The Observer investigation series, "The Cruelest Cuts", found, as we said in a recent editorial, "lax regulations and weak oversight have made it easy for a dangerous industry to exploit illegal workers, underreport injuries and get around a regulatory system that lets companies police themselves." In response, we heard from many readers who thought these problems didn't matter because they affected mostly those thought to be illegal immigrant workers. But N.C. Labor Commissioner Cherie Berry seems to take a different approach -- she doesn't see any problems at all! In fact, in revealing interviews with the Observer's Ames Alexander, published Sunday, she cites the decline in injury reports as proof that her partnering with business is working for the state:
"Well, I find it offensive that it seems to me you're suggesting that not keeping the proper paperwork is commonplace in our business community. I just don't find that. ... We're going to keep doing what we're doing because it's working. And, no amount of ink and paper in the world that you generate is going to stop us from doing the good job we're doing."
In other words, everything would be fine, if the Observer would just mind its own business. How safe does this make workers in other North Carolina industries feel?
Alexander's complete interview with Berry can be read here.