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

Categories: Advocacy Letter

Recipient: President Barack Obama

View the PDF of this letter here.

President Barack Obama
The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Ave., N.W.
Washington, D.C.  20500

Dear Mr. President:

On behalf of the 136 organizations and 64 individuals listed below, we are writing to commend your administration’s demonstrated commitment to reducing barriers to employment for people with arrest and conviction records and to renew our call for additional action that extends “ban the box” and fair chance hiring to the nation’s government contractors.

On March 25, 2015, many of our organizations first wrote to you making the case for an executive order leveraging the federal government’s significant resources to expand employment opportunities for people with records by requiring federal contractors to adopt fair chance hiring. The administration’s November 2, 2015, initiative applying “ban the box” to the federal hiring process and the White House Fair Chance Business Pledge announced on April 11 have set the baseline standards for the nation’s private employers to follow. While more private employers are voluntarily embracing fair chance hiring, there is no adequate substitute for requiring the 170,000 federal contractors that employ nearly 25 percent of the nation’s workforce to adopt ban the box in return for the $700 billion they receive to provide taxpayer-subsidized goods and services.    

Moreover, because most of the nation’s largest federal contractors operate across state lines, they are already subject to multiple state and local ban the box laws. Indeed, seven states (Hawaii, Illinois, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New Jersey, Oregon, and Rhode Island) and many of the nation’s largest cities (including Baltimore, Chicago, New York City, Philadelphia, Seattle, San Francisco, and Washington, D.C.) have fair hiring mandates in place covering private sector employers. As a result, roughly 25 percent of the nation’s civilian workforce (or over 40 million workers) are employed in a state or locality where private sector employers are obligated to comply with a ban the box law. Thus, abundant precedent exists to help pave the way for a federal executive order regulating the nation’s private contractors. 

On November 2, 2015, the White House expressed support for extending ban the box to federal contractors but withheld executive action because it was “encouraged that Congress is considering bi-partisan legislation that would ‘ban the box’ for federal hiring and federal contractors.” Unfortunately, since that time, the prospects for timely passage of the Fair Chance Act (S. 2021/H.R. 3470) have remained elusive. Thus, given the limited window of opportunity remaining before the current presidential term ends, we urge the administration to build on its significant record of accomplishments and take the critical next step at its disposal to help achieve full participation of people with records in the workplace.

Seizing on the momentum across the country and the expanding job market, we urge you 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.  For more information, please contact Maurice Emsellem at the National Employment Law Project (510-663-5700/emsellem@nelp.org) or Sakira Cook at the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights (202-263-2894/cook@civilrights.org). Thank you.


National Organizations


9to5, National Association of Working Women


American Civil Liberties Union

American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME)

AIDS United

All Eyes On Africa Communications

All of Us or None

Asian Pacific American Labor Alliance, AFL-CIO (APALA)

Brennan Center for Justice at NYU School of Law

Center for Community Change

Center for Popular Democracy

Central Conference of American Rabbis

Church of Scientology National Affairs Office

Citizens United for Rehabilitation of Errants, CURE

Center for Law and Social Policy (CLASP)

Coalition for Juvenile Justice

Coalition on Human Needs


Collateral Consequences Resource Center

Drug Policy Alliance

Friends Committee on National Legislation

Give Something Back Office Supplies, Inc.

Global Citizens Fight Corruption in America

In the Public Interest

Insight Center for Community Economic Development

Institute for Science and Human Values

Interfaith Center on Corporate Responsibility

Interfaith Worker Justice


Justice Policy Institute

LatinoJustice PRLDEF

Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights

Legal Action Center

Legal Services for Prisoners with Children

Main Street Alliance

MoveOn.org Civic Action

Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies


NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, Inc.

National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers

National Center for Lesbian Rights

National Center for Transgender Equality

National Council of Asian Pacific Americans (NCAPA)

National Council of Jewish Women

National Employment Law Project

National H.I.R.E. Network

National Housing Law Project

National LGBTQ Task Force

National People’s Action

National Urban League

National Women’s Law Center

National Workrights Institute

Partnership for Working Families

PICO National Network


Pride at Work

Rosenberg Foundation

Sargent Shriver National Center on Poverty Law

Service Employees International Union (SEIU)

Southeast Asia Resource Action Center (SEARAC)

Sugar Law Center for Economic & Social Justice

The Dream Corps

The Ella Baker Center for Human Rights

The Sentencing Project

Transport Workers Union

Transportation Trades Department, AFL-CIO

T’ruah: The Rabbinic Call for Human Rights

United Church of Christ Justice and Witness Ministries

United States Student Association


W. Haywood Burns Institute

We Are All Criminals

Women Donors Network

Working Families Party

Working Narratives

Zevin Asset Management



State and Local Organizations

9to5 California

9to5 Colorado

9to5 Georgia

9to5 Wisconsin

A New PATH (Parents for Addiction Treatment & Healing)

A New Way of Life Reentry Project

Alliance of Communities Transforming Syracuse

Anti-Recidivism Coalition

Asian Americans Advancing Justice-Los Angeles

Because Black is Still Beautiful

California Coalition for Women Prisoners

Californians for Safety and Justice

Californians United for a Responsible Budget (CURB)

Center for Community Alternatives

Chevy Chase Presbyterian Church, Earth Stewards

Chicago Jobs Council

Coleman Advocates for Children and Youth

Coleman Group, LLC

Colorado Center on Law and Policy

Community Service Society of New York

Criminal Justice Initiative

Criminal Justice Reform Institute, LLC

DC Fiscal Policy Institute

East Bay Community Law Center

Essie Justice Group
Grace Apostolic Church

Greater Boston Legal Services

Hands Across the Bridge

Human Rights Pen Pals

Jesuit Social Research Institute

Just Schools Project


Los Angeles Alliance for a New Economy

Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights of the San Francisco Bay Area

LifeLine to Success

Madison Organizing in Strength Equality and Solidarity

North Carolina Justice Center

New Mexico Voices for Children

Ohio Poverty Law Center

Park View Mennonite Church

Public Justice Center


Resilient Wellness

Root & Rebound

Safe Return

Safer Foundation

San Francisco Bay View National Black Newspaper

San Francisco Children of Incarcerated Parents Partnership


Sex Workers Project

Smart Technologies Consulting

Social Action Linking Together (SALT)

Southern Coalition for Social Justice

Southern Poverty Law Center

Spanish Apostolate of the North Fork

SunflowerLife, LLC

Virginia CURE

Voices of Community Activists & Leaders (VOCAL-NY)

WayPass, City College of San Francisco

William E. Morris Institute for Justice



Van Jones, President and Founder, The Dream Corps

Monique W. Morris, Ed.D., Author & Co-Founder of the National Black Women’s Justice Institute

Chris Redlitz, Co-Founder, The Last Mile


Members of All of Us or None

Andres Abarra

Moala Alipate

Amir Amma Varick

Miguel Avila

Basil Awwad

Octave  Baker

Alexandra Berliner

Cameron Bills

Sheila Blake

Sam Brooks

Aaron Burris

Rheema Calloway

Jerome Carloss

Michael Cole

Hamdiya Cooks

Kimberley Culotta

Steve Czifra

Harriette Davis

Lenise Devers

Miki Elster

Jerry Elster

Alex Esparza

Dvina Estrella

Linda Evans

Jazel Flores

Ana Fox-Hodess

George Galvis

Fernando Gasca

Maritza Gonzalez-Tellez

Rene Guillory

Felipe Hernandez

AmberRose Howard

Vanessa Jackson

Solari Jenkins

Sandra Johnson

Edmond Juicy

Tynan Krakoff

Arthur League

Ruben Leal

Monique Lewis

Talitha Lott

Mathew Martenyi

Steve Martinot

Yvette McShan

Denise Mewbourne

Idell Moore

Aaliyah Muhammad

Danny Murillo

Michael Muscadine

Misty Rojo

Jared Rudolph

Tahtanerriah Sessoms-Howell

Hannibal Shakur

Decarla Smith

Sundiata Tate

Karen Vanpelt

Rodrigo Vazquez

Martin Vela-Sanchez

Will Walker

Deirdre Wilson

Bonita Wright