October 26, 2012
2012 election a referendum on failed leadership at NCDOL
When Indy Week, a normally progressive weekly newspaper published in the Triangle, released its 2012 Voter Guide, one endorsement in particular stood out – their appalling choice of Cherie Berry for Labor Commissioner.
Responding to negative comments online, Indy Editor Lisa Sorg tried to defend the indefensible this way, “We would have preferred not have to endorsed in the labor commissioner at all; as we said, we didn’t like either candidate, and Berry is not a good labor commissioner.”
In fact, during her eleven years in the post, Cherie Berry has been a terrible Labor Commissioner, which is why North Carolina’s unions have endorsed her opponent, John C. Brooks.
MaryBe McMillan, NC State AFL-CIO Secretary-Treasurer penned this letter to the editor of Indy Week to detail the many reasons why Cherie Berry doesn’t deserve to be re-elected Labor Commissioner.
I’m stunned by the Indy‘s endorsement of Cherie Berry for Labor Commissioner [Oct. 17]. She didn’t bother to respond to your questionnaire, but she did answer questions for the pro-business NC Free Enterprise Foundation. Berry supports repealing the minimum wage, reducing benefits for the unemployed and putting an anti-union right to work clause in our constitution. Berry told NC Free, “My vision is that the government gets out of the way, with its big government, big union, anti-business policies, and lets the private sector do what it does best!”
And that is exactly what she has done. Berry has gotten out of the way and let companies do what they want. In 2010, the U.S. Department of Labor audited Berry’s department and found 12 problems including downplaying the seriousness of workplace violations, a penalty system that allows for significant reductions in fines, and a discrimination and retaliation division that didn’t follow federal procedures.
A Charlotte Observer investigation found that lax oversight led to injuries in the poultry industry, yet Berry responded that her department would “keep doing what we’re doing because it’s working.” She also shrugged off any responsibility after the News & Observer‘s investigation into worker misclassification. And earlier this year, Berry told farmworker advocates that she would not support policy changes for child farm labor unless “the regulated community” agreed to it.
Berry has made it clear that her allegiance lies with the businesses she regulates. That’s where her campaign contributions come from, and not surprisingly, the Charlotte Observer found that Berry’s contributors received breaks on regulatory fines from her department.
Voters turn to the Indy to find out who the most progressive candidates are. For you to endorse a candidate who consistently shirks her duties to protect workers is a real shame.