Each year, the Harry Bridges Center for Labor Studies awards thousands of dollars in research funding to University of Washington graduate students and faculty. Since 1992, the Center has awarded over one hundred grants, producing dozens of reports, books, articles, and more. We are pleased to announce the recipients of Labor Studies graduate student research funding for the 2021-2022 academic year.


Michele Cadigan, Aliyah Turner, and Maxine Wright, Department of Sociology

Racializing Institutional Boundaries: The Case of the CHAZ/CHOP

Cadigan, Turner, and Wright's study will  investigate the response of businesses in the Capitol Hill Autonomous Zone / Capitol Hill Organized Protest (CHAZ/CHOP) area in Seattle, Washington during the twin pandemics of COVID-19 and state-sanctioned violence and police brutality. The study will examine how business owners have leveraged the current political climate in setting forth an ideology around racial justice and equity in their daily operations, if at all, especially the moral tensions that may arise between employers and employees that might lead to a breakdown in company morale and integration. The study will interview 20 small-business owners and 30 employees across businesses in the Capitol Hill area.


Matthew Fowle, Evans School of Public Policy & Governance

Lindsey Beach, Department of Sociology

Can ‘Reversing Punishment’ Support Labor Force Participation? Exploring the Labor Consequences of Court-Ordered Debt Relief

Monetary sanctions are a pervasive form of punishment throughout the criminal legal process. Over time, unpaid monetary sanctions may lead to wage garnishment, driver’s license suspension, occupational restrictions, and even jail. More recently, some courts have created opportunities for individuals to reduce or eliminate their court-ordered debt.

Fowle and Beach's study will examine individuals’ experiences in the labor market after participating in a debt relief initiative held by a county court in Washington state. Using data collected from 25 semi-structured interviews with participants, the study will examine to what extent debt relief facilitated labor market participation and altered perceptions about employment.


Allison Goldberg, Department of Sociology

Collective Resilience and Collective Resistance: Mutual Aid During Covid-19

During times of crisis, how do people re-imagine modes of labor? Mutual aid (MA) offers a robust area to investigate this question. MA generally refers to “collective coordination to meet each other’s needs … from an awareness that the systems we have in place are not going to meet them” (Dean Spade, Mutual Aid: Building Solidarity During this Crisis (and the Next), Verso, 2020).

Goldberg's research examines MA in the form of neighborhood-based grocery operations in Brooklyn, New York during Covid-19. Through interviews and participant observation, this research examines the ways in which MA is connected to other forms of collective action to address inequality, including reconstituting labor.



Jeehyun (Jenny) Lee, Department of Communication

What do algorithms think about Asian creative labor?: An investigation of transnational creative labor and algorithmic management of the platform economy

Lee's project investigates the transnational and racial dimensions of the platformized cultural economy. In particular, this study aims to understand the experiences of Asian cultural producers from East Asia who create content for global audiences beyond their locality by addressing the following questions: How do the algorithmic systems of global social media platforms structure the production of Asian creative labor? How do cultural producers perceive the algorithmic ranking and categorization of their work? How do they navigate through these algorithmic imaginaries? Lastly, how does the algorithmic management of their work shape the symbolic and material value of Asian creative labor?

Recipient of the 2021-2022 Charles Bergquist Labor Research Grant


Olivia Orosco, Department of Geography

Essential and Vulnerable: Latino Health Care Workers in the COVID-19 Pandemic

Inspired by New York based artist Aya Brown’s portraits of frontline workers, Orosco's research centers the lives of home care aides; as people, as community members, as those who are deemed artistically worthy of being rendered and as #HealthcareHeroes. Working within her personal networks, Orosco will conduct testimonios with home care aides (HCA) in the South Sound, a sector composed of predominantly immigrant women of color, often precariously documented. Using digital storytelling methods, this research highlights and centers an invisible sector of our region and broader nation, those who do the complicated and challenging work of caring for others.


Lauren Plitkins, College of Education

Taiko Aoki-Marcial, Department of English              

Teaching the Roslyn Cemeteries: Connecting labor, race and immigration through place based curriculum design

Plitkins and Aoko-Marcia's project asks how a historically situated, critically oriented, place based curriculum can contribute to a greater understanding of the intersection of labor, race and immigration in Washington State history. The project focuses first on archival and historical research for developing a standards-aligned curriculum for 4th and 7th grades in Washington State centered around Roslyn’s historical cemeteries and their significance to the socioeconomic and cultural context of early state history. The second component of the project is qualitative case study research on the implementation and
reception of the curriculum in pilot classes.


Yuying Xie, Department of Geography

Inequality, racial capitalism, and labor rights: Transnational workers in China’s English Language Training industry​

In the past few years, the English Language Training (ELT) industry in China experienced remarkable prosperity and created a significant demand for foreign language teachers, recruiting and employing an increasingly highly diverse workforce. This means more people from different racial and ethnic backgrounds are working in China, with many of them ending up in low-end precarious occupations.

Xie's research explores the new dynamics of transnational workers in China. Combining two groups of literature on racial capitalism and China's labor conditions, the project intends to explore foreign workers in the ELT sector with a specific focus on their wages, labor rights, and social welfare benefits.