Knoxville News-Sentinel • Garry Ferraris

Donald Trump was elected with promises to working people that he had their backs. His nomination of Andrew Puzder for secretary of labor is an affront to workers and a breach of his promise.

The Department of Labor exists to protect the interests of all working Americans. Puzder’s history, in both words and deeds, could not be more inimical to the interests of workers, particularly low-wage workers.

How do we know that? Puzder is the long-time CEO of CKE Restaurants, the parent company of Hardee’s and Carl’s Jr. His restaurants are notable for low wages, discriminatory conditions, rampant sexual harassment, wage theft and unsafe working conditions. His workplace practices have been challenged repeatedly by the very department he has been nominated to lead.

Puzder has attacked vociferously any attempts to increase the federal minimum wage of $7.25 per hour. The current minimum wage has lost almost 10 percent of its purchasing power since implementation in 2009. Puzder has resisted, as well, meal and rest breaks and sick time for hourly workers.

He has opposed increasing the salaries — now $23,660 a year (or $455 per week) — of his managers, which allows his business to peg them at that level and work them unlimited hours with no overtime pay. The proposed DOL rule would have extended overtime pay or would have resulted in increased salaries for roughly 4.2 million Americans as of Dec. 1, 2016.

A Texas federal court judge has blocked by nationwide injunction implementation of the rule. DOL has challenged the injunction. Is Puzder, a devoted opponent of the rule, likely to defend its implementation as head of DOL?

Puzder’s own words have revealed his disdain for working people. He has championed replacing workers with machines, which he described as “always polite, they always up-sell, they never take a vacation, there’s never a slip and fall, or an age, sex or race discrimination case.” He has demeaned the employees he recruits. Puzder has said he is “hiring the best of the worst” because “it’s kind of the bottom of the pool.” His words. Really.

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