If you want a prototypical example of GOP governance, you need look no further than Republican Cherie Berry, North Carolina’s so-called Commissioner of Labor. Most citizens know her name and photo adorn every elevator in the state. It’s a permanent campaign ad greets every citizen who visits a multi-story commercial or government building here. And low information voters keep returning her to office. Her certificate attests to elevator inspections supposedly conducted by the state. In light of the latest about Cherie Berry, one wonders if even elevators are safe. Another of Berry’s major responsibilities is oversight of safe workplaces. And she’s just not into it.
In a front page story Sunday, The News and Observer reported that Cherie Berry ran for Commissioner of Labor in anger over state inspections of her spark plug factory. So in 2000 she sought to be Labor Secretary and has ruled the office to benefit business owners like her ever since. Now, having taken her oath to perform her duties, she often lets workers suffering abuse, unsafe workplaces and wage theft fend for themselves. Regarding wage theft, she inconsistently forces payments from companies cheating workers and, according to the N & O, runs its wage and hour program in service of employers. “Only half the money investigators found owed to workers is actually collected,” we learned. In other words, Cherie Barry does the opposite of serve as Commissioner of Labor. In the face of considerable evidence to the contrary, Berry claims the Department of Labor “ain’t broke.”
The dereliction of duty in the NC Department of Labor is common in GOP-led states everywhere. That political party is makes a mockery of its supposed stewardship. And you gotta hand it to Republicans. Like Cherie Berry, they very often decide to run for office or jockey for administration posts based on pent up anger, revenge vendettas (i.e., destroy government or “shut ‘er down’), or desire for special treatment of their special interests or wealth status. And so, the North Carolinian whose name appears on elevators everywhere is also now equated with turning a blind eye toward stealing from workers. What chance do workers have?
Please don’t North Carolina Virginia. It will be decades before we can undo the damage here. Don’t let it happen next door in Virginia.