by effective, and relatively inexpensive, alarms. We urge the Commission to make upgrades and updates to the smoke alarm and carbon monoxide alarm standards a priority in 2014 and beyond.


[1] Caroleene Paul, Briefing Package, Recommended Advance Notice of Proposed Rulemaking for Performance Requirements to Address Table Saw Blade Contact Injuries, U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (September 2011) [hereinafter – “CPSC ANPR Staff Briefing Package”] pages 2-3.

NCL statement in support for S.B. 875/A-2258 in New Jersey legislature – National Consumers League

June 18, 2012

Contact: NCL Communications, (202) 835-3323, media@nclnet.org

Washington, DC–The National Consumers League today announced its strong support for S.B. 875/A-2258, pro-consumer ticketing legislation currently pending in the New Jersey state legislature. The League, founded in 1899, is America’s pioneer consumer organization.  Since 2009, NCL has led the fight to protect consumers at all levels of the live event industry.  This includes support for legislation that prohibits ticket-buying “bot” software, increases transparency of ticket holdbacks and promotes transferability and consumer choice in the secondary ticket market.

The following statement is attributable to John Breyault, NCL Vice President of Public Policy, Telecommunications and Fraud, who today testified in support of the bills:

“Consumers deserve a fair shot at buying tickets, and when they buy those tickets they should own them.  Instead, they often find themselves at the mercy of ticket ‘bots’ and ticketing companies that hold back thousands of tickets for the benefit of V.I.P.’s, promoters, team owners and ticket brokers.  What’s worse, rather that work with consumer groups to address these issues, Ticketmaster continues to promote paperless ticketing – an anti-fan technology that takes away consumers’ rights to share or resell tickets or even to donate their tickets to charities.  We applaud the sponsors of S.B. 875 and A-2258 for their leadership and look forward to working with them to protect consumers in the Garden State.”

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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, visitwww.nclnet.org.

Consumer Action and The National Consumers League joint statement on Michigan Senate Introducing Pro-Consumer Ticketing Legislation – National Consumers League

June 14, 2012

Contact: NCL Communications, (202) 835-3323, media@nclnet.org

Washington, DC–Consumer Action and the National Consumers League jointly issued the following statement regarding the introduction in the Michigan Senate of SB 1186 and SB 1187, legislation protecting the rights of Michigan’s live event fans.

“Going to a concert or sporting event should be an exciting occasion for consumers. Unfortunately, consumers too often walk away confused and angry from the ticket-buying experience. This is because unscrupulous scalpers use sophisticated software bots to cut in line and grab the best tickets to the hottest events.  Artists, promoters and venues hold back thousands of tickets for fan club pre-sales, credit card users and VIPs. Even when they are lucky enough to buy tickets, restrictive paperless tickets dictate how – or whether – consumers can share or transfer their tickets, including whether they are permitted to give away tickets to charitable organizations or give them as a gift.

We applaud State Senator Joe Hune for his leadership in protecting live event fans and promoting competition in the market for tickets.”

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About Consumer Action

Consumer Action has been a champion of underrepresented consumers nationwide since 1971. A nonprofit 501(c)3 organization, Consumer Action focuses on consumer education that empowers low to 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.

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.

NCL releases the Five Most Dangerous Jobs for Teens 2012 Report – National Consumers League

June 7, 2012

Contact: NCL Communications, (202) 835-3323, media@nclnet.org

Washington, DC –With the school year winding down, many teenagers are in search of that increasingly hard-to-find summer job. The nation’s oldest consumer organization is warning teens and their parents to exercise caution in choosing summer jobs: every day in the United States about 400 teens are hurt on the job; every eleven days, a teen is killed at work.

In the Five Most Dangerous Jobs for Teens 2012, a new report on teen worker safety released by the National Consumers League (NCL), the consumer group is reminding teen jobseekers that some jobs are more dangerous than others and providing practical advice for teens and their parents on how to stay safe on the job.

“Our tough job market may lead young people who need jobs to take ones that are unsafe,” said Reid Maki, NCL’s Director for Social Responsibility and Fair Labor Standards. Since 2000, the percentage of working teens has fallen 40 percent—in part because the federal government has cut back on funding for youth programs and in part because of the global economic recession. The weakening of child labor laws in some states, and the withdrawal of proposed federal safety protections for children who work in agriculture, also mean that children may not be as safe in the coming year.

“Teens just entering the job market may not think that their job could kill them, but for 34 children and teenagers last year, it did.” said Maki. “Two 14-year-old girls detasseling corn last year in Illinois were electrocuted by irrigation equipment in a saturated field. A six-year-old died as he helped at his father’s landscaping business, feeding a branch into a woodchipper and instantly pulled in to his death,” said Maki. Thousands of teen workers are also injured. Two 17-year-olds in Oklahoma became trapped in grain augur last summer, losing a leg each—an example of the traumatic injuries that can occur.

NCL’s Five Most Dangerous Jobs for Teens in 2012: (full report here)

  • Agriculture: Harvesting Crops and Using Machinery
  • Construction and Height Work
  • Traveling Youth Sales Crews
  • Outside Helper: Landscaping, Groundskeeping, and Lawn Service
  • Driver/Operator: Forklifts, Tractors, and ATV’s

One survey cited in the report found that more 10 percent of teenagers had been physically assaulted on the job and another 10 percent said they had been sexually harassed. The report also details dangers associated with work-related driving, meatpacking, and jobs in restaurants and retail stores.

“The National Consumers League issues our Five Most Dangerous Jobs for Teens report to remind teens and their parents to choose summer jobs wisely,” said Sally Greenberg, Executive Director of NCL. “We want teens to have a safe and productive work experience. The report provides valuable tips and suggestions to ensure that parents can help children protect themselves on the job and help teens be proactive about their own safety.”

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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.

NCL calls out American Crystal Sugar Company for inconsistencies regarding worker welfare – National Consumers League

June 6, 2012

Contact: NCL Communications, (202) 835-3323, media@nclnet.org

Washington, DC–The National Consumers League, the oldest consumer advocacy organization in the country, sent a letter to the American Crystal Sugar Company today expressing disappointment with the company’s prolonged lockout of 1,300 union employees.

“We are perplexed at the continued actions of the American Crystal Sugar Company,” said Sally Greenberg, NCL’s Executive Director. The sugar industry supports industry-wide price supports and other subsides that they claim help create and maintain American jobs. This program costs American consumers an estimated $3.5 billion each year. NCL pointed out the inconsistencies in American Crystal’s position. “They profess their commitment to creating American jobs while at the same time locking out workers, all the while enjoying the largesse of consumer funded sugar subsidies.”

“Sugar growers have long justified the continued existence of the U.S. sugar program by pointing to their role as job creators,” said Greenberg. “We find this argument specious in light of American Crystal’s prolonged lockout of over 1,300 workers.” For nine months, since August 2011, the American Crystal Sugar Company, a sugar-beet processing company headquartered in Moorhead, Minnesota, has locked out union employees from their jobs.

“American Crystal should illustrate its commitment to creating and maintaining American jobs by engaging in good faith negotiations with its workers,” said Greenberg. “It is also time for the American government to stop subsidizing a profitable industry that treats American workers so poorly.”

Read Greenberg’s letter here.

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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.

Sweet victory for consumer advocates: FDA denies Corn Refiners’ petition for High Fructose Corn Syrup name change – National Consumers League

June 1, 2012

Contact: Carol McKay, NCL Communications, (412) 945-3242, carolm@nclnet.org

Washington, DC—Consumer advocacy organizations today welcomed the decision by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to reject a bid by the Corn Refiners Association (CRA) to change the name of High Fructose Corn Syrup (HFCS) to “corn sugar.”

“This is an important victory as it upholds the principle of ‘truth in labeling’ for consumers,” said Sally Greenberg, Executive Director of the National Consumers League (NCL). “We applaud the FDA for acting as the ‘cop on the beat’ to ensure consumers aren’t misled by changing the name of High Fructose Corn Syrup to something it is not.”

The groups—NCL, Consumers Union (CU), Consumer Federation of America (CFA), and Shape Up America! (SUA)—signed a letter to FDA Commissioner Margaret Hamburg in April of this year asking that the agency reject the CRA’s proposed name change.

The consumer letter called on the agency to “promptly deny” the CRA petition to change the name of HFCS and noted that the FDA had received nearly 5,000 comments submitted from the general public opposing the name change, at a ratio of 100:1  and urged the agency to act quickly because “FDA’s failure to promptly deny the CRA petition allows the trade association to continue to run deceptive marketing campaigns calling HFCS ‘corn sugar’ and confuses consumers who wish to avoid the ingredient.”

FDA rejected the CRA petition in a letter to the trade association made public yesterday stating that “we conclude that your petition does not provide sufficient grounds for the agency to authorize ‘corn sugar’ as an alternate common or usual name for HFCS.”

The FDA letter further stated, “The use of the term ‘sugar’ to describe HFCS, a product that is a syrup, would not accurately identify or describe the basic nature of the food or its characterizing properties. As such, using the term ’sugar’ would not be consistent with the general principles governing common or usual names.”

CRA’s petition, filed in 2010, asked the FDA to do several things, including amend the generally recognized as safe (GRAS) status of HFCS to designate “corn sugar” as an alternate name for the product.

“We agree with the agency’s assessment that changing the name of HFCS to ‘corn sugar’ would not accurately reflect the product’s composition and would mislead consumers,” said Urvashi Rangan, Director of Consumer Safety and Sustainability at Consumers Union. “Traditional sugar and HFCS are distinct and very different products.”

“Thousands of consumers wrote to the FDA urging the agency to deny the petition,” said Chris Waldrop, Director of the Food Policy Institute at Consumer Federation of America. “FDA’s decision preserves information on the ingredient label that consumers want to know.”

“Honest labeling is an essential part of reducing diet-related illnesses and diseases,” added Barbara J. Moore, President and CEO of Shape Up America! “We congratulate FDA for making a decision that serves to protect consumers.”

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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.

NCL files formal complaints with USDA about modernization act: bad news for consumers and workers – National Consumers League

May 29, 2012

Contact: NCL Communications, (202) 835-3323, media@nclnet.org

Washington, DC—Today the National Consumers League (NCL), whose mission is to promote the interests of both workers and consumers, filed formal comments with the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) regarding the agency’s proposed rule “Modernization of Poultry Slaughter Inspection.”

In its comments, NCL expressed serious concerns over the proposed changes. Today, USDA officials inspect each bird that is slaughtered, checking for visible defects that could indicate food safety concerns. The agency’s proposed rules would alter this system, privatizing some functions and increasing line speeds to up to 175 birds per minute.

“We are concerned about several aspects of this proposal,” said Sally Greenberg, Executive Director of NCL. “First, that faster line speeds will result in decreased safety, for both food safety and worker safety.” One major concern is that the proposed rule does not mandate any training for plant employees. “While the agency has indicated it will issue guidance on training, the lack of standards for training could well result in uneven implementation and inconsistent levels of safety,” said Greenberg.

“With line speeds approaching an astonishing 200 birds per minute, we are also concerned about the safety of men and women working on the line, slaughtering and inspecting these birds,” Greenberg added. “Already at current line speeds, close to sixty percent of workers suffer from carpel tunnel syndrome. Increased line speeds will undoubtedly lead to even higher rates of injuries.”

“Because of our strong reservations over both the worker and food safety implications of this proposed rule, we urge the agency to withdraw the proposed rule,” said Greenberg. The National Consumers League joins other consumer groups, several unions and the National Council of La Raza in opposing the proposed rule and asking that it be withdrawn.

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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.