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Office of the Assistant Secretary for Policy (OASP)

WRAAK: Workers’ Rights — Access, Assertion, and Knowledge (OSHA/WHD)

Overview

Workers' Rights — Access, Assertion, and Knowledge (WRAAK), or "voice" in the workplace, is a key outcome goal for the Secretary of Labor, and part of her vision of good jobs for everyone. DOL's working definition for WRAAK in the workplace is the "workers' ability to access information on their rights in the workplace, their understanding of those rights, and their ability to exercise these rights without fear of recrimination." The purpose of this evaluation is to gauge the current level of WRAAK in the workplace and the factors affecting WRAAK, specifically relating to the laws administered and enforced by DOL's Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) and Wage and Hour Division (WHD). Thus, measures of WRAAK will gauge workers' access to information about their rights, knowledge of rights and the extent to which workers feel they can exercise that knowledge without concern of employer recrimination or penalties from others (such as the immigration services). The Department also hopes to learn how WRAAK is related to workers' perceptions of employer non-compliance. Do particular dimensions of WRAAK correlate between with workers' perceptions of non-compliance? This study will also be useful in examining how non-compliance in one area, such as safety, is related to non-compliance rates in another.

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.
  • Establish a relationship between WRAAK and worker outcomes, such as perceived workplace safety, fair compensation and employer non-compliance (or at least perceived non-compliance).
  • Produce information about the types of places where workers believe violations are more prevalent which may be useful for OSHA/WHD targeting strategies.

Tasks

The evaluation is answering three primary research questions. They include:

  1. What measures of WRAAK could be best used to track the Department's worker protection outreach activity? Which WRAAK measures are most highly correlated with workers outcomes, such as perceived workplace safety, fair compensation, and perceived employer non-compliance?
  2. What is the current level of WRAAK in the workplace and what factors affect it? How do firm characteristics affect it? Does WRAAK differ by gender, ethnicity, education, hourly status or other worker characteristics? Does the presence of a union affect WRAAK? Is it associated with activities the Department could promote, such as a workers' rights media campaign, media reports on firms that has been audited or inspected for non-compliance, etc.
  3. In which types of entities do workers feel that their rights—occupational safety, wage and hours, and/or leave policy—have been compromised? Large firms? Small firms? National chains? In particular industries? Where is WRAAK high or low? Are workers perceptions of non-compliance in one area related to perceptions of non-compliance in other areas?

Key Information

The period of performance of this evaluation is 24 months ending September 29, 2012. The overall budget for the evaluation is $1,594,746. The evaluation contractor is Gallup. For more information on this evaluation please contact Celeste Richie at richie.celeste.j@dol.gov.