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Featured Research

Washington
State Labor Research

About

Since 2005, the Bridges Center has received funding from the Washington State Legislature to support research by UW faculty on labor-related issues in Washington State.

The grant encourages scholars to apply their national or global research in ways that demonstrate implications for, or relevance to, the State of Washington.

To apply for funding, click here.

Labor Studies Research

Important faculty and graduate student research across disciplines

Prize-Winning Papers

The best Labor Studies graduate and undergraduate papers

Working Groups

Original research based in faculty/community partnerships

Working Papers Series

Lectures and scholarly papers published by the Bridges Center

Web-Based Programs

Educational websites supported by the Bridges Center

Other Projects

Conferences, forums and other special projects


Forthcoming Reports

Status:

Research underway

Achieving Workers' Rights to Health Care through the Affordable Care Act: An Investigation of Access for Small Business Employees in Washington State

Aaron Katz, School of Public Health

A majority of Americans receive their health care coverage through their employee, but current costs often prohibit small businesses from providing coverage for their employees. In response, Washington State small businesses, organized through the Main Street Alliance of Washington, played a a large role in lobbying for the federal Affordable Care Act. Set to go into effect in 2013 and 2014, the Act provides a number of incentives for small businesses to provide health care to their employees, including tax credits. However, because the Act is partially dependent on state governments to publicize and enrollment in these incentives, the extent to which small businesses will take advantage of them is unknown.

Through a survey of current health care coverage, and interviews and focus groups with small business owners, Katz’s study will investigate to what extent Washington State small businesses are aware of the Affordable Care Act's programs. The study will provide policy-makers a picture of the outreach, information and assistance small businesses need in order to provide their workers health care.

Funded by Washington State Research Grant, 2013-2014

Status:

Research underway

Assessing the Social Context of Transgender Sex Workers: Toward a Human Rights Policy Approach

Kari Lerum, Interdisciplinary Arts & Sciences, UW Bothell

Due to educational and job discrimination, transgender individuals are disproportionately represented in the sex industry, where they face high rates of violence, particularly from law enforcement. Despite these labor market, criminal justice, and gender/race/class-based injustices, transgender sex workers have drawn little attention from either political campaigns or academic researchers.

To address this gap, this study seeks to increase the empirical knowledge base of the resources, networks, and occupational and human service needs of transgender and genderqueer sex workers in Washington State. Through a community-based research partnership with organizations serving transgender and sex worker communities, the study will inform efforts to integrate principles of human rights, labor rights, and GLBTQ justice into local and Washington State policies around prostitution and human trafficking.

Funded by Washington State Research Grant, 2011-2012

Status:

Research underway

Documenting Identity: Erasing the Boundaries Between Citizens and Non-Citizens

Carolyn Pinedo Turnovsky, Department of American Ethnic Studies and Law, Societies, and Justice Program

In Washington State, immigrant workers comprise 14.3% of the labor force of which 5% are estimated to be undocumented. Official data, however, frequently undercounts, leaving undocumented populations hidden and vulnerable. Yet most undocumented immigrants behave as citizens in their everyday lives – attend school, pay bills, shop for groceries, visit doctors, attend sporting events, and work, to name a few. In the process, they document a status of belonging that remains outside of the purview of conventional ways of documenting or even counting those who comprise this population.

Pinedo Turnovsky's study seeks to examine the ways that immigrants document a membership and citizenship as workers. Specifically, what are the ways immigrants document themselves in their daily life? What does the process of documenting look like? What kinds of documents and documenting practices gain access to membership and even citizenship illustrate how they behave similarly as legally-recognized citizens? The project will assist in learning about how undocumented immigrants are legally and/or formally linked to institutions that document their existence and compel them to behave as citizens do in their daily life.

Funded by Washington State Research Grant, 2012-2013

Status:

Completed

Partially published as Paid Sick Day Policy Brief (August 2013) by Puget Sound Sage

Under revision for further publication

The Effects of "Flexible" Scheduling on Retail Industry Workers

Dan Jacoby, Interdisciplinary Arts and Sciences, UW Bothell, and Howard Greenwich, Puget Sound Sage

The retail sector in Washington State is and always has been one of the most extensive employers in the area. Recently, retailers in the form of both grocery and supercenter establishments have been demanding "flexibility" from workers, allowing them to change employee's weekly schedules with little notice, potentially having a negative effect on the welfare of workers economically, socially, and physically.

For this study, Jacoby partnered with Puget Sound Sage, a Seattle-based non-partisan organization focused on policy and the labor market, to craft an in-person survey of union and non-union workers in grocery stores and supercenters in King County. The survey asked workers about their work schedules, in particular the availability of sick leave. The survey found that many workers go to work sick, citing the lack of adequate paid time off. Comparing the data of the survey with similar research elsewhere, Sage prepared a policy brief for lawmakers and community advocates about the importance of paid sick days.

Jacoby is currently preparing a fuller report outlining the survey and analyzing the implications of its results.

Funded by Washington State Research Grant, 2012-2013

Status:

Research underway

Falling Further Behind: A Study of the Impact of the Great Recession, Occupational, and Workplace Trends on Family Well-Being in Washington State Using the Self-Sufficiency Standard

Diana Pearce, School of Social Work

The effects of the Great Recession that began in 2008 continue to be felt, and the economic recovery continues to reflect negative trends that were already occurring prior to the recession. New jobs are increasingly lower-wage, reflecting a continuing shift from manufacturing to service work, and wage inequality by race has increased as well. The poverty rate for families, meanwhile, is the highest since 1992. Yet stasitical research has yet to definitively identify who has borne the brunt of the Great Recession, nor are the impacts of geographical variables known, such as Washington State's high minimum wage.

By identifying the groups in Washington State most adversely affected by the economic downturn, Pearce’s study will assist policymakers and others in responding to the crisis. Moreover, the study will address whether decreasing incomes result from a growth in low-wage jobs, an increase in part-time jobs, or both. Lastly, it will calculate the impact of Washington State’s minimum wage, which is the highest in the country.

Funded by Washington State Research Grant, 2013-2014

Status:

Research underway

International Workforce in Washington State Nursing Homes

Amy Hagopian and Anna Maria Pletz, School of Public Health

Washington State, following a national trend, is heavily reliant on foreign-trained health workers from primarily lower-income countries. Evidence suggests that nursing homes in particular depend on an international workforce, workers who often have medical training above the level their current jobs requite.

Focusing on Washington State's nursing homes, this study will provide a better picture of this international workforce, investigating their countries of origin; recruitment and migration experience; medical backgrounds; and workplace experiences in the United States. The research promises to inform state, national and international policy, helping to identify strategies to protect and empower international laborers, and promoting the health of the public by ensuring health workers are appropriately supported and skilled.

Funded by Washington State Research Grant, 2011-2012

Status:

Research underway

Latinos, Labor, and New Campaign Dynamics

Matt Barreto, Political Science

Reflecting trends across the country, Latinos are the largest minority group in Washington State and their numbers are growing. As a result, Latino voters are being targeted more vigorously and concertedly than ever by political campaigns. At the same time, growth in the state's Latino population has contributed to an increase in union membership among laborers, service employees, machinists, and agricultural workers. Unions are also commonly targeted to get out the vote in political campaigns.

This study will explore how the voter mobilization of Latinos and unions are connected. For instance, research has shown Latino union members are more likely to vote than other groups. Are they responding to the messages targeting Latinos, or the messages targeting unions?

Through a controlled experiment, this study will test the response of Latino and non-Latino voters to various campaign advertisements related to union and non-union themes. The study will identify the role of Latinos in the changing dynamics of how unions engage the political system and mobilize their membership base.

Funded by Washington State Research Grant, 2008-2009

Status:

Research underway

Mapping the Balance Between Earning and Caregiving:
The Space-Time Constraints and Workplace Flexibility of Urban Professionals

Kim England, Department of Geography, and Anna Haley-Lock, School of Social Work

Do professionals of color have different experiences than white professionals balancing their lives with paid work? What effects does the location of home, employment and dependent care arrangements - and the resulting commute - have on that balance? Do work and dependent care schedules compound those potential effects?

This study will address these questions and others, working to bridge gaps in existing research on the interplay of paid work and caregiving. Focus groups and surveys of Seattle professionals will investigate how where they live, work, and obtain dependent care; their schedules for their jobs and dependent care; and their access to an array of employer practices such as flexibility, shape their experiences with managing dual earning and caregiving.

For more updates and futher information, see the Race, Class and Work-Life Balance Working Group.

Funded by Washington State Research Grant, 2008-2009

Status:

Research underway

A New Teacher Unionism? Evidence from Two Washington Teacher Strikes

Keith Nitta, Interdisciplinary Arts & Sciences, UW Bothell

In 2008, teachers in Bellevue, WA undertook a two-week strike. In 2009, another two-week strike occurred in Kent, WA. These two strikes in two of the leading districts in the state may portend a new era in school district/teacher union relations in Washington state, one in which teachers' professional concerns, such as class sizes and standardized lesson plans, become more central to collective bargaining.

The objective of this study is to explain why the teachers went on strike and how they succeeded. Interviews with district and union leaders and school survey data will be consulted to help understand teachers' and school district officials' opinions about the strikes and the issues surrounding them.

Funded by Washington State Research Grant, 2009-2010

Status:

Research underway

The Tenuous Relationship between Civil Rights and Labor Union Activism in Washington State: Lessons for Future Policy Action Derived from the Past

George Lovell and Michael McCann, Department of Political Science

In the United States, policies intended to advance civil rights have often been in tension with unions' ability to organize workers. Drawing on three historical case studies in Washington State and the Pacific Northwest, Lovell and McCann will demonstrate how this tension is not inevitable. Looking at gender equity coalitions, the United Construction Workers Association, and the Alaska Cannery Workers union Local 37, their study will explore how civil rights litigation can enhance as well as undermine the capacity of labor unions to organize, represent, and bargain for workers.

Funded by Washington State Research Grant, 2010-2011

Status:

Completed

Partially published in Academe (May-June 2009)

Under revision for further publication

Washington State Policy and the Demand for Part-Time Faculty at Community Colleges

Dan Jacoby, Interdisciplinary Arts and Sciences, UW Bothell

Heavy reliance upon low-wage part-time faculty, especially in our nation's community colleges is drawing increasing attention, particularly as studies find negative impacts upon student completion rates. As part of a national effort, the American Federation of Teachers advanced the Faculty and College Excellence [FACE] campaign and in 2007 introduced legislation in Washington State to curb the use of part-time faculty. Similar to bills in other states, Washington State HB 1875 and SB 5514 seek to ensure that full-time faculty would teach 75% of undergraduate classes.

The legislative agenda proceeds despite several large unknowns, which are the subject of Professor Dan Jacoby's research. Using data from the National Center for Educational Statistics, this study estimates supply and demand for part-time faculty by introducing a new measure of part-time faculty wages. The study finds demand for part-time faculty in community colleges across the nation is sensitive to part-time wage rates. The research also makes note of a number of difficulties suggesting the need for better wage data.

The study finds that schools in which unions do not involve part-time faculty tend to have higher part-time faculty rates. That effect is offset when part-time faculty are members of the bargaining units. Additionally, this study finds that the demand for part-time faculty is significantly higher when states enroll graduate students in high proportion relative to community colleges.

Funded by Washington State Research Grant, 2007-2008

Downloads

A number of exciting projects have been completed under the Washington State Labor Research program.

Each report includes information directly relevant to policymakers, employers, unions, and others.

To read or print reports, click on the titles to the right.

PDF Downloads

Adobe Acrobat Reader is required to view PDF files. This is a free program available from the Adobe web site. Follow the download directions on the Adobe web site to get your copy.

The Bellevue Teachers Strike and its Implications for the Future of Post-Industrial Reform Unionism

Daniel Jacoby and Keith Nitta, Interdisciplinary Arts & Sciences, UW Bothell

In September 2008, Washington State's Bellevue Teacher Association went on strike over issues of pay, benefits, and classroom curriculum. In this paper, Dan Jacoby and Keith Nitta recount the strike and look closely at what it says about the hot-button issues of trust, teacher professionalism and union participation in school governance. In particular, they ask whether the union’s decision to marry economic demands with concerns over curriculum represents a shift from the traditional model of post-industrial reform unionism.

Funded in part by Washington State Research Grant, 2007-2008

Business Opposition to Nationalized Healthcare

Rebecca Szper, Political Science

As national debates over healthcare reform in 2010 made clear, the United States health care system has been in crisis for decades. Historically, the business community has opposed nationalized health care, setting the stage for the current system of employer-provided coverage. In this paper, Rebecca Szper reviews scholars' various explanations for business' position and develops a comprehensive analysis of her own.

Funded by Washington State Research Grant, 2009-2010

Day Laborers at Risk: Developing Strategies for a Hazardous Workplace

Noah Seixas, Environmental and Occupational Health Sciences, and Janice Camp, Environmental Health

Working in hazardous industries with few legal protections, day laborers have unique health and safety concerns. Seixas and Camp discuss the development of safety trainings for day laborers in Seattle, Washington through surveys and focus groups.

Funded by Washington State Research Grant, 2006-2007

Economic Restructuring, Policy Change, and the Impacts on Labor in the Forest Products Industry: Implications for Washington State through a Cascadian Lens

Brendan Sweeney, Department of Geography

Since the 1980s, the forest products industries in the Pacific Northwest and British Columbia have changed considerably. Drawing on interviews with union executives and workers, Brendan Sweeney examines the current state of the region's forest industries from labor's perspective. What is labor's current position in the industry, and what opportunities exist for labor's renewal?

Funded by Washington State Research Grant, 2007-2008

An Examination of Longitudinal Attrition, Retention and Mobility Rates of Beginning Teachers in Washington State

Margaret Plecki, Ana Elfers, and Michael Knapp, Educational Leadership and Policy Studies, College of Education

At what rates do new teachers change schools or districts, or quit teaching altogether? And what are the factors influencing their decisions? By examining the attrition, retention, and mobility patterns of beginning teachers in Washington State over a five year period, this study seeks to improve knowledge about the beginning teacher workforce in order to improve educational policies.

Funded by Washington State Research Grant, 2005-2006

Examining the Impact and Equity of Teacher Layoff Notices in Washington State

Margaret Plecki and Matthew Finster, Educational Leadership and Policy Studies, College of Education

With K-12 school districts currently faced with budget crises in Washington State, this report examines the impact of teacher layoffs in Washington State. Who is laid off? Where do they teach? And how do layoffs affect teachers' working conditions? The report's answers to these questions and others provide specific information and analysis relevant to teachers and education policymakers in Washington State.

Funded by Washington State Research Grant, 2010-2011

Freedom of Expression of Farm Workers in Washington State

April B. Brinkman, Urban Studies Program, University of Washington, Tacoma

Undocumented workers and farm workers in particular face many challenges to exercising their full legal and political rights to free expression. April Brinkman illustrates how restrictive living and working conditions in Washington State prevent farm workers from exercising their rights, and looks at examples of how these workers have successfully spoken out, against all odds.

Funded by Washington State Research Grant, 2005-2006

How Do Computers and Internet Affect Employee Compensation?

Ming Fan, Debabrata Dey, and Gang Peng, Department of Information Systems & Operations Management, Business School

Information technology, particularly computers and the Internet, has affected workers significantly in the past two decades. Fan, Dey and Peng's study explores the effects of information technology on factors including individual work practices, productivity, and wages. Comparing Washington State and national averages, the authors' identify important technology-related policy implications for the State.

Funded by Washington State Research Grant, 2005-2006

ILWU Contract Negotiations: The Confluence of Politics, Economics and Labor

Jon Agnone and Devin Kelly, Department of Sociology

Given that two of the busiest ports on the West Coast are located in Tacoma and Seattle, the structural position and political strength of the International Longshore and Warehouse Union (ILWU) has vast implications for Washington State, their contract negotiations in particular. Agnone and Kelly's study examines the ILWU's important role in state and federal-level economy and politics, focusing on how the union uses a privileged economic position to respond to and influence government action.

Funded by Washington State Labor Research Grant, 2008-2009

Impact of Washington State Labor Council Lobbying on Health Care Legislation in Washington State

Rebecca Szper, Political Science

Without a national government health care plan, individual states have adopted local fixes. Washington State is one of several that have taken steps towards comprehensive health care reform. What has labor's role been in shaping health care reform in Washington State? In this report, Rebecca Szper examines Washington State Labor Council lobbying efforts from 2000 to 2010 to evaluate the impact organized labor has had on state-level health care policy.

Funded by Washington State Research Grant, 2009-2010

Overlooked and Undercounted: Wages, Work, and Poverty in Washington State

Diana Pearce, Center for Women's Welfare, School of Social Work

Outdated and highly criticized, the Federal Poverty Level underestimates poverty, leaving a large and diverse group of families overlooked and undercounted. By applying a more realistic and specific reading of economic well-being, Pearce's report reveals the "overlooked and undercounted" of Washington State, describing the extent and nature of the hidden hardships all too many Washingtonians are facing.

Funded by Washington State Research Grant, 2006-2007

The Rise of Mega Distribution Centers and the Impact on Logistical Uncertainty

Derik Andreoli, Department of Geography; Anne Goodchild, Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering; and Kate Vitasek, Supply Chain Visions

Warehousing employment in the U.S. grew considerably between 1998 and 2005, and witnessed the emergence of mega distribution centers - warehouses greater than 500,000 square feet that employ more than 100 workers and use new information technologies. In this study, the authors analyze the economic and geographic forces that have enabled such growth in the industry.

Funded by Washington State Research Grant, 2007-2008

Washington State
Labor Research

A complete listing of all research sponsored by the Washington State Labor Research program, in reverse chronological order from the present to 2005.

Complete Listing

2011-2012

  • Assessing the Social Context of Transgender Sex Workers: Toward a Human Rights Policy Approach
    Kari Lerum, Interdisciplinary Arts & Sciences, UW Bothell

  • International Workforce in Washington State Nursing Homes
    Amy Hagopian & Anna Maria Pletz, School of Public Health

2010-2011

  • Examining the Impact and Equity of Teacher Layoff Notices in Washington State
    Margaret Plecki, College of Education

  • The Tenuous Relationship between Civil Rights and Labor Union Activism in Washington State: Lessons for Future Policy Action Derived from the Past
    George Lovell & Michael McCann, Department of Political Science

2009-2010

  • The Past and Future of Health Coverage in the United States
    Margaret Levi, Department of Political Science
    Rebecca Szper, Department of Political Science

  • A New Teacher Unionism?
    Evidence from Two Washington Teacher Strikes

    Keith Nitta, Interdisciplinary Arts & Sciences, UW Bothell

2008-2009

  • ILWU Contract Negotiations:
    The Confluence of State-Level Politics, Economics and Labor

    Margaret Levi, Department of Political Science

  • Latinos, Labor, and New Campaign Dynamics
    Matt Barreto, Department of Political Science

  • Mapping the Balance Between Earning and Care-giving:
    The Space-Time Constraints and Workplace Flexibility of Urban Professionals

    Kim England, Department of Geography
    Anna Haley-Lock, School of Social Work

2007-2008

  • Structural and Geographic Shifts in the Warehousing Industry: A benchmark report from a Puget Sound Perspective
    Derik Andreoli, Department of Geography
    Anne Goodchild, Civil and Environmental Engineering

  • Washington State Policy and the Demand for Part-Time Faculty at Community Colleges
    Dan Jacoby, Interdisciplinary Arts & Sciences, UW Bothell

  • Economic Restructuring, Policy Change, and the Impacts on Labor in the Forest Products Industry: Implications for Washington State through a Cascadian Lens
    Brendan Sweeney, Department of Geography

2006-2007

  • Anticipating The Impacts Of A Proposed 'Tip Penalty' On Front-Line Workers In Washington State's Restaurant Industry
    Anna Haley-Lock, School of Social Work

  • Healthy and Safe Work for Day Laborers: A participatory approach to turning research into practice
    Noah Seixas, Environmental and Occupational Health Sciences
    Janice Camp, Environmental Health

2005-2006

  • Freedom of Expression of Farm Workers
    April B. Brinkman, Urban Studies Program, UW Tacoma

  • How Do Computers and Internet Affect Employee Compensation?
    Ming Fan, Debabrata Dey, and Gang Peng, Department of Information Systems & Operations Management, Business School

  • An Examination of Longitudinal Attrition, Retention and Mobility Rates of Beginning Teachers in Washington State
    Margaret Plecki, Ana Elfers, and Michael Knapp, Educational Leadership and Policy Studies, College of Education

  • Overlooked and Undercounted: Wages, Work, and Poverty in Washington State
    Diana Pearce, Center for Women's Welfare, School of Social Work