Senate Leaders, Workers, and Advocates Call for Withdrawal of Puzder Nomination for Labor Secretary

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) and Senator Patty Murray (D-WA), Ranking Member of the Senate Health, Education, Labor & Pensions (HELP) Committee, joined with fast food workers and advocates to call for the withdrawal of Andrew Puzder as nominee for Secretary of Labor.

At a press conference this morning, Senator Schumer said that Puzder’s public statements as well as his record as a businessman reflect that he is “an enemy, not a champion of workers.” Schumer likened having Puzder as Labor Secretary to “having a fox guard the henhouse, and a pretty sharp-toothed fox at that.”

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 (DOL) numerous times, and the DOL found violations of wage and hour laws, such as failure to pay overtime or the minimum wage, in 60 percent of those investigations.

On Monday, Puzder admitted that he had employed a housekeeper for years and never paid any legally-required taxes on her wages, in violation of state and federal law. Puzder only paid back taxes when his nomination was imminent. In response, over 100 advocacy organizations, led by the National Employment Law Project and Jobs with Justice and including the Feminist Majority Foundation, issued a statement this morning saying “enough is enough” and calling for the Trump Administration to withdraw Puzder’s nomination.

In their statement, the organizations noted that “Mr. Puzder is an experienced attorney and CEO of a major fast-food empire, so he cannot plausibly claim ignorance of his legal obligations as an employer.” They continue, “We already have ample cause to doubt Mr. Puzder’s fitness for the job as Secretary of Labor, and this latest news confirms our view that he should not be confirmed. If he cannot be trusted to follow even one of the most basic laws of employment in his own home, there is no way we can expect him to enforce the crucial laws the Department of Labor oversees on behalf of working people.”

Senator Patty Murray reinforced that call this morning, stating “There simply should not be one set of rules for the Trump cabinet and another for everyone else.” She called Puzder “uniquely unqualified” to serve as Secretary of Labor, noting that “his decision to pick and choose what laws he himself follows is disqualifying.”

The core mission of the Department of Labor is “to foster, promote, and develop the welfare of the wage earners, job seekers, and retirees of the United States; improve working conditions; advance opportunities for profitable employment; and assure work-related benefits and rights.” Yet, Puzder has shown outright hostility toward workers, in particular vulnerable, low-wage workers, such as those employed in the fast-food industry. Puzder has opposed the raising the minimum wage, opposed paid sick leave, and has actively sexualized and objectified women’s bodies in order to sell hamburgers. He also has questioned the very worth of workers. In a 2016 interview with Business Insider, Puzder said he would be willing to replace workers with machines, commenting, that machines “are always polite, they always upsell, 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.”

After numerous delays for failure to submit his required paperwork, Puzder is scheduled to have a hearing on his nomination in the Senate HELP Committee next Thursday. The Feminist Majority Foundation has strongly opposed his nomination.

Media Resources: C-Span, 2/9/17; Los Angeles Times, 2/7/17; Feminist Newswire 1/12/17; Business Insider, 3/16/16; Department of Labor; U.S. Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor & Pensions; Jobs with Justice and Economic Policy Institute

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