Nurses: Puzder Nomination a Direct Assault on Women, Workers
President Trump’s nomination of fast food titan Andrew Puzder to lead the U.S. Department of Labor is a colossal affront to women and all workers and should be rejected by the U.S. Senate, said National Nurses United today, in advance of Puzder’s first confirmation hearing February 16.
“Andrew Puzder’s career is a testimony to the worst behavior of corporate America – the sexual objectification of women, an utter contempt of workers, and disdain for the most basic protections for workplace rights and safety,” said NNU Co-President Deborah Burger, RN.
“It is hard to imagine a worse and more insulting candidate to head a federal agency whose primary role is to advance the welfare of working people,” said Burger.
“There can be no other conclusion than that Puzder was specifically chosen to subvert the intent of the Labor Department, and roll back every existing standard that defends working people in America,” Burger said. “In every regard, Puzder’s nomination directly parallels the nomination of, in particular, Scott Pruitt to administer the Environmental Protection Agency, who apparently was also chosen to destroy the intent of an agency he was named to head for the benefit of corporate profits.”
“As an organization of predominantly women, NNU is particularly appalled at the nomination of Puzder, a man whose view of women is to view them solely as sex objects to sell hamburgers, to be subject to the most crass sexual harassment in the workplace, and as workers to be thrown aside and replaced by machines if they stand up for their rights,” Burger added.
In a letter today to members of the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions today, Burger and NNU Co-President Jean Ross, RN cited Puzder’s record as CEO of Carl’s Jr. and Hardee’s (CKE) restaurants as a staunch opponent of raising the minimum wage, fostering a hostile work environment for women employees, opposition to overtime pay, and rampant labor law violations, including wage theft.
Examples include sexual harassment complaints by two thirds of women workers at brands owned by CKE restaurants, well above the 40 percent at similar workplaces, and documented labor law violations at 60 percent of Department of Labor CKE investigations.
One recent survey by the Restaurant Opportunities Centers United indicated that one-third of all respondents said they did not receive meal breaks as mandated by law; around one-fourth had been illegally forced to work off the clock without pay; almost one-third had been illegally deprived of overtime pay, the NNU letter noted.
Puzder’s arrogant scorn for workers, especially the most low wage workers employed in his restaurants, is evident in a history of public statements, such as “No more people behind the counter unless they have all their teeth,” and “How do you pay somebody $15 an hour to scoop ice cream?” As well as his advocacy for eliminating workers and replacing them with machines because “they're 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.”
“The mission of the Department of Labor,” Burger and Ross wrote, “is ‘to foster, promote, and develop the welfare of the wage earners, job seekers, and retirees of the United States; improve working conditions; advance opportunities for profitable employment; and assure work-related benefits and rights.’ Throughout his career … Andrew Puzder has consistently failed to show regard for the principles of the Department of Labor.”
“It is deplorable to imagine Puzder in the same role once held by the first woman to hold a Cabinet position in the U.S., Frances Perkins, who as Franklin Roosevelt’s Labor Secretary was both a role model for women and a uncompromised champion of the rights and economic security for all working people,” Burger noted.
“There can be little doubt,” said Burger, “that as Labor Secretary, Puzder would be a champion, not of workers, but accelerating corporate profits at workers’ expenses. NNU will vigorously oppose his confirmation,” Burger concluded.