In victory for worker-led opposition, Puzder backs out of Labor post

Robotics enthusiast and fast food CEO Andrew Puzder withdrew from consideration as labor secretary today, less than 24 hours before a Senate committee was scheduled to hold his confirmation hearing.

Puzder’s withdrawal is a major victory for working people – including the people who work for Puzder’s company.

Workers at Hardee’s and Carl’s Jr. led a campaign to expose Puzder, CEO of the fast-food chains, as the #AntiLaborSecretary, pointing to his company’s track record of violating the labor laws Puzder would have been in charge of enforcing. Unions and worker centers helped staged hundreds of demonstrations against Puzder across the country, including two in St. Paul.

Opponents of Andy Puzder's nomination to lead the Labor department rallied outside Hardee's in St. Paul.

Opponents of Andy Puzder’s nomination to lead the Labor department rallied outside Hardee’s in St. Paul.

The spotlight of a Cabinet nomination didn’t stop workers from bringing forward allegations of mistreatment against Puzder or his company. On the contrary, it sparked something of an outpouring.

Workers at 13 CKE restaurants in 10 states last month filed 33 new complaints alleging sexual harassment, unfair labor practices (union busting) and wage theft. And today, just minutes before Puzder withdrew, a Hardee’s worker from Tennessee, Jamie Dinkins, filed sexual harassment charges.

Puzder’s nomination also drew outcry over his use of misogynistic language, his company’s outsourcing of jobs, his own hiring of an undocumented worker and more. In a tweet today, U.S. Rep. Betty McCollum called him “one of (the) most unfit ever nominated to lead a federal agency.”

“Working people rejected Puzder because he routinely violated labor law, disrespected workers, opposed a living wage and used his position of authority to enrich himself at the expense of working people,” AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka said. “We rallied in towns and cities across the country, flooded Senate offices with calls and e-mails and highlighted Puzder’s terrible track record.”

Puzder also faced opposition from some right-wing groups for his support for immigration – a source of labor for low-wage employers like Hardee’s and Carl’s Jr. The conservative National Review today published an editorial opposing the nomination, calling Puzder “a reliable font of cliches in favor of higher levels of legal immigration.”

Such rhetoric might have given Republican senators cover to oppose Puzder, prompting Majority Leader Mitch McConnell to warn the Trump administration his caucus lacked the necessary 50 votes.

Regardless of why Republicans soured on Puzder, it’s clear they can expect those who drove the campaign to oppose him will be closely watching the president’s replacement nominee.

“The American people want a labor secretary who will hold employers accountable for paying a fair wage and providing a safe workplace while ensuring our right to a voice on the job,” Trumka said. “President Trump made a lot of promises on the campaign trail about supporting working people. It’s time to start turning those promises into action.”

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