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.
Writing for FairWarning and the Sacramento Bee, Rena Steinzor and Katie Tracy point to recent on-the-job deaths that resulted from employer negligence and call for prosecution of companies, supervisors and executives who cut corners at the expense of their employees life and limb.
CPR joined with 117 other major labor, worker, consumer, small business, civil rights, women's rights, environmental, legal, justice, health and safety organizations in a letter to congressional leaders opposing legislation that would immunize unsafe businesses during the coronavirus pandemic.
CPR joined more than 225 other worker safety organizations in urging Members of Congress to pass the COVID-19 Every Worker Protection Act, which would require OSHA to issue an Emergency Temporary Standard to protect all workers who continue to go to work during the pandemic from exposure to the coronavirus.