Tuesday, November 26, 2013

          Students to Spend Winter Break Working Pro Bono with Tourist Industry Workers

          Student-led group is partnering with California Rural Legal Assistance to conduct surveys of low-wage workers.

          Sample alt tag.
          Many restaurant workers earn salaries below the minimum wage.

          Sixteen UC Hastings students will spend four days of their winter break with California Rural Legal Assistance (CRLA) working with low-wage workers in Santa Cruz and Monterey counties.

          The venture marks the first such extensive collaboration with CRLA, one of the state’s largest legal aid organizations. 2L Perla E. Parra drew on her experience working with a co-op of single mothers in South Africa while getting her master’s in public policy from Cornell to help create the project. The CRLA pro bono project has proved so popular, Parra has had to turn student volunteers away.

          Perla E. Parra“There is so much we could be doing locally,” said Parra. She worked directly with CRLA’s Executive Director, Jose Padilla, over the summer, to explore the possibility of a partnership. To that end, Perla also worked with Nancy Stuart, Associate Dean of Experiential Learning, and 3L colleague Pedro Hernandez to found PILARC, the Partnership Initiative & Legal Aid to Rural Communities, an entirely student-led project that seeks to work with community groups and organizations serving rural California.

          Hernandez, who interned with CRLA over the summer in their Watsonville office, collaborated with Gretchen Regenhardt, CRLA’s Directing Attorney in Watsonville, to help craft the project. The PILARC project is also co-sponsored by the Hastings Students for Immigrants’ Rights.

          Students will survey low-wage workers that help support the tourist economy about wage and hour issues, health and safety conditions, discrimination, harassment, and retaliation. Additionally, the students will distribute “Know Your Rights” materials in and around the Watsonville and Santa Cruz areas, along with a resource list of where to get help with workplace issues. Students will potentially schedule follow-up calls with those who identify serious legal issues. Students will also have the option to continue to work with CRLA beyond the winter project to help produce a report on local conditions for low-wage workers and identify trends for future projects and advocacy.

          Students are also planning to visit other legal aid organizations and meet with local lawmakers, including Assemblyman Luis A. Alejo (D-Salinas), who has led efforts to raise California’s minimum wage.

          Focus on Low-Wage Tourist Industry Workers

          While much progress has been made to protect the rights of farm workers in California’s fertile Central Valley, there is a growing need and thus a renewed focus on other low-wage industries: line cooks, dishwashers, bussers, wait staff, janitors, and landscapers, many of whom work for well below minimum wage.

          Dean Stuart says student-led projects like PILARC allow students, regardless of the type of law they ultimately want to practice, the opportunity to do meaningful hands-on legal work in substantive areas they may not be familiar with. Most importantly, it gives them a window into the legal needs of rural communities.

          Parra said the first reaction of students who have applied is, typically, “How else can I help?” “This appeals to a broad base of students,” she said. “We have 1Ls, 2Ls, and 3Ls, from all walks of life, coming together on this project.”

          The CLRA pro bono week is the first PILARC project. Parra and her supporters plan a second opportunity for students to do pro bono field work during their spring break.

          Learn More

          PILARC is currently seeking sponsors for the project. Learn more about how you can support their efforts with CLRA here.

          Go to News Archive

          Share this Story

          Share via Facebook
          Share via TwitterShare via EmailPrint Friendly Version

          Other Recent Stories/ RSS

          Friday, May 18, 2018

          UC Hastings Students Speak at UN Human Rights Council in Geneva

          Members of the Hastings Human Rights and International Law Organization attended the 37th Session of the United Nations Human Rights Council to meet diplomats, engage in discussions on human rights issues, and deliver advocacy statements during proceedings.
          Wednesday, May 09, 2018

          Joseph W. Cotchett, Champion for Justice and Titan of the Plaintiffs Bar, is UC Hastings Law's 2018 Commencement Speaker

          Litigation Trial Lawyers Hall of Famer and UC Hastings Alumnus, Class of 1964, to keynote the College’s 137th Commencement
          Friday, May 04, 2018

          Blek le Rat, “The Godfather” of Stencil Graffiti, Contributes Installation at UC Hastings

          The innovative street artist is taking to the streets with works throughout San Francisco to promote a rare North American exhibition.
          Friday, May 04, 2018

          UC Hastings Professor Veena Dubal’s Work Plays Role in California Supreme Court Ruling

          “The Dynamex Decision” creates a major change in the landscape for California’s gig economy and follows the path of Professor Dubal’s analysis from her scholarly work.
          Wednesday, May 02, 2018

          Thinkers & Doers: April 2018

          Professor Dubal cited in the California Supreme Court’s Dynamex decision – Professor Aviram discusses “Sanctuary City” litigation outside the Ninth Circuit – Ellen DeGeneres asks Kamala Harris about 2020 presidential aspirations – How Asylum Works and Doesn’t Work – Professor Ball earns national recognition with 2018 Shanara Gilbert Award – Highlights from the Spring Soirée – and much more
          Go to News Archive