Trumka on Trump's Labor Pick: ‘A Delay Shouldn’t be a Problem’

WASHINGTON – AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka signaled that he would support efforts to “delay” CKE Restaurants CEO Anthony Puzder from becoming Labor secretary in the Trump administration.

“To hold a hearing before all pertinent and relevant information is in delegitimizes the hearing itself and the confirmation process. A delay shouldn’t be a problem with this Senate given how they have treated Merrick Garland. His hearing was delayed slightly as well,” Trumka said on a conference call held to voice opposition to Puzder.

Trumka called on Puzder to release CKE’s contracts with Hardees and Carl’s Jr. franchises across the country as a way to show the public CKE’s labor policies and practices.

“The Labor Department directly touches the lives of our 12.5 million members and all working people – paychecks, safe workplaces, the ability for working people to express our legal right on the job, those things are real and they are all on the line. Unless these legitimate concerns are addressed, we will vigorously oppose Mr. Puzder’s nomination,” he said.

Sen. Patty Murray (D-Wash.) argued that Puzder is “unqualified” for the position.

“By nearly every measure, Andrew Puzder appears to be a uniquely unqualified choice and stands against the very mission of the department he has been selected to lead. Workers deserve a secretary of Labor whose priority is higher wages and good jobs for workers, not profits for big corporations that come at workers’ expense,” Murray said.

“They deserve to have all of the facts about Mr. Puzder – his position statements and his history as CEO of CKE restaurants. So, I fully expect a very rigorous and thorough confirmation hearing. Mr. Puzder is going to have to explain his vision of an economy and country that benefits those already at the top that leaves our workers further and further behind,” she added.

Trumka criticized Puzder for opposing a federal minimum wage increase.

"He opposes raising the minimum wage. He says overtime pay is a barrier to the middle class. That doesn't even make sense and it leaves me wondering if Mr. Puzder has received his appointment from Mr. Trump to achieve the exact opposite of what the Labor Department was created to do. And that's a very serious question. It's one we intend to get to the bottom of," he said.

Puzder said last May he is not opposed to raising the minimum wage “rationally.”

“I’m opposed to raising it to the point where lower-skilled workers, working-class Americans, young people, minorities, are losing the jobs they need to get on the ladder of success,” he said on the Fox Business Network.

Other unions have been critical of Puzder’s nomination.

"Working Americans aren't fooled by the anti-worker Trump-Puzder vision for America. They know it threatens their ability to have a voice and to provide for their families. That is why millions of American workers continue to come together through the Fight for $15 movement to make President-elect Trump and his administration deal with our economic reality,” said SEIU International President Mary Kay Henry.

“Together, workers in the Fight for $15 movement have made the kind of economic change America is crying out for by paving the way for 20 million people to get a raise. SEIU members will not back down; we will stay in the streets to fight back against anti-worker extremism and we will not stop until all work is valued and every community in America has the opportunity to thrive,” she added.

NEA President Lily Eskelsen García argued that Pudzer would support replacing people with machines.

“President-Elect Donald Trump’s selection of Andrew F. Pudzer to lead the U.S. Department of Labor again shows how out of touch he is with what ails American working families. Trump promised to stand with families, bring back jobs, restore the middle class, and get the nation on stronger economic footing. With Andrew Pudzer at the helm, the incoming Trump administration is abandoning its campaign promises and, instead, is signaling its intention to systematically dismantle worker protections that support working families,” García said.

“Like Trump, Pudzer has an abysmal track record of undermining the very workers on whom he has relied to build his business empire. In addition to outsourcing their jobs and opposing raising the minimum wage, Pudzer would replace people with machines. Not only does this hurt families but it takes away the dignity of their work. That’s not what Trump campaigned on,” she added.