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Troubling Campaign Contributions in Labor Commissioner Race

Should the state’s labor commissioner, who oversees workplace safety in North Carolina, accept campaign donations from corporate executives whose companies have been fined or have cases pending before the agency?

It’s a question you might want to ask yourself as you head to the polls in November to cast your vote for Commissioner of Labor.

According to news reports, incumbent Labor Commissioner Cherie Berry, who is running for reelection against former Raleigh Mayor Charles Meeker, has accepted $20,000 in campaign contributions from the executives of four companies recently fined or inspected by the labor department.

And consider this:

“In a 2008 analysis, the Charlotte Observer found that Berry had collected at least half of her campaign contributions that year from executives and managers of companies that have been inspected by her department.”

The recent contributions include $10,000 from the CEO of the poultry producer Mountaire Farms, which had a workplace death and three open N.C. Department of Labor cases, according to Meeker.

Meeke says that under Berry’s leadership, the labor department has gone easy on companies that have mistreated workers. He says he will not accept these types of donations or campaign contributions from companies and their executives.

Berry responded to his criticism by calling it a “political ploy.” She told the newspaper she does not give preferential treatment to donors and does not meddle in safety inspectors investigations or decisions.

In North Carolina, we must elect officials who act in the best interests of the citizens of this state, not at the behest of out-of-state corporations and their executives. Big donations come with strings attached, or at the very least, expectations. We cannot allow rich people and corporationsI to buy influence at the expense of hardworking people in our state.

In North Carolina, the Department of Labor oversees workplace safety and enforces wage-and-hour-laws for the state’s 4 million workers.



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