In the latest in a series of controversial cabinet appointments, President-elect Donald Trump has named former fast-food executive Andrew “Andy” Puzder as secretary of labor.
Trump’s pick for secretary is a former CEO of CKE Restaurants, and according to the Wall Street Journal, he will likely take an active role in helping “peel back workplace regulations.”
The secretary of labor’s former company, CKE, is the parent company of fast-food chains Carl’s Jr. and Hardee’s. It was during his stint there that Puzder vocally opposed regulations he claimed could stunt the U.S. restaurant industry, which is believed to represent 10 percent of the total American workforce.
As Trump’s labor secretary, Puzder would be tasked with handling various regulations — pushed through by Obama’s staff — that are designed to “boost workers’ wages and rights as a way to expand the middle class,” per the WSJ’s Michael Bender.
It was this notion — which focused on improving the lifestyles of allegedly underpaid workers in low-earning sectors — that served as a pillar of Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders’ campaign. That very tenet was then later adopted by Hillary Clinton upon fearing she might fall behind in primary polling. It was also made a rallying cry by Democrats and various aligned union groups that hoped to adjust the pay-floor for a number of lower-paying jobs.
Secretary Puzder, however, stands in a stark contrast to that movement.
While serving as an adviser to Donald Trump’s campaign, the future labor secretary was an active lobbyist against raising the federal minimum wage higher than $9 per hour.
Trump’s crew, however, seems intent on standing firm in backing he new secretary of labor in spite of the harsh liberal media accusations that have been thrown against him.
While Trump spokesperson Jason Miller declined to comment on Puzder’s official nomination to the secretary of labor post, he did, per the WSJ, call him “an excellent advocate for the president-elect and his economic message.”
“[Puzder’s] someone who is both a job creator and understands what we need to do to help get our economy moving for everybody,” added Miller.
Regardless of the sentiment toward Trump’s new secretary, however, most observers see Puzder’s nomination as having little effect on the tide of U.S. states adopting new minimum wage legislation.
While the new labor secretary is expected to delete or, in some cases, roll back or less stringently enforce some regulations, Trump’s new pick will likely be able to do little more than advise against it.
As the Journal’s Bender noted, Trump’s secretary of labor could only “warn against substantial increases in minimum wage.”
“[Labor Secretary Puzder] wouldn’t have the power to roll back the wave of increases in states and localities over the past two years such as in Seattle, Washington, D.C., and New York. In November, minimum-wage increases were approved across four states, putting that issue and others intended to support lower-wage workers back on the table.”
That issue — and Labor Secretary Puzder’s ability or inability to address it on a state-by-state basis — however, is a theoretical “besides the point” for those who object to the latest Trump administration’s pick.
“It’s hard to think of anyone less suited for the job of lifting up America’s forgotten workers,” said National Employment Law Project executive director Christine Owens.
NELP is an organization, backed by unions, that specifically fights for low-wage workers.
Owens continued, “[Labor Secretary] Puzder will be there for his low-wage-industry CEO buddies, who are now salivating over the prospect of rolling back the Obama administration’s efforts to raise pay for low-wage workers, improve workplace safety, and increase corporate accountability.”
And, if nothing else, many believe that this end result will create more years of stalled progress.
[Featured Image by Drew Angerer/Getty Images]