Since 1992, the Bridges Center has promoted quality scholarship on labor issues among University of Washington students through an annual cash prize to the authors of the best student papers written on a labor topic during the academic year. As an achievement on a student's resume, the award opens up job and educational opportunities, and papers often go on to be published in academic journals. Many of these award-winning papers are made available below. Click on a title to read or print.

Beginning in 2018, the award is made possible by a generous endowment established by the Pacific Northwest Labor History Association (PNLHA) in honor of the organization's 50th anniversary. For more information about the prize, or to submit a paper for consideration, visit the Bridges Center's Labor Studies Scholarships and Prizes page.



Star Berry. University Staff: Indigenous Sovereignty and Justice Online. Best Paper in Labor Studies Prize (Graduate), 2020-2021.

Written for her doctorate in Education at UW Tacoma, Berry’s thesis evaluates how the websites of research universities represent their Indigenous, Transgender, and Disabled staff in severely limited ways, treating people as a “commodity” to appear institutionally diverse and inclusive while disregarding staff-led community grassroots efforts in practice and research.


Hazel Brown. Right-to-Work Laws: Implementation and Effects. Best Paper in Labor Studies Prize (Undergraduate), 2020-2021.

Written as part of a fellowship with the Center for American Progress and Public Policy, Brown’s sophisticated study examines connections between state "right-to-work" laws and rates of state unionization and economic growth.


Liam Collins. Point: Defiance Podcast. PNLHA Best Project in Labor History Prize (Undergraduate), 2020-2021.

Collins' podcast, the final project for his major in Community, Environment, and Planning, speaks with four scholars about major civil disturbances that have shaped the labor history of the Pacific Northwest: the anti-South Asian riots of 1907; the 1916 IWW Everett Massacre; the Yakima KKK's anti-Filipino campaign of 1927; and Native American fish-ins and occupations of the 1960s and 70s.


Selma El-Badawi. The Sweet Fruit of Labor: An Examination of Black Labor Unions in South Africa. PNLHA Best Paper in Labor History Prize (Undergraduate), 2020-2021.

Focusing on the interconnections between struggles for labor rights by Black workers and the anti-apartheid movement, El-Badawi's essay traces the history of Black union federations in South Africa across the latter half of the 20th century. The paper was published in the inaugural issue of the UW History undergraduate journal The Historical Review at UW.


Yogasai Gazula. Always On-Demand: How the Gig Economy is Changing Traditional Work Practices. Best Paper in Labor Studies Prize (Undergraduate), 2020-2021.

Richly drawing upon theories of capitalism, Gazula’s International Studies seminar paper describes the rise of new technologies and the “gig economy” and evaluates their implications for workers.


Julia Lund. The Intergenerational Impact of Precarious Work: A retrospective cohort analysis of the association between parent's employment quality and their children's behavioral problems. Best Paper in Labor Studies Prize (Graduate), 2020-2021.

Lund’s Masters thesis in Public Health addresses the impacts of working conditions on workers’ families, using long-term household survey data to show an association between the quality of parents’ employment - including job stability, pay and benefits, and unionization - and the behavioral health of their children.


Kelly Maldonado. A Comparative Essay on Slavery and Penal Labor. PNLHA Best Paper in Labor History Prize (Undergraduate), 2020-2021.

Pairing historical accounts of slavery alongside analysis of contemporary regimes of work in prisons, Maldonado draws critical connections between the two forms of labor, and outlines the case for abolition of both slave labor and prisons, past and present.


Amrine White. Unstable Foundations: Poor Whites and the Economic Fight for Emancipation. PNLHA Best Paper in Labor History Prize (Undergraduate), 2020-2021.

During the Civil War era, poor white workers held a range of views on the end of slavery. White’s historical essay, written for an Honors seminar in Political Science, details the economic motivations of white workers during the period, their relationships with Northern and Southern elites, and the key roles they played in political coalitions both for and against emancipation.



Greta Dubois. Organized Labor and the Anti-Chinese Movement. Best Paper in Labor Studies Prize (Undergraduate), 2019-2020.

DuBois’ paper charts the struggles of Chinese workers in the U.S. West during the late nineteenth century, and recounts how they were targeted by racist campaigns led by organized labor, particularly the powerful Knights of Labor.


Jourdan Marshall. Employing Racism: Black Miners, the Knights of Labor, and Company Tactics in the Coal Towns of Washington​. PNLHA Best Paper in Labor Studies Prize (Undergraduate), 2019-2020.

Marshall's essay, now a part of the Seattle Civil Rights and Labor History Project, tells the story of how race and racism were leveraged in the conflicts between the Knights of Labor and the Oregon Improvement Company in late nineteenth century Washington State. This important and timely work sheds a light on the first labor conflict in Washington involving African Americans, and on how capital has historically invoked racial tensions to its benefit.


Noelle Morrison. Ernesto Mangaoang and the Right to Be: The Fight for Filipino-American Belonging in the United States. Best Paper in Labor Studies Prize (Undergraduate), 2019-2020.

Morrison’s essay, published on the Seattle Civil Rights and Labor History Project, details the story of Filipino cannery worker turned radical labor leader Ernesto Mangaoang and his legal struggles against deportation, which ultimately secured rights for thousands of Filipino immigrants to the United States.


Aliyah Musaliar. Class and Caste within the South Asian Diaspora in the United States. PNLHA Best Video in Labor Studies Prize (Undergraduate), 2019-2020.

Musaliar’s video explores the persistence of caste within South Asian communities in the United States, the relationship of caste to issues of class, race and nationality, and the reinforcement of caste through U.S. immigration policy across the twentieth century.


Jordan Naini. A History of Labor Union Music. PNLHA Best Video in Labor Studies Prize (Undergraduate), 2019-2020.

Exploring the role played by music in labor movements in the twentieth century United States, Naini’s video follows the history of folk songs from the Great Depression of the 1930s through the counterculture of the 1960s and 1970s.


Frances O'Shaughnessy. Black Revolution in the Sea Islands: Empire, Property, and the Emancipation of Land and Labour, 1861-1863. PNLHA Best Paper in Labor Studies Prize (Graduate), 2019-2020.

In a paper based on research for their History PhD dissertation, O’Shaughnessy discusses how the Gullah people of the Southeastern United States practiced collective emancipation during the Civil War, challenging the status of land and labor as property. As part of a larger spiritual tradition of resistance, Gullah people practiced freedom through soul, song, and soil. Their liberatory struggle during the Civil War refutes the propaganda of American history, which understands emancipation as a proprietary freedom that could only be achieved through the Union invasion of the South. Celebrating an empire of slavery under the veil of state citizenship, the propaganda of American history buries the creative and collective black struggle under the catastrophe of liberal modernity. When one tunes into the everyday rhythms of black life, however, a Black Revolution emerges from the soil. A testament to life beyond property, empire, and capital, Gullah people cultivated a new world and lived a freedom that the future would call a dream. Sweeping the land with their music and poetry, they created an alternative past on the very landscape that had bound them to slavery. They forced planters off the plantations, welcomed black fugitives, and expanded gardens under a revolution that did nothing less than depropertize their world. Living a collective emancipation through the depropertization of land and labour, the Black Revolution made a home out of the apocalypse of war.



Juan Ortiz. The Longshoremen during the Seattle General StrikePNLHA Best Paper in Labor Studies Prize (Undergraduate), 2017-2018.

In his research paper, Juan details the intricacies of the contexts and events preceding, during and after the Seattle General Strike, and the decision of Seattle’s Longshoremen Union to join the strike. His paper illustrates not only the complex economic and social changes following WWI, but the building of solidarity among workers to support labor and human rights. 


Kate Wooley. Women’s Card and Label League: Declaring Dignity During the General Strike Era​. PNLHA Best Paper in Labor Studies Prize (Undergraduate), 2017-2018.

Kate’s paper on the Seattle General Strike focuses on the less-told story of women and the impact they had during this historical event. Her paper centers on the Women’s Card and Label League, an organization comprised of women and often the wives of leading men in the labor movement, who showed their support and solidarity for the men in the labor force by advocating for union labeled goods. Kate’s research shows how much of a pivotal role women played in the movement, particularly as their purchasing power allowed them to manipulate businesses into negotiations with their workers.