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Donald Trump’s selection of Andrew Puzder as secretary of labor draws positive, negative reactions

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Photo: Gage Skidmore

Washington – President-elect Donald Trump’s plan to nominate fast-food executive Andrew Puzder as secretary of labor is eliciting strong reactions – both positive and negative.

Puzder is chief executive of CKE Restaurants Holdings, the parent company of Carl’s Jr., Hardee’s and other regional fast-food chains, and co-author of the 2010 book “Job Creation: How it Really Works and Why Government Doesn’t Understand It.” Puzder has criticized minimum-wage increases, the Fair Labor Standards Act overtime rule, paid sick leave and other recent government regulations.

Trump said Puzder will help both workers and small-business owners.

“Andy will fight to make American workers safer and more prosperous by enforcing fair occupational safety standards and ensuring workers receive the benefits they deserve, and he will save small businesses from the crushing burdens of unnecessary regulations that are stunting job growth and suppressing wages,” Trump said in a statement.

The National Council for Occupational Safety and Health called on Puzder to elaborate on his plans for protecting workers. National COSH cited a 2015 survey in which 87 percent of fast-food workers said they had been injured at work during the past year, including 78 percent who said they experienced multiple injuries.

“President-elect Trump has identified protecting U.S. jobs as one of his top priorities,” Marcy Goldstein-Gelb, co-executive director of National COSH, said in a Dec. 8 press release. “We believe safety on the job is also crucial, so that every worker can go home safely at the end of his or her shift. If Andrew Puzder is nominated as secretary of labor, it’s important that Americans hear about his plans to reduce workplace illnesses, injuries and fatalities.”

Reps. Virginia Foxx (R-NC) and John Kline (R-MN) praised the selection.

“Andrew Puzder is a terrific choice to serve as the next secretary of labor,” Foxx, the incoming chair of the House Committee on Education and the Workforce, said in a Dec. 8 press release. “Through a long, distinguished career in the private sector, Mr. Puzder has a deep understanding of what it takes to create good-paying jobs and how federal policies can affect the ability of workers and employers to succeed.”

Added Kline, the committee’s current chairman: “His impressive record in the private sector will be extremely valuable as Congress continues to tackle the challenges facing working families and small businesses.”

But Janet Murguía, president and CEO of the National Council of La Raza, expressed deep skepticism over Puzder’s ability to lead.

“His company and its franchisees have been riddled with violations of labor laws covering their workers, many of whom are Latino and Latina,” she said in a Dec. 9 press release. “Much has been made of the president-elect’s support among working-class Americans, yet he has nominated someone who has repeatedly called into question the value of those workers.”

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