“I am honored to have received an award from the Peggy Browning Fund and to be connected to an incredible community of people working to build power and win justice for working people,” said Stern.
At Justice at Work, which supports low-wage workers with legal services, education, and advocacy, Stern provided a range of employment and immigration support for migrant workers in Pennsylvania.
“I conducted background research in support of litigation related to employers failing to protect their employees from COVID-19,” she said. “I spoke with clients who were survivors of workplace crimes or trafficking and helped them take steps towards applying for legal status. I researched and prepared a memo on establishing joint employment under the Fair Labor Standards Act. I also researched and co-wrote an article on the ways in which the Occupational Safety and Health Administration and Act fail to provide effective protection for low-wage and immigrant workers.”
Originally from the Mt. Airy neighborhood of Philadelphia, Stern became interested in the legal and economic challenges facing farm workers while attending New York University, where she majored in history and wrote her honors thesis on the United Farm Workers’ grape boycott. After college, she stayed in New York City to work as an organizer for the Hotel Trades Council, the hotel workers’ union of New York and Northern New Jersey.
“At the union,” Stern said, “I worked with workers, organizers, and lawyers to build worker solidarity and win collective bargaining agreements that guaranteed workers excellent wages and benefits, safe and healthy working conditions, job security, effective grievance and representation procedures, and other important protections.”
Working alongside attorneys at the union inspired Stern to apply to law school.
“I decided to pursue a law degree to better understand how the law both hinders and may be used to support worker-led movements for economic and racial justice,” she said. “I have been particularly interested in learning more about the legal landscape facing workers organizing outside of the context of traditional labor unions, such as farm workers – who are excluded from federal labor laws – and workers in low-wage industries who face structural conditions that make unionizing very difficult.”
The Peggy Browning Fund is a not-for-profit organization established in memory of Margaret A. Browning L’78, a prominent union-side attorney who was a member of the National Labor Relations Board from 1994 to 1997. To encourage the pursuit of careers in public interest labor law, the Fund provides support for law students fighting for social and economic justice.