(Adds details on lawsuits, comment from supporter, context on
By Lisa Baertlein and Sarah N. Lynch
LOS ANGELES/WASHINGTON Jan 12 The union-backed
"Fight for $15" movement protested at Carl's Jr and Hardee's
restaurants on Thursday in a bid to stop the chains' head, a
vocal opponent of minimum wage increases and "overregulation,"
from becoming U.S. labor secretary.
Senate leadership has pushed back the confirmation hearing
of Andrew Puzder to February from a tentative date of Jan. 17.
Puzder, 66, leads CKE Restaurants Inc. For years, he has
said Obama administration policies have saddled industry with
higher costs and contributed to a "government-mandated
An enthusiastic supporter of President-elect Donald Trump,
Puzder has spoken against efforts to raise the minimum wage to
$15 and is widely expected to roll back policies such as those
aimed at curbing unpaid overtime and improving worker safety.
The four-year-old "Fight for $15" movement has helped win
big minimum wage hikes in California and New York. It also seeks
to unionize restaurant workers.
The restaurant industry is the biggest U.S. employer of
minimum wage workers, and CKE's restaurants, like many others,
have been cited or sued for violating wage and safety rules.
"If Puzder is confirmed as labor secretary, it will mean the
Trump years will be about low pay ... instead of making lives
better for working Americans like me," said Terrance Dixon, 32,
who makes $9 per hour at a St. Louis Hardee's.
Puzder was unavailable for comment. He recently resigned
from the International Franchise Association's board. That
industry group represents companies like CKE and McDonald's Corp
and has urged its 15,000 members to lobby on Puzder's
"These protests distract from the real issues at hand for
our nation's leaders - how to create economic growth at all
levels, which is the only real solution to income inequality in
America," said Matt Haller, IFA's senior vice president of
Senate Democrats including Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts
held a hearing on Tuesday after Republican rivals rebuffed their
request to bring witnesses to Puzder's upcoming confirmation
The protestor-packed event included testimony from Laura
McDonald, 51, who was a general manager at a CKE-owned Carl's Jr
restaurant in California from 1988 until 2012.
She has joined two potential California class-action wage
and hour lawsuits against CKE, which during her tenure switched
general managers from salaried to hourly workers. In 2004, CKE
paid $9 million to settle California lawsuits claiming unpaid
overtime for general managers.
"When CKE made general managers into hourly employees, it
set our wages so low that we had to work 47-1/2 hours a week
just to earn the same money we've been being paid as a salary,"
A transition official accused Democrats of running a smear
campaign and lauded Puzder as a successful businessman.
Puzder opponents face stiff odds when it comes to derailing
his confirmation by the Republican-controlled Senate. The last
six incoming presidents made 109 Cabinet-level appointments and
just six picks did not go on to win Senate approval, according
to an analysis by the website FiveThirtyEight.
(Reporting by Lisa Baertlein in Los Angeles, Sarah Lynch and
Robert Iafolla in Washington; Editing by Andrew Hay)