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]

Current leadership[edit]

Sally Greenberg, formerly a senior attorney at Consumers Union (CU), is the executive director of the National Consumers League. Greenberg has worked with members of Congress, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, other federal agencies, the media and consumer safety organizations to shape policy on such issues as product safety, auto safety, and legal and liability reform.

Educational campaigns[edit]

Current NCL educational campaigns include:

Choose To Lose, NCL's brand new survey conducted by Harris Interactive finds that while many Americans think they’re “lighter” than they are, most are not being told by a doctor they need to lose weight.

NCL's 2007 Five Worst Teen Jobs warns youth and parents about the dangers of some summer jobs. Over one million youth have been injured on the job since the release of the NIOSH Report on Deficiencies in Federal Child Labor Protections.

Second annual Corporate Social Responsibility survey conducted with Fleishman-Hillard Inc, examined the expectations that the public has of corporate America and the factors that drive those beliefs and attitudes.


LifeSmarts ( is an interactive program to teach teenagers consumer and marketplace skills.

NCL's Fraud Center's ( was designed to protect consumers from telemarketing and Internet fraud, and get their complaints to law enforcement agencies.

The Child Labor Coalition ( is an international organization committed to strengthening child labor protections.

The SOS Rx Coalition ( is a partnership of more than 75 organizations working to make the outpatient use of medicines safer.

Corporate Contributions[edit]

The National Consumers League accepts contributions from corporations.

After the U.S. Food and Drug Administration rejected the approval of Addyi (flibanserin), a drug to increase female sexual desire, the manufacturer, Sprout Pharmaceuticals, supported the creation of a new women's group, Even the Score, to urge the F.D.A. to approve Addyi. The National Consumers League joined Even the Score, accepted financial contributions from Sprout, and supported the approval of Addyi, which was approved in 2015.[6]

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
  6. ^ F.D.A. Approves Addyi, a Libido Pill for Women, By ANDREW POLLACK, New York Times, AUG. 18, 2015

External links[edit]