In a new memo, EPI Labor Counsel Celine McNicholas outlines the ways in which President Trump’s nominee for secretary of labor, Andrew Puzder, fails to live up to the standards set by previous labor secretaries, including Frances Perkins, labor secretary under FDR and principal architect of the New Deal.
“Perkins’s tireless efforts on behalf of working people led to the establishment of a federal minimum wage, limitations on work hours, unemployment compensation, enhanced worker safety, and the creation of Social Security. The policies she advanced provide the foundation of our labor and employment laws, and most labor secretaries have followed her example,” said McNicholas. “It is difficult to overstate how dramatic a departure Puzder would be from previous labor secretaries.”
McNicholas outlines a number of policies that the Labor Department is charged with carrying out, which Puzder has opposed or criticized, or which his history as a low-wage employer casts doubt on his willingness to enforce. For example:
- Puzder opposes raising the federal minimum wage. He has stated, “Some jobs don’t produce enough economic value to bear the increase,” demonstrating a fundamental lack of understanding of the issue.
- Puzder opposes a Department of Labor rule that would give millions more workers the right to the overtime pay they deserve.
- Puzder has been critical of proposals to provide paid sick leave, arguing incorrectly that the economy hasn’t seen the underlying economic growth necessary to support such increases.
- Puzder’s record as CEO of CKE Restaurants is marked by repeated violations of the very wage and hour and safety protections he would be responsible for enforcing as secretary of labor.
“The secretary of labor is charged with protecting and uplifting American workers,” said McNicholas, “After 35 years of flat wages, we need a labor secretary who will advocate for workers getting higher wages and having a safe work environment—not someone who will be looking at the bottom line for CEOs, who have reaped the lion’s share of the benefits of an improving economy.”