Puzder’s Labor Secretary Nomination in Peril
WASHINGTON- Labor Secretary nominee Andy Puzder might be in danger of defeat. Four Republican Senators are undecided on whether or not they will vote for Puzder’s confirmation. Susan Collins of Maine, Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, Johnny Isakson of Georgia, Tim Scott of South Carolina have all said they are undecided on the matter.
The aforementioned Senators are all members of the Health, Education, Labor and Pension (HELP) Committee which has jurisdiction over Department of Labor and its Secretary. Isakson and Scott have said they are waiting on the hearing to form an opinion regarding Puzder. Previous Cabinet nominees received public support before their confirmation hearings.
Collins and Murkowski both voted against Betsy DeVos, Donald Trump’s nomination for Education Secretary, who was only confirmed when Vice President Mike Pence broke the tie.
Puzder’s hearing for the position has already been pushed back four times because paperwork regarding his finances were still being processed by the Senate Office of Government Ethics. The hearing is currently set for Thursday.
Massive resistance has formed to Puzder’s nomination. A wide coalition of labor and community organizations have signed onto a letter opposing him. Protests have broken out nationwide citing Puzder’s poor record as CEO of CKE, the company that owns Hardee’s and Carl’s Jr. In Anaheim, California Fight for 15 protestors made their way into the corporate headquarters of CKE on Monday and began chanting, “Fast Food CEO Andy Puzder has got to go!” Similar protests occurred at their offices in St. Louis Missouri and Austin, Texas.
More protests are set to occur tomorrow.
The problems with Puzder
CKE’s poor reputation is well documented. According to the Restaurant Opportunities Center (ROC), one-third of his employees have been victims of wage theft, whereby employers withhold employees’ wages. In addition, two-thirds of the women by CKE have experienced sexual harassment.
A class-action lawsuit against the company by restaurant managers in California won hundreds of hours in overtime and back pay but they continued to force their employees to work overtime without pay. Puzder previously claimed these problems were due to the franchise owners and that CKE was not responsible for these independent businesses.
In reality, franchisees have been shown to have little autonomy in regard to their operations. Franchise laws have been used by many large corporations to avoid enforcing labor standards. Puzder was a vocal opponent of former President Obama’s attempts to close this loophole.
He has also gone on record as saying the minimum wage is too high and actively participated in the restaurant lobby’s campaign against minimum wage increases.
In addition, Puzder previously employed an undocumented immigrant as a housekeeper. The issue of employing undocumented workers has derailed the confirmation of Cabinet nominees in the past.
Puzder also had a messy divorce several years ago. His ex-wife appeared on the “Oprah Winfrey” show and told the audience she was a victim of severe domestic abuse. She has since retracted her claims, something not uncommon for victims of domestic abuse who feel a great of deal of shame. Only one-third of victims seek medical treatment.
The tape of the episode will be available to the committee’s Senators to view prior to the hearing.
The Campaign for Accountability filed a request in court for his divorce records to be released to the public. Their claim is still pending in court.