The Senate Labor Committee will hold a confirmation hearing Feb. 7 on President Donald Trump's nomination of Andrew Puzder as Secretary of Labor. If confirmed by a vote of the full Senate, Puzder will oversee all of the agencies and departments within the Department of Labor, including the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), the Wage and Hour Division (WHD), and the Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs (OFCCP).
This is troubling, to say the least, because a look at Puzder's record and public statements on labor issues suggests he is not the right person for the job: he believes in cutting worker protections, not strengthening them.
Puzder currently serves as CEO of CKE Restaurants, Inc., the parent company of fast-food chains Carl's Jr., Hardee's, Green Burrito, and Red Burrito. On the CKE website, Puzder's biography touts his nickname by some as "poster CEO for the regulatory reform effort." By regulatory reform, Puzder means cutting safeguards like workers' compensation, wage and hour standards, anti-discrimination rules, and occupational safety and health standards. In fact, this very argument was his contribution to Mitt Romney's economic plan in 2011.
As CEO of CKE Restaurants, Puzder practices exactly what he preaches, according to former employees of Carl's Jr., who shared their alarming experiences at a Senate meeting on Jan. 11. As quoted in Mother Jones, one former employee of 20 years testified, "Mr. Puzder took a company that I loved and turned it into a business that makes money by stealing from its workers." Other former employees complained about poor working conditions and spoke about how they were forced to rely on social programs, like housing assistance and food stamps, because the company pays such low wages. To find out more about Puzder's shocking record of abusive labor practices, visit www.antilaborsecretary.org.
Puzder has made many other public statements about labor standards he opposes and believes should be invalidated. Combined with Trump's demoralizing position statements and industry's regulatory rollback wish list, many of our worker protections are at serious risk.
Among the rules likely to be first up on the chopping block are the Labor Department's overtime rule, OSHA's workplace exposure limits for deadly silica dust, OSHA's recordkeeping and reporting rule, and updates to the civil penalties OSHA can impose against companies that violate health and safety standards. Also at high risk are a series of executive orders – see E.O. 13673 and E.O. 13706 – issued by President Obama during his two terms in office that require the Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs (OFCCP) to issue rules that improve labor conditions for workers employed by companies that do business with the federal government.
This is not what American workers need or deserve. We deserve a Secretary of Labor that understands that taking care of workers is good for our economy and our communities. When workers are paid fair wages above the poverty line, they can better afford to purchase quality health care and insurance, save for retirement, invest in their children's education, and spend more money in the marketplace on goods and property.
You can take action now by calling your senators and urging them to vote against Andrew Puzder. Tell them we deserve a Secretary of Labor that seeks to raise workers up, not hold them down.