February 22, 2016
Southwestern Student Earns Prestigious MLB Labor Studies Scholarship
Second-year day student Nathalie Meza Contreras is one of the five 2016 recipients of the Michael Weiner Scholarship for Labor Studies from the Major League Baseball Players Association. The scholarship was established in 2014 to honor the memory of the former MLB Players Association Executive Director. This $10,000 scholarship from the Players Trust is given to assist recipients with their academic costs and is awarded to students who are committed to improving the lives of workers.
With a background in labor organizing and representation, Contreras is interested in practicing labor law, which encompasses an array of professions and work, including sports, entertainment, service sector, and manufacturing jobs. Her goal is to be able to advocate for the rights of a variety of workers, from bus drivers all the way up to judges. In particular, her interest is in advancing workers’ rights. As an undergraduate at UCLA, Contreras minored in Labor and Workplace Studies. This academic focus allowed her to look at organized labor from an academic perspective but also engaged her in the efforts of the labor movement in Los Angeles.
“My experience in organized labor has been as a low-wage worker, working with the Justice for Janitors campaign in Los Angeles, and working for the Teamsters,” Contreras said. “Through my work, I experienced the incredible power that organized workers have in building a strong democracy in this country.”
Last summer, Contreras was a law clerk as part of the American Federation of Labor – Congress of Industrial Organizations’ (AFL-CIO) Law Student Union summer program. The AFL-CIO is an organization under which other national and international unions come together for the common goal of representing workers’ interests. In that position, the AFL-CIO placed her with the CLEAN Carwash Campaign in Los Angeles where she had the opportunity to work with carwash workers to regain unpaid wages they were owed (with interest).
“The scholarship alone gives me hope because it gives students like myself an opportunity to continue to build a strong labor movement in this country,” Contreras said. “I have chosen to work for working people and this scholarship allows me to continue to pursue my passion and commitment to them. I feel immensely blessed to be given this opportunity. It is a distinguished honor and privilege to carry on the legacy of Michael Weiner through this scholarship. Thanks to Professor Cameron’s encouragement, support, and guidance, I not only decided to attend Southwestern, but have found new ways that I can continue to pursue my commitment to worker advocacy through the practice of law.”
More information about the Weiner Scholarship fund and the MLBPA, is available here.