That Tweet, aimed at a union president who dared to call out Trump for his lie about how many jobs were saved at Carrier and how many were lost, turns out to have been a lead in to Trump's appointment to the cabinet position charged with protecting labor.
Donald Trump on Thursday named fast-food executive Andy Puzder as his choice for labor secretary.
Puzder, chief executive of CKE Restaurants Holdings Inc., the parent company of the Carl’s Jr. and Hardee’s burger chains, has been a vocal advocate for cutting back regulations he says have stifled growth in the restaurant industry, which represents 10% of the American workforce. He also opposes increasing the minimum wage (when even Trump has called for an increase to $10 an hour). He is adamantly anti-union.
An adviser and large contributor to Mr. Trump’s campaign, Puzder has also criticized the Affordable Care Act.
In a statement, Trump said Mr. Puzder “will fight to make American workers safer and more prosperous,” and also “save small businesses from the crushing burdens of unnecessary regulations that are stunting job growth and suppressing wages.” How will Puzder do the first given his positions (and he offers no alternatives). The second part of the statement makes a claim that is dubious at best given that most regulations being objected to affect big business.
In many respects, the reported selection of fast-food executive Andy Puzder to head the Labor Department is consistent with the pattern Donald Trump has set in choosing an administration populated at the top level mostly by plutocrats (Steve Mnuchin, Wilbur Ross, Betsy DeVos, and Todd Ricketts) former generals (Mike Flynn, James Mattis, and John Kelly), and grim conservative ideologues (Jeff Sessions and Tom Price). Puzder, who heads the company that owns the Carl’s Jr./Hardees chains, is a plutocrat who could give any conservative economic ideologue a run for his money.
Puzder is a particularly grotesque choice for a president who owes his election to working-class voters.
Aside from his stated opposition to higher minimum wages and most regulations protecting workers, Puzder is a central figure in an industry that is the current chief battleground of U.S. labor relations. The business sector from which Puzder hails has lately been the top target for enforcement actions by the Labor Department’s Wage and Hour division. Half of its low-wage enforcement cases in 2015 — fully 4,787 out of 11,184 — were in the restaurant industry. (Health care placed a distant second, with 1,551 cases.) The days of that happening are likely done.
The idea that the parent company of franchise businesses has no responsibility for franchise workers is something we can definitely expect the Trump administration to champion. A 3-2 decision by the National Labor Relations Board in 2015 that allowed unions representing such workers to bargain with the parent company is almost certain to be reversed once Trump appointees get in charge of the agency. Puzder’s selection should also eliminate any doubt the Labor Department will overturn the Obama administration’s decision to revise overtime rules to keep companies from just reclassifying workers as “management” and working them to death.
Donald Trump has just given the finger to folks who work for wages. This cabinet appointment more than any of the others so far really shows how much and how quickly Trump intends to betray his own base (although he will cover his tracks very well...he is the master of diversion and excuses.....and his base has the well-formed habit of believing anything he tells them to).
* Until Mr. Trump has earned the title, I will refrain from referring to his as President Trump, or The President, or Mr. President. While I respect the office, my complete lack of respect for him overshadows that historic sentiment. I am open to being surprised. I am also going to bring the same level of energy and purpose to my critique of him that opponents of President Barack H. Obama did during his 8 years as our President.