New York, NY – The Peggy Browning Fund will hold its 25th Anniversary Awards Reception at the Sheraton New York Times Square Hotel on May 4. The gala event honors Maria Castenada, Secretary-Treasurer 1199SEIU Healthcare Workers East; Franklin K. Moss, Partner, Spivak Lipton LLP; and Jacquelin F. Drucker, Arbitrator, Arbitration Offices of Jacquelin F. Drucker, Esq.
“They’re going to receive the Peggy Browning Award, and that’s presented annually to social justice champions who have distinguished themselves with passion and dedication to the rights and needs of workers and their families,” says Rhonda Kelley, Director of Development & Marketing at the Fund.
The Peggy Browning Fund’s mission is to educate and inspire law students to become advocates for workers’ rights. It was founded in 1997 by Joe Laurie, who is the group’s president and former husband of the late Browning, who passed away in 1997 of breast cancer. Says Kelley, “[Peggy Browning] was the first union lawyer to be appointed to the NLRB in 1994…it amazes me how many people that I begin to talk with in unions around the country that knew her. [She] had a wide reach and was very, very highly respected.”
The Fund’s primary program is its Summer Fellowship Program, a 10-week program at unions, union side law firms, worker centers and other nonprofits that work for workers’ rights. Another is its National Law Students Workers’ Rights Conference, which is held every year in October. This year’s in-person event is being held at the Maritime Center in Maryland.
The conference, says Kelley, “is a day-and-a-half of workshops, and networking experiences, and keynote speakers, etc. It really is for new law students that are just getting their feet wet in thinking that maybe the labor movement is a career that they could be passionate about. Or just for them to consider something other than going to a management side firm.”
Many law schools, Kelley observes, have simple stopped teaching labor law.
“[The Peggy Browning Fund is here to help students] understand the basic tenets of labor law and see if that’s something that they want to continue pursuing,” she says. “Then, of course, they’re surrounded by people that support the labor movement. With professors from universities coming and participating in our workshops. Plus a lot of union lawyers coming and people from the NLRB that will speak and give them a well-rounded picture of what the labor movement is like ,so that they’re not alone when they go back to their schools. We [also] have our regional workshops, which are at the law schools and we usually have between 20 and 30 of those around the country each year in the fall, where we get on average twenty to forty students that will attend, and we just talk to them about what it’s like to have a career in labor law and what they can do if they’d like to pursue that.”