The Peggy Browning Fund Fall Newsletter 2021

Fall 2021 Educating Law Students on the Rights and Needs of Workers PBF’s First Set of Twins had Similar Summer Fellowships Continuing to Pursue Careers as Workers’ Rights Advocates This summer, 81 law students from across the country had different office requirements but were able to gain a good sense of accomplishment advocating for workers’ rights. Some completed their fellowships in their home offices, and some worked from their mentor’s office and some did both. For the first time, PBF placed a set of twins fromHarvard Law School at two different mentor organizations. Growing up in a small town in Ohio, Jason and Kevin Vazquez had a history of working with social justice organizations. Jason was chosen to work at Greater Boston Legal Services and Kevin at TakeRoot Justice in New York. Jason worked in the Employment Law Unit where he witnessed the sickness, death, and economic dislocation inflicted by the coronavirus, and the poverty and inequities that it intensified. His time was devoted to direct client service in wage and benefits cases, and he advised, represented, and assisted dozens of individual clients who hailed from all over the world. The many hours he spent engaged with these clients exposed him freshly and vividly to the often-brutal existence endured by the working poor. Being so closely exposed to the daily struggles of his clients, and feeling, at times, so powerless, even as a representative of the legal system, to do anything to help them, has reaffirmed his commitment to challenging an economic system that produces such extreme inequities and subjects so many to lives of deprivation and hardship. Jason found the work to often be frustrating and perplexing, but always rewarding and inspiring. Jason generally has been more interested in labor law and the power of collective bargaining than employment law and direct legal services, but he found the direct client work invigorating and rewarding. Kevin’s objectives for the summer were to fight for economic justice, build community and worker power, contribute to grassroots organizing, and develop an understanding of movement lawyering. He accomplished all that and more, working with domestic workers, restaurant workers, or temporary construction workers, many of whom were undocumented immigrants. One of the most egregious cases involved an undocumented “live-in” domestic worker who worked seven days a week and received only $50 in compensation. Through a combination “Witnessing the abuse and exploitation that my clients experienced and working against the systemic obstacles put in place to prevent them from vindicating their legal rights even further convinced me that a strong labor movement is necessary to build worker power, redistribute wealth, and eradicate poverty,” noted Jason Vazquez. Kevin, left, and Jason, right, twin brothers in PBF Summer Fellowships (continued on pg. 7)