Labor unions and workers' rights advocates are pressuring President Donald Trump to drop his nominee for Labor Secretary, Andy Puzder, over the fast-food CEO's recent admission that he had hired an undocumented immigrant as a housekeeper.
The AFL-CIO, the nation's largest labor union, penned a letter (pdf) to Trump—signed by 128 progressive organizations, including the Service Employees International Union (SEIU), Jobs With Justice, and the NAACP—calling on him to ditch Puzder and pick "a suitable nominee who shows proper respect for working people and our nation's employment laws."
Puzder on Monday admitted that he had also failed to pay taxes on his housekeeper while she was in his employ, although he claimed he did not know of her immigration status at the time. He said he later fired her and has since paid back what he owed—but opponents say that's reason enough to drop him.
Indeed, they say, Puzder only repaid his taxes when his nomination was imminent.
"Mr. Puzder is an experienced attorney and a CEO of a major fast-food chain, so he cannot plausibly claim ignorance of his legal obligations as an employer," the letter reads. "We already have ample cause to doubt Mr. Puzder's fitness for the job as Secretary of Labor, and this latest news confirms our view that he should not be confirmed."
"If he cannot be trusted to follow even one of the most basic laws of employment in his own home, there is no way we can expect him to enforce the crucial laws the Department of Labor oversees on behalf of working people," it states.
Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) likewise called for Trump to withdraw Puzder's nomination, calling him "one of the most anti-worker nominees to any cabinet position, and probably the most anti-worker to the Department of Labor ever."
SCROLL TO CONTINUE WITH CONTENT
Get our best delivered to your inbox.
The letter comes just before large-scale protests against Puzder's nomination are scheduled to launch nationwide. The actions, organized by the workers' rights collective Fight for $15, will take place Monday, days before his confirmation hearing, which was rescheduled for the fifth time this week and is now set to take place February 16.
Puzder is the CEO of CKE Restaurants, which operates Hardee's and Carl's Jr., among other chains. Workers from several of Puzder's restaurants in January filed 33 complaints with state and federal agencies alleging wage theft, sexual harassment, and retaliation against organizing. His record continues to be a major rallying point for opponents.
"Andy Puzder is unfit to be Labor Secretary—period," said Angel Gallegos, a Carl's Jr. cashier from Los Angeles, California. "We're stepping up our fight to demand that Puzder withdraw his nomination, and if he won't, then the U.S. Senate should reject him. Working families need a real Labor Secretary who will fight for ordinary people, not powerful corporations."
Doreatha Hines, a Hardee's cashier from Orlando, Florida, said, "By picking Puzder, Donald Trump has shown that instead of taking on the rigged economy, he wants to rig it up even more."
"If Trump is going to be a president for the fast-food corporations instead of for the fast-food workers he is going to be on the wrong side of history," Hines said. "And one thing is for sure, whether Puzder's nomination is confirmed, denied or withdrawn: we won't back down for one minute in our demands for $15 an hour and union rights for all working Americans."