Fast-food executive and attorney Andrew Puzder, expected to be President-elect Donald Trump’s nominee to lead the U.S. Labor Department, is a sharp critic of Obama administration regulations whose appointment could roll back efforts to expand corporate liability and raise worker wages.
Puzder, chief executive of CKE Restaurants Inc., a privately held company that owns Carl’s Jr. and Hardee’s, has spoken out against Obama administration’s updated overtime rules and efforts to raise the minimum wage. He also has criticized the new joint-employer standard, which broadened the scope of labor liability for closely associated companies.
Puzder, who would replace Secretary Thomas Perez, began his career as general counsel at Fidelity National Financial, according to his LinkedIn bio, before becoming the personal attorney of Carl’s Jr. founder Carl Karcher. He took over as general counsel of CKE in 1997 and ascended to the CEO spot three years later.
Trump has not formally announced his pick for Labor. A source familiar with the matter confirmed that Puzder was the expected nominee. The Associated Press said Trump was expected to make the announcement Thursday.
Attorneys who represent employer interests praised Puzder as a “refreshing” choice as the first business leader in recent memory chosen to lead the Labor Department. But labor advocates and some Democrats strongly condemned Trump’s expected pick, indicating Puzder may face a confirmation challenge in the Senate.
Sen. Charles Schumer, D-N.Y., said in a statement: “Turning the Labor Department over to someone who opposes an increase in the minimum wage, opposes the overtime rule that would raise middle class wages, and whose businesses have repeatedly violated labor laws might be the surest sign yet that the next cabinet will be looking out for the billionaires and special interests, instead of America’s working class.”
Debra Ness, president of the National Partnership for Women and Families, called Trump’s pick “appalling.” Puzder, she said, is “a stunning and unwelcome departure from the dedicated and powerful champions who have held that post in recent years, and who have helped advance policies like fair pay, paid sick days and paid family and medical leave that are critical to the well-being of workers and families, businesses and our economy.”
Puzder: ‘Industry Is Under Attack’