Providence Journal • Robert McCreanor and George Nee
The nomination of Andrew Puzder for secretary of labor is a grave betrayal of working people in this country. The mission of the Department of Labor is “to foster, promote, and develop the welfare of the wage earners of the United States, to improve their working conditions, and to advance their opportunities for profitable employment.” As the leader of this department, the secretary of labor serves as the steward of workers’ rights, charged with ensuring all workers have jobs that are safe, secure, fair and providing dignified wages. It is difficult to imagine a nominee more antithetical to this mission or more poorly suited to represent the nation’s workers than Mr. Puzder.
As the CEO of CKE Restaurants (the parent company of Carl’s Jr. and Hardee’s fast-food chains) Puzder has overseen a business with a voracious appetite for labor disputes, a fondness for anti-worker practices, and utter disdain for the well-being and dignity of its workers.
Puzder has engaged union-busters, vigorously opposed any meaningful increase to the minimum wage, and railed against the expansion of overtime eligibility. He has said that he “believe[s] in putting hot models in our commercials, because ugly ones don’t sell burgers.” This, along with his complaints about employees filing sexual harassment and discrimination lawsuits and opposing paid sick and family leave all add up to a direct attack on working women.
Mr. Puzder has built the success of his business on paying workers low wages and cutting corners at their expense. His company has been forced to pay tens of millions of dollars of wrongfully withheld wages and has faced numerous workplace safety investigations.
Worse, Mr. Puzder’s own statements have made clear his utter lack of respect for his own workers, and for all working people in the United States. As Puzder told Business Insider earlier this year, he would be interested in replacing his own employees with robots, stating: “[Machines are] always polite, they always up-sell, they never take a vacation, they never show up late, there’s never a slip-and-fall, or an age, sex, or race discrimination case.”
Taken as a whole, these are not the characteristics of an individual who would fight for American workers, but rather one who would seek to dismantle everything for which the very institution he is poised to lead stands. Puzder has made it clear that he views regulation as a mere obstacle to profit maximization, and that he would place corporate greed ahead of the interests of working people without hesitation. This would be an insult to the proud history and mission of the Department of Labor, and a crushing blow to working people and families.