Alabama Commissioner of Labor
The current commissioner of labor is Jim Bennett, originally appointed in 2003 by Governor Bob Riley and kept on by current Governor Robert Bentley. As the commissioner serves at the pleasure of the governor, he is not subject to fixed terms or reappointment.
Prior to becoming commissioner, Bennett served two terms as secretary of state from 1993 to 2003. He represented Jefferson County in the Alabama House of Representatives from 1978 to 1983 and in the state Senate from 1983 to 1993. Before being elected to public office, he was director of public information for the Alabama Labor Council, AFL-CIO, Birmingham-Southern College and Brookwood Medical Center. He also worked as a reporter for the Birmingham Post-Herald.
The office of labor commissioner is authorized by statute, not the state's constitution. Section 25-3-2 of the Code of Alabama states that the commissioner is "responsible ... for the administration of the Department of Labor."
Code of Alabama, Section 25-3-2
|The Department of Labor shall be headed by, and shall be under the direction, supervision and control of an officer who shall be known and designated as the Commissioner of Labor.|
Alabama law does not provide any specific requirements for holding office, other than that the incumbent must deposit a bond with the state "conditioned upon a faithful discharge of his duties" and that he must devote full time to his official duties. The commissioner also may not hold any other political office or any private sector position that would conflict with his official duties.
Code of Alabama, Section 25-3-2
|Before entering upon the discharge of his duties the commissioner shall take the constitutional oath of office as provided for under the Constitution and shall execute bond in such penalty as may be prescribed by the Governor, conditioned upon a faithful discharge of his duties and payable to the State of Alabama. The commissioner shall devote full time to his official duties and shall not hold another office under the government of the United States, or under any other state, or of this state or any political subdivision thereof during his incumbency in such office, and shall not hold any position of trust or profit, or engage in any occupation or business the conduct of which shall interfere or be inconsistent with his duties as Director of Labor.|
The commissioner is appointed by the governor and serves at his pleasure.
There are no particular term limites specified for the commissioner.
Vacancies are filled "in the same manner as original appointments are made," i.e. by the governor.
The commissioner helps resolve labor disputes, enforces state labor laws, and promotes cooperation between labor and business leaders. He also coordinates with federal officials from the U.S. Department of Labor.
According to its official website, the Department of Labor "provides mediation services, conducts union representation elections and files annual reports on unions with more than 25 members. Additionally, it publishes job related illness, injury and fatality reports through a series of federal surveys." It also enforces child labor laws and performs safety inspections of boilers, elevators, pressure vessels and escalators. The commissioner oversees all of these activities in his role as head of the department.
In some respects the duties of the Department of Labor overlap with those of the Department of Industrial Relations. The latter, for instance, is responsible for policy pertaining to job injuries.
The commissioner has a particular mandate to avoid "strikes, lockouts, boycotts, blacklists and discriminations" by facilitating the peaceful resolution of labor disputes. Like most Alabama state executives, he is required to make an annual report to the governor on his department's activities and keep a permanent record of his official acts.
- Child Labor Enforcement
- Non-Payment of Wages
- Fatality Reports
RSA Union, 6th Floor
PO Box 303500
Montgomery, AL 36130
Phone: (334) 242-3460