CKE Restaurants CEO Andy Puzder has been chosen as Donald Trump's nominee for secretary of labor, giving the restaurant industry a strong ally inside the administration that takes power in July.
Puzder’s selection is widely expecgted to shift the escalating struggle between employers and organized labor in restaurants’ favor and allay some of the industry’s dire threats. Puzder has spoken out against such pro-union moves by the Obama administration as reclassifying some franchisors as joint employers of franchisees’ staffs and changing regulations to entitle more midlevel managers to overtime pay.
The expected change in employers' position drew sharp and immediate condemnation of Puzder from organized labor.
“Putting one of the worst fast-food CEOs in charge of national labor policy sends a signal to workers that the Trump years are going to be about low pay, wage theft, sexual harassment and racial discrimination," the union-backed Fight for $15 coalition said in a statement attributed to workers within the chains Puzder overseas. "Puzder is against unions, calls the minimum wage and overtime ‘restrictions’ and employees ‘extra cost,’ and even said he wants to fire workers like us and replace us with machines that can’t take vacations or sue their employers when they break the law."
But the restaurant industry was nearly as quick in applauding the appointment.
"We are excited about President-elect Trump’s announcement that Andy Puzder will serve as our nation’s next secretary of labor," Dawn Sweeney, CEO of the National Restaurant Association, said in a statement. "As an active member of the National Restaurant Association, Andy brings much-needed business experience to the Department of Labor. He has a proven track record of turning around businesses, and his background in the restaurant industry will help foster an environment for job creation."
CKE is the parent of the Carl's Jr. and Hardee's regional burger chains.
Puzder was a consultant to Trump during the Republican candidate's successful run for the presidency.