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.

Trump rollback of two safeguards increases threat of chemical disaster in Virginia

In an op-ed in the Roanoke Times, CPR's David Flores describes the real-world impact of President Trump's push to roll back safeguards against environmental disasters.

Type: Op-Eds (Jan. 1, 2020)
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Author(s): David Flores
Webinar: Achieving Social Justice Through Better Regulation

Following up on CPR's June 2019 Regulation as Social Justice Conference, and the subsequent report on it, on December 11, 2019, Anne Rolfes of the Louisiana Bucket Brigade and CPR's Amy Sinden and James Goodwin discussed the future of regulation, and how it can do a better job of serving the interests of the political dispossessed.

Type: Webinars (Dec. 11, 2019)
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Author(s): Amy Sinden, James Goodwin
Regulation as Social Justice: A Crowdsourced Blueprint for Building a Progressive Regulatory System

On June 5, 2019, the Center for Progressive Reform hosted a first-of-its-kind, one-day convening that brought together a diverse group of more than 60 progressive activists and academics. Our purpose was to begin the process of developing a progressive vision of the U.S. regulatory system – one that is not only robust and responsive enough to meet the immediate challenge of protecting people and the environment against unacceptable risks, but that also is institutionally designed to promote the broader social goals of justice and equity. CPR's James Goodwin synthesized the ideas into a report.

Type: Reports (Sept. 25, 2019)
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Author(s): James Goodwin
Amazon Prime: Workers pay a price for fast, free shipping

A Baltimore Sun op-ed by Katie Tracy and Shanna Devine: Amazon Prime: Workers pay a price for fast, free shipping.

Type: Op-Eds (Sept. 2, 2019)
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Author(s): Katie Tracy
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

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