President-elect Donald Trump intends to pick Andy Puzder, a fast-food executive, to serve as secretary of the Department of Labor, according to news reports.
Puzder is the CEO of CKE Restaurants, which is the parent company of Carl’s Jr. and Hardee’s. Upon receiving formal nomination from the president-elect following Trump’s inauguration, he’ll need to be confirmed by the Senate.
Puzder served as a senior policy adviser to Trump and also contributed to the real estate mogul during the campaign. He is also a former donor to The Heritage Foundation, the sister organization of The Daily Signal, having contributed in 2011 and 2014.
The restaurant executive has been the CEO of CKE Restaurants since September 2000, and over the years, he’s been vocal in opposing the Affordable Care Act and campaigns to raise the minimum wage.
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Both, he’s said in the past, negatively impact employment.
Democrats and labor unions have pushed for raising the federal minimum wage to $15 an hour, but opponents like Puzder say such an increase will lead to higher prices and fewer jobs.
Instead, the fast-food executive told CNBC in May that a $9 an hour minimum wage would have “minimal impact” on job losses. CKE Restaurants, he said, already pays its employees an average of $11 an hour.
In addition to speaking about how raising the minimum wage could lead to a reduction in employment opportunities, Puzder has also warned that wage hikes will cause more employers to turn to automation.
In a March interview with Business Insider, the fast-food executive said that restaurants are beginning to replace workers with machines in response to minimum wage hikes implemented at the state level.
During the interview, Puzder said automation wasn’t something he was ruling out at his own restaurants.
“With government driving up the cost of labor, it’s driving down the number of jobs,” he said. “You’re going to see automation not just in airports and grocery stores, but in restaurants.”
Puzder has also advocated eliminating regulations, many of which he said have prevented businesses in the restaurant industry—which represents 10 percent of the workforce—from growing.
During a 2011 event at The Heritage Foundation, Puzder lamented how regulations stifle innovation and growth, and he said that such rules are “dampening the entrepreneurial spirit.”
“Business is presently being held back by what’s called the uncertainty factor,” Puzder said at the time. “There are always uncertainties in a business plan. You never know exactly how things are going to work out. But in the current climate, you have absolutely no idea what could happen in the next five years. It’s extremely capricious.”
According to The New York Times, he has less government experience than any labor secretary since President Ronald Reagan’s administration.
In the early 1980s, Reagan selected Raymond Donovan, a construction executive, to lead the department.
Puzder has been involved in the restaurant industry since the early 1990s, when he first met Carl Karcher, the founder of Carl’s Jr.
In 1995, he became an executive vice president and general counsel for Fidelity National Financial and then served as the CEO of the Santa Barbara Restaurant Group.
The fast-food executive began working for CKE Restaurants in 1997, when he was named the company’s executive vice president and general counsel.
Now, as CEO of CKE Restaurants, Puzder and the company oversee more than 3,750 restaurants in the United States with more than 100,000 employees.
In addition to leading CKE Restaurants, Puzder also sits on the board of directors for the International Franchise Association, a trade group representing franchise establishments.
In 2010, Puzder co-wrote the book “Job Creation: How It Really Works and Why Government Doesn’t Understand It.”
Puzder graduated with a law degree from Washington University School of Law. He lives in Franklin, Tennessee, with his wife, Dee. They have six children.