A leading Senate Democrat and union president sharply criticized President-elect Donald Trump over his choice for labor secretary.
CKE Restaurants President Andy Puzder was nominated Dec. 8 to become the next secretary of labor. He has faced fierce opposition in the weeks since as some have questioned his views on the minimum wage and other issues. Democratic Sen. Patty Murray said during a call with reporters that the nomination betrays what the president-elect promised workers.
“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. “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.”
Murray adds the other nominations and proposals thus far underscore the problem. The senator is currently the ranking Democrat on the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee. AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka echoed her concerns that the president-elect has already started to go back on his promise to workers.
“The American economy works best when it works for working people,” Trumka said during the press call. “That ideal was a central theme for Mr. Trump’s campaign for president. Sadly, his selection of a fast-food CEO, who routinely violates labor laws, as head of the labor department betrays the spirit of his campaign.”
Puzder would have vast influence over workplace regulations if his nomination is approved by the Senate. The Department of Labor is the primary federal agency for enforcing and issuing workplace policies. President Barack Obama, for instance, initiated much of his economic agenda through labor department regulations.
“By nearly every measure Andrew Puzder appears to be a uniquely unqualified choice and stands against the very mission of the department he’s been selected to lead,” Murray said. “Workers deserve a secretary of labor whose priority is higher wages and good jobs.”
Those in support of his nomination are hopeful he will help bring balance to the labor department. Current Labor Secretary Thomas Perez has been accused by critics of pushing an overly political agenda. Some believe his reforms have benefited unions at the expense of employers and workers.
“The consequences for our economy and U.S. workers have been disastrous,” America Rising Squared Communications Director Jeremy Adler told InsideSources. “This smear campaign against one of America’s most distinguished business leaders is shameful, but we wouldn’t expect anything more from big labor and their cronies.”
America Rising Squared is a nonprofit research group that promotes conservative policies. Murray, Trumka and other participants on the call demanded that Puzder have his business operations and franchise contracts released publicly so he can be properly vetted.