With Andrew Puzder, President Trump’s nominee for Labor Secretary, set for a hearing before the U.S. Senate Thursday, workers in Minnesota and across the nation made a final effort to stop his confirmation.
Demonstrations were held in hundreds of communities Monday, according to Fight for 15, the group leading the opposition. They included a noon rally outside a Hardee’s restaurant in St. Paul.
Puzder is CEO of CKE, the company that owns Hardee’s and Carl’s Jr. fast food restaurants. As CEO, he has opposed minimum wage, paid sick time and overtime legislation. His company is currently being sued for wage theft and sexual harassment.
Members of CTUL, a Minneapolis-based worker center, said those problems make him unfit to be the nation’s top enforcer of labor law and worker protections.
“Putting this corporate giant into this office is offensive, as he is the head of a company that is one of the worst violators of workers’ rights in the country,” said Veronica Mendez Moore, co-director of CTUL.
The Washington Post reported Monday that four Republican senators “are still on the fence” regarding Puzder’s nomination, in part because of revelations that he employed a housekeeper who was undocumented. Puzder is scheduled to appear before the Senate’s Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee Thursday, the first step in the confirmation process.
Participants in Monday’s demonstration in St. Paul also criticized proposed state legislation that would prevent local governments from instituting their own labor protections. The law, if passed, would overturn earned sick and safe time ordinances in Minneapolis and St. Paul and thwart efforts to institute a $15 minimum wage in Minneapolis.
The Rev. Jonathan Zielske, pastor of 1st Presbyterian church in Claremont, Minn., called the preemption bill “a deplorable idea” and urged lawmakers to reject it on moral grounds. He represented ISAIAH, a faith organization that works for racial and economic equity.
“We have worked too hard, waited too long and we will not let right wing corporate interest groups take [the right to local action] away from us,” said Cacje Henderson of TakeAction Minnesota.
“This is our city. This is our state. It is time that our elected officials are held accountable to the needs of the working people.”