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Trump Picks Fast-Food CEO Andy Puzder for Labor Secretary

by Countable | 1.4.17

President-elect Donald Trump has nominated restaurant-company CEO Andy Puzder to head the Department of Labor. In announcing the pick, Trump said that Puzder "has created and boosted the careers of thousands of Americans" and that “his extensive record fighting for workers makes him the ideal candidate.”

Who is Andy Puzder?

Puzder, 66, heads CKE Restaurants, which is the parent company of the popular fast-food chains Carl’s Jr. and Hardee’s. A native of Cleveland, Ohio, he dropped out of Kent State University after the fatal campus shooting of four students by the National Guard during an antiwar protest in 1970. His new plan? To become a rock star.

He got as far as working in a guitar studio before transferring to Cleveland State University, which granted him a B.A. in history in 1975. He went on to earn a law degree three years later from Washington University in St. Louis and over the next two decades honed a reputation as a leading anti-abortion lawyer. He was instrumental in the writing and enactment of a state law defining life as beginning at conception.

In 1991, Puzder took on a new client, CKE founder Carl Karcher, then under investigation by the U.S. Securities and Exchanges Commission. Puzder helped Karcher out of his legal difficulties and later moved to California to become his personal attorney. In 1997, Karcher named him CKE’s executive vice president and general counsel, and Puzder became the CEO three years later during a financial low for the company, which had just expanded by purchasing the then-struggling Hardee’s.

Puzder, who has six children and six grandchildren, lives in Franklin, Tenn., 21 miles north of Nashville, future home to CKE’s new headquarters. Except for an outpost in Anaheim, the company plans to close its California and Missouri offices.

What’s the outlook for his confirmation?

If Puzder is confirmed, it just might be by the slimmest of margins. The Democrats are expected to push hard against a man they see as a vocal opponent of not only the movement to raise the minimum wage nationally but also of the rule put in place by the Obama administration requiring overtime pay for salaried workers making less than $47,500 a year. These regulations, Puzder has said, would leave him little choice but to fully automate his restaurants, which would put out of work the more than 75,000 people employed directly by CKE or through its franchises.

And the Democrats might find some allies across the aisle on this pick, for Puzder’s views on immigration are at odds with those of many in the GOP, including the man who nominated him. As a specialist in low-wage jobs for low-skilled workers, Puzder has advocated for mass immigration and protections to keep undocumented workers in the U.S., which is not a widely held view among Republicans.

His nomination may also face challenges on the basis of his anti-abortion activities, his ex-wife’s claims of spousal abuse (later recanted), and his defense of restaurant ads featuring scantily clad models despite criticism that they demean women.

What does the Department of Labor do?

The Department of Labor is responsible for assisting job seekers, employed workers and retirees by improving job-training and employment programs, supporting and strengthening laws to protect workers and safeguarding a post-retirement safety net. It has more than 17,000 employees and in Fiscal Year 2015 had a budget of $11.8 billion.

Among the agencies under its umbrella are the Office of Workers’ Compensation Programs, the Veterans’ Employment and Training Service, and the Women’s Bureau, whose demands for equality in the workplace, including equal wages, trace back to two months before American women gained the right to vote in 1920.

— Erin Wright

(Photo Credit: Gage Skidmore / Creative Commons)

Countable

Written by Countable

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(335)
  • Cris-Gato
    01/04/2017
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    Another fox guarding the hen house. A CEO that routinely exploits minimum wage earners is the opposite of what's needed to bring back high playing jobs for the working class. This would be laughable if it wasn't true and pathetic.

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  • Cindy.Frank
    01/05/2017
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    The selection of Andy Puzder to head the Department of Labor is not the appropriate type of leader America needs in this role. Unfortunately the statement the he "has created and boosted the careers of thousands of Americans" and that “his extensive record fighting for workers makes him the ideal candidate" is not correct. We need a leader who will fight for the American worker and not for corporations more interested in profits than those who help them earn them.

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  • Daniel
    01/05/2017
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    Mr. Puzder's nomination as Labor Secretary should be fiercely opposed. That he is the head of a company that has been found, in 50% of its restaurants, to be in violation of wage-and-hour laws ought to disqualify him alone. In addition, his dismissive remarks about replacing workers with automation technologies, his ideological opposition to unions, and his lewd depictions of women in commercials, are further proof that he is unable to even conceive of what would be in the best interest of workers, let alone how to make it happen. Finally, his claim that workers in some states are "overprotected" because they get breaks is so painfully ignorant of what it is like to even BE a working person that Mr. Puzder surely has no business in representing or advocating on the behalf of workers. But don't take my word for it. Ask the workers who have had to work for his company for poverty pay and who have had wages stolen from them. I'm sure they can tell you even better than me why he shouldn't be Labor Secretary.

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  • Pam
    01/04/2017
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    Puzder is anti labor and shouldn't be made Secretary as he is against overtime pay and raising the minimum wage.

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  • Terri
    01/04/2017
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    Hi, Can you please help the rights of the working class and vote against the appointment of this individual? I don't am sure there are plenty of qualified alternatives that do not have such a sketchy background with regards civil rights and basic liberties of our citizens. Fast food kills people, and has contributed to the insane healthcare costs this countries people are subject to from eating fast food. Can't we find someone just as republican who does not pull into question the integrity of our elected officials to appoint individuals who have Americans well being at the forefront of their agenda? Thank you for your time and consideration of my concerns. -Terri Coplin

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  • Catherine
    01/04/2017
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    Don't confirm Puzder. He's a slap in the face to everyone struggling to make a living on minimum wages.

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  • Derek
    01/04/2017
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    Please Vote for the workers of America by voting AGAINST Puzder!!!

    Like (10)
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  • Lois
    01/06/2017
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    Please vote no to confirm Andy Puzder as Secretary of Labor.

    Like (8)
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  • Tracy
    01/04/2017
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    Please vote against Puzder for Labor Secretary. If Trump and the GOP seriously want to bring jobs back, why would you consider someone who wants to replace workers with automation rather than increase the minimum wage? If this administration intends to improve the quality of life of Americans, this is not the pick. He has also advocated for cheep labor to be brought in. Surely there is another candidate that has actually proven their commitment to labor issues for the people.

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  • Hope
    01/05/2017
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    Please do everything you can to oppose this appointment. This is not good for the working class or our future in general!

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  • Derek
    01/05/2017
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    Deny Puzder's nomination. He is unequivocally antiworker.

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  • Steve
    01/04/2017
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    I believe that this candidate does not believe in what the American people believe. I therefore urge you to vote No on his confirmation vote.

    Like (7)
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  • Helene
    01/04/2017
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    Do not confirm this appointment. His interests are not in the best interest of American workers.

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  • David
    01/04/2017
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    Outstanding choice, a man who has been creating jobs and meeting payrolls for decades. No academic theories and experiments on people with this guy.

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  • Jennifer
    01/07/2017
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    Do not confirm any of trumps nominees.

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  • Anna
    01/04/2017
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    Pudzer is not fit to be Labor Secretary. He is anti labor and bad for the working class. As a woman, I am appalled at even considering him with his past aggressions against women.

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  • Sherrilee7
    01/04/2017
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    Please do not confirm this man. He's anti-labor.

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  • kidelo
    01/04/2017
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    Fight this Pudzer nomination on behalf of your female constituency's right to choose what's right for their own bodies. Fight this Pudzer nomination on behalf of your constituency that makes the current minimum wage and still needs food stamps to get by. Finally, fight this Pudzer nomination because it's a blatant conflict of interest appointment.

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  • Blake
    01/04/2017
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    Conflict of interest. Period.

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  • Lisa
    01/04/2017
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    Please do not confirm this man. He does not care about working class people or women's rights. He sounds like a misogynist.

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