A coalition of free-market groups sent a letter Monday urging the Senate to approve President Donald Trump’s pick for labor secretary.
CKE Restaurants President Andy Puzder was nominated Dec. 8 to lead the Department of Labor (DOL). He was immediately attacked by some lawmakers and unions for his lack of government experience and conduct as an employer. But a coalition of groups, led by the Competitive Enterprise Institute, is urging his approval.
“We believe a change of labor policy at the federal level is crucial to encourage job creation and spur economic growth,” the letter stated. “Andrew Puzder would bring a welcome, fresh perspective to the U.S. Labor Department that our country needs.”
Former President Barack Obama and his administration issued numerous regulations aimed at protecting workers. Those opposed have argued the regulations have overwhelmed employers, hurting workers in the process. Puzder operates several franchise chains and has been an outspoken critic of the regulations.
“Over the years, he has warned about the harmful impact of overly burdensome workplace regulation, and his firsthand experience dealing with those burdens should prove invaluable in identifying and targeting regulations that do more harm than good,” the letter stated.
The letter was signed by 17 free-market organizations including Americans for Tax Reform, FreedomWorks, the Freedom Foundation, and the Center for Individual Freedom. It was addressed to the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) committee.
“American workers need a Labor Secretary with real-world experience creating jobs and opportunities, and we believe Andrew Puzder will fulfill that role,” the letter concluded. “By making sure the Labor Department promotes deregulatory policies, Andrew Puzder can foster and encourage the business formation that makes job creation possible.”
Puzder supporters see his nomination as a way to bring balance back to the Labor Department. The letter notes that during the previous administration the department imposed $55.7 billion in regulatory costs on employers. It adds that during that time gross domestic product growth averaged less than two percent, while an increased number of people dropped out of the labor market.
Obama has argued the goal was to strengthen worker rights and protections. He stated numerous times during his time in office that unions are critical to protecting workers. Critics have contested the regulations actually helped unions at the expense of workers.
Nevertheless, Puzder isn’t without critics who have painted him as a sexist who mistreats his employees. Democratic lawmakers and union leaders have been particularly critical of the nominee. The union-backed Fight for $15 movement has even held protests which apparently included employees that work for his franchises.
Democratic Sen. Patty Murray and AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka argued during a press call Dec. 22 that the president has already betrayed his promise to the working class by picking Puzder. Murray is currently the ranking Democrat on the Senate HELP Committee.
The HELP Committee is scheduled to hold a hearing next week to determine whether his nomination will be approved. Puzder, if approved, would be the top federal official for enforcing and issuing workplace policies. Obama, for instance, initiated much of his economic agenda through department regulations.