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Trump's labor pick rejects hikes in minimum wage

By Noam Scheiber

President-elect Donald Trump on Thursday chose Andrew F. Puzder, chief executive of the company that franchises the fast-food outlets Hardee’s and Carl’s Jr. and an outspoken critic of the worker protections enacted by the Obama administration, to be secretary of labor.

“Andy Puzder has created and boosted the careers of thousands of Americans, and his extensive record fighting for workers makes him the ideal candidate to lead the Department of Labor,” Trump said in a statement.

Puzder, 66, fits the profile of some of Trump’s other domestic Cabinet appointments. He is a wealthy businessman and political donor and has a long record of promoting a conservative agenda that takes aim at President Barack Obama’s legacy. And more than the other appointments, he resembles Trump in style.

Puzder seems to delight in bashing elites – he complained that “big corporate interests” and “globalist companies” were supporting Hillary Clinton in the presidential election – and is prone to the occasional streak of political incorrectness.

On policy questions, he has argued that the Obama administration’s recent rule expanding eligibility for overtime pay diminishes opportunities for workers and that significant minimum wage increases would hurt small businesses and lead to job losses.

He has criticized paid sick leave policies of the sort recently enacted for federal contractors and strongly supports repealing the Affordable Care Act, which he says has created a “government-mandated restaurant recession” because rising premiums have left people with less money to spend dining out.

Speaking to Business Insider this year, Puzder said that increased automation could be a welcome development because machines were “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.”

And on the political incorrectness front, Puzder’s company, CKE Restaurants, runs advertisements that frequently feature women wearing next to nothing while gesturing suggestively. “I like our ads,” he told the publication Entrepreneur. “I like beautiful women eating burgers in bikinis. I think it’s very American.”

Richard L. Trumka, president of the AFL-CIO, said Puzder was “a man whose business record is defined by fighting against working people.”

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