North Carolina State Government

Commissioner of Labor

 Department Website:

Cherie Killian Berry

The original Bureau of Labor Statistics, the historical precursor of the present NC Department of Labor, was created by the North Carolina General Assembly in 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.

The NC Department of Labor is charged with promoting the "health, safety and general well-being" of more than 4 million workers in the state. The department serves the needs of the workplace through a variety of programs aimed at making the employees of North Carolina safe.

The Commissioner of Labor is elected every four years as head of the department and also serves on the Council of State. The Commissioner has broad regulatory and enforcement powers to carry out the department's duties and responsibilities. The position and duties of Commissioner of Labor are established by Article III, Section 7 of the North Carolina Constitution.

The Department of Labor is divided into three divisions: Administration, Occupational Safety and Health, and Standards and Inspections.

The Administration Division includes:
- The Communication Division, which provides information to the media and public.
- The Individual Development Accounts Program, which provides assistance to low-income individuals.
- The Legal Affairs Division
- The NC Department of Labor Library
- Research and Policy Division

The Occupational Safety and Health Division includes:
- The Agricultural Safety and Health Bureau
- The East and West Compliance bureaus
- Consultative Services Bureau
- Education, Training and Technical Assistance Bureau
- Planning, Statistics and Information Management Bureau

The Standards and Inspections Division includes:
- Apprentice and Training Bureau
- Boiler Safety Bureau
- Elevator and Amusement Device
- Employment Discrimination Bureau
- Mine and Quarry Bureau
- Wage and Hour Bureau

Past Commissioners of Labor




Cherie Killian Berry

2001 - present
Elected on November 7, 2000, took office on January 6, 2001.

Harry E. Payne, Jr.

1993 - 2001

John C. Brooks

1977 - 1993

Thomas A. Nye, Jr.

1975 - 1977
Appointed by Governor James E. Holshouser, Jr.

William C. Creel

1973 - 1975
Died on August 25, 1975.

Frank Crane

1954 - 1973
Appointed by Governor William B. Umstead. Elected for additional terms.

Forest H. Shuford

1938 - 1954
Appointed by Governor Clyde R. Hoey. Elected for additional terms. Died on May 19, 1954.

Arthur L. Fletcher

1933 - 1938
Elected in the general elections of 1932. Resigned on September 12, 1938.

Franklin D. Grist

1925 - 1933

Mitchell L. Shipman

1909 - 1925

Henry B. Varner

1901 - 1909
Elected in the general election of 1900.

Benjamin R. Lacy

1899 - 1901
Elected by the General Assembly on March 6, 1899.

James Y. Hamrick

1897 - 1899
Appointed by Governor Daniel L. Russell on March 8, 1897.

Benjamin R. Lacy

1893 - 1897
Appointed by Governor Elias Carr on March 2, 1893. Re-appointed.

William I. Harris

1892 - 1893
Appointed by Governor Thomas M. Holt on December 20, 1892.

John C. Scarborough

1889 - 1892
Appointed by Governor David G. Fowle on February 15, 1889. Re-appointed. Resigned in December of 1892.

Wesley N. Jones

1887 - 1889
Appointed by Governor Alfred M. Scales on March 5, 1887 for a two-year term.

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