National Consumers League

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The National Consumers League, founded in 1891, is an American consumer organization. The National Consumers League is a private, nonprofit advocacy group representing consumers on marketplace and workplace issues. The NCL provides government, businesses, and other organizations with the consumer's perspective on concerns including child labor, privacy, food safety, and medication information.

The National Consumers League was chartered in 1899 by social reformers Jane Addams and Josephine Lowell. Its first general secretary was Florence Kelley. Under Kelley's direction, the League's early focus was to oppose the harsh, unregulated working conditions many Americans were forced to endure. The founding principles of the NCL are: "That the working conditions we accept for our fellow citizens should be reflected by our purchases, and that consumers should demand safety and reliability from the goods and services they buy." The league's focus continues to be to promote a fair marketplace for workers and consumers.[1]

Florence Kelley[edit]

Under Kelley's leadership, the League established labeling certifying that products were made under fair working conditions, protected workers from exploitation by employers, promoted food inspection and advocated for child labor restrictions, the limiting of work hours and establishing minimum wage laws for women.[1] Kelley was opposed to sweatshops and for the minimum wage, eight-hour workdays,[2] and children's rights.[3]

In founding the National Consumers League in 1899, one of Kelley's strong concerns was that the league oppose sweatshop labor.[4] Kelley also worked to establish a work-day limited to eight hours. In 1907 she participated in the Supreme Court case Muller v. Oregon, which sought to overturn limits to the hours female workers could work in non-hazardous professions. Kelley helped file the "Brandeis Brief", which included sociological and medical evidence of the hazards of working long hours, and set the precedent of the Supreme Court's recognition of sociological evidence, which was used to great effect later in the case "Brown v. Board of Education".[5]

See also[edit]

Further reading[edit]

  • Josephine Goldmark, et al. "The Work of the National Consumers' League. During the Year Ending March 1, 1910," Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Science Vol. 36, Supplement (Sept 1910) pp 1–75 in JSTOR, primary source


  1. ^ a b National Consumers League (2009). A Brief Look Back on 100+ Years of Advocacy. Retrieved on: 2012-01-06.
  2. ^ Kathryn Kish Sklar, "Florence Kelley", Women Building Chicago, 1790-1990: A Biographical Dictionary, Rima Lunin Schultz and Adele Hast, eds., Indiana University Press, Bloomington, Indiana, 2001, p. 463
  3. ^ Margolin, C.R. (1978) "Salvation versus Liberation: The Movement for Children's Rights in a Historical Context," Social Problems. 254. (April), pp. 441-452
  4. ^ Sklar, p. 464
  5. ^ Sklar, pp. 465

External links[edit]