Trump’s Labor Secretary Pick Opposes Minimum Wage Increases—And Workers Who Protest

By Sameer Rao Dec 09, 2016

President-elect Donald Trump announced CKE Restaurants CEO Andrew Puzder, a prominent critic of various worker protection measures and policies, as his nominee for secretary of labor today (December 9).

Puzder’s company oversees Carl’s Jr. and Hardee’s fast food restaurants and franchises. An advisor and donor to Trump’s presidential campaign, he has argued that minimum wage increases, the Affordable Care Act, overtime pay and paid sick leave legislation places unnecessary burdens on businesses.

Puzder wrote a series of Wall Street Journal op-eds (most of which are behind a paywall) advocating these positions. The New York Times references one in which he opposed the Obama administration’s efforts to increase the federal minimum wage to $10.10 per hour—well below the $15 amount many workers of color have demanded in actions across the country.

"This is the problem with Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton and progressives who push very hard to raise the minimum wage," he said in an interview with Business Insider. "Does it really help if Sally makes $3 more an hour if Suzie has no job?"

According to the Times, Puzder also opposes the Obama administration’s "joint employer doctrine," which holds companies with franchises or contracted operations liable for employment law violations in those locations. A Labor Department database cited by the Times reveals many instances of federal investigations at Hardee’s and Carl’s Jr. stores, including cases of fines and orders to pay back wages.

He expressed an interest in automated, machine-operated restaurant workers in the Business Insider interview. "They’re 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," he said of these hypothetical inanimate employees. He slightly backtracked in another Wall Street Journal op-ed, but continued to argue for increased automation in restaurants.

Speaking on the Hardee’s and Carl’s Jr. commercials that frequently prompt accusations of sexism, Puzder told Entrepreneur last year: "I like our ads. I like beautiful women eating burgers in bikinis. I think it’s very American." Slate reported that Puzder is one of several Trump surrogates who, like Trump himself, has faced allegations of violence against women. The Riverfront Times covered abuse allegations from ex-wife Lisa Henning in a 1989 cover story, when he was a lawyer best known for pushing anti-abortion policies in Missouri. His ex has since withdrawn those allegations.