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.

Winning Safer Workplaces: A Manual for State and Local Policy Reform
Type: Reports (July 17, 2014)
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Author(s): Rena Steinzor, James Goodwin, Michael Patoka, Matt Shudtz
Rena Steinzor testimony before Committee on Science, Space, and Technology Subcommittees on Oversight and Environment on the Status of Reforms to IRIS


Rena Steinzor's July 16, 2015, testimony before Committee on Science, Space, and Technology Subcommittees on Oversight and Environment on the Status of Reforms to EPA's Integrated Risk Information System

Type: Legislative Testimony (July 16, 2014)
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Author(s): Rena Steinzor
State Advocacy for Safer Workplaces

As an supplement to our our Winning Safer Workplaces and Preventing Death and Injury on the Job manuals, CPR has developed a clearinghouse of resources for each of the proposals explored in those papers.

Type: Reports (June 12, 2014)
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Author(s): Katie Tracy
Matthew Shudtz' testimony at OSHA Hearing on Proposed Standard for Respirable Silica Dust

Matthew Shudtz' testimony at OSHA Hearing on Proposed Standard for Respirable Silica Dust, April 3, 2014

Type: Letters to Agencies (April 3, 2014)
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Author(s): Matt Shudtz
Patoka Testimony on Maryland's SB 774, Occupational Safety and Health Prequalification

'Michael Patoka's Testimony on Maryland's SB 774, Occupational Safety and Health Prequalification for construction firms before entering bids for public contracts

Type: Legislative Testimony (Feb. 27, 2014)
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Author(s): Michael Patoka
CPR comments on proposed OSHA rule on respirable silica

CPR comments on proposed OSHA rule on respirable silica, encouraging OSHA to act with a sense of urgency

Type: Letters to Agencies (Feb. 11, 2014)
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Author(s): Martha McCluskey, Sidney Shapiro, James Goodwin, Thomas McGarity
West Explosion Highlights Need for Regulatory Oversight

West Explosion Highlights Need for Regulatory Oversight, op-ed by Thomas McGarity

Type: Op-Eds (May 3, 2013)
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Author(s): Thomas McGarity
At the Company's Mercy: Protecting Contingent Workers from Unsafe Working Conditions
Type: Reports (Jan. 14, 2013)
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Author(s): Martha McCluskey, Thomas McGarity, Sidney Shapiro, James Goodwin

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