ANDREW PUZDER, the CEO of CKE Restaurants and President Trump’s pick for secretary of labor prefers robots over working people. He has said that 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.”
Welcome to Trump’s America, where the person who, according to the Department of Labor’s mission statement, is supposed to “foster, promote, and develop the welfare of the wage earners, job seekers, and retirees of the United States” is a wealthy CEO who has built his fortune on the backs of underpaid fast-food workers and doesn’t think we need worker protections.
It wouldn’t be funny if it were just a joke, but the scary thing is that the person who is about to become the guardian of American workers’ rights doesn’t think much of low-wage service economy workers who have been struggling to pay the bills for years.
CEOs like Puzder think that some workers have little economic value and shouldn’t be paid a decent wage. Apparently, it’s their fault that housing prices in areas like Greater Boston have skyrocketed to a point where 60 percent of low-income workers pay more than half of their income in rent. Or that the average annual cost of childcare in Massachusetts is $17,062 a year. That’s $6,360 more expensive than in-state tuition for a four-year public college.
Having a vocal critic of the new overtime rules or a higher minimum wage at the helm of the Department of Labor would be like putting a fox in charge of the hen house. Puzder’s pro-business view of the world is anchored in a corporate race to the bottom mentality that is profoundly anti-worker. Just look at the way he has managed his companies.
At Puzder’s Hardee’s and Carl’s Jr. stores, the department he wants to lead uncovered numerous Fair Labor Standards Act violations. And he has gone as far as supporting staffless restaurants.
Trump’s labor nominee has always stood for the corporate interests of an industry infamous for its workplace violations. Congress should reject Pudzer and demand that President Trump put forth a candidate with a real track record of fighting for workers’ rights.
Working families deserve a champion who will look out for them — not leave them poorer, less safe, and more vulnerable than ever.
By Roxana Rivera is vice president of 32BJ SEIU, which represents over 18,000 property service workers in Massachusetts.