National Consumers League

From the Experts Blog

NCL staff is hard at work for you playing watchdog on a variety of issues. Get to know the latest From the Experts!

Remembering Tom Lantos (1928-2008)

By National Consumers League staff

We were saddened to hear of last week’s passing of longtime friend to NCL and workers’ rights advocates, Representative Tom Lantos (D-CA), who died February 11 at the age of 80. Five years ago, the National Consumers League honored Lantos with a Trumpeter Award for his advocacy for modernizing America’s child labor laws, work which started when he chaired the House Government Reform Employment and Housing Subcommittee hearings on the state of child labor in 1990.

We partnered with Lantos and his legislative staff in 2003 to introduce the Young Worker Protection Act, a bill proposed to eliminate exploitative child labor in the United States. Lantos was a firm believer in the need for updating antiquated child labor laws governing young American workers, and his bill would have made amendments to the 1938 Fair Labor Standards Act to reflect the realities of the 21st century workplace.

“The exploitation of child labor cannot be tolerated in America. It is not a thing of the past but a very real problem that continues to jeopardize the health, education, and lives of many of our nation’s youth workers. These youth work long, hard hours, often under dangerous conditions. [We seek] to eliminate the all-too-common exploitation of teen workers—working late into the night while school is in session and working under hazardous conditions,” Lantos said at a 2003 press conference on Capitol Hill.

It was a pleasure to have worked with Congressman Lantos. He will be missed.


Kids and Cars Bill en Route to President Bush!

By National Consumers League staff Great news! We just got word that the Kids and Cars bill has passed the Senate and is on its way to the Oval Office! We blogged about this bill a while back - it's a bill that would protect young children from being backed over and hurt or killed by cars driving in reverse by making the cars themselves safer. NCL's Executive Director Sally Greenberg worked on this issue when she was a senior attorney at Consumers Union, and we're thrilled that the lobbying has paid off! Today, the Senate unanimously passed the bill, which was sponsored by Congresswoman Jan Schakowsky (D-IL) and Congressman Peter King (R-NY), (the bill bears the name of his young constituent, Cameron Gulbransen, a victim of backover) and cosponsored by more than 40 other senators from both sides of the aisle. Once President Bush signs the bill into law, eventually every new light vehicle will be required to meet a standard for rear visibility, allowing drivers to detect objects behind them. Additionally, vehicles will be required to be set up so that the brake must be depressed to shift into gear, preventing young children from playing with a gear shift and setting a car in motion. Finally, the new law will call for data collection by the federal government for these types of nontraffic, noncrash incidents, which are not systematically tracked now by the government. Stay tuned for more as we continue to track this important bill's progress!


Love Stinks!

by NCL staff

A little while back, we blogged about a relatively new scam we’ve been tracking at NCL’s Fraud Center: the Sweetheart Swindle. We’ve been crunching numbers lately to look at the top scams of 2007, and we found something that’s really surprised us: despite the fact that NCL’s Fraud Center has only been tracking this type of scam since July 2007, it gained enough momentum in the second half of the year to move to the top 10 scam list. According to complaints logged at www.fraud.org, the average victim lost more than $3,038 last year to Sweetheart Swindles. However, the full extent of the fraud is unknown, given many victims’ reluctance to admit to being scammed.

Yikes!

Here’s one such sad story:

In April 2007, “Donna” cautiously ventured into the world of online dating. Within a week, she was contacted by a man with whom she began to chat. They chatted multiple times a day for seven months. He said he was a wealthy business man, who lived in a nearby city and was temporarily in Africa on business. In October, he said his contract in Africa would soon be up and that he wanted to meet, but he needed $250 to hold him over until a check cleared. Donna offended her new sweetie when she expressed her hesitancy to give money to a stranger. So she sent him the money, and later another $1,500, never to hear from him again.

Stay tuned for more stories of love – and money – lost through Sweetheart Swindles.


Tell ‘Em What You Really Think about America’s Health Care

By Ria Eapen

When it comes to health care, what matters most to you?  And what changes would you make to our country’s health care system?

AFL-CIO, the largest organization of working people in America, and Working America, the 2 million-member community affiliate of the AFL-CIO, are interested in what Americans think about these issues and have sponsored the 2008 Health Care for America Survey to hear what you have to say.

Survey findings will be given to the presidential candidates, every U.S. Senator and Representative, every candidate for Congress, and state and local officials in every state in our country.  This survey gives you the chance to have your voice heard by leaders and candidates at every level. And everyone who completes the survey will have an opportunity to view the results. Neat!


Alcohol Facts

By National Consumers League staff What's a dieter to do? A solid month into the new year, resolutions going strong: counting calories, exercising, avoiding late-night binges. But the weekend's just around the corner, and one can only avoid Friday happy hours for so long. Wouldn't it be nice if somehow you could actually look at any bottle of beer or wine or tequila and find out how many calories or grams of fat are in it? Have allergies? Wouldn't it be nice to know the ingredients in what you're drinking? Counting carbs? Watching your alcohol intake? What's an info-seeking consumer to do? Currently, the labeling on beverages containing alcohol is all across the board, with most drinks lacking easy-to-find information about calories, serving sizes, etc. For years, NCL has been asking the federal government to make a change for the positive and better regulate this stuff with a standardized, useful "Alcohol Facts" label. (Think "Nutrition Facts" for beer.) Here's our latest call for change.