Andrew Puzder, who has admitted to hiring undocumented immigrants and opposes paid sick leave policies and overtime pay rules -- among other labor law standards and reforms -- is poised to be our next Labor Secretary.
A fast food industry executive who has spent 17 years as the president and CEO of CKE Restaurants, the parent company of the Hardee’s and Carl’s Jr. burger chains, Puzder could be in for a rough reception when the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Committee takes up his nomination on Thursday.
Puzder’s confirmation hearing has been delayed four times due to his failure to complete financial disclosure forms required of all Cabinet nominees. Puzder has acknowledged employing an undocumented immigrant as a housekeeper for many years. He took five years to pay back taxes on the employee after discovering her status, a delay described as “concerning” by Sen. Scott.
A Labor Secretary who does not uphold labor laws could be bad news for working class people. Under Puzder's leadership, CKE Restaurants compiled the fourth worst labor standards record in the fast food industry from 2009-16 (60% of CKE restaurants had at least one Fair Labor Standards Act violation, according to the Department of Labor). The chain also has been fined $20 million in California alone over wage and hour violations. Carl’s Jr. and Hardee’s employees have come forward repeatedly with stories of mistreatment and sexual harassment that they say management has ignored.
Puzder has been a vocal critic of Fight for $15, movement that fights to raise the minimum wage to $15 per hour. He has opposed a proposed Labor Department rule that would make more workers eligible for overtime pay, been critical of paid sick leave policies, and is a vocal critic of the joint employer doctrine of the Obama administration, which increases liability for a parent company for labor law violations by franchisees or contractors.
Like many of President Trump’s cabinet nominee’s, Puzder also has conflict of interest issues; he's promised to resolve those if confirmed. According to an ethics agreement he filed February 7, Puzder promises to resign as CEO of CKE Restaurants and sever all ties with his former employer by selling off his holdings within 90 days of his confirmation; he's also agreed to recuse himself from decisions in which he has a financial interest and has announced that if confirmed he is willing to forgo a $1-5 million bonus he is due to receive from CKE .
Although Puzder has taken important steps to assure that he will not have financial conflicts of interest as Labor Secretary, his failure to respect the law and the rights of working class people is extremely troubling. Common Cause is asking that the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee to scrutinize Puzder’s nomination with great care.
Office: Common Cause National