Your Voting Guide [Oct. 17] reminds voters that when they vote a straight party ticket, they must also cast separate votes for the judicial races. It does not remind them that the only partisan office that is not included in a straight party vote is the office for president and vice president. That means any voters who mark their ballots with a straight party vote must also mark their ballots for a presidential choice or they will not, in fact, be casting a vote for president. This quirk was cause for some confusion in the last presidential election, so I believe it is worthy of the additional reminder during this election.
Vincent Schumacher, Durham
I'm stunned by the Indy's endorsement of Cherie Berry for Labor Commissioner [Oct. 17]. She didn't bother to respond to your questionnaire, but she did answer questions for the pro-business NC Free Enterprise Foundation. Berry supports repealing the minimum wage, reducing benefits for the unemployed and putting an anti-union right to work clause in our constitution. Berry told NC Free, "My vision is that the government gets out of the way, with its big government, big union, anti-business policies, and lets the private sector do what it does best!"
And that is exactly what she has done. Berry has gotten out of the way and let companies do what they want. In 2010, the U.S. Department of Labor audited Berry's department and found 12 problems including downplaying the seriousness of workplace violations, a penalty system that allows for significant reductions in fines, and a discrimination and retaliation division that didn't follow federal procedures.
A Charlotte Observer investigation found that lax oversight led to injuries in the poultry industry, yet Berry responded that her department would "keep doing what we're doing because it's working." She also shrugged off any responsibility after the News & Observer's investigation into worker misclassification. And earlier this year, Berry told farmworker advocates that she would not support policy changes for child farm labor unless "the regulated community" agreed to it.
Berry has made it clear that her allegiance lies with the businesses she regulates. That's where her campaign contributions come from, and not surprisingly, the Charlotte Observer found that Berry's contributors received breaks on regulatory fines from her department.
Voters turn to the Indy to find out who the most progressive candidates are. For you to endorse a candidate who consistently shirks her duties to protect workers is a real shame.
MaryBe McMillan, Secretary-Treasurer, North Carolina State AFL-CIO, Raleigh