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By Diane Harris

Diane Harris, policy analyst and DC resident of Ward 4, testifies to the Committee on Executive Administration & Labor, Department of Employment Services on behalf of CLASP.

CLASP seeks to ensure that the Mayor’s budget for FY 2025 promotes racial equity and economic opportunity for all in the District of Columbia. This involves:  

  1. Maintaining funding for D.C.’s Universal Paid Leave program,  
  2. Enacting the Universal Paid Leave Portability Amendment Act of 2023 (Bill B25-0127), and 
  3. Increasing program awareness through increased consistent educational outreach. 

Read the full testimony here.

By Diane Harris

4 min read.

On April 5, Virginia Governor Glenn Youngkin vetoed Senate Bill 373, which aimed to establish a mandatory paid family and medical leave program in the Commonwealth. This decision leaves millions of Virginia workers unable to afford time off to care for themselves or their family members.

Under the proposed bill, Virginia workers would have been entitled to eight weeks of job-protected paid leave for the following reasons:

To qualify for benefits under the proposed program, Virginia workers would have needed to meet two main criteria: submitting an application and earning a minimum of $3,000 in two quarters of their base period. However, Commonwealth employees, local officers, and employees of local school divisions would have been exempt from this program.

Paid Family and Medical Leave in the United States

Decades of research has shown that access to paid family and medical leave improves the health and well-being of workers and their families, leading to reduced infant mortality rates, improved access to and completion of treatments for cancer patients, and better maternal mental and physical health. Paid leave has also been shown to improve the economic security of working families by reducing worker turnover, improving job security, increasing labor force attachment for women, and leading to higher earnings for new mothers.

Despite these benefits, the United States is the only member country of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development that does not provide paid family and medical leave. While the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) offers job-protected leave, its unpaid nature renders it unusable for many Americans who live paycheck to paycheck. In addition, over a third (39 percent) of Virginia workers do not have access to FMLA because of its stringent requirements regarding hours worked, length of tenure, and size of worksites.

Given this gap at the federal level, states have taken the lead in passing and implementing paid family and medical leave programs. Momentum has surged in recent years, particularly in the aftermath of the COVID-19 pandemic, which highlighted the lack of work-family policies in the United States. Notably, half of the state-level paid family and medical leave programs have been enacted in the last five years.

States or Districts that have enacted paid family and medical leave, in chronological order by date enacted.

State/DistrictDate EnactedDate Effective
New Jersey20082009
Rhode Island20132014
New York20162018
District of Columbia20172020

What the Veto Means for Virginia Workers

The Commonwealth has a voluntary paid leave program, and parental leave is provided for Commonwealth employees. But Governor Youngkin’s veto leaves nearly four out of five Virginia workers without access to paid family and medical leave through their employers. The lack of paid leave imposes significant financial strain on workers, forcing many to make difficult decisions between financial stability and their health and well-being. For example, when a full-time worker in Virginia takes time off to attend to personal or familial needs, they lose an average of $960 each week.

Workers of color, women, workers with disabilities, or members of other marginalized communities are disproportionately affected by the lack of paid leave. These groups are often overrepresented in low-wage industries, which are less likely to provide such benefits.

Paid Family and Medical Leave Moving Forward

While Governor Youngkin’s veto prevents the bill from being signed into law this session, the successful passage of the bill in both chambers of the Virginia General Assembly marks a significant milestone after years of advocacy. This progress reflects strong support and momentum within the state and paves the way for future legislative discussions, such as including safe leave or extending the proposed leave duration from eight to 12 weeks. The American Academy of Pediatrics has consistently supported a minimum of 12 weeks of parental leave, and international paid family and medical leave programs have shown longer leaves produce greater benefits.

The Democratic majorities in the Commonwealth’s Senate and House of Delegates have discussed making the bill one of their top priority pieces of legislation. This signals an increased push by Virginia policymakers to make paid leave a reality for their constituents.

The growing number of state-level programs and strong advocacy campaigns signifies a nationwide push for paid family and medical leave. This trend expands access regionally and intensifies the pressure for a federal program.

This week: John Oliver Shouts out CLASP, Celebrating Women’s History Month

March 21, 2024

John Oliver Tackles Student Debt, Features CLASP Report

In the most recent “Last Week Tonight” show, John Oliver focused on student debt and cited a 2022 report we co-authored with the National Consumer Law Center. Our report addressed the disproportionate impact of student debt on Black borrowers.

CLASP Reflects on Women’s History Month

Over the month of March, CLASP has used our social media channels to lift up the voices and impact of women who have played key roles in the fight for economic, social, racial, and gender justice. Among the women we have featured so far are Nancy Duff Campbell, Marian Wright Edelman, and Marcia Greenberger. Stay tuned as we highlight other women leaders this month.

Unleashing Worker Power: Building Good Jobs Beyond the Traditional Workforce System

On March 12, CLASP, in partnership with other organizations, launched The Good Jobs Collaborative (GJC). In a new report released at the event, GJC features its findings from projects in which workers are improving their jobs through organizing, policy, workforce training, job restructuring, and more.
The United States remains one of the few countries that does not offer paid family or medical leave. This often forces working families to make the difficult choice between financial stability and their health and well-being. The recently re-introduced Family and Medical Insurance Leave (FAMILY) Act hopes to establish a comprehensive and inclusive federal paid leave policy that meets the needs of workers.

CLASP in the News


The Exploitation of Black Athletes


Young Workers Have Rights: What to Know About Your Labor Protections


POLITICO Weekly Education

Recent Events

March 19: Tiffany Ferrette gave a lecture at the University of Pennsylvania’s School of Social Policy and Practice on child care and early education policy situated within U.S. social systems and the history of race/ism in social policy.


March 14: India Heckstall spoke at the Generation Hope conference in New Orleans on a panel about CLASP’s work on Black student fathers.

By Lorena Roque

3 min read. 

Last week, a federal judge in Texas struck down the National Labor Relations Board’s (NLRB) joint employer rule. This rule is crucial to protecting workers’ rights, ensuring fair labor practices, and increasing corporate accountability. The joint employer rule would treat companies as joint employers that share control over working conditions of employees who have more than one employer, such as contracting agencies, staffing agencies, and franchises. This rule is especially important to workers earning low wages and in dangerous jobs, who need the protections of the National Labor Relations Act the most: those who are placed in jobs via temp or staffing agencies, and those who work in heavily contracted industries, including janitorial, construction, delivery, manufacturing, home care, and warehousing. 

U.S. District Judge J. Campbell Barker agreed with the challenge to the joint employer rule, stating that it is too broad and violates federal labor law. The judge argued that the rule would treat companies as the employers of contract or franchise workers even when they lacked any “meaningful” control over their working conditions. The judge’s ruling coincides with corporations such as Amazon, Starbucks, and Trader Joe’s desire to ban the NLRB entirely due to the increase in union drives. Therefore, as corporations continue to attack agencies and rules that are meant to hold employers accountable, workers are left in the precarious positions they already find themselves against employers. 

Corporations involved  in lower-wage industries also use subcontracting arrangements that can result in degraded working conditions and less access for workers to collective action and bargaining in the form of a union. In addition, these companies retain both direct and indirect control over working conditions in various ways. For example, new technologies make it easier for employers to keep tabs on workers. These surveillance practices have detrimental effects on workers’ health and affect their ability to organize. The joint employer rule would address this issue.

Not having a joint employer rule will affect the 3.2 million temporary staffing agency jobs in the United States, an industry that is growing faster than other private sector jobs. However, workers outsourced through staffing agencies earn less than direct hires for the same jobs. In fact, staffing agency workers earn 21 percent less in manufacturing jobs, 33 percent less in security jobs, and more than 47 percent less in teaching jobs than direct hires

The franchise model and its workers would also be affected by the joint employer rule, which would hold both franchisees and franchisors accountable for workers experiencing wage theft, discrimination, unsafe work environments, and unstable schedules. The structure of the franchise model can incentivize this abuse, as in most franchise models, the franchisee pays a royalty to the franchisor linked to revenue, not profit. The franchisee must follow strict rules around operation, quality of services, and sourcing of input products, which leaves little room for profit. However, a franchisee can control labor costs, and that’s where they squeeze employees. This system can create incentives for franchise operators to violate the law to make a profit on the backs of their employees. 

The NLRB’s proposed standard for joint employer status is critical to protect workers employed by franchises and other subcontractors and ensure that labor laws are enforced. The joint employer rule would ensure workers can effectively negotiate with their corporate employers, who ultimately make massive profits from these workers and tightly control many aspects of their working conditions.

By Christian Collins


This year’s National Collegiate Athletic Association’s (NCAA) Division 1 (D1) men’s basketball championship takes place at a contradictory moment for Black male college students. The Supreme Court’s recent ruling banning race-conscious admissions laid bare how, except in limited environments like college athletics, Black men are not viewed as valuable contributors on campuses. But in athletic environments, Black men are overrepresented, especially in the revenue-generating sports of football and basketball. And now, these programs are facing a long overdue athlete-driven and judicially sanctioned reckoning of how they actively exploit athletes.

Read the full article here.

With India Heckstall
You’re Invited! Webinar on Fostering Inclusion for Black Immigrant Students at HBCUs

Join us on March 21st at 2:30 pm ET/11:30 am PT for the Belonging at HBCUs for Black Immigrant Students webinar. The webinar will feature the new report, Fostering Inclusion for Black Immigrant Students at HBCUs, which discusses the role HBCUs play in:

Providing higher education opportunities for Black immigrant students, including undocumented Black Students; and Ensuring the viability and sustainability of HBCUs serving Black immigrant students.

>>Register here

In a surprise burst of bipartisanship in late 2023, the House Committee on Education and the Workforce advanced legislation reauthorizing the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA). Unfortunately, the compromise bill does little to re-balance our employer-dominated workforce development system or help workers navigate a labor market in which they have little power, few protections, and limited access to family-sustaining jobs.

It is time for a new approach to workforce development policy and practice that addresses the structural challenges facing low-wage workers, particularly workers of color. As the Senate takes up the reauthorization process, federal policymakers have the opportunity to broaden the conversation around workforce development and hear from workers and their advocates about how to build a system that puts the needs of workers first.

Please join us on March 12 from 10:30 am 12:00 pm EDT for the launch of The Good Jobs Collaborative, a new policy coalition of worker advocates, researchers, and policy experts committed to crafting a new approach to workforce development—one that is worker-centered. The event will take place at New America and will feature a lively discussion with labor leaders, workforce experts, and workers on what’s gone wrong with our approach to workforce development policy and how to fix it. Lunch will be provided.


The Good Jobs Collaborative: Background and Principles

Discussion: Labor Leaders and Workforce Development

Research: “Unleashing Worker Power: Case Studies in Building Good Jobs Beyond the Traditional Workforce System

Worker Perspectives

Concluding Remarks

The Good Jobs Collaborative includes the following organizations:

<< Back to Careers


The Center for Law and Social Policy (CLASP) seeks a senior policy analyst?to work on its Education, Labor & Worker Justice (ELWJ) team. The team is seeking an analyst with experience working in workforce development policy or job quality policy with a focus on paid family and medical leave and paid sick days policy.


The Center for Law and Social Policy (CLASP) is a national, nonpartisan, anti-poverty organization advancing policy solutions that work for people with low incomes and people of color. We advocate for public policies and programs at the federal, state, and local levels that reduce poverty, improve the lives of people with low incomes, and advance racial and economic justice. Our solutions directly address the barriers individuals and families face because of race, ethnicity, low income, and immigration status.

For more than 50 years, we have kept our vision alive through trusted expertise on policy and strategy, knowledgeable and committed staff, partnerships with directly impacted people and grassroots leaders, and approaches to economic and racial justice that are bold, innovative, and inclusive.

Within our broad anti-poverty mission, CLASP is organized around five policy teams: Child Care and Early Education; Education, Labor & Worker Justice; Income and Work Supports; Immigration and Immigrant Families; and Youth Policy. We also support cross-cutting bodies of work focused on the justice system and mental health.

CLASP Values for Racial Equity

We understand that inclusion is only the first step toward fostering sustainable racial equity, in our society and within our organizational culture. At CLASP, we value the importance of including multiple perspectives in how we shape our organizational culture and engage in our policy and advocacy efforts. However, we also know that to move beyond inclusion and achieve true racial equity we must be intentional in centering and prioritizing the voices, perspectives, and lived experiences of people of color. At CLASP, racial equity is our core value and informs all aspects of our organizational culture and the way we think about and approach our policy, issue, and advocacy areas. For true and sustainable change to happen in our country, historically white-founded and white-led policy and advocacy organizations must commit to full and immersive racial equity.

About the Education, Labor, & Worker Justice Team

The Education, Labor & Worker Justice team advocates for bold, worker-centered policies to address the inequitable and unjust nature of work paying low wages, including its root causes and disproportionate impact on Black, Latinx, and Indigenous workers and other workers of color. Supporting this North Star goal are the twin strategies of creating pathways to better jobs for workers earning low wages, with a specific focus on workers of color, and improving the jobs workers currently have. To create pathways to better jobs, we advocate for accessible and equitable workforce development opportunities, including subsidized jobs, Registered Apprenticeship programs, and postsecondary education. To improve existing jobs in low-wage sectors, we work to increase worker power-including the right to organize-and advocate for specific policies that improve job quality, such as access to paid leave and sick days, fair scheduling, and more robust enforcement of current labor law.

This position is based in the Washington, D.C., office. CLASP is currently working under a hybrid office model, with the expectation that staff work in-person at least four days a month. The Education, Labor & Worker Justice team will prioritize in-person workdays that align around the team’s shared schedules and offer meaningful opportunities to engage and collaborate with co-workers.

We have a mandatory vaccine policy as a condition of employment (applicable accommodations apply).


The Senior Policy Analyst will lead advocacy and implementation strategies in one of two core ELWJ policy areas: workforce development, with a focus on equity and access to quality jobs, including those created with recent federal investments; or job quality, with a focus on paid family and medical leave and paid sick day policy and implementation.

Responsibilities include but are not limited to:




CLASP offers exceptional benefits, including several health insurance options (most that currently require no employee-paid premiums). In addition, we provide the following benefits that currently require no employee-paid premiums: dental insurance, vision insurance, life insurance, short- and long-term disability insurance, and long-term care insurance. Additionally, we offer a 403(b)-retirement program with employer contributions, flexible spending accounts, and a no-cost gym onsite at our D.C. office. Finally, we provide generous vacation (four weeks in the first year), paid sick leave (three weeks annually), two personal days a year, paid family and medical leave, and paid holiday schedule.

CLASP is an equal opportunity employer committed to diversity and inclusion in the workplace and strongly encourages women and people of color to apply. We prohibit discrimination and harassment of any kind based on race, color, ethnicity, national origin, religion, gender, sexual orientation, disability, or age.

By Emily Andrews, Breanna Betts, Laura Dresser, India Heckstall, Peter Rickman, Teófilo Reyes

The Good Jobs Collaborative (GJC) is an evolving collaboration focused on transforming the nation’s workforce development system to advance economic justice, racial and gender equity, workers’ needs, and worker voice and power. Over the past year, we have identified and learned from projects where workers are improving jobs through organizing, policy work, workforce training, job restructuring, and more.

We feature three of these cases here: the Healthcare Career Advancement Program (H-CAP), a national labor-management organization; the Restaurant Opportunities Centers (ROC) United, an organization of more than 65,000 restaurant worker members; and the Milwaukee Area Service and Hospitality Workers Organization (MASH), an organization of more than 1,000 service and hospitality workers.

We hope that these cases will inspire interest, innovation, and concrete policy action to build a workforce development system that centers workers, tears down inequity in our labor markets, and raises the quality of jobs for all.

View the full report 


This research report is the first in a series from the Good Jobs Collaborative, a diverse coalition that brings policy experts and worker advocates into conversation on how to build a workforce development system that is responsive to the needs of workers first. The report was originally published by New America but is a product of the coalition and cross-posted to other websites.


By Diane Harris and Nat Baldino

When workers in the United States experience serious illness or caregiving responsibilities, they have few places to turn. While the Family and Medical Leave Act of 1993 (FMLA) provides federal job-protected leave for certain workers, the United States remains one of the few countries that does not offer paid family or medical leave. This leaves working families with the difficult choice between financial stability and their health and well-being. The recently re-introduced Family and Medical Insurance Leave (FAMILY) Act hopes to build on the successes of state models to establish a comprehensive and inclusive federal paid leave policy that meets the needs of workers.

>> Download report here