The Donald Trump transition team came to the defense of its labor secretary pick Thursday after receiving a barrage of criticism.
Trump and his team have been hard at work filling the upcoming administration since winning the presidency. CKE Restaurants President Andy Puzder has received harsh criticism since being nominated Dec. 8 to lead the labor department. The Trump team, however, is standing by their choice.
“Andy Puzder was nominated to lead the Department of Labor thanks to his extensive experience creating jobs and fighting for smart policies that promote growth,” a spokesperson for the transition team tells InsideSources. “CKE, a company he helped save while creating thousands of jobs in the process, has a strong record despite being burdened by over-regulation and is fully transparent with a myriad of reporting and filing requirements.”
CKE Restaurants owns the franchise chains Hardee’s and Carl’s Jr. Puzder was named the president by the company board of directors in 2000. He helped the company some years earlier recover from major financial difficulties while still practicing law.
“When it comes to rethinking existing policies, Andy’s focus will be on protecting the best interests of American workers and businesses,” the spokesperson also said.
Puzder has faced criticism from lawmakers, progressive advocacy groups and labor unions. Trump campaigned on a promise to help working class people. Democratic Sen. Patty Murray and AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka argued during a call with reporters Thursday the pick violated that promise.
“Trump campaigned on a promise he would put working families first but it’s pretty clear he and his Republican Party are planning to do the exact opposite,” Murray said during the call. “The selection of Andrew Puzder for labor secretary is, in particular, I believe, a dangerous and alarming example of him rigging his cabinet against working families.”
Labor unions generally have also been highly critical of the nomination. They have denounced his opposition to increasing the minimum wage, recent labor regulations and the Affordable Care Act. The Service Employees International Union (SEIU) argued the pick shows the president-elect is out of touch with the working class.
Vox Media and other outlets have denounced Puzder for sexism within days of his nomination. Carl’s Jr. has run television commercials featuring models eating hamburgers in sexually suggestive ways. Salon argued the nomination reflects an already misogynistic administration.
Puzder has also been denounced for his lack of political experience. He has never held a federal position before but he has been very active in the political sphere. Puzder has been a vocal critic of recent labor policies and even testified before several congressional hearings on behalf of various business coalitions.
His supporters are hopeful he will help bring balance to federal workplace regulations. President Barack Obama and his administration have done a lot to change labor law through the labor department. Those opposed to his reforms believe they have benefited unions at the expense of employers and workers.
Puzder still has to get his nomination approved by the Senate. He is likely not to face too much opposition with the Republican majority.