State Labor Commissioner Transforms Boring Certificate Into Persona-Building Asset

North Carolina Labor Commissioner Cherie Berry is a familiar face across the state.

North Carolina Labor Commissioner Cherie Berry is a familiar face across the state. Michael Grass / GovExec.com

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Many North Carolina residents are very familiar with ‘Elevator Lady’ Cherie Berry.

GovExec State & Local was in North Carolina this week to check out some stories. Our other coverage: The town of Cary deploys its new Aquastar system, our field trip to Durham's infamous 11-foot-8 bridge and our dispatch from Monday's Wake County transit kickoff meeting.

RALEIGH, N.C. — In most states, residents would be easily forgiven for not being able to recognize their labor secretary or labor commissioner. But in North Carolina, many residents encounter Labor Commissioner Cherie Berry on a daily basis.

Some elected public officials have been known to attach their name to every welcome sign that falls under their jurisdiction. In North Carolina, Berry’s official portrait graces the state’s elevator inspection certificates, like the one seen here in a downtown Raleigh hotel elevator car.

Berry is known as the “elevator lady” around the state. There’s even a parody Cherie Berry “Elevator Queen” Twitter account.

There’s a song about “Cherry Berry” as well.

Berry, a Republican, was first elected to her post in 2000 and has won re-election ever since. But she’s come under intense criticism, too, for the Department of Labor’s failure to crack down on construction companies treating laborers as independent contractors, which the News & Observer notes is not just unlawful but is a practice that “gives cheating companies an unfair advantage over their competitors. It saves the dishonest companies money but typically leaves workers without Social Security contributions or workers’ comp coverage.”

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