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.

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)
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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)
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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)
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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)
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Author(s): Thomas McGarity
Before Scuttling Regulations, Remember the Deadly, Destructive West Explosion

Before Scuttling Regulations, Remember the Deadly, Destructive West Explosion, op-ed by Thomas McGarity

Type: Op-Eds (Nov. 29, 2016)
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Author(s): Thomas McGarity
Texas Lawmakers Must Stop Eroding Workers' Compensation Laws

Texas Lawmakers Must Stop Eroding Workers' Compensation Laws, op-ed by Thomas McGarity and Sidney Shapiro

Type: Op-Eds (Nov. 22, 2016)
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Author(s): Thomas McGarity, Sidney Shapiro
Coalition Comments on 'Significant New Uses of Chemical Substances' Rule

Coalition comments to the Environmental Protection Agency on proposed rules to align its regulations for new chemical uses with OSHA rules.

Type: Letters to Agencies (Nov. 21, 2016)
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Time to Reform Workers' Compensation Laws

Time to Reform Workers' Compensation Laws, op-ed by Thomas McGarity

Type: Op-Eds (Nov. 8, 2016)
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Author(s): Thomas McGarity, Sidney Shapiro
Lawmakers Must Stop Eroding Workers' Compensation Laws
Lawmakers Must Stop Eroding Workers' Compensation Laws, op-ed by Thomas McGarity and Sidney Shapiro
Type: Op-Eds (Nov. 3, 2016)
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