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.

Letter to OSHA's Voluntary Protection Programs, September 15, 2017

Letter to OSHA's Voluntary Protection Programs, co-signed by CPR's Thomas O. McGarity, Sidney Shapiro, Rena Steinzor, Katherine Tracy, September 15, 2017.

Type: Letters to Agencies (Sept. 15, 2017)
Read PDF
Author(s): Rena Steinzor, Katie Tracy, Sidney Shapiro, Thomas McGarity
Raise Maximum Fine to Deter Unsafe Working Conditions

Raise Maximum Fine to Deter Unsafe Working Conditions, op-ed by Martha McCluskey and Matt London

Type: Op-Eds (Aug. 3, 2017)
Read PDF
Author(s): Martha McCluskey
Coalition Letter to USDA Food Safety Inspection Service and Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs, June 16, 2017.

Letter to USDA Food Safety Inspection Service and Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs, co-signed by CPR Policy Analyst Katherine Tracy, June 16, 2017.

Type: Letters to Agencies (June 21, 2017)
Read PDF
Author(s): Katie Tracy
Joint Letter to Several Federal Agencies re HIMP in Hog-Processing

Letter to Several Federal Agencies re the USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) to expand the Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Point-based Inspection Models Project (HIMP) pilot program throughout the hog-processing industry.

Type: Letters to Agencies (June 19, 2017)
Read PDF
Author(s): Katie Tracy
Congressional Review Act Targets

In the first few months of the Trump administration, Congress invoked a rarely used, little-known law called the Congressional Review Act to repeal a host of health, safety, and environmental regulations adopted during the Obama administration after years of consideration and public input. CPR tracked the congressional assault on our safeguards. See our chart from May 2017 detailing the damage.

Type: Reports (May 25, 2017)
Read Online
Author(s): Katie Tracy, James Goodwin
Regulatory Targets: Congressional GOP Takes Aim at Safeguards

In the first four months of his presidency, Donald Trump and his congressional allies used the Congressional Review Act to repeal 14 Obama era health, safety, labor, financial, education, energy, environmental rules. The law allows Congress to block "major" rules within 60 legislative days of adoption, with a joint resolution (not subject to the Senate's normal 60-vote requirement) and president's signature. CPR tracked the damage.

Read Online
Author(s): Katie Tracy, James Goodwin
Katherine Tracy's written testimony to the Maryland General Assembly's Economic Matters Committee on public works contracts and contractor occupational safety and health requirements.

Katherine Tracy's March 6, 2017, written testimony to the Maryland General Assembly's Economic Matters Committee on public works contracts and contractor occupational safety and health requirements.

Type: Legislative Testimony (March 6, 2017)
Read PDF
Author(s): Katie Tracy
Shudtz and Tracy's testimony to the Maryland General Assembly's Committee on Appropriations on funding for worker safety standards enforcement.

Matthew Shudtz and Katherine Tracy's February 15, 2017, written testimony to the Maryland General Assembly's Standing Committee on Appropriations, Subcommittee on Education & Economic Developments on funding for worker safety standards enforcement.

Type: Legislative Testimony (Feb. 15, 2017)
Read PDF
Author(s): Matt Shudtz, Katie Tracy
Federal Rules to Prevent Another Deadly West Blast Now at Risk

Federal Rules to Prevent Another Deadly West Blast Now at Risk, op-ed by Thomas McGarity

Type: Op-Eds (Feb. 4, 2017)
Read PDF
Author(s): Thomas McGarity
Federal Proposal Would Jeopardize Public Safety

Federal Proposal Would Jeopardize Public Safety, op-ed by Thomas McGarity

Type: Op-Eds (Feb. 2, 2017)
Read PDF
Author(s): Thomas McGarity

Advanced Search Filters

Reset Filters