Over 125 Groups Urge President Obama to “Finish the Job” and Extend Ban-the-Box to Federal Contractors

Washington, DC—Today, on the first day of National Reentry Week, 136 civil rights, faith-based, criminal justice, and labor groups delivered a letter calling on President Obama to extend “ban the box” to the nation’s federal contractors.

The groups commended the President for taking important steps to reduce federal hiring barriers faced by people with conviction records, and further urged the President to “finish the job” and open up employment opportunities with federal contractors, which employ one in four U.S. workers.

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“Given the limited window of opportunity remaining before the current presidential term ends,” the letter states, “we urge the administration to build on its significant record of accomplishments and take the critical next step . . . to immediately issue an Executive Order leveraging federal taxpayer dollars to ensure that federal contractors do their part to eliminate unnecessary and discriminatory barriers to employment for the 70 million people in this country with criminal records.”

The National Employment Law Project and The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights are joining forces with All of Us or None, JustLeadershipUSA, PICO National Network, AFL-CIO, American Civil Liberties Union, PolicyLink, the Southern Coalition for Social Justice, and over 100 national, state, and local organizations to prioritize immediate executive action on this critical issue.

Currently, 23 states and over 100 cities and counties across the nation have embraced fair-chance hiring. The letter released today makes the case for immediate action by the President, pointing out that most of the nation’s largest federal contractors already are obligated to comply with private-sector ban-the-box laws in effect in seven states and many of the nation’s largest cities (including New York City, Chicago, Seattle, San Francisco, Baltimore, Philadelphia, and Washington, D.C.). An estimated 25 percent of the nation’s civilian workforce (over 40 million workers) are employed in a state or locality where private-sector employers are now covered by a ban-the-box law.

On Wednesday, 52 House members, led by Congressmen Elijah Cummings (D-MD) and Bobby Scott (D-VA), sent their own letter to the President to urge immediate executive action, clarifying that pending legislation (H.R. 3470) that would extend ban-the-box to federal contractors no longer has a “clear path forward.” The House members called on the President “to drive these issues forward with executive action.”

In addition to the 136 organizations that endorsed today’s letter, 61 members of the group All of Us or None, which organizes formerly incarcerated men and women, also signed on. All of Us or None launched the ban-the-box movement over a decade ago, and together with other formerly incarcerated leaders, they have played a leadership role in the campaign, as featured in this video of a July 2015 White House rally produced by The Leadership Conference for Civil and Human Rights.

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