On April 19th, The Bridges Center hosted a panel workshop to discuss the roles of public record requests and the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) in labor research and beyond. This was part of our Labor Spring. Labor Spring is a nationwide series of teach-ins, events, and actions centering workers and worker power. In the workshop, we discussed Washington State's Public Record Act and the FOIA, specifically what these acts allow and how they support researchers and anyone interested in accessing materials that are within the purview of the acts.
Our panel included Joyce Sinakhone, a union researcher at SEIU Healthcare 1199NW, Phil Neff, Research Coordinator at the University of Washington Center for Human Rights, and Trevor Griffey, a Labor Historian at UC Irvine and UCLA, and the co-founder of the Seattle Civil Rights and Labor History Project. Attendees were able to discuss their ongoing challenges and victories in accessing public records, learn from panelists' experiences, and have questions answered in real time. After listening to panelists prepared remarks, breakout rooms based on topic areas were created, allowing for more pointed questions and conversations.
If you have questions about utilizing public record requests or FOIA in your research, please reach out to the Bridges Center's Research Coordinator, Rachel Erstad (email@example.com).