Andrew Puzder, the CEO of CKE Holdings — which is the parent company to fast food chains Carl’s Jr. and Hardee’s — was chosen last week by Donald Trump to be the Secretary of Labor.
In a statement following the appointment, President-elect Trump said:
“Andy will fight to make American workers safer and more prosperous by enforcing fair occupational safety standards and ensuring workers receive the benefits they deserve, and he will save small businesses from the crushing burdens of unnecessary regulations that are stunting job growth and suppressing wages.”
But some organized labor groups are skeptical of Puzder’s appointment. In 2010 he co-wrote a book titled, “Job Creation: How It Really Works and Why Government Doesn’t Understand It,” criticized raising the minimum wage, and also believes that soda bans and other fast food restrictions have seriously hurt the industry.
In industries like food service, meat packing, and grocers that all handle meat products, the rate of slip and fall accidents is 75% greater than the national average. To combat this, instead of provider safer working conditions, Puzder suggested automating his team, putting his employees out of work.
He also strongly opposes paid sick leave, as well as the Affordable Care Act, which he blames for a “government-mandated restaurant recession.” He attributes rising healthcare premiums to Americans’ infrequency in dining out.
In an interview with Business Insider, the fast food CEO said that robotic machines were welcome because they 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.”
Richard L. Trumka, president of the American Federation of Labor and Congress of Industrial Organizations (AFL-CIO), which is a national trade union center, described Puzder as “a man whose business record is defined by fighting against working people.”
Given that Puzder is extraordinarily wealthy, much like Trump himself, critics are skeptical as to how he will uphold his position and look out for the interests of working Americans.
Pudzer isn’t Trump’s only controversial cabinet appointment. He also appointed Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt as the next head of the Environmental Protection Agency. Pruitt is a strong ally for the gas and oil industry and has also spent a lot of time fighting the agency he is going to head come January.