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.

The Next OSHA: Progressive Reforms to Empower Workers, CPR White Paper 1207
Type: Reports (July 19, 2012)
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Author(s): Martha McCluskey, Thomas McGarity, Sidney Shapiro, Rena Steinzor, Matt Shudtz
Joint Letter to Food Safety Inspection Service on Poultry Slaughter Inspection. Joint letter from safety advocates, including Rena Steinzor, April 20, 2012.

Joint letter from safety advocates to the Food Safety Inspection Service on Poultry Slaughter Inspection Rule.

Type: Letters to Agencies (April 20, 2012)
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Author(s): Rena Steinzor
The Truth About Torts: Defensive Medicine and the Unsupported Case for Medical Malpractice 'Reform,' CPR White Paper 1203
Type: Reports (March 8, 2012)
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Author(s): Sidney Shapiro, Nicholas Vidargas, James Goodwin
Comments to NIOSH re carcinogen classification system and recommended exposure limits

Comments to NIOSH re carcinogen classification system and recommended exposure limits, applauding effort to review existing standards and offering specific recommendations

Type: Letters to Agencies (Dec. 22, 2011)
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Author(s): Thomas McGarity, Sidney Shapiro, Wendy Wagner, Matt Shudtz
Letter to EPA re IRIS toxics database, response to American Chemistry Council misinterpretation

Letter to EPA re Integrated Risk Information System database, in response to American Chemistry Council misinterpretation of IRIS-related riders in recent budget legislation

Type: Letters to Agencies (Dec. 22, 2011)
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Author(s): Rena Steinzor, Matt Shudtz
Rena Steinzor's testimony on industry efforts to delay EPA's toxic chemical risk assessments for the IRIS database

Rena Steinzor's July 14, 2011, testimony on industry efforts to delay EPA's toxic chemical risk assessments for the Integrated Risk Information System database

Type: Legislative Testimony (July 14, 2011)
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Author(s): Rena Steinzor
Letter to OMB re EPA's Integrated Risk Information System database, responding to American Chemistry Council

Letter to OMB re EPA's Integrated Risk Information System database, responding to American Chemistry Council letter calling for submission of all current IRIS evaluations to be submitted to the National Academy of Sciences, in an effort to "grind this process to a slow walk."

Type: Letters to Agencies (July 8, 2011)
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Author(s): Rena Steinzor, Wendy Wagner
Letter to OIRA re Chemicals of Concern listings

Letter to OIRA Administrator Cass Sunstein re Chemicals of Concern listings under TSCA

Type: Letters to Agencies (June 20, 2011)
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Author(s): Wendy Wagner, Rena Steinzor, Noah Sachs
Twelve Crucial Health, Safety, and Environmental Regulations: Will the Obama Administration Finish in Time?

Twelve Crucial Health, Safety, and Environmental Regulations: Will the Obama Administration Finish in Time?, CPR White Paper 1106

Type: Reports (April 19, 2011)
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Author(s): Amy Sinden, Rena Steinzor, Matt Shudtz, James Goodwin, Yee Huang

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