John Brooks '62 Running for NC Labor Commisioner

Excerpted from the Charlotte Observer:

Republican Cherie Berry points to one chart to demonstrate why she believes she deserves a fourth term as the state’s labor commissioner.

It’s a downward line graph that plots the occupational injury and illness rate for private companies per 100 workers. When she first took office in 2000, the rate was 5.3, federal labor figures show. In 2010, it fell to 3.1.

Berry (whose first name is pronounced Share-ree) contrasts her numbers against those of her Democratic opponent, former Labor Commissioner John C. Brooks, who held the office from 1977 to 1992. She said the average rate in her tenure is half the rate in Brooks’ term.

“If (voters) compare our records, I think they’ll see we’ve done a great job,” Berry said. “There is a dramatic difference in the illness and injury rate.”

Brooks, 75, contends the numbers Berry cites are misleading. He said the state’s industries have changed and the department now has more inspectors. The figures also don’t take into account the increased severity of workplace injuries. As an attorney for the state’s Industrial Commission until his retirement earlier this year, Brooks said he reviewed more than 40,000 workplace injury claims.

“We’ve seen the medical costs continue to go up,” he said.

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