NELP Announces Merger with Brennan Center’s Economic Justice Project

Over the past year, the National Employment Law Project and our allies have begun to sense a new window of opportunity.  Increasing economic anxiety and the growth of a progressive economic policy and organizing infrastructure have created the most significant opening in decades for new action to restore our nation's promise of economic opportunity and to protect working families in an era of globalization.

While we are excited about this historic moment, we also know that taking advantage of it requires capacity that matches opportunity. That is why I am delighted to announce that NELP is merging with the Economic Justice Project of the Brennan Center for Justice at NYU Law School .  Bringing the Brennan Center team into NELP greatly expands our capacity to deepen ties with grassroots and national partners, promote a broader and more comprehensive policy agenda, and strengthen our advocacy for low-wage and unemployed workers in Washington , the states and local communities.

The Brennan Center 's Economic Justice Project is led by two of our movement's leading thinkers, Dr. Annette Bernhardt and Paul Sonn.  Paul is nationally recognized as a preeminent legal strategist for the living wage movement.  By bringing his unparalleled expertise into NELP, the merger will enable us to integrate the Brennan Center 's crucial efforts to raise the wage floor into our broader employment agenda.  Similarly, Annette is one of the nation's leading researchers and policy experts on issues related to low-wage and unregulated work.  She will play an incomparable role in nurturing NELP's further development into a well rounded research and policy organization.  They, along with the additional staff they bring with them into NELP, will enrich our work enormously.

Over the months and years ahead, the expanded NELP will take a comprehensive approach to the core problems of the 21st century labor market.  Our agenda will include:

  • Restoring the wage floor through minimum wage advocacy at the federal, state and local levels;
  • Improving enforcement of workplace protections for the nation's most vulnerable workers, including immigrants and low-wage workers;
  • Promoting the creation of good jobs through accountable development;
  • Strengthening the social insurance systems designed to assist unemployed and displaced workers and boost economic growth; and
  • Reducing arbitrary barriers that curtail job opportunities for millions, including persons with criminal records.  

In pursuing these goals, we will continue to use the strategy that has been a trademark of both organizations:  policy innovation backed up by legal analysis and economic research, done in close partnership with community-based, state and national allies and government reformers.

With the added scale that the merger brings to NELP, we are positioned to become an even stronger voice for working families in every forum - from the media to the legislative arena to grassroots organizing campaigns. NELP's staff and board of directors are tremendously excited about what we will be able to accomplish with our new colleagues in the years ahead.   I look forward to talking with you, our partners, in the coming months, as we develop plans for helping our nation seize this opportunity for change.


Christine L. Owens
Executive Director