Thursday, February 16, 2017

Trump looses Puzder

The fast-food executive Andrew F. Puzder withdrew his nomination to be labor secretary on Wednesday as Republican senators turned sharply against him, the latest defeat for a White House besieged by infighting and struggling for traction even with a Republican-controlled Congress.

The toppling of one of President Trump’s cabinet picks was a victory for Democrats, unions and liberal groups that had been attacking Mr. Puzder’s business record and his character since he was chosen in December. Conservative publications, including National Review and Breitbart, had also expressed resistance, zeroing in on Mr. Puzder’s employment of an undocumented immigrant as his housekeeper.

And records from his 1988 divorce, disseminated Tuesday night by opponents, resurfaced spousal abuse accusations that made some Republican senators uncomfortable. His ex-wife had recanted those accusations, but senators from both parties privately screened a videotape from “The Oprah Winfrey Show” that featured her laying out the charges while in disguise.

The opposition from Republicans was broad, and the reasons varied. Among the senators who expressed concerns were John Thune of South Dakota, Rob Portman of Ohio, Thom Tillis of North Carolina, Susan Collins of Maine, Johnny Isakson of Georgia, Lisa Murkowski of Alaska and Tim Scott of South Carolina, more than enough to scuttle the nomination.

Democrats cheered Mr. Puzder’s withdrawal as a victory for working Americans. The Labor Department regulates workplace safety, enforces wage and hour laws, maintains unemployment and payroll data, and is generally seen as an advocate for workers. Mr. Puzder, at the helm of his fast-food company, ardently opposed the Affordable Care Act, cast a skeptical eye on minimum wage and overtime rules, and pledged an assault on regulations that he said in his withdrawal statement would “put America’s workers and businesses back on a path to sustainable prosperity.”

Some critics also cast him as sexist, denouncing fast-food advertisements he championed that featured bikini-clad women eating monstrous hamburgers.

“The simple truth is that, given his relationship to employees at the companies he runs, he was not fit to lead a department responsible for defending workers’ rights,” said Senator Bernie Sanders, an independent from Vermont who ran for the Democratic presidential nomination last year.

Senator Chuck Schumer, the Democratic leader, called on Mr. Trump to nominate someone who supported the rights of workers rather than suppressed them.

Richard L. Trumka, President of AFL-CIO had sent the following message to US Senators

The Labor Department’s most important accomplishment in the area of retirement security is finalizing its “fiduciary rule,” which requires that retirement investment advice be in the client’s best interest, not tainted by the advisor’s conflicts of interest. One analysis found that retirement savers lose as much as $17 billion a year from financial advisors’ conflicted advice. 

The retirement savings plan of Pudzer’s corporation gives us little confidence that he will be supportive of this long-overdue rule, since it evidences little commitment to workers’ retirement security.  Since 2011, there have been no employer contributions; it carries high-fee investments, has low participation, and is generally inferior to many of its counterpart plans in the fast food industry.

Last, we believe it sends a terrible message to the working women of this country to put a leader in charge of the Labor Department who boasts about his company’s advertisements featuring scantily clad women. The Labor Department enforces numerous laws protecting the rights of working women. They deserve a champion of women’s workplace rights at the helm of the Labor Department—not somebody with offensive and misguided views.

The record is clear. Andrew Puzder is in no way an appropriate candidate to head the U.S. Department of Labor. We urge you to reject his nomination.

Thank you for your consideration of our views.

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