Shortly following the forced resignation of National Security Adviser Michael Flynn, President Donald Trump’s pick for Labor Secretary, Andrew Puzder, announced Wednesday that he is withdrawing his nomination. Mired with a history of illegal business practices and open contempt for his employees, Puzder withdrew his nomination after failing to secure enough Republican votes for Thursday’s scheduled hearing.
“I am withdrawing my nomination for Secretary of Labor,” Puzder wrote on Twitter. “I’m honored to have been considered and am grateful to all who have supported me.”
In response to Puzder failing to fill out required financial and ethics forms, Senate Democrats succeeded in delaying his confirmation hearings multiple times. On Monday, Senator Elizabeth Warren sent a letter to Puzder questioning his company’s history of labor law violations, his opposition to minimum wage laws, and possible conflicts of interest.
“My staff’s review of your 16-year tenure as CEO of CKE Restaurants, Inc., the parent company of Hardee’s and Carl’s Jr., reveals that you’ve made your fortune by squeezing the very workers you’d be charged with protecting as Labor Secretary out of wages and benefits,” Sen. Warren wrote. “Your company’s record of prolific labor law abuses and discrimination suits – the most of any major burger chain – gives me great pause given that as Labor Secretary you’d be charged with enforcing these very laws. Further, the painful first-hand accounts of these abuses by the workers in your company and its franchises that have surfaced since your nomination (including three accounts from workers I heard from in person at a public forum) should sound an alarm for every member of the committee and the Senate.
“In addition to your role as CEO at CKE, your long record of public comments reveals a sneering contempt for the workers in your stores, and a vehement opposition to the laws you will be charged with enforcing. You’ve referred to your workers as ‘the worst’ (albeit the ‘best of the worst.’) You’ve said you’d replace them with robots because robots ‘…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.’ You’ve opposed minimum wage increases that would overwhelmingly benefit the workers in your stores and you’ve vehemently opposed a DOL (Department of Labor) overtime rule that would give 4.2 million Americans, including the managers in your stores, a $1.5 billion raise in 2017 alone.”
According to the Federal Election Commission, Puzder and his wife, Deanna Puzder, contributed a total of $332,000 last year to Trump’s presidential bid, joint fundraising committees, and to the Republican National Committee. Appearing on an interview with Oprah Winfrey in 1990, Puzder’s ex-wife, Lisa Fierstein, discussed the physical abuse allegedly inflicted by Puzder against her.
Several of Puzder’s former employees have recently come forward admitting that his companies have failed to pay overtime wages, while many female employees suffered repeated instances of sexual harassment by both customers and coworkers. Besides hiring undocumented workers at his stores, Puzder also acknowledged that he hired an illegal immigrant as household help.
At least 12 Republican senators reportedly refused to support Puzder’s upcoming nomination along with all of the Senate Democrats. This week, GOP Sens. John Thune, Rob Portman, Thom Tillis, Susan Collins, Johnny Isakson, Lisa Murkowski, and Tim Scott announced that they were still undecided regarding Puzder’s controversial nomination.
“I am glad Mr. Puzder will withdraw his name from consideration to be the next labor secretary,” Sen. Bernie Sanders wrote in a press release on Wednesday. “The simple truth is that given his relationship to employees at the companies he runs, he was not fit to lead a department responsible for defending workers’ rights. We need a secretary of labor who is going to fight to raise the minimum wage to a living wage of $15 an hour and pay equity for women. We don’t need a labor secretary who makes millions while his workers are paid starvation wages.”