Hill Pickens, ’21, has earned a highly competitive public interest labor law fellowship from the Peggy Browning Fund, a Philadelphia-based organization focused on encouraging law students to become advocates for workplace justice. The fellowship will provide funding for Pickens to spend 10 weeks this summer working at the United Food and Commercial Workers International Union in Washington, DC.
“Hill had only been in law school about a month when I first met him, and when I probed him about his interests, he didn’t miss a beat: ‘I’m interested in worker-side labor matters, preferably in DC,’ he said,” said Susan Curry, the Law School’s director of public interest law and policy. “He knew exactly what he wanted to do this summer and set about making it a reality.”
A native of northern Florida, Hill has worked as a math teacher and deli clerk. As the former, he saw the devastating results the departure of manufacturing jobs can have on communities structured around them. As the latter, he saw differences in pay and working conditions between unionized and non-unionized workers and joined a unionization campaign in his workplace with the United Food and Commercial Workers. Inspired by this campaign, Hill began law school with the goal of advocating for workers and their rights to unionize and fight for better pay and working conditions.
“It is a great honor to be awarded a Peggy Browning Fellowship, and I cannot wait to begin my work this summer at the United Food and Commercial Workers International Union,” Pickens said. “I am thrilled to have the opportunity to learn from leading labor attorneys and to meet other law students interested in protecting and expanding the rights of workers.”
Pickens is one of 80 fellows chosen from a pool of 450 applicants this year.
“Peggy Browning Fellows are distinguished students who have not only excelled in law school but who have also demonstrated their commitment to workers’ rights through their previous educational, work, volunteer and personal experiences,” the Peggy Browning Fund said in a news release. “Hill Pickens certainly fits this description.”
The Peggy Browning Fund is a not for-profit organization established in memory of Margaret A. Browning, a prominent union-side attorney who was a member of the National Labor Relations Board from 1994 until 1997.