Social Insurance is a Better Model for Business

Check out our new resource, "Social Insurance is a Better Model for Business." It's a short and sweet factsheet on why the the social insurance model of the Universal Paid Leave Act (UPLA) is better than the "employer mandate" model proposed in all other alternative bills.

Here is a sneak-peek (spoiler alert!): Social insurance is a tested model. It is comprehensive; predictable; relieves businesses from administering the benefit; sets a level playing field between big and small businesses; evens out variations between businesses in leave usage; and enhances business growth. 

UPLA is the best model for DC, and it's the one we already chose!

DC Council Hearing After Recess

As you might know, we’ve been waiting for Chairman Mendelson to announce a hearing to discuss proposed legislation that would repeal and replace the Universal Paid Leave Act.

Although it was expected to take place before mid-July, we recently received confirmation that the DC Council hearing will not take place until after the summer recess -- sometime in September or even October.

Although it sounds far away, we need to use this summer to build a powerful and unbeatable movement to protect the Universal Paid Leave Act. We are still in serious need of people to sign up to testify at the hearing! Here’s what testifying means…

  • We help you with talking points, fact sheets, and give you all the information you need to prepare your 2-3 minute remarks.  

  • You'll attend the hearing and have your 3 minutes of fame! DC Council Members might even ask you a question or two about your story.  

By testifying in this upcoming hearing, you'll get a chance to tell your personal story to the DC Council and make your voice heard on this incredibly important issue. YOU will help the movement for paid family and medical leave cross the finish line!

Please sign up here or share this link with anyone you know who might want to: Of course, we'll keep you posted on the exact date of the hearing once it becomes public.

UPLA vs the Alternatives

There's been a slew of new repeal-and-replace legislation in the DC Council. Don't fret -- we know some of this info is hard to keep track of, so we've developed two new resources for you:

The first is an in-depth document containing Frequently Asked Questions about UPLA and the proposed alternatives.

The second is a nifty excel sheet that compares UPLA to all other proposed alternatives, including the Paid Leave Compensation Act of 2017 (introduced by CMs Evans, Cheh, and Gray), the Universal Paid Leave Compensation for Workers Amendment Act of 2017 (introduced by CMs Gray and Evans), Large Employer Paid-Leave Compensation Act of 2017 (introduced by CM Evans), and he Universal Paid Leave Amendment Act of 2017 (introduced by CM Cheh).

If you haven't already, please sign up to testify in the upcoming DC Council hearing about repealing and replacing UPLA. Also, please join our weekly call-in days every Friday. Lastly, if you have time during the day, please join us for our weekly lobby visits every Wednesday. Check out our awesome pictures from last week's meeting. Email if you're interested.  



Full funding for the Universal Paid Leave Act is in the DC budget!

We have an exciting update: Full funding for the Universal Paid Leave Act is in the DC budget, and it passed through the first budget vote today in the DC Council! There will be a second vote in two weeks, and after that the mayor will approve/veto the entire budget. In each of these subsequent steps, it becomes less and less likely that the money is under threat.

Unfortunately, our law is still at a high risk of being repealed and replaced. The work isn’t over yet, but we have great momentum to take us over the finish line. Some time in June or July, there will be a hearing to debate replacement legislation, and we want to keep the pressure up to protect the Universal Paid Leave Act. You can sign up to testify! Please sign up here or share this link with anyone you know who might want to:

In the meantime, you can join our weekly phone calls to members of the DC Council. #PaidLeave4DC call-in days happen EVERY Friday! These calls make a difference. Sign up here:

If you have any questions, feel free to email


A Note from Springboard Partners: Family Leave Needs Level Playing Field

Councilmember Mary M. Cheh is proposing changes to the DC Universal Paid Leave Act that could exclude small business from the program. Springboard Partners, one of the 8,000 companies that might be excluded under this proposal, wrote this excellent Letter to the Editor that was published by the Northwest Current. 


It's official: #PaidLeave4DC is moving forward.

If we're being honest, the past week and a half has been pretty nervewracking. This was the Mayor's veto window; she had the option to reject our bill, and send it back to the Council for reconsideration.

But we're thrilled to say that, as of last night, she declined to do so. This means that #PaidLeave4DC is moving forward, and the Universal Paid Leave Act is going to become law.

Many sincere thanks to the Council for bringing the bill to this point, and to the Mayor for hearing the will of the people. And of course, biggest thanks of all to YOU, our community, for your relentless hard work over the last two years. YOU ensured this victory, for all our families, every step of the way - including many last-minute calls and emails this past week.

The work's not quite done, though: now it's implementation time, and we're going to secure a strong, robust program. Join us.

Hannah & Joanna say goodbye. What's next?


It is time to wish farewell to the badass powerhouse team of Joanna Blotner and Hannah Zoe Weilbacher, who fearlessly and often sleeplessly led the DC Paid Leave campaign. Both women devoted immeasurable time, smarts, and passion, and in turn, made this a fierce and joyful campaign. We would not have won without Hannah and Joanna.

Soon, they will hand over the reins over to new leaders who will keep the grassroots pressure on to make sure the city moves forward towards realizing this dream. Read on for Hannah & Joanna's parting words, and send them your best wishes!

It's official - we worked so hard with all of you to win #PaidLeave4DC, and as the legislative campaign comes to an end, so does our time with JUFJ <3

We LOVED raising hell with all of you. We also know that we won't be far - we care too much about paid family and medical leave to totally disappear from this fight -- especially because JUFJ is taking on the larger, national fight for justice and resistance against tyranny.

While our focus will never stray from the needs of Washington, DC, we are more determined than ever that our organizing skills and our amazing community are acutely needed in this terrifying moment. Sign up to be a part of JUFJ's Jewish resistance work against Trumpism.

To carry the fight for paid leave forward, we are so excited to formally introduce you to Sarah and Liz! Many of you know them from their organizing with JUFJ. They are both brilliant and fearless. We promise: anything they ask you to do will be fun and meaningful. Reach out to them to get coffee (Sarah here; Liz here), or make sure to say hi when you see them at future JUFJ and Paid Leave events!

So what now for paid family leave? Didn't we win?

Yes! And how great is that?! However, people still don't have access to paid leave. The only way they will ever get access is if we:

  • Get startup funding for the Universal Paid Leave Insurance funded in the FY18 Budget
  • Pressure Mayor Bowser to meet implementation benchmarks

That sounds kind of boring...

We know! The good news is that it won't be. The other good news is that we still really, really need your help. Here's why:

Mayor Bowser could very possibly veto this bill. Her window to do so, though, expires on Thursday. So help us keep the pressure on throughout this week by calling the heck out of her office - every day this week, if you can.

Sign up now to make a call.

Okay, I did that. What else can I do to support this campaign??

So glad you asked. We are going to need serious people-power to implement the STRONGEST and BEST version of this bill. Join the implementation campaign to make sure this happens.

Sign up here to stay connected to our Implementation Campaign

Done! That was easy, too. What else?!

We do have one final request. JUFJ is a small and powerful organization. This is a blessing, and it comes with its limits. To be honest, the two of us are headed out the door because there simply aren't the funds to keep us on for longer. We know you are all thinking critically about your giving in this moment. We ask you to add JUFJ to the list of groups who are organizing for power and for progressive change. We can't do anything you count on us to do without the funds.

Click here to donate $18 to JUFJ in honor of Joanna and Hannah.

Signing off with courage,

Joanna Blotner and Hannah Zoe Weilbacher

Small businesses say YES to Universal Paid Leave Act and NO to Employer Mandate

December 19, 2016

To Members of the DC Council,

We are writing as small businesses operating in the District of Columbia to express our strong support for the Universal Paid Leave Act as adopted by the DC Council on first reading on December 6, 2016.  We strongly oppose proposals to replace the UPLA with an “employer mandate” that would require businesses to provide paid leave directly, without the benefit of a social insurance fund. The employer mandate meets the needs of big business in DC, at the expense of small locally owned businesses.

The UPLA will allow small businesses to provide an important benefit to their workers, that many currently cannot afford to do, that will improve morale and productivity, and reduce turnover. Paid family and medical leave will be good for our workers – and for our businesses. The UPLA uses a “social insurance model” that would provide a paid family and medical leave benefit to small businesses at a low and predictable cost. (Just $186 a year for an employee making $30,000.) Because paid leave benefits would be paid out of a fund managed by the city, small businesses would be able to pay for replacements when an employee takes leave, without adding to normal operating expenses.

By contrast, the employer mandate would be a nightmare for small businesses, keeping small business owners up at night worried about who will need leave next. An employer mandate would be financially risky, because no small business would be able to predict when one or more workers would need to take leave, for which small the business owners would be fully liable.

Big businesses can afford to pay out of pocket. Small businesses cannot: A big employer has enough employees to safely predict their annual paid leave costs - when you employ hundreds of people you can rely on averages, and you have millions of dollars in the bank to provide a cushion.  Small businesses could be scuttled by just one employee needing to take leave, if they have to produce thousands of dollars on demand. For example, one paternity leave for a middle income employee could cost a small business up to $8,000 out of pocket, perhaps more if they need to hire a replacement staffer.  Offering paid leave on our own is not financially feasible. Being required to provide it – with only minimal tax credits to offset the costs – is not right.

Businesses don’t need to be told to provide paid leave - they need a real way to be able to offer this life-saving benefit at a manageable, predictable cost. Without government leadership, paid leave will remain out of reach of thousands of DC small businesses and families.


Nizam Ali, Ben’s Restaurants

Pennye Jones-Napier, Big Bad Woof

Gina Schaefer, A Few Good Hardware Stores

Andy Shallal, Busboys and Poets

A Shavuot Teaching for Paid Family Leave

A Shavuot Teaching for Paid Family Leave

The period of the omer is a great metaphor for where we are in the Paid Family Leave campaign. In February we had an incredibly powerful public hearing on our paid family leave bill. For so many of us who are here tonight, that hearing felt like the start of a joyful journey toward a policy that will bring healing and stability to our city. Since then, we have been marching together to help turn the promise of that policy into law. Like the Israelites who wandered in the desert, we don’t exactly know what’s coming or what the final law will look like, but we and our community are working hard to make sure that this city receives the best possible legislation.