The Harry Bridges Center is excited to welcome the latest addition to our staff, Labor Research Coordinator Rachel Erstad. 

Erstad is a dedicated labor researcher and educator with many years of experience in the field. Prior to joining the Bridges Center, Erstad spent nine years on the staff of SEIU Healthcare 1199NW, first as an organizer, and then as a researcher, including over three years as the union’s Lead Research Analyst. In her role with 1199NW, Erstad collected and analyzed workplace data, policy and law, and other information, interpreting and communicating large and complex data sets for the union’s organizing, bargaining, and policymaking efforts. She also trained new organizers and researchers, co-facilitating the union’s participation in the Union Summer internship program, and collaborating with colleagues in facilitating workshops connecting racial and economic justice. In addition, she has worked to build connections between labor researchers across the state of Washington, convening gatherings to network and share information and skills. 

Erstad holds a Master of Public Policy from Oregon State University and is currently completing a Data Analytics certificate with the University of Washington’s Professional and Continuing Education program. Rachel grew up in rural Montana with her grandparents. She became involved in activism as a college student in Fargo, North Dakota, and took a position with a non-profit working to elect President Obama in 2008. At that time, she saw the power of organized labor as a driving force for change. 

As the Bridges Center’s Labor Research Coordinator, Erstad will be responsible for developing the Center’s research programs, including but not limited to the Washington State Labor Research Grant, working groups, undergraduate teaching, and Labor Policy Reports. Erstad’s role will be critical to advancing the Bridges Center’s mission to cultivate connections between the University of Washington and labor communities and to inform policymakers about issues confronting workers. Erstad writes:

"I am thrilled at the idea of working at an academic institution, with both students and faculty interested in and currently engaging in labor research and workforce empowerment. I am honored to support the goals and mission of the Bridges Center and I look forward to continuing to build relationships with union leadership and members, and University of Washington faculty and students."

Please join us in welcoming Rachel Erstad to our staff! If you would like to reach Rachel directly, her email address is