Workers' Rights

All workers have the right to a safe and healthful workplace and a fair wage. But the American workplace has changed dramatically since many of our labor laws were last updated, creating new hazards for workers, and transforming the relationship between employer and employee. New, bigger, more powerful equipment has come online. New chemicals and other toxic substances have come into routine use. New production and construction methods have been introduced.

At the same time, more and more employers rely on “contingent” workers instead of permanent employees to perform jobs at all levels. Employers are also fighting grassroots efforts to raise the minimum wage, denying sick leave and family medical leave, misclassifying workers to avoid overtime pay, and retaliating against workers who report wrongdoing.

Worker deaths or injuries resulting from conditions that violate workplace safety laws are still too common. Often, rather than treating these deadly violations of the law as subjects for criminal investigation, prosecutors simply defer to OSHA or comparable state agencies, significantly reducing the scope of possible penalties, and reducing any deterrent effect as violations are "punished" with light fines. CPR's first-of-its-kind Crimes Against Workers database catalogs state criminal cases brought by enlightened prosecutors, as well as grassroots advocacy campaigns against employers responsible for workers being killed, maimed, or seriously endangered on the job.

Through research and scholarship, CPR Member Scholars and staff offer local, state, and federal policymakers and prosecutors tools to make sure all workers have a safe workplace and a fair deal for their labor. See their work below. Use the search box to narrow the list.

CPR Comments at Hearing on OSHA 'HazCom' standard
Type: Letters to Agencies (March 4, 2010)
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Author(s): Matt Shudtz
Workers at Risk: Regulatory Dysfunction at OSHA
Type: Reports (Feb. 8, 2010)
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Author(s): Thomas McGarity, Rena Steinzor, Sidney Shapiro, Matt Shudtz
Protecting Public Health and the Environment by the Stroke of a Presidential Pen: Seven Executive Orders for the President's First 100 Days

Protecting Public Health and the Environment by the Stroke of a Presidential Pen: Seven Executive Orders for the President's First 100 Days, By CPR Member Scholars Rebecca M. Bratspies, David M. Driesen, Robert L. Fischman, Sheila Foster, Eileen Gauna, Robert L. Glicksman, Alexandra B. Klass, Catherine A. O’Neill, Sidney Shapiro, Amy Sinden, Rena Steinzor, Robert R.M. Verchick, and Wendy Wagner, and CPR Policy Analyst James Goodwin

Type: Reports (Nov. 13, 2008)
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Comments on the Department of Labor's Risk Assessment proposal

Rena Steinzor and Policy Analyst Matt Shudtz's comments urging the Department of Labor to withdraw its Risk Assessment proposal.

Type: Letters to Agencies (Sept. 29, 2008)
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Author(s): Rena Steinzor, Matt Shudtz
Coalition letter requesting extension of comment period on OSHA risk assessment policy

Coalition letter requesting extension of comment period on OSHA risk assessment policy, signed by more than 40 policy experts, including CPR's Rena Steinzor

Type: Letters to Agencies (Sept. 5, 2008)
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Author(s): Rena Steinzor
Letter to OMB urging it to withdraw its proposed risk assessment bulletin.

Risk Assessment Bulletin. Member Scholar Rena Steinzor's June 15, 2006 letter to OMB urging it to withdraw its proposed risk assessment bulletin.

Type: Letters to Agencies (June 15, 2006)
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Author(s): Rena Steinzor
A New Progressive Agenda for Public Health and the Environment

Writing for the Center for American Progress website, Christopher Schroeder and Rena Steinzor, co-editors of CPR's book, A New Progressive Agenda for Public Health and the Environment, offer a summary of the work, which features contributions from 20 CPR Member Scholars.

Type: Op-Eds (Feb. 5, 2005)
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Author(s): Christopher Schroeder, Rena Steinzor
CPR Perspective: The Takings Clause of the Fifth Amendment

CPR Perspective: 'The Takings Clause of the Fifth Amendment,' by Bill Funk. CPR's Perspectives Series is a set of monographs by CPR Member Scholars on timely and important health, safety, and environmental topics. Each Perspective provides a thumbnail sketch of the competing arguments concerning a substantive or procedural principle for developing appropriate health, safety and environmental policies, and closes with the Member Scholar-author's proposed approach to the issue.

Type: Reports (Jan. 1, 2005)
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Author(s): Bill Funk
A New Progressive Agenda for Public Health and the Environment

Over the last quarter century, much of the focus of federal regulatory policy in the areas of health, safety, and the environment has been gradually redirected away from protecting Americans against various harms and toward protecting corporate interests from the plain meaning of protective statutes. This book delivers precisely what its title promises, a re-imagining of federal policy in these areas, with particular focus on the regulatory process. It identifies the failings of the current approach to regulation and proposes innovative, straightforward, and practical solutions for the 21st Century. The 2004, A New Progressive Agenda for Public Health and the Environment, was a seminal collaboration among the Member Scholars of the Center for Progressive Reform (then called the Center for Progressive Regulation).

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Author(s): Rena Steinzor, Christopher Schroeder

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