U.S. Labor Secretary nominee and billionaire fast food chain owner Andy Puzder has been slapped with 33 labor complaints—about wage theft, sexual harassment, and unfair labor practices—from cooks and cashiers at his own fast food chains, all filed on Thursday at state and federal agencies.
"If Andy Puzder can't be trusted to pay his workers what they've earned, why should we expect him to enforce laws meant to protect working Americans?"
Carl's Jr. cook
Cooks and cashiers who work for CKE Restaurants, Puzder's fast food conglomerate that includes the chains Hardee's and Carl's Jr., filed the complaints along with labor advocacy groups exactly one week before Puzder's confirmation hearing before the U.S. Senate.
"The filings reveal a restaurant chain rife with labor violations," wrote the Fight for $15 campaign in a press statement. "In Whittier, California, a worker went a full month without a paycheck. In Durham, N.C., workers were paid via debit card that included transaction fees that took hourly wages below the federal minimum wage of $7.25. In Oakland, California, a gay Carl's Jr. worker was repeatedly harassed by his manager, who told customers and co-workers that he 'likes boys' and used a feminized version of his name."
"Recently the restaurant I worked at went an entire month without paying me a dime, and they only agreed to pay me after I stopped coming to work in protest," said Angel Gallegos, a Carl's Jr. cook in Los Angeles, in a statement. "If Andy Puzder can't be trusted to pay his workers what they’ve earned, why should we expect him to enforce laws meant to protect working Americans?"
Fight for $15 adds:
In an interview last year, Puzder said he prefers machines to workers because they "never take a vacation, they never show up late, there's never a slip-and-fall, or an age, sex, or race discrimination case." And in a 2011 address to students at Westmont College, he detailed his hiring practices saying "In fast food, you sort of compete for the best of the worst," adding that at Hardee's his employees were "the worst of the worst."
"In addition to complaints by workers," the group writes, "local Fight for $15 chapters filed seven Unfair Labor Practices complaints against CKE franchisees for illegal surveillance, threats, and intimidation of workers. In one case, a franchisee sent an internal memo to employees stating that 'the press is NOT our friend' and that 'our franchise agreement with CKE' requires that 'no one in this franchise is to talk to any reporter or individual asking questions about our operations.'"
One filing specifically addresses the fact that CKE outsourced administrative positions to the Philippines, something the company acknowledges, which contradicts President Donald Trump's virulent rhetoric against outsourcing jobs to other countries. In fact, in this past week "Trump warned that he would impose a 'substantial border tax' on companies that move their manufacturing out of the United States," the Associated Press reports. "He also promised tax advantages to companies that produce products domestically."
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The filings came as workers in 31 cities protested against Puzder, marking the second series of nationwide protests by employees of CKE restaurants since Puzder's nomination as labor secretary.
Observers are sharing images and videos from the nationwide protests on Twitter:
— Clinton Wright (@clinton_wright) January 26, 2017
— Raise Up For $15 (@RaiseUpfor15) January 26, 2017
— Fight for $15 LA (@Fightfor15LA) January 26, 2017