Economic Policy Institute • Ross Eisenbrey
President-elect Donald Trump announced that he plans to nominate fast food CEO Andrew Puzder to head the Department of Labor (DOL). Puzder, who makes millions as a low-wage employer, fails every test for a Labor Secretary. DOL’s mission is to improve the wages and working conditions of working Americans, but Puzder wants to keep wages low and threatens to replace his fast food chain’s employees with robots if the minimum wage rises enough to crimp his profits.
He’s opposed to the new overtime rule that gave the right to time and a half pay to millions of salaried employees earning less than $47,476 a year. Walmart has already raised its managers’ pay, as did about half of all big retailers, even before the rule was supposed to take effect on December 1. But Puzder wants to kill it so he can keep working low-paid employees without paying them a dime extra for their overtime hours.
Economic Policy Institute • Lawrence Mishel
The Secretary of Labor should serve as an advocate for working people, enforcing rules that protect workers and crafting new regulations to make sure everyone gets a fair shake on the job. He or she needs to be a voice for workers in the development of all administration policies. As a low-wage employer, Andrew Puzder has vocally opposed the Affordable Care Act, raising the minimum wage, and President Obama’s overtime rule—three policies that are central to an agenda of raising wages and combatting inequality. While it’s too soon to say what Puzder would do as Labor Secretary—if he is confirmed—there is nothing in his record or his public statements to indicate that he would lead in developing policies and enforcement strategies to generate higher wages and better quality jobs for America’s workers. Donald Trump ran a campaign that was long on rhetoric about helping working people. But will his actual policies enrich business at the expense of workers? Will his administration protect workers and keep them safe on the job? Will he allow people to get paid fairly when they work overtime? All of this is at stake now.