Labor Rights Politics

Puzder Withdraws and a New Labor Secretary is Nominated

Today, President Trump announced Alexander Acosta, a former federal judge and current law school dean, as his nominee to serve as secretary of the Department of Labor following Andrew Puzder’s Wednesday afternoon withdrawal of his nomination.

Acosta, who once clerked for Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito, served as assistant attorney general for the Department of Justice’s Civil Rights Division during the George W. Bush administration. Acosta was born in Cuba and, if confirmed, would be the first Hispanic member of Trump’s Cabinet.

“Following the failed nomination of Andrew Puzder, it is incumbent upon the Senate to conduct a thorough review of Alexander Acosta’s record,” said Wade Henderson, president and CEO of The Leadership Conference, in a statement released Thursday. He continued, “The American people deserve someone who will look out for their interests, and not just the interests of corporations.”

Andrew Puzder, whose Senate confirmation hearing to lead the Department of Labor was scheduled to begin Thursday morning, withdrew his nomination after a broad group of more than half a dozen Republican Senators expressed concerns over supporting his nomination.

Democratic Senators began calling on him to withdraw his nomination earlier this month, arguing that Puzder’s public statements as well as his record as a businessman reflect that he is “an enemy, not a champion of workers.”

Andrew Puzder is the CEO of CKE Restaurants, which owns fast-food chains Hardee’s and Carl’s Jr. During Puzder’s tenure, CKE restaurants and franchises were investigated by the Department of Labor numerous times, and they found violations of wage and hour laws, such as failure to pay overtime or the minimum wage, in 60 percent of those investigations. Puzder also has a contentious history of domestic abuse and created a brand culture that was based on the objectification and sexualization of women.

In a January forum organized by Senate Democrats, workers employed by Carl’s Jr. and Hardee’s, both fast-food chains owned by CKE Restaurants, the company of which Puzder is CEO, testified about the wage theft and refusal to pay overtime that runs rampant throughout the franchises.

“I honestly can’t think of anyone less qualified to enforce laws that are supposed to protect employees,” said Laura McDonald, a general manager who worked for CKE for over 20 years. “He never protected the employees he was in charge of at CKE, so I do not think he would be the person to protect American workers’ rights.”

“Puzder should never have even been nominated to lead the Labor Department, and Senate Republicans clearly recognized this, too,” said Senator Schumer. “The fact that someone so anti-labor was even nominated shows how far President Trump is from where he campaigned.”

Media Resources: Slate 2/16/17; San Diego Tribune 2/16/17; New York Times 2/15/17;  The Leadership Conference 2/16/17; Feminist Majority Foundation 1/12/17, 2/9/17.

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