Trump's Fast-Food CEO Labor Pick: 'Anti-Family, Anti-Worker, Anti-Jobs'

Fast-food executive Andrew Puzder, who opposes raising the federal minimum wage and “has championed every aspect of right-wing trickle-down economics,” is expected to be President-elect Donald Trump’s pick for labor secretary, news outlets reported Thursday.

Puzder is the chief executive of CKE Restaurants, which includes the burger chains Hardee’s and Carl’s Jr. among its brands. He advised and fundraised for Trump during his presidential campaign, and reportedly told a Fox Business news anchor shortly before the election that serving in a Trump administration would be “the most fun you could have with your clothes on.”

“Puzder’s got his fellow CEOs’ backs, even if it breaks the backs of those at the bottom.”
—Christine Owens, National Employment Law Project

In fact, Patriotic Millionaire Fred Rotondaro wrote in a recent blog post: “Puzder is a minor league version of Trump: the stereotype of a loud talking business leader convinced he has done everything on his own and knows what he knows with absolute certitude. There are no shades in his business style.” 

His appointment to head the Department of Labor, The American Prospect warned on Thursday, “will give the regulation-averse corporate lobby yet another fierce ally in Trump’s White House.”

As such, the reaction from organized labor and worker advocacy groups was swift—and fierce. 

SEIU International president Mary Kay Henry said Puzder’s intended nomination exposes Trump as “out-of-touch…with what working Americans need.”

“Throughout his career, Andrew Puzder has shown he does not believe in the dignity of all work and has used his position to line his own pockets at the expense of workers,” Henry said. “In 2012, Puzder made $4.4 million, a full 291 times more than the average food worker. He doesn’t support measures that would help families who work hard build a better life, such as the overtime rule, which would put more money in the pockets of millions of workers for the extra work they do. He wants machines to replace workers because robots ‘never take a vacation’—even though robots can not ever replace the work that people do. He has stood with Republican congressional leaders who want to repeal the Affordable Care Act—even though his underpaid workers and millions of working Americans depend on it for healthcare.”

Christine Owens, executive director of the National Employment Law Project, put it even more bluntly: “[B]ased on Mr. Puzder’s own comments, it’s hard to think of anyone less suited for the job of lifting up America’s forgotten workers—as Trump had campaigned on—than Puzder,” she said.

“After a long campaign of promising to return prosperity and good jobs to struggling families, this pick makes it clear that Trump won’t drain the swamp—he’ll fill it with worse and worse kinds of slime.”
—Randi Weingarten, American Federation of Teachers

“This much is clear,” Owens continued. “Puzder will be there for his low-wage-industry CEO buddies, who are now salivating over the prospect of rolling back the Obama administration’s efforts to raise pay for low-wage workers, improve workplace safety, and increase corporate accountability for wage theft and other violations. Puzder’s got his fellow CEOs’ backs, even if it breaks the backs of those at the bottom.”

In a statement from the Fight for $15 movement, Carl’s Jr. cook Rogelio Hernandez from Santa Monica, California and Hardee’s cashier Lacretia Jones from Richmond, Virginia, spoke from experience—while vowing to keep up their struggle:

American Federation of Teachers president Randi Weingarten also said the selection of Puzder highlighted Trump’s hypocrisy:


And the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights described Puzder as “anti-family, anti-worker, and anti-jobs.”

“This man is an opponent of jobs that make America great and put food on the table,” said the coalition’s president and CEO Wade Henderson. “He opposes fair wages, he opposes overtime pay, he opposes sick days, and he opposes health care benefits—all of which have a great impact on working class families, communities of color, and women.”

As Fight for $15 organizing Kendall Fells told The Prospect: “Puzder as labor secretary is like putting Bernie Madoff in charge of the treasury. Does it really make America great again if it pushes more low-wage workers into poverty?”

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Meanwhile, the New York Times noted that Trump’s choice of Puzder “may raise questions anew about his attitude toward women,” given negative responses to “racy” advertisements for Puzder’s Carl’s Jr. burger chain.

“I like our ads. I like beautiful women eating burgers in bikinis. I think it’s very American,” Puzder said in a 2015 interview with Entrepreneur magazine.

Additional reactions poured in on social media, including under the hashtag #AntiLaborSecretary:

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