If you didn’t see it over the weekend, you need to click here and catch up with reporter Mandy Locke’s new series on North Carolina’s absurdly ineffective and lackluster Department of Labor: “The Reluctant Regulator.”
As Locke explains, Labor Commissioner Cherie Berry, who has now been in office for almost 15 years and long been an outspoken defender of the state business community, has been doing a mostly lousy job at what she was elected and gets paid to do:
“North Carolina has a simple requirement of employers: Pay your workers what you promise. When bosses don’t, Labor Commissioner Cherie Berry’s team has the duty under state law to step in and try to make it right.
But for years, Berry’s Labor Department has rarely pushed uncooperative companies to settle debts to their employees. The News & Observer reviewed reports from nearly 50 cases in fiscal year 2014 that resulted in little or no money for workers. If a company owner pleaded poverty or refused to pay, state investigators nearly always gave up. If the employer simply ignored them, the department closed the case.”
The series goes on to document case after case and area after area in which Berry’s department has failed to do its job and/or blames someone else for its shortcomings. You can almost hear the leaders of the various conservative business lobby groups that are responsible for funding Berry’s campaigns chuckling nervously to themselves: “C’mon Cherie, don’t be quite that obvious.”
Of course, the thrust of these revelations is not particularly new or surprising. There have been numerous stories down through the years about Berry mailing it in at DOL to little obvious effect. Let’s fervently hope that this time the spotlight finally brings on some actual change for the state’s beleaguered workers.