The Building Tradesman Newspaper

Friday, January 06, 2017

Meet Labor nominee Puzder: Champion of the low-pay, no OT workforce.

By The Building Tradesman



(From the IBEW)

President-elect Donald Trump has nominated Andrew Puzder, the chief executive officer of CKE -- owner of Carl’s Jr. and Hardees  - to be the U.S. Secretary of Labor.

Puzder, an attorney, has never served in government, and his only connection to the Labor Department previously was facing prosecution by its attorneys for violating labor laws.

Puzder was a significant donor and senior economic advisor to both the Romney and Trump campaigns. In recent years, he has also become a high-profile advocate for guest worker programs and automating the workplace, while opposing expanded overtime, raising the minimum wage and making it easier for low-wage workers to organize. He even came out against meal breaks.

Puzder on paying his employees.  More than half of Carl's Jr. and Hardee's restaurants were found to have at least one wage and hour violation in a 2016 investigation by the Department of Labor, which ranked it the fourth worst fast-food company in America.

Puzder on organizing. Puzder opposed making it easier to organize fast-food franchises and allowing workers to sue parent companies for labor violations committed by franchisees. In the Wall Street Journal, Puzder called the National Labor Relations Board 2014 decision a "lose-lose scenario for everyone — except for the labor unions that have long dreamed of organizing restaurant workers nationwide."

Puzder on overtime. Puzder opposed the expansion of overtime pay from people making less than $23,660 to people making less than $47,500 per year. Writing in the Wall Street Journal two years ago, Puzder claimed that what workers lose in overtime pay they “gain in stature and sense of accomplishment.”

Despite decades of data to the contrary from the Department of Labor, last summer Puzder argued in Forbes that increasing overtime pay "means reduced opportunities, bonuses, benefits, perks and promotions."

Puzder on automation. Puzder told Fortune Magazine in 2016 that he wanted to try experimenting with fully automated restaurants with only a few kitchen employees. According to Puzder, this would be the perfect situation because, he told the Los Angeles Times, machines are “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.”

Puzder on worker protections. In a 2014 interview with the Orange County Register, Puzder said that California’s meal and rest break requirements -- which require employers to provide a 30-minute meal break for every five hours on-duty, and another rule that says no more than four hours at work without a 10-minute break—were calamitous for business. "A manager might be required to watch the restaurant fall apart during a sudden rush, because managers aren’t allowed to take a break when they choose," he said.

Puzder on immigration. At a public forum on the 2013 immigration bill sponsored by the American Enterprise Institute, Puzder said that immigration reform under consideration in the U.S. Senate that had provision for amnesty and allowed the creation of a guest worker program “would be a real benefit to the U.S. economy,” because, he said, “a lot of those people are going to be looking for jobs in the restaurant industry, construction and agriculture, so I’m sure that would be advantageous to our business.” 

Puzder said his experience was that immigrant workers in California were “very hard working, dedicated, creative, people who really appreciate they have a job. With franchises in [the Midwest] you often get people that are saying ‘I can’t believe I have to work THIS job,’ where with the immigrant population, they say ‘Thank god I have this job.’”

Puzder’s employees were primarily low-skilled, low-wage workers, but he also believed the reform bill would affect all levels of the labor force. “We’d have access, not to just low-skilled workers in our business, but the high-skilled workers that everyone talks about,” he said.