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Opposing Views on Trump’s Choice for Secretary of Labor

Posted by Eric Kingsley | Dec 16, 2016 | 0 Comments

Trump's Nomination for Secretary of Labor

Puzder secretary of labor

One week ago, President-elect Donald Trump chose Andrew F. Puzder, chief executive of the California-based company that franchises the fast-food outlets Hardee's and Carl's Jr., to be the next secretary of labor. And similar to the presidential election, this nomination has ignited controversy among various groups in the labor industry. Puzder is an outspoken opponent of raising the minimum wage and a critic of many of the Obama administration's labor policies. Puzder's beliefs are not welcomed by labor unions, however groups like the National Restaurant Association look forward to less federal regulation should Puzder pass Senate confirmation.   

Overtime Pay and Minimum Wage

When it comes to labor policies, Puzder has argued that the Obama administration's recent rule expanding eligibility for overtime pay diminishes opportunities for workers. He's also voiced his opinion that significant minimum wage increases would hurt small businesses and eventually lead to job losses. Puzder has also criticized paid sick leave policies of the sort recently enacted for federal contractors and he strongly supports repealing the Affordable Care Act, which he says has created a “government-mandated restaurant recession” because rising premiums have left people with less money to spend dining out.

Puzder's nomination fits Trump's pledge to help create a business-friendly environment and help the economy through a combination of tax cuts and deregulation. In a statement announcing his intention to nominate the former lawyer, President-elect Trump said Puzder would “save small businesses from the crushing burdens of unnecessary regulations that are stunting job growth and suppressing wages”.

Puzder's projected moves would mark a major departure from the Obama administration, which has been advocating an increase in the minimum wage despite opposition from many business groups. This year the administration also introduced new overtime rules meant to secure better pay for middle-managers and other salaried workers often forced to work long hours without extra pay.

Labor Unions Bracing for Challenges

News of Mr Trump's pick immediately drew outrage from Democrats and labor groups. The inignation highlighted what is likely to be one of their main lines of attack against the incoming president, who managed during the campaign to outmaneuver Democrats by appealing to their traditional base among white blue-collar voters. Chuck Schumer, minority leader in the Senate, remarked on Trump's pick for labor chief, “The Labor secretary should be someone who wakes up every day thinking about how they can raise American wages and fight for American workers. Mr Puzder's career has shown exactly the opposite.” said Charles Schumer, the Democrats' incoming leader in the Senate.

Lawrence Mishel, president of the Economic Policy Institute, a union-affiliated think-tank that Mr Trump often cited on the campaign trail, said “Donald Trump ran a campaign that was long on rhetoric about helping working people. But will his actual policies enrich business at the expense of workers? There is nothing in his record or his public statements to indicate that he would lead in developing policies and enforcement strategies to generate higher wages and better quality jobs for America's workers.”

NRA Applauds Puzder as Labor Secretary

The National Restaurant Association applauded President-elect Donald Trump's nomination of Puzder as the country's new Secretary of Labor, citing the move would be good for business growth. Dawn Sweeney, the NRA's president and CEO, remarked, “We are excited that Andy Puzder will serve as our nation's next Secretary of Labor…he has a proven track record of turning around struggling businesses, and his background in the restaurant industry will help foster an environment for job creation.”

“The restaurant industry is the second-largest private-sector employer in the country, employing more than 14 million people and producing more than $780 billion in sales annually,” she said. “It's encouraging that someone who has worked in the industry and understands its vast benefits to the American economy as well as the challenges it currently faces will serve in one of the Administration's highest posts.”

Stay Tuned to Kingsley & Kingsley as Trump's Administration Takes Shape

Kingsley & Kingsley will continue to monitor the development of President-elect Trump's Cabinet, especially those positions that will be charged with developing and implementing labor policy across the country. In the meantime, should questions arise regarding California's wage and hour laws, feel free to contact leading employment lawyers at Kingsley & Kingsley. Call toll-free at (888) 500-8469 or click here to contact us via email.

About the Author

Eric Kingsley

In practice since 1996, attorney and firm co-founder Eric B. Kingsley has litigated complex cases and authored numerous appellate briefs in both state and federal court on behalf of the California law firm of Kingsley & Kingsley, including over 150 class actions. Mr. Kingsley concentrates his pra...

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