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Office of the Assistant Secretary for Policy (OASP)

WRAAK: Workers' Rights — Access, Assertion, and Knowledge (MSHA)

Overview

The purpose of this evaluation is to gauge the current level of Workers' Rights — Access, Assertion, and Knowledge (WRAAK), or "voice" in the workplace, and the factors affecting WRAAK, specifically as it relates to the laws administered and enforced by the Department of Labor's Mining Safety and Health Administration (MSHA). DOL's working definition of WRAAK in the workplace is the "worker's ability to access information on their rights in the workplace, their understanding of those rights, and their ability to exercise those rights without fear of recrimination." WRAAK in the workplace is a key outcome goal for the Secretary of Labor and part of her vision of good jobs for everyone. The survey will measure each of these items, first individually, and then combine them to create an overall measure of WRAAK. The Department also hopes to learn how WRAAK is related to workers' perceptions of employer noncompliance, such as whether or not particular dimensions of WRAAK correlate to workers' perceptions of noncompliance. The study will also be useful in examining how noncompliance in one area, such as safety, is related to voice in the workplace and noncompliance in another area, such as wages.

Gathering data on WRAAK from employees in the mining industry poses some unique problems; therefore, with the guidance of the Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA), CEO intends to perform a pilot study of 2-3 data-gathering techniques to determine which would be the most productive and logistically feasible to implement industry-wide on a recurring basis. The pilot study will not seek to gather data from samples large enough to develop statistically significant data, but is meant to test the logistical feasibility of different methods of data collection in the mining industry. The pilot study will also serve as a thorough test of the survey instrument developed to measure WRAAK in the industry sectors under MSHA jurisdiction.

Goals

The goals of this evaluation are to:

  • Establish a baseline level of WRAAK to which future measurement could be compared;
  • Operationalize a definition of WRAAK in the workplace and suggest refinements of the measure.
  • Provide the Department with information about what factors affect WRAAK and hopefully how it can be promoted in the workplace.
  • Identify which aspects of WRAAK are particularly sensitive to or theoretically linked to actions the Department may conduct to increase workers' knowledge of their rights.
  • Produce information about the types of places where workers believe violations are more prevalent which may be useful for MSHA targeting strategies.

Tasks

The three data-gathering techniques to be pilot tested are:

  • administration of a paper survey to miners attending state-sponsored annual training sessions;
  • recruiting miners to take the survey through a radio or paper advertisement; and
  • administration of a paper or phone survey to miners by mail (assuming a suitable sampling frame containing address or phone information can be identified).

Key Information

The period of performance of this evaluation is 24 months. The overall budget for the evaluation is $499,900. The evaluation contractor conducting the survey on behalf of the Department is Eastern Research Group, Inc. For more information on this evaluation please contact Celeste Richie at richie.celeste.j@dol.gov.