Donald Trump’s campaign often attempted to recall bygone American eras, and with his selection of Andrew Puzder, Trump is reaching all the way back to the late 19th century—the time of the robber barons. Puzder’s words and deeds reveal a belief that workers are useful only insofar as they serve capital’s interests. And he might soon be in charge of protecting workers’ rights nationwide.
Puzder is the chief executive of CKE restaurants, which franchises Hardee’s and Carl’s Jr. restaurants. In an interview with Business Insider last year, Puzder explained the potential benefits of automating his business: machines are “always polite, they always upsell, 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,” he said. (Upselling is a retail term for steering customers to more expensive products.)
He opposes the expanded overtime protections put into motion by Obama’s Labor Department, which would double the overtime threshold for salaried workers to $47,476. (The rule was recently halted, perhaps temporarily, by a federal court.) Puzder—who makes more in one day than his minimum-wage workers make in a year—said he would be forced to deny hourly workers any salaried management positions, and that the rule giving workers more money would be a “barrier to the middle class rather than a springboard.”
Puzder is against minimum-wage increases. (He does claim to be in favor of “rational” increases, but doesn’t explain what that would be; he opposed Obama’s efforts to raise the federal minimum wage to $10.10, so presumably less than that is “rational.”) He’s against paid sick leave. He’s against the Affordable Care Act. He’s heaped scorn on labor unions. He’s even against Medicaid and food stamps, which many of his poverty-wage workers rely on, because of a backward belief that “these programs have the unintended consequence of discouraging work rather than encouraging independence, self-reliance, and pride.”