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.

Joint Letter to Fairfax County, Virginia, Commonwealth's Attorney re deadly worksite trench collapse

CPR’s Rena Steinzor, Katie Tracy, and David Flores joined with 19 individuals and organizations calling on Fairfax Commonwealth’s Attorney Raymond Morrogh to open a criminal investigation into a worksite trench collapse on July 23, 2019 in Fairfax County, Virginia, killing a teenager and injuring an adult male, August 19, 2019.

Type: Letters to Agencies (Aug. 19, 2019)
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Author(s): Rena Steinzor, Katie Tracy, David Flores
Joint Letter on Heat Stress Legislation

Read a joint letter from 100+ organizations, including CPR, in support of the Asuncion Valdivia Heat Illness and Fatality Prevention Act (HR 2668), directing OSHA to issue a standard on the prevention of excessive heat in the workplace, July 17, 2019.

Type: Legislative Testimony (July 17, 2019)
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Author(s): Katie Tracy
Chemical Safety Board Joint Letter

CPR Policy Analyst Katie Tracy joined more than 50 health and safety activists on a letter to the Chemical Safety Board expressing objection to the exclusion of the victim’s names in the agency’s investigation report of the 2018 fatal blowout at the Pryor Trust gas well in Oklahoma. June 17, 2019.

Type: Letters to Agencies (June 17, 2019)
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Author(s): Katie Tracy
Regulation as Social Justice Convening Briefing Memo

In this briefing memo for participants in CPR's June 5, 2019, Regulation as Social Justice conference, James Goodwin sets the table for discussions aimed at devising reforms for the regulatory system so that it can do a better job promoting social justice and addressing unmet community needs.

Type: Reports (June 5, 2019)
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Author(s): James Goodwin
OSHA Whistleblower 11(c) Testimony

Remarks of Katie Tracy on 11(c) Whistleblower Protections at OSHA Stakeholder Meeting, May 14, 2019.

Type: Letters to Agencies (May 14, 2019)
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Author(s): Katie Tracy
Webinar: Securing a Nontoxic Work Environment

CPR's May 8, 2019, webinar featuring CPR's Katie Tracy, Joe Santarella of Santarella & Eckert, LLC, and Mike Schade, Director of the Mind the Store Campaign of Safer Chemicals, Healthy Families.

Type: Webinars (May 8, 2019)
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Author(s): Katie Tracy
Letter to Department of Labor on OSHA's Whistleblower Program.

The Center for Progressive Reform with 66 organizations and individuals on comments to OSHA recommending improvements to its administration of whistleblower protection provisions under Section 11(c) of the Occupational Safety and Health (OSH) Act, May 7, 2019.

Type: Letters to Agencies (May 7, 2019)
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Author(s): Katie Tracy
Letter to Department of Labor on Heat Stress, for Workers' Memorial Week.

The Center for Progressive Reform joined 100+ organizations in a Workers’ Memorial Week letter to the Department of Labor calling for a federal heat stress standard to protect workers from the growing dangers of climate change and rising temperatures, April 26, 2019.

Type: Letters to Agencies (April 26, 2019)
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Author(s): Katie Tracy
April 17, 2019, Workers Face Numerous Toxic Hazards on the Job; A New Advocacy Guide Aims to Change That

A unique advocacy guide highlights the ways workers and worker advocates can help make workplaces safe from toxics.

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Chemical Detox for the Workplace

Inadequately regulated chemical hazards are at their deadliest in the workplace. People exposed to toxics at work tend to encounter dangerous substances more frequently, for longer durations, and at higher levels than the public at large. Workers are at substantial risk across dozens of sectors including agriculture, domestic cleaning, hair and nail salons, home repairs, building construction, and chemical manufacturing. Read CPR's Detox for the Workplace handbook to see how workers can protect themselves.

Type: Reports (April 10, 2019)
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Author(s): Thomas McGarity, Sidney Shapiro, Rena Steinzor, Katie Tracy

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