Name as it appears on the ballot: Charles Meeker
Campaign Web Site: www.charlesmeeker.org
Phone Number: (919) 890-416
Years lived in State: 41 years
1. Three Issues – The Department of Labor needs to see to it that employees are paid the wages they are owed. The Department should also ensure that employees receive benefits to which they are entitled. Finally, the Department should place renewed focus on work-place fatalities so that the large number currently occurring is reduced.
2. Experience – Working as an attorney is a good background for a Commission of Labor, which is a regulatory position. I have also served 10 years as Mayor of Raleigh, which involves setting of priorities and seeing to it that the right managers are in the right places.
3. Migrant Housing – While rating programs are part of encouraging safe and sanitary migrant housing, inspection of such housing before and during the growing season is also a key part. As with other labor laws, I plan to vigorously pursue compliance.
4. Bargaining Rights – At present, the “right to work laws” are consistent with the majority view in North Carolina. As to public employees, I believe that a “meet and confer” approach works when there are issues that public officials need to address with representatives of government workers.
5. Principled Stance – I support increasing the minimum wage, even though such position is not consistent with what much of the business community thinks.
6. Community – Being a worker in North Carolina is hard, particularly when an individual is a low-wage worker, as so many are. Enforcing the rights that all workers have will increase the sense of community that we have here in the Triangle.
7. Donations – Yes, I have pledged not to take donations from companies which have had or now have matters pending before the Department of Labor.
8. Misclassification – Audits of misclassified workers can show minimum wage and overtime violations. Also, when the Department of Labor finds a misclassification, it should notify the Department of Revenue and Industrial Commission that such departments should review the employer’s practices as well. The General Assembly appears to understand the importance of this issue, and I would attempt to work with the Legislature on a practical basis to have a new bill passed on these issues.
9. Workplace Safety – In most recent years for which we have the full figure (2014), 137 North Carolinians were killed in workplace accidents and dozens more were seriously injured. That is too many, and there needs to be renewed focus on safety. Education and training are the ways to avoid accidents, although penalties can be appropriate if employers have consistently allowed unsafe conditions or have not corrected violations previously found.
10. Minimum Wage – $15 for a worker’s wage is a reasonable goal for North Carolina and the rest of the United States. Moving to that goal in 2-3 annual steps will ease the concerns of employers. Until the minimum wage is increased, the “Living Wage” movement is to be supported, just as occurred recently with Wake County now paying all its employees at least $13.50 per hour.
11. HB2 – This bill primarily affects workers in terms of employment discrimination and restrictions on what local governments can do to protect employees and to require a higher minimum wages. HB2 should be repealed. Local governments, including cities, should be allowed to make up their own decisions as to what the minimum wage is within their jurisdictions.
12. Discrimination Claims – While the one-year statute of limitations is shorter than most claims of this nature, the reality is that employment claims should be brought quickly so that people’s memories of what happened do not fade. In particular, the Department of Labor should investigate and report on employment discrimination claims more quickly than it does now. Whether the statute of limitations is one year or three years is likely not significant.
13. Just Community – Treating workers fairly as well as treating employers who play by the rules fairly will lift up our whole community. I also believe that the Commissioner of Labor, like other Council of State members, should work on economic development initiatives that focus on helping lower income individuals and distressed areas of our State.