Trump selects fast-food exec Andrew Puzder for Labor Secretary

Trump selects fast-food exec Andrew Puzder for Labor Secretary
Fast-food executive Andrew Puzder has been picked as Labor Secretary by president-elect Donald Trump. The head of a major fast-food holding company has been a harsh critic of raising the federal minimum wage to $15 an hour.

Puzder was a major campaign contributor to help get Trump elected. He runs CKE Restaurants, the holding company of Hardee’s and Carl’s Jr.

The fast-food leader has been critical of raising the federal minimum wage, arguing that it would increase costs for consumers and lead to fewer jobs. He is supportive of Trump’s plan to lower taxes for corporations and the wealthy, and loosening regulations for business. He believes those measures would lead to job creation.

Andy Puzder, a father of six children, is credited with resurrecting Hardee’s and turning CKE from a heavily indebted company with declining profits and sales to a profitable, stable and growing company.

He is co-author of the book, “Job Creation: How It Really Works and Why Government Doesn’t Understand It,” and is a frequent commentator on economic, political and legal issues.

Here are the top five things to know about Puzder.

Hardee’s HQ moves to Tennessee

CKE Restaurants announced in March, 2016 it was consolidating its operations in St. Louis and Santa Barbara and moving to Nashville, Tennessee, and was converting all its restaurants to franchise operations.

"Being highly franchised has…reduced our office space needs, and thus, made consolidating offices a more viable option,” said the company in a statement, according to St. Louis Today.

Tennessee is a state with no income tax. The Nashville Business Journal said at least six out of nine members of CKE’s management team had bought residences in the Nashville area. There was no information on how many people would lose their jobs in the consolidation or how many jobs would be created.

Opposes federal minimum wage increase

In 2014 the Economic Policy Institute found that the CEOs of America top 25 restaurant corporations took home an average of 721 times the money minimum-wage workers did.

Restaurants and food services employ nearly half of all American workers who earn the federal minimum wage of $7.25 per hour (or less).

Puzder told Yahoo Finance that raising the federal minimum would force companies like his to raise prices and ultimately reduce job opportunities for young and inexperienced workers. You can't solve the problem, he said, "by having the government artificially mandate a wage increase when there's no economic growth to support that."

Puzder – whose compensation totaled nearly $4.5 million in 2012, or 294 times what minimum-wage workers made that year – claimed that, according to Mother Jones "if government gets out of the way, businesses will create jobs…wages will go up and the country will go back to a state of prosperity instead of what we're in now."

Bikinis and Burgers

As the nation’s six largest burger chain, Pudzer repositioned Hardee’s and Carl Jr’s to attract heavy fast-feeders – young men – by sexing up the burger under an ad campaign dubbed ‘hot chicks eating burgers.’

In one, according to Franchise Times Paris Hilton is shown at a car wash, rubbing a few soapsuds onto a Bentley and lots more onto her bikini-clad body, then biting into a massive burger. Another shows a reality TV star wearing a gold lame bikini, stretched on the beach and devoured a Carl’s Jr Teriyaki Burger.

Franchise Times reported it was an odd juxtaposition for a burger chain started by an arch conservative member of the John Birch Society, far right, anti-communist group, and there was some criticism internally.

“Some of our franchisees, especially those in the Deep South, are open about their displeasure with our ads,” said Puzder. “But they’re the first ones slapping my back when sales are up.”

Marched on Washington

As a student Puzder paid his way through his first two years at Kent State where in May 1970 during a campus uprising, Ohio National Guardsmen killed four Kent State students and wounded nine more.

“I spent the next three years attending concerts and marching on Washington,” Puzder said, according to Franchise Times. He finished college in 1975 with a degree from Cleveland State, then attended law school.

Adoption rather than abortion

Puzder co-authored a paper in 1995 for the Common Ground Network for Life and Choice urging the government and private sector to encourage the wider acceptance of adoption rather an abortion.

“When adoption is a positive, productive and respected opinion, it enhances the choices available to pregnant women by making birth a more viable choice,” said the paper, according to The New York Times. Adding that “broader social acceptance of adoption may also reduce the number of abortions.”