The confirmation hearing for President Donald Trump’s labor secretary nominee promises to be one of the better shows of Trump’s cabinet rollout ― and the anticipation keeps building.
Senate Republicans announced Thursday that the hearing for Andrew Puzder, the chief executive CKE Restaurants, would be pushed back yet again. Puzder, whose company owns the Hardee’s and Carl’s Jr. burger chains, was originally slated to go before a Senate committee last month. The meeting was then delayed to Feb. 2, and now it’s been moved to Feb. 7.
The postponement happened just as Senate Democrats sent Puzder a missive noting that they still had not received his paperwork detailing any conflicts of interest he may have as labor secretary. Naturally, lawmakers want to be aware of any potential ethical problems before they have the opportunity to publicly question Puzder.
Sen. Patty Murray (D-Wash.), ranking member of the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions, basically told Puzder they were tired of waiting.
“You assured me your paperwork was already complete and that you expected it to arrive by the end of that week,” Murray wrote in her letter, which was first reported by the Washington Post. “Unfortunately, the HELP Committee is still waiting.”
On the same day, a labor-backed campaign opposing Puzder’s nomination announced that Hardee’s and Carl’s Jr. workers had submitted more than 30 workplace complaints involving the chains’ restaurants to federal and state agencies. The filings included wage-and-hour complaints with the Labor Department and discrimination complaints with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, as well as allegations of unfair labor practices under the National Labor Relations Board.
Puzder’s company provides Democrats with a rich target on the labor front, since it has previously run afoul of minimum wage and overtime law and workplace safety standards. As with all fast food companies, workers have claimed that CKE Restaurants and its partner franchisees have stiffed them on their wages over the years. In one case, a CKE subsidiary had to pay nearly $60,000 to a group of Hardee’s workers who weren’t fully compensated for the overtime they’d worked, the Labor Department found.
If he is confirmed as labor secretary, Puzder would be responsible for enforcing the very laws his company has been found to have violated.
One of the complaints announced Thursday involves Hardees’ practice of paying workers with debit cards that are accompanied with transaction fees, a problem first reported by HuffPost earlier this month. The Labor Department previously found that the debit fees pushed the pay of some Hardee’s workers in Alabama below the minimum wage. One of the new complaints alleges the same practice is currently in use at a Hardee’s in North Carolina.
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