Focus on workplace safety

One candidate says regulators need to cooperate with industry. The other says they sometimes need to get tough.

In the race for N.C. labor commissioner, voters will find a clear difference in the philosophies of the two candidates.

Republican Cherie Berry, who is seeking a third term, says the Labor Department needs to partner with businesses to improve workplace safety. That approach, she said, has helped make N.C. workplaces safer than ever.

Democrat Mary Fant Donnan, a program officer for the Z. Smith Reynolds Foundation, says firm enforcement is a better alternative for companies that repeatedly run afoul of workplace safety rules.

The commissioner leads the N.C. Department of Labor, charged by law with promoting the “health, safety, and general well-being” of more than 4 million N.C. workers. The department is responsible for overseeing workplace safety, inspecting elevators, mines and amusement rides, and administering the state's wage-and-hour law.