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A Legacy of Labor Justice

October 03, 2022

Margaret A. “Peggy” Browning L’78 dedicated her career to fighting for the rights of America’s workers.

Despite a career cut tragically short, the lifelong passion of Margaret A. “Peggy” Browning L’78 for bringing justice to workers across the country persists.

Decades after Browning’s passing, law students around the country carry on her legacy by fighting for labor rights in her name as fellows supported by the Peggy Browning Fund. During the summer of 2022, three University of Pennsylvania Carey Law School students Julian Lutz L’24, Juan P. Madrigal L’24, and Paul T. Sindberg L’23 served as Peggy Browning Fellows.

A Labor Lawyer’s Life

Browning graduated from Swarthmore College before coming to the Law School, where she began her work as a tireless advocate for labor rights.

As an attorney, Browning earned a reputation of being a strong litigator. In 1985, she joined Spear, Wilderman, Borish, Endy, Browning and Spear in Philadelphia as a founding member. While there, Browning never lost a case in the Third Circuit and focused much of her practice on advocating for union representation, just pay, and labor conditions for workers.

In 1993, Browning became the first union-side lawyer to be appointed to the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB), where she continued to serve even after getting diagnosed with cancer in December 1994. During her tenure, the NLRB accomplished vital wins for unions, including a noteworthy decision allowing unions protection under the Fair Labor Standards Act.

Browning died at age 46 in 1997.

Upon her passing, President Bill Clinton, who appointed Browning to NLRB, said, “Peggy dedicated herself to justice and fair labor practices throughout our nation. Continuing to fight for what she believed even in the midst of her own battle with cancer, she served our nation and the American people with great courage and compassion.”

Browning’s Lasting Legacy

Browning’s husband and fellow Philadelphia lawyer Joseph Lurie sought to celebrate her legacy of fighting for labor justice. In her honor, Lurie fundraised for and launched the Peggy Browning Fund, which continues to support, educate, and inspire the next generation of labor advocates.

Each year, the Peggy Browning Fund supports dozens of law students from across the country as they engage in summers of meaningful work on behalf of unions and labor organizations as Peggy Browning Fellows.

During their fellowships last summer, Lutz and Madrigal advocated for workers in Philadelphia, and Sindberg worked with the Chicago News Guild. In addition to the Peggy Browning Fund giving them the chance to engage in meaningful work, the Fellows also expressed appreciation for its energetic community of dedicated labor justice advocates.

Learn more about our alumni community’s dedication to public service.