Working Across America: NELP’s 2015 Annual Report


The year 2015 found NELP working hard across America to raise wages, improve labor standards and their enforcement, make hiring policies fairer for all jobseekers, strengthen crucial supports for the unemployed, and tackle complex employment challenges facing workers in the subcontracted and on-demand economies.

The politics were often harsh, and the rhetoric even harsher. Nonetheless, with energy and urgency from the Fight for $15 and the Black Lives Matter movements fueling grassroots activism and demands for change, advocates across America succeeded in winning meaningful reforms benefiting millions of workers and their families. NELP was in the vanguard of many of these fights, joining with partners to help win:

Historic minimum wage increases in states and cities across the country, ranging from $15 or more in three major cities to first-ever citylevel minimum wages in states like Alabama, Kentucky, and Iowa;

• Innovative wage board orders in New York State requiring higher pay for tipped workers and a $15 minimum wage for fast-food workers;

“Ban the box” hiring policies in 6 states and 25 localities, ensuring that jobseekers with past convictions have a fair chance at employment;

• A court ruling upholding wage-and-hour protections for two million home care workers and an NLRB “joint employer” decision boosting corporate accountability in contract employment; and

• Proposed reforms to expand eligibility for overtime pay, potentially benefiting up to 13.5 million workers now subject to mandatory overtime with no pay at all.

The wind at our backs from these and other victories will help us surmount the headwinds facing us this year.

Make no mistake: 2016 presents exciting opportunities, including momentous minimum wage ballot campaigns, an expanded push to help people with records get jobs, and heightened awareness of the need to level the playing field in the online economy. But there are threats too, posed by the potential outcomes of November’s elections and by key cases before the Supreme Court, including those involving union rights for public sector workers and the ability of all workers to act collectively in challenging wage violations. That’s why our work this year will move on two tracks—advancing the ball where we can, holding the line where we must.

As always, we are grateful for your support of NELP, and look forward to continuing to partner with you in the important work ahead.


Christine Owens
Executive Director

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