North Carolina Commissioner of Labor
The Commissioner of Labor of North Carolina is the head of the state's Department of Labor.
The Constitution of North Carolina provides for the election by the people every four years of a Commissioner of Labor whose term of office runs concurrently with that of the governor. The commissioner is the administrative head of the Department of Labor and also serves as a member of the North Carolina Council of State. The original 'Bureau of Labor Statistics', the historical precursor of the present N.C. Department of Labor, was created by the North Carolina General Assembly of 1887, with provision for appointment by the governor of a 'Commissioner of Labor Statistics' for a two-year term. In 1899 another act was passed providing that the commissioner, beginning with the general election of 1900, be elected by the people for a four-year term.
For three decades, the department over which this newly elected commissioner presided remained a very small agency of state government with limited duties and personnel. In 1925, the department employed a total of 15 people. In a general reorganization of the state's labor administration functions in 1931, the General Assembly laid the broad groundwork for the Department of Labor's subsequent, gradual development into an agency administering laws and programs affecting a majority of North Carolina citizens.
Today, the North Carolina Department of Labor is charged by statute with promoting the 'health, safety and general well-being' of the state's more than three million working people. The many laws and programs under its jurisdiction affect virtually every person in the state in one way or another. The General Statutes provide the commissioner with broad regulatory and enforcement powers with which to carry out the department’s duties and responsibilities to the people.
List of Commissioners of Labor
- Wesley N. Jones, 1887–1889
- John C. Scarborough, 1889–1892
- William I. Harris, 1892–1893
- Benjamin R. Lacy, 1893–1897
- James Y. Hamrick, 1897–1899 (Populist)
- Benjamin R. Lacy, 1899–1901 (Democratic)
- Henry B. Varner, 1901–1909 (Democratic)
- Mitchell L. Shipman, 1909–1925 (Democratic)
- Franklin D. Grist, 1925–1933 (Democratic)
- Arthur L. Fletcher, 1933–1938 (Democratic)
- Forest H. Shuford, 1938–1954 (Democratic)
- Frank Crane, 1954–1973 (Democratic)
- William C. Creel, 1973–1975 (Democratic)
- Thomas A. Nye, Jr., 1975–1977 (Republican)
- John C. Brooks, 1977–1993 (Democratic)
- Harry E. Payne, Jr., 1993–2001 (Democratic)
- Cherie K. Berry, 2001–present (Republican)