Peter Haberfield graduated from Reed College in Portland, Oregon, in 1963 motivated to contribute in some way to the Civil Rights Movement. While attending UC Berkeley's Law School (Boalt) he participated in the Free Speech Movement, worked as a summer intern with Attorney C.B. King in Albany, Georgia, and organized chapters of the Law Students Civil Rights Research Council at west coast law schools. He worked for the Mississippi Democratic Party during the 1967 elections, passed the State Bar exam a few weeks later, and was employed by the law firm of Francis Heisler in Carmel, California, representing clients in cases involving civil liberties, criminal law, military (at Fort Ord) and draft issues.
In 1968 Haberfield became involved in issues affecting farm workers and the rural poor in California's San Joaquin and Sacramento valleys. He recruited law students to work with labor and community organizers in various Valley towns; retreated briefly to San Francisco for a brief stint as the first attorney in the National Lawyers Guild's Regional Office (organizing a legal defense for San Francisco State and Peoples' Park defendants); acquired a Reginald Heber Smith Law Fellowship from the University of Pennsylvania and was assigned to work in the Sacramento Valley with the California Rural Legal Assistance Foundation; and joined the legal staff of the United Farm Workers Union when the 1973 state-wide strike began. Peter then took off two years to raise his daughters in the more tranquil setting of the Sierra foothills where he organized a county-wide organization to successfully defend back-to-the-land stalwarts against efforts by government officials to run them out of Shasta County.
In 1977 Haberfield returned with his family to the Bay Area where he was employed by the Department of Industrial Relations, Cal-OSHA (prosecuting employers for health and safety violations), and the Public Employment Relations Board (first as counsel to a board member and then as the San Francisco Regional Attorney).
In 1989 he was hired by the Fremont Teachers Association. This was followed by employment with the California Teachers' Association, initially with the Vallejo Teachers' Association ('94) in support of its strike, and then with the Oakland Teachers Association ('94-'97). After helping organize recall elections that eliminated eleven school board members, the election of thirteen members to local school boards, and at least three teacher strikes, he was "out." This was followed by retirement, two years remodeling apartment buildings, a five year position as a community organizer helping parents and teachers create new small schools in the Oakland school district, renewed retirement, and fifteen months in Latin American countries intensely studying Spanish.
Siegel & Yee
In July 2009 Haberfield joined the firm of Siegel & Yee, and helped defend the group of ex-leaders and inspiring labor organizers that SEIU attempted to "rub out" when it "trusteed" its Oakland-based affiliate, the United Health Care Workers. Peter looks forward to assisting the ex-leaders who have created the National Union of Health Care Workers (NUHW) as they build a new, militant, democratic, powerful organization of working people.
he was co-counsel in victories before the California Supreme Court and the Courts of Appeals: In re King (1970) 3 Cal. 3d 226 (ruled felony "non-support" provision unconstitutional); Gordon v. Justice Court (1974)12 Cal. 3d 323(eliminated non lawyers from positions as judges on former Justice Courts); Murguia v. Municipal Court (1975) 15 Cal. 3d 286 (established "discriminatory prosecution" defense in criminal cases).