Thursday, May 02, 2013

          2L Wins Fellowship to Advocate for Low-Wage Car Wash Workers

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          Michelle Angeles will work this summer to ensure the 10,000 car wash employees in Los Angeles are treated fairly under wage and hour and safety laws.

          2L Michelle Angeles has been awarded one of the prestigious Peggy Browning Fellowships to protect the rights of working-class families in Los Angeles.

          Browning Fellowship law students are awarded stipends and placed at workers rights groups, including private labor firms, federal agencies, and non-profit organizations around the country. Angeles will work at CLEAN Carwash Campaign, which works to enforce wage and hour as well as occupational health and safety laws on behalf of the 10,000 employees in the Southern California car washing industry.

          Angeles follows in the steps of her UC Hastings mentor, Susana Naranjo, a 3L who won the same fellowship last year, and was placed with CLEAN Carwash Campaign. Naranjo currently works as a legal intern at the Agriculture Labor Relations Board in the Salinas Regional Office as part of the UC Hastings Legal Externship Program.

          The daughter of immigrant parents from Arizona, Angeles, 27, came to law school with a passion for immigrant rights. She was drawn to criminal law and employment law, and found she could work in the labor relations and employment field and fulfill her goals to support immigrants. “I found I could create change and be an indirect advocate for immigrants’ rights through other areas of law,” Angeles said.

          Angeles is currently a clerk with Centro Legal de la Raza in Oakland, working on wage-and-hour issues and providing legal services to low-wage workers. “As a child of working class immigrant parents, I show gratitude for the sacrifice and struggle my family endured by devoting my life to serve and stand alongside those who share a similar struggle,” Angeles said.

          Her long-term goal is to work at a nonprofit or firm with a “similar passion for serving the social justice issues of the Spanish-speaking and immigrant communities,” she said. At UC Hastings, Angeles is external vice chair of La Raza Law Students Association, and recently organized an alumni event that increased alumni participation and raised about $1,500 for the organization. She serves as the academic chair of the Pilipino American Law Society, and is a staffer on the Hastings Race and Poverty Law Journal.

          She was also a teaching assistant in the college’s Legal Education Opportunity Program (LEOP), which provides academic support to students from disadvantaged backgrounds. “I am so grateful for LEOP. It gave me the academic and emotional support to meet my personal goals. LEOP has defined my UC Hastings experience. That’s why I take such pride in it. Getting a law degree and becoming a lawyer is a privilege.”

          This year, the Peggy Browning Fund will support nearly 70 public interest labor law fellowships nationwide, in honor of the memory of Margaret A. Browning, a prominent union-side attorney who served on the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) from 1994 to 1997.

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