Tomorrow, the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions will hear testimony from Andrew Puzder, President Trump’s nominee to be secretary of labor. At his hearing, committee members should demand an explanation for Puzder’s many public statements about labor laws—and his record of violating those laws—that make a mockery of the Department of Labor’s mission to improve the wages and working conditions of working and to defend their rights at work.
Puzder has spoken against raising the federal minimum wage, and against the updated overtime rule that would give millions of workers the right to reasonable work hours or the overtime pay they deserve. And he has opposed the Affordable Care Act, which has expanded access to affordable health insurance to tens of millions of working people. As CEO of CKE Restaurants, Puzder has created a culture of disregard for basic labor laws, and surveys have uncovered rampant sexual harassment in his restaurants.
Last month, EPI launched The Perkins Project on Worker Rights and Wages— named for Frances Perkins, Labor Secretary under FDR—to monitor and fight any attempts by the Trump administration to dismantle the laws and regulations that defend working people and lead to a fairer economy. It is difficult to imagine a stronger signal that such an effort is needed than the nomination of Andrew Puzder as Secretary of Labor. The contrast between what Perkins stood for and what Puzder stands for could not be sharper.
The next labor secretary will take the helm in an economy that is dramatically improved compared with when the Obama administration came into office, but where there is still a huge amount of work to be done. For most Americans, the last four decades have been marked by rising inequality, stagnant wages, and weakened bargaining power. Working people deserve a labor secretary that will defend their rights and fight for policies that will lead toward an economy that works for them, not just for big businesses and their CEOs and shareholders. Andrew Puzder could not be more wrong for the job.