The Progressive


A project of Common Dreams

For Immediate Release

Days Before Confirmation Hearing, Fight for $15 to Flood Hardee's, Carl's Jr. Restaurants Nationwide Declaring Trump Labor Nominee Unfit to Serve

Restaurant Workers to Turn up Heat on Embattled Andy Puzder In Protests at CKE’s Corporate Offices in Anaheim, Hardee’s Headquarters in St. Louis  


Days before a U.S. Senate committee hearing, the working Americans in the Fight for $15 movement will Monday escalate its opposition to Andy Puzder's nomination as labor secretary with its most militant and disruptive protests yet against President Trump's pick.

Hundreds of cooks and cashiers from multiple states will converge on Hardee's corporate headquarters in St. Louis, Mo., while hundreds more will descend on CKE corporate offices in Anaheim, Calif. In two dozen other cities, food service workers will protest at Hardee's Carl's Jr. and McDonald's restaurants. McDonald's CEO recently expressed support for Puzder despite an escalating series of unsavory revelations and complaints against the beleaguered nominee.

"Andy Puzder is unfit to be Labor Secretary - period," said Angel Gallegos, a Carl's Jr. cashier from Los Angeles, Calif. "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."

Working people announced the protests as Puzder revealed he can't even follow the law in his own home. This week, Puzder admitted that he didn't pay legally required taxes for his housekeeper for many years and that he only paid up when pressured to do so because of his nomination.

At the protests, workers will carry signs that read, "Andy Puzder: Worst of the Worst CEOs" and "Puzder: I Pay My Taxes, Why Don't You Pay Yours?"

The wave of protests will mark the third time that workers in the Fight for $15 have taken to the streets in protest against President Trump's nomination of Puzder. In late January, people who work at CKE brand stores filed 33 complaints with state and federal agencies alleging wage theft, sexual harassment, and retaliation and intimidation against workers trying to organize on the job.

Puzder's restaurants have a long and troubled history of worker abuse. In 60 percent of Department of Labor investigations since 2009, CKE restaurants and franchises were found to have violated wage and hour laws. Since Puzder became CEO of CKE in 2000, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, which falls under the DOL, has found 98 safety violations at Carl's Jr. and Hardee's locations, with 36 of them capable of causing death or grave physical harm. Capital & Main reported that, under Puzder's tenure as CEO, Carl's Jr. and Hardee's have been hit with more federal employment discrimination lawsuits than any other major U.S. hamburger chain.

According to CKE's latest financial disclosures, Puzder makes as much as $10 million a year, which means he makes more in one day than he pays his minimum wage workers in one year. Despite this, he has been an outspoken opponent of minimum wage hikes, spending $10,000 of his own money in 2006 to block a Nevada ballot initiative raising the minimum wage to just $6.15. He's shown open contempt for men and women who work in his restaurants, calling them "the worst of the worst." A report from the National Employment Law Project estimated Puzder's low pay costs taxpayers $250 million a year in public assistance.

Puzder has also opposed basic protections and working Americans' rights, like meal and rest breaks for employees working long hours. He has even said he would like to replace Carl's Jr. workers with machines 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." Puzder has also supported repealing the Affordable Care Act and cuts to Medicaid, even while he forces his own workers to rely on these programs by denying them health care.

"By picking Puzder, Donald Trump has shown that instead of taking on the rigged economy, he wants to rig it up even more," said Doreatha Hines, a Hardee's cashier from Orlando, Fla. "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. 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."

Fast food workers are coming together all over the country to fight for $15 an hour and the right to form a union without retaliation. We work for corporations that are making tremendous profits, but do not pay employees enough to support our families and to cover basic needs like food, health care, rent and transportation.