HBCLS Home » Resources » WA State Labor Research

Washington State Labor Research

Between $7,500-$13,000 available

The Harry Bridges Center for Labor Studies seeks proposals for funding up to $13,000 from University of Washington faculty for policy-oriented research on aspects of labor directly relevant to policy makers in Washington State. UW graduate students may also apply if their project is sponsored by a faculty member.

Between $7,500-$13,000 is available for this grant. The full amount is sufficient to cover the salary and benefits cost of a quarterly R.A. appointment.

Topically, priority will go to work that examines:

  • Aspects of labor force employment, wages, conditions (including health and pension benefits), and/or unionization
  • Local policies to ameliorate the impacts of trade, outsourcing, off-shoring subcontracting, or technology
  • Policies of unions and professional organizations to expand or preserve marketable skills and quality production
  • Problems facing contingent or casual workers and employment related aspects of poverty and/or discrimination
  • Historical work that has direct impact upon contemporary policy
  • International case studies and/or comparative research relevant to Washington State

Proposals must:

  • Indicate the significance of the investigation to Washington State
  • Summarize the state of current research and debate
  • Explain the method of investigation and progress (if any) to date
  • Include a timeline that demonstrates the capacity to finalize a report within two years

Please submit proposals as email attachments (maximum length 1500 words exclusive of timeline, budget and CV). Be sure to include your contact information, including email, mailing addresses, and phone number.

Selection of the Washington State Labor Research grant recipients will be made by the Standing Committee of the Harry Bridges Center for Labor Studies and presented at the Bridges Center's annual awards celebration.

Application Deadline

Proposals are due by:

Monday, June 15, 2015

Proposals may be submitted anytime before that deadline.

Send applications to

    Andrew Hedden, Program Coordinator
    Harry Bridges Center for Labor Studies
    University of Washington
    Box 353530
    hbcls@u.washington.edu

Washington State Research Projects Funded in 2012-13

  1. Daniel Jacoby - Interdisciplinary Arts & Sciences, UW Bothell

    The Effects of "Flexible" Scheduling on Retail Industry Workers

    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.

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

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

    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.

Washington State Research Projects Funded in 2011-12

  1. Kari Lerum - Interdisciplinary Arts & Sciences, UW Bothell

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

    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.

  2. Amy Hagopian & Anna Maria Pletz, School of Public Health - School of Public Health

    International Workforce in Washington State Nursing Homes

    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.

Washington State Research Projects Funded in 2010-11

  1. Michael McCann & George Lovell - Department of Political Science

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

    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.

  2. Margaret Plecki and Matthew Finster - College of Education

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

    Studies in Los Angeles and New York suggest that teacher layoffs there have disproportionately impacted high-poverty and high-minority schools and have made it harder to recruit and retain teachers in such schools.

    With K-12 school districts currently faced with budget crises in Washington State, Plecki's study will examine 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 will provide specific information and analysis relevant to teachers and education policymakers in Washington State.

Washington State Research Projects Funded in 2009-10

  1. Margaret Levi - Department of Political Science

    The Past and Future of Health Coverage in the United States

    As current national debates make 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. Meanwhile, 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? This project will attempt to answer this question through interviews with state labor organizations, a close study of union policy and state legislation, and other historical research.

  2. Keith Nitta - Interdisciplinary Arts & Sciences, UW Bothell

    A New Teacher Unionism? Evidence from Two Washington Teacher Strikes

    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.

Washington State Research Projects Funded in 2008-09

  1. Matt Barreto - Department of Political Science

    Latinos, Labor, and New Campaign Dynamics

    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, and the role of Latinos in the changing dynamics of how unions engage the political system and mobilize their membership base.

  2. Kim England - Department of Geography; Anna Haley-Lock - Social Work

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

    With nearly half a million instructors employed as contingent academic workers in American higher educational institutions, it is extremely important for us to understand their conditions of employment as well as the impacts of this practice on instruction and student outcomes. This research begins by exploring the demand for part-time faculty at the two-year community college level. In line with the work of the American Federation of Teachers in Washington and the Washington Educational Association, the project will analyze legislative proposals that aim to increase full-time employment for faculty, as well as gain an understanding of how the community college system in Washington State differs from systems in other places. Ultimately, this project will produce a stakeholder analysis that will provide more information about the political environment and help to set key parameters for achieving legislative goals in this arena.

  3. Margaret Levi - Department of Political Science

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

    At a time when union membership and political strength has declined, the International Longshore and Warehouse Union (ILWU) has maintained and arguably increased their control of the waterfront work environment as well as their political clout. Given that two of the busiest ports on the West Coast are located in Tacoma and Seattle, the union's structural position and political strength have vast implications for Washington State, their contract negotiations in particular. This 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.

Washington State Research Projects Funded in 2007-08

  1. Anne Goodchild - Civil and Environmental Engineering

    Puget Sound Warehousing Employment Research Project

    This project explores the dynamics of warehousing and distribution work related to the import of goods into the United States via marine transportation. Because of the many changes that have taken place in this sector, it is important that we understand more about the relationship between infrastructure, logistics operations, workforce development, and economic concentration. While industry changes, so does the nature of employment, and there is evidence that technology and economic activity are changing the nature of warehousing in Washington State. While much academic research in the transportation field has focused on modeling goods movement, and some work has been done to understand the labor force of the trucking and goods movement industries, we are currently lacking an understanding of the labor force in the Puget Sound region. This research will provide a better understanding of warehouse and distribution center workers and working conditions in the Puget Sound.

  2. Dan Jacoby - Interdisciplinary Arts & Sciences, UW Bothell

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

    With nearly half a million instructors employed as contingent academic workers in American higher educational institutions, it is extremely important for us to understand their conditions of employment as well as the impacts of this practice on instruction and student outcomes. This research begins by exploring the demand for part-time faculty at the two-year community college level. In line with the work of the American Federation of Teachers in Washington and the Washington Educational Association, the project will analyze legislative proposals that aim to increase full-time employment for faculty, as well as gain an understanding of how the community college system in Washington State differs from systems in other places. Ultimately, this project will produce a stakeholder analysis that will provide more information about the political environment and help to set key parameters for achieving legislative goals in this arena.

  3. Brendan Sweeney - Department of Geography

    Labor Market Convergence in a Cross-Border Region: the Case of Cascadia’s Forest Products Industry

    This project examines labor market convergence in the cross-border region of Cascadia, comprised of Washington, Oregon, and British Columbia. Cascadia provides an interesting case study because of its well developed cross-border institutional linkages and significant economic, political, environmental, historical, and socio-cultural similarities. The project examines convergence in labor market and employment practices in four segments of Cascadia’s forest products industry: pulp and paper manufacturing, lumber and plywood manufacturing (sawmills), logging, and reforestation. The project is organized into broad case studies focusing on each segment. A comparative analysis of the four case studies will determine if, and to what extent, convergence in labor market and work practices is occurring in Cascadia’s forest products industry. Policy implications of this research include the areas of globalization and regionalization, environmental and land use/tenure, and community impacts.