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.

This Memorial Day weekend, shop your values: support businesses that support paid family leave!

Some big lobbyists would love for you to believe that paid leave is bad for business. Apparently, our local business community didn’t get the message. They’re joining the DC Paid Family Leave coalition in droves—because caring for your employees is good business. These businesses recognize that life happens to all of us, and nobody should have to choose between caring for themselves, a new child, an elderly parent, or a sick partner, and earning a paycheck.

PRESS RELEASE: Advocates Call on Mayor Bowser and DC Council to Advance Complete Agenda for Working Families

For Immediate Release
April 12, 2016

Contact: Rebecca Ennen

During last month’s State of the District address, Mayor Bowser committed to raise the minimum wage by 2020. Today, local economic justice advocates are calling on the Mayor and the Council to go further and support a complete agenda for working families. At a time of enormous national momentum for policies that meet the needs of 21st century working families and catalyze strong local economies, DC should be a model jurisdiction in creating more good jobs that enable struggling people and families to earn a decent living.

PRESS RELEASE: DC Paid Family Leave Campaign Celebrates New York’s Progress on 12 Weeks of Paid Family Leave for All

For Immediate Release
April 4, 2016

Contact: Rebecca Ennen

“We congratulate our fellow activists in New York who worked tirelessly to achieve this momentous victory for working families, and salute the elected leaders who listened to their voices and took action. Today’s families need both higher wages and paid leave to pay the bills, care for children and loved ones, and have a fair shot at a decent life. We’re excited to see New York lead the way– leadership we hope the DC Council and Mayor Bowser will follow."

PRESS RELEASE: Experts tell Council: Cost of Paid Leave For All Low, Business and Community Benefits Significant

January 14, 2016

Contact: Josh Nanberg, 267/242-7268


Days after DC area was named “most expensive place to raise a family,” Council hears testimony on plan to offer 16 weeks paid family and medical leave to DC residents and employees.