The balance of North Carolina’s Industrial Commission (Commission) is at risk. For years, parties with vested interests on all sides of the workers’ compensation system and leaders from both political parties have worked in collaboration to foster a fair and balanced system. Unfortunately, that standard was not maintained in Governor Cooper’s nomination of Robert Harris to the Commission.
The purpose of the Industrial Commission is to administer the law, not interpret it. After extensive research and objective analysis of cases on the Governor’s nominees and feedback from members like you, it’s clear that Robert Harris would sharply shift the balance of the Commission. The ramifications of this shift on employees, employers and the state’s overall competitiveness would be steep, as it could unravel the progress made in recent years to restore balance in a no-fault system.
While the Governor has the power to nominate individuals for service on the Commission, nominees are subject to confirmation by the General Assembly. Requiring legislative confirmation was a critical element of the workers’ compensation reform of 2011, as it was meant to encourage the nomination of individuals that would receive strong bipartisan support and keep the Commission competent and balanced. Not only did legislative confirmation rectify the imbalance that existed on the Commission at the time, but every current member of the Commission is a product of this collaborative process.
Last month, the NC Chamber and more than a dozen allied organizations sent a letter to the General Assembly expressing our strong opposition to Harris’ nomination. In the letter, we asked legislators to vote against Harris’ confirmation should the Governor not withdraw his nomination. Regrettably, the Governor has not withdrawn the nomination and now, we must turn to the General Assembly. Please call your legislator and urge them to hold Harris’ confirmation hearing. Make sure your legislator knows that our state’s business community needs a Commission that will call balls and strikes fairly and that Robert Harris is not the right nominee for the job.
Gary J. Salamido
Vice President, Government Affairs