Heather Grob

Chair, Business and Economics

Associate Professor, Business and Economics

Main (Lacey)

Old Main 369
5000 Abbey Way SE
Lacey, WA 98503

Office hours:

9-10:30 a.m.

9-11 a.m.
In person

2:30-4:30 p.m.
In person


“Passion is one great force that unleashes creativity, because if you're passionate about something, then you're more willing to take risks.” - Cellist Yo-Yo Ma

Heather Grob, Associate Professor of Economics, holds a PhD in Economics from the University of Notre Dame and has over 20 years of experience in labor economics and teaching. Her current research interests include multi-employer systems of labor management relations, social insurance, dispute resolution, and the performing arts. In addition to teaching economics and labor-management relations, she has been actively engaged with the governance of Saint Martin’s University, serving on the Advancement Committee, as Chair of the Business and Economics Department and with several past committee assignments and as past Faculty President. Before coming to SMU, Dr. Grob was Senior Researcher on Workers’ Compensation with the Department of Labor and Industries and led major data-driven studies on return to work. In the 1990’s, she was Senior Economist with The Center to Protect Workers’ Rights in Washington DC, leading a consortium of academic economists and industry practitioners to fund and publish research in the construction sector.  Both positions required understanding of regulatory issues affecting multi-employer pension, health and welfare plans.  Heather has served on advisory boards for the Labor and Employment Relations Association, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics and the Washington State Employee Credit Union, and the Washington Center for Women in Business and she currently serves on the Thurston County Economic Alliance and the Olympia YWCA Advisory boards. Heather enjoys time with her family, fly-fishing, hiking, skiing, painting, and playing the cello.

Select publications:

  • “Coordinating multi-employer workplaces: threats and opportunities for labour, voice and collective representation:  Introduction on a multi-employer political economy perspective of employment relations Abstract” with Valeria Pulignano, and Nikolaus Hammer. Interuniversity Research Centre on Globalization and Work 2018 Conference, Montreal, Canada, October 28, 2018.
  • “Retirement Income is Inadequate for Most Americans” conference proceedings, Allied Social Science Associations and Labor and Employment Relations Association Annual Conference, Chicago, January 8, 2017.
  • “Joint Dispute Resolution Boards in Construction” with Matthew Bodah, (in progress, presented at LERA)
  • “College Cost and the Earning Power of Today’s Women Graduates” with Molly Smith, LinkedIn:Pulse  (http://www.linkedin.com/pulse/college-cost-earning-power-todays-women-graduates-heather-grob  Mar 21, 2016)
  • “Washington Pension System Review” Peter S. Barth, Heather Grob, Henry George Harder, H. Allan Hunt, and Michael Silverstein Upjohn Institute Technical Reports, 2008. (http://research.upjohn.org/workcomp_dis_benefits/ 2008)
  • “Vocational Rehabilitation and Return to Work” Washington State Department of Labor and Industries (with Trista Zugel, Jerry Tyler, Bill Blanford and Lisann Rolle), 2007.
  • “The Aging Workforce: Implications for Workers’ Compensation” with Joseph Jauquet, Washington State Department of Labor and Industries, December 2005.
  • “Return to Work”  Washington State Department of Labor and Industries (with Lisann Rolle, Bill Blanford and Russ Redding),  April 2005.
  • “Measuring Return to Work” Washington State Department of Labor and Industries (with Lisann Rolle, Bill Blanford and Russ Redding),  Nov 2002.
  • “Defining responsibility: exploring government's role in regulating multi-employer arrangements” Industrial Relations Research Association 2002 Conference proceedings.
  • “Cost-Benefit Analysis for the Ergonomics Standard” Washington State Department of Labor and Industries (with Greg Nothstein and Michael Foley), May 2000.
  • “Changing Employment Relations and Implications for Worker’s Compensation: Labor’s View” WCRI Conference proceedings. Cambridge, MA: Workers’ Compensation Research Institute. Dec. 1999. 
  • “Dispute Resolution in the Building Trades” in Adrienne Eaton and Jeffrey Keefe (eds.) 1999 IRRA Research Volume: Employment Dispute Resolution and Worker Rights in the Changing Workplace. Madison,WI: Industrial Relations Research Association.
  • Self-Regulation and Safety Programs in Construction. Dissertation. University of Notre Dame. Ann Arbor, MI: University Microfilms, Inc. 1998.
  • “Safety in the Good Old Days” (Book Review). Monthly Labor Review.  Washington D.C.: Government Printing Office.  121 (6): 36-37. 1998.
  • The Construction Chart Book: The Construction Industry and Its Workers, 2nd Ed.  Washington, D.C.: The Center to Protect Workers Rights (with Dong, Schneider, Pollack, Seegal). 1998. (and first edition with Poor, Dong, Lemen, Schneider, Pollack, Seegal in 1997).


  • Honorable mention, International Association of Industrial Accident Boards and Commissions for “Measuring Return to Work: Controlling for the Effects of Industry and Size”, May 2007
  • National Academy of Social Insurance inductee, 2002
  • Delta Mu Delta member
  • Omicron Delta Kappa member

Areas of interest:

  • Labor Economics
  • Labor Management Relations
  • Ecological Economics
  • Regulatory Economics
  • Multi-employer benefit systems
  • Construction industry labor issues
  • Social insurance
  • Social security and retirement readiness
  • Workers' compensation
  • Performing arts labor-management issues

Other information:

  • National Academy of Social Insurance member, 2002-present
  • Labor and Employment Relations Association member, 1994-present
  • American Economics Association member, 1993-present
  • Olympia Symphony Orchestra cellist, 2002-present