On Thursday, Andrew Puzder will appear for his confirmation hearing for Secretary of Labor. Puzder’s track record as CEO overseeing Carl’s Jr and Hardee’s restaurants is almost completely at odds with the mission of the agency he has been nominated to run.
As CEO, Puzder has called his own employees “the best of the worst” and has joked that robots might be better, in part because they never file discrimination cases based on age, sex, or race. He famously defended controversial ads with bikini-clad models for his restaurants, saying, “I like our ads. I like beautiful women eating burgers in bikinis. It’s very American.”
Over the years, Human Rights Watch has documented serious labor violations in the United States, including child labor, wage theft, sexual harassment of women workers, union-busting, and lack of paid family leave. These problems need an active response from the Labor Department, but Puzder has often said that he believes government should back off. He has claimed that if the US would only cut taxes and end its “oppressive” and “intrusive” government interference into American business, good jobs would proliferate. “More government is not the solution to every problem, it's the problem to every solution," he said at a recent trade conference.
Senators weighing Puzder’s appointment need to ask hard questions. Chief among them is whether he continues to oppose the vital worker protections the Labor Department is charged with upholding and if so, how he could possibly be a good choice to run it.