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"Sadly, that's the America Trump and Puzder believe in: an America where workers give everything to an employer, and in return, receive nothing." (Photo: Getty)

'Unfit for the Job': Puzder's Personal and Professional Records Under Fire

"How can anyone—especially members of the U.S. Senate—still think he is qualified to lead the Labor Department?"

Deirdre Fulton

With President Donald Trump's Labor secretary pick, fast-food CEO Andy Puzder, facing increasing scrutiny and a growing opposition campaign, four GOP senators are reportedly "withholding judgement" on the controversial nominee. 

According to CNN reporter Manu Raju on Tuesday, Republican Sens. Susan Collins (Maine), Lisa Murkowski (Alaska), Tim Scott (S.C.), and Johnny Isakson (Ga.) are "all withholding judgment on Puzder's nomination after he revealed he hired undocumented immigrant."

That revelation came Monday in a statement from Puzder:

My wife and I employed a housekeeper for a few years, during which I was unaware that she was not legally permitted to work in the U.S. When I learned of her status, we immediately ended her employment and offered her assistance in getting legal status. We have fully paid back taxes to the IRS and the state of California and submitted all required paperwork.

As news outlets have noted, similar admissions have torpedoed previous nominees' chances in the past. 

Labor advocates said the revelations raised more questions about his fitness for the post. 

"Puzder wants to be the chief enforcer of the nation's labor laws, but his history of flouting those laws makes it clear that he is unfit for the job," wrote Economic Policy Institute vice president Ross Eisenbrey on Tuesday. "Puzder's violations of immigration law make him a strange choice to be a cabinet officer in President Donald Trump's administration, given the president's near hysteria about the presence of undocumented immigrant workers in the United States."

And in her statement about the news, National Employment Law Project executive director Christine Owens asked, "How can anyone—especially members of the U.S. Senate—still think he is qualified to lead the Labor Department?"

Also giving Puzder trouble is a "brutally damning" essay published Tuesday at the Washington Post.

"The headlines ponder what [Puzder's nomination] may mean for working people in America, but I already know," wrote JoAnn Wise, who worked for 21 years at Hardee's, one of the major restaurants in Puzder's CKE Restaurants orbit. 

Wise continued:

I already know what Trump/Puzder economics look like because I'm living it every day. Despite giving everything I had to Puzder's company for 21 years, I left without a penny of savings, with no healthcare, and no pension. Now, while I live in poverty, Trump, who promised to fix the rigged economy, has chosen for labor secretary someone who wants to rig it up even more. He's chosen the chief executive of a company who recently made more than $10 million in a year, while I'm scraping by on Supplemental Security payments.

The cooks and cashiers at Hardee's and Carl's Jr. are the reason Puzder can take home more than $10 million in a single year and live in a plush mansion with movie star neighbors—while his workers like me skip meals to pay our rent and are forced to live in homeless shelters.

We are their corporate strategy: Pay us as little as legally allowed, steal from our meager paychecks as needed, and force us onto public assistance to get by. Sadly, that's the America Trump and Puzder believe in: an America where workers give everything to an employer, and in return, receive nothing. Their America means that an older woman in retirement fighting a chronic illness has to rely on Supplemental Security Income to survive.

Among those drawing attention to Wise's op-ed was Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), who sits on the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions—where Puzder will eventually appear for his confirmation hearing. The hearing has been postponed multiple times.

The Los Angeles Times reports:

Sen. Patty Murray (D-Wash.), the top Democrat on the committee, did not address the housekeeper issue directly Tuesday. But she said Puzder had "a lot of explaining to do."

"Eight weeks and four canceled hearing dates since his nomination was announced, we still have yet to see a single shred of paperwork from Mr. Puzder—but what we have heard is story after story about how he spent his career squeezing workers for profit, leaving many with lost wages, no financial security and no retirement," she said.

Meanwhile, Puzder opponents took the occasion of Tuesday's 24th anniversary of the Family Medical Leave Act to bolster their campaign against the nominee, whom they said would weaken such critical worker protections. 

Others tweeted about Puzder under the hashtag #AntiLaborSecretary:

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