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Puzder Out: Fast Food CEO Drops Nomination to Head Labor Dept.

'This is welcome news for working people'

Andrea Germanos

Fast-food CEO Andy Puzder, President Donald Trump's pick to head the Labor Department, withdrew his nomination Wednesday afternoon.

"While I won't be serving in the administration, I fully support the President and his highly qualified team," Puzder said in a statement.

An unnamed source close to Puzder said to CBS News ahead of his formal statement that it was unlikely he would sit for his Senate confirmation hearing scheduled for Thursday because "I think he's very tired of the abuse."

RoseAnn DeMoro, executive director of National Nurses United, welcomed the news on Twitter, writing, "Puzder felt abused? Try working for him!"

His nomination drew fierce opposition, as fast food workers have said the stores he oversees, including Hardee's and Carl's Jr., have engaged in wage theft, discrimination, and sexual harassment. Current and former Labor Department employees also charged in a letter that Puzder has made "derisive public comments about his restaurants' employees and other low-wage workers."

Given his opposition to worker protections, said Food & Water Watch executive director Wenonah Hauter, "Installing him as Labor Secretary would have had extremely negative consequences for the safety of poultry workers and USDA inspectors who have had to endure intolerable conditions in plants that have been under investigation by OSHA."

Christine Owens, executive director of the National Employment Law Project, added Wednesday: "Americans support raising the minimum wage, expanding eligibility for overtime pay, ensuring safe and healthy workplaces, extending affordable healthcare, protecting workers' retirement savings, safeguarding the right to organize and bargain collectively, and creating good, family-sustaining jobs."

"On all of these issues," Owens said, "Mr. Puzder's record was the exact opposite of where most Americans stand. His loss of support in the Senate mirrors his lack of support in the public." 

Indeed, Senate Democrats had called for him to withdraw his name, and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) described him as "one of the most anti-worker nominees to any cabinet position, and probably the most anti-worker to the Department of Labor ever." 

The development "is welcome news for working people," said Heidi Shierholz, senior economist and director of policy at Economic Policy Institute. 

"It was abundantly clear from Mr. Puzder's rhetoric opposing basic labor laws and regulations that protect workers' rights and wages, as well as his record of violating those laws as an employer, that he was ill-suited for the role of chief advocate for working people. Americans need a labor secretary who respects the rule of law, who will work to raise wages and uphold basic labor protections like the minimum wage, paid leave, safe workplaces, and overtime pay. President Trump should nominate someone who will look out for working people, not the profits of big business or the incomes of the one percent," she continued.

Echoing that sentiment, Darin Brooks, a Hardee's worker and a member of Raise Up $15, the Fight for $15 chapter in Durham, N.C., declared that "we can't and won't back down until the Trump Administration gives us a real Labor Secretary who will put working people over corporate profits."

Seven Republican U.S. senators were reportedly withholding support for Puzder. He would have needed 50 votes to pass with a tie-breaking vote from Vice President Mike Pence.

* * *

To find out more about Puzder's views on worker pay, women, and the industry's reliance on undocumented workers, watch this Feb. 13 Democracy Now! interview with Saru Jayaraman of the Restaurant Opportunities Centers United:

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