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.

Worker Health and Disaster

This chapter of CPR's From Surviving to Thriving: Equity in Disaster Planning and Recovery focuses on heat stress and the various other worker health and safety issues related to disaster planning.

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Joint Letters to Food Safety Inspection Service re poulty plant line speeds.

Joint Letters to Food Safety Inspection Service re poulty plant line speeds. CPR and 11 other organizations write to oppose requests from four poultry processors (Ozark Mountain Poultry, Peco Poultry, Pilgrim's Pride, Gerber Poultry) for waivers that would allow them to operate their evisceration lines at speeds that pose health and safety risks to workers and consumers. July 31, 2018. 

Type: Letters to Agencies (July 31, 2018)
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Laurie Ristino's testimony to House Committee on Small Business on regulation and agriculture.

Laurie Ristino's June 21, 2018, testimony to the U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Small Business on regulation and agriculture, June 21, 2018.

Type: Legislative Testimony (June 21, 2018)
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Author(s): Laurie Ristino
Baltimore employer of smothered worker should be held criminally accountable

Baltimore employer of smothered worker should be held criminally accountable, op-ed by Rena Steinzor

Type: Op-Eds (June 8, 2018)
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Author(s): Rena Steinzor
West-inspired EPA rules destined for ashes as chemical industry wins big

West-inspired EPA rules destined for ashes as chemical industry wins big, op-ed by Thomas McGarity

Type: Op-Eds (May 24, 2018)
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Author(s): Thomas McGarity
Joint to Food Safety Inspection Service re Swing Slaughter Rule

Joint letter to the Food Safety Inspection Service on proposed swine slaughter rule.

Type: Letters to Agencies (April 30, 2018)
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Author(s): Martha McCluskey, Thomas McGarity, Sidney Shapiro, Rena Steinzor, Katie Tracy
Maryland Must Prioritize Worker Safety

Maryland Must Prioritize Worker Safety, op-ed by Katie Tracy

Type: Op-Eds (April 25, 2018)
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Author(s): Katie Tracy
Joint Letter from CPR and 18 other organizations urging Secretary Sonny Perdue to conduct public hearings and weigh peer review of Swine Safety Rule

Joint Letter to Agriculture Secretary re Swine Slaughter Rule. Joint Letter from CPR and 18 other organizations urging Secretary Sonny Perdue to conduct public hearings and weigh peer review, March 15, 2018.

Type: Letters to Agencies (March 15, 2018)
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Katherine Tracy and Matthew Shudtz' testimony (submitted) to Maryland General Assembly House Standing Committee on Appropriations, Subcommittee on Education & Economic Development

Katherine Tracy and Matthew Shudtz' testimony (submitted) to Maryland General Assembly House Standing Committee on Appropriations, Subcommittee on Education & Economic Development

Type: Legislative Testimony (Feb. 8, 2018)
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Author(s): Katie Tracy, Matt Shudtz
Letter to the Department of Labor on Tip Rule Data Cover-up

Letter to the Director of the Division of Regulations, Legislation and Interpretation Wage and Hour Division U.S. Department of Labor on Tip Rule Data Cover-up

Type: Letters to Agencies (Feb. 5, 2018)
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Author(s): James Goodwin, Sidney Shapiro, Thomas McGarity, Katie Tracy, Rena Steinzor, Amy Sinden

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