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Trump's Labor pick to face protests from own workers

The Hill logo The Hill 1/11/2017 Tim Devaney
Trump's Labor pick to face protests from own workers © Provided by The Hill Trump's Labor pick to face protests from own workers

Fast food workers at Labor Secretary nominee Andrew Puzder's own restaurants on Thursday will protest his Senate confirmation hearing.

The protests will take place outside CKE Restaurant's Carl's Jr. and Hardees restaurants in more than two dozen cities, pro-labor group Fight for $15 told The Hill. They were planned to overlap with Puzder's Senate confirmation hearing, which was originally scheduled for Thursday, but has since been delayed.

Thousands of CKE's cooks and cashiers plan to participate.

"Andy Puzder represents the worst of the rigged economy Donald Trump pledged to take on as president," Terrance Dixon, a Hardees worker in St. Louis, said in a statement. "If Puzder is confirmed as labor secretary, it will mean the Trump years will be about low pay, wage theft, sexual harassment and racial discrimination, instead of making lives better for working Americans like me."

President-elect Donald Trump tapped Puzder to lead the Labor Department, which is responsible for protecting workers from corporate abuses. But Puzder's appointment is generating blowback, particularly from his own workers, who complain the CKE chief executive has not only held down their wages but also threatened to replace them with robots.

When Trump nominated Puzder, the president-elect pointed to the number of jobs the restaurant executive has created during his career.

"Andy Puzder has created and boosted the careers of thousands of Americans, and his extensive record fighting for workers makes him the ideal candidate to lead the Department of Labor," Trump said in a statement.

But the protestors are labeling Puzder the "CEO of the rigged economy." They claim "he makes more in one week than he pays his minimum wage workers in one year."

In 2012, Puzder made more than $4 million at CKE, which as since become a private company and no longer discloses the CEO's salary.

Puzder told Fox Business he would consider a "rational" increase in the federal minimum wage, but in a 2014 editorial for the Wall Street Journal he opposed raising it to $10.10 an hour. Currently, the minimum wage sits at $7.25 an hour nationally, though some states and cities require higher pay for workers.

But the fast food workers are even more concerned by Puzder's calls for more automation in restaurants to replace workers and drive down labor costs.

"[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," Puzder told Business Insider.

"I'm no robot," responded Jessenia Adame, a Carl's Jr. worker in Austin, Texas, who is joining the protests. "If our elected leaders really want to make America great, they should confirm a labor secretary who looks out for working people like us, not someone like Andy Puzder who has made millions by stealing our wages and who wants to replace American workers with machines," she added in a statement.

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