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About Bridges Center Labor Policy Research

A number of exciting projects have been completed through Bridges Center research programs. The published research and working papers profiled below have been funded by the Washington State Labor Research Grant. Each summary report includes information directly relevant to policymakers, employers, unions, and others. 

Reports are organized broadly by topic, then by year. To read or print reports, click on the "Read More" links below. 


Health, Healthcare, and Safety 

  • 2020 | Frontiers in Public Health
    Considering Work Arrangement as an “Exposure” in Occupational Health Research and Practice

    This study conceptualizes how work arrangement, or the terms and conditions of employment, can impact health and safety exposure in the workplace. The takeaway for occupational health and safety professions is that work arrangements have implications for worker health and safety by potentially intensifying existing hazards or creating new ones within the workplace. Read More

  • 2016 | American Journal of Public Health
    The Role of Labor Unions in Creating Working Conditions That Promote Public Health

    This research investigated how labor unions promote public health outcomes. Researchers analyzed 16 Washington state collective bargaining agreements to identify contract language associated with determinants of public health. Among other findings, the researchers found union contracts advance many social determinants of health for union members and the broader community, including: (1) establishing higher wages and benefit standards, (2) protecting against workplace hazards and promoting safety awareness and training, and (3) fostering democratic participation within the workplace and the broader community. Read More


Labor Unions and Social Goods

  • 2021 |  Working Manuscript
    Union Involvement in Apprenticeship and Workforce Development in WA State: Opportunities and Constraints 

    This project explores how and whether the limitations of collective action are being overcome within Washington’s training market. The researchers simultaneously consider the role of labor and industry associations through intensive interviews with numerous individuals deeply involved in the apprenticeship work in this state. The final report from this research project is forthcoming, but the researchers have tentative findings to share. State apprenticeship programs offer a range of benefits to various stakeholders including: (1) develop skills across the supply chain, (2) better trained workers and reduce turnover, (3) complement union organizing efforts, (4) enhance diversity, and (5) help small employers overcome fear to improve productivity. Read More

  • 2021 | Research Report
    Power in a Pension: Labor, Private Equity, and the Climate Crisis

    This project assesses private equity's role in exacerbating the climate crisis and its use of labor's retirement capital. It is based on a forum, hosted by the Harry Bridges Center for Labor Studies, that brought stakeholders together to discuss how labor unions, pension fund trustees, and Indigenous rights and grassroots organizations are working to effect change. The report calls on public pension fund trustees, many of whom are labor union members and state elected officials, to advocate for better climate-related reporting and disclosure. Read More


Social Movements

  • 2020 |  Civil Rights and Labor History Consortium
    Investigating Washington's Left Coast Formula with the Mapping American Social Movements Project  

    This project created online resources detailing the political geography of labor and radical movements that have been important in Washington State. The larger Mapping American Social Movements Project uses tools of digital history to reveal the geography as well as the life cycle of dozens of social movements that have been important in American political life. This research strategy shows how American radicalism has been reconstituted repeatedly over the last century as social movements come and go and as the geography of activism changes. The research demonstrate that radicalism reorganized and relocated within the state, as well as, on a state to state basis. Counties in eastern Washington and northern Puget Sound that a century ago led in support for the Socialist Party and other radical movements became more conservative later in the century. Seattle, and to some extent Tacoma, have been more consistent, harboring radical movements of many types, generation after generation. Read More


Labor Organizing and Immigrant Rights

  • 2021 |  Research Report
    Casa Latina: The Powerful Role of Worker Centers for Social Justice  

    This research project documents how Casa Latina—a non-profit immigrant workers’ rights organization in the city of Seattle—has pioneered in day labor organizing since its founding in 1994. The report draws on interviews and oral histories with day laborers, domestic workers, staff and volunteers of Casa Latina, as well as archival research. The researchers focus on three categories of activities that Casa Latina engages in to support migrant day laborers in navigating the informal job market: finding work, creating community, and labor activism. Read More

  • 2021 |  Research Zine
    Unjust Enrichment and the Struggle for State Minimum Wage at the Northwest Detention Center  

    This project examines how prolonged private immigrant detention affects labor rights throughout mixed-status immigrant communities like Tacoma and Seattle. It follows two lawsuits filed against GEO Group—a private, for-profit company that runs the Northwest Detention Center (NWDC) in Tacoma, WA. Findings demonstrate the role of immigrant detention in Washington state labor dynamics not only as a threat that disciplines workers, but also as an everyday phenomenon that shapes families’ ability to engage in long-term education and labor markets. Read More


Minimum Wage Policy

  • 2021 |  Research Report
    Puget Sound's Fight for $15: Family Experiences and Policy Impacts of Increasing the Minimum Wage  

    This project presents a broad range of research related to the minimum wage in the Puget Sound region including political strategies for minimum wage policy changes, the implementation and enforcement of wage policy, and the impacts of minimum wage legislation on working people and their families. The report highlights innovative perspectives and methods and contributes to the ongoing debate around the benefits and costs associated with increasing the minimum wage to $15. Read More