WASHINGTON • With his Senate hearing looming Thursday, Labor Secretary-designate Andrew Puzder is seeing his supporters and opponents mobilize.
As minimum wage activists protested Monday against Puzder in St. Louis and other major cities, Sen. Elizabeth Warren published a 28-page letter attacking Puzder's record as a fast-food executive and asking him pointed questions about his potential conflicts of interest, allegations of sexual and racial discrimination in his restaurants and his willingness to enforce labor laws and regulations.
"Your long record of public comments reveals a sneering contempt for the workers in your stores, and a vehement opposition to the laws you will be charged with enforcing," wrote Warren, D-Mass. She sits on the committee scheduled Thursday to question Puzder, a former St. Louis attorney and CEO of CKE Restaurants, the parent company of Hardee's and Carl's Jr.
Meanwhile, more than 100 trade organizations signed onto a letter of public support for Puzder, including the American Farm Bureau Federation, several construction organizations, fast food associations and the Financial Services Roundtable.
"Mr. Puzder has seen, firsthand, the impact of burdensome regulations promulgated by the previous administration," the letter reads. "Being a respected, proven leader in an industry that represents approximately ten percent of the workforce gives him a unique set of qualifications."
Puzder's confirmation hearing has been delayed repeatedly while he completes his financial disclosures. Democrats worry that the committee vetting Puzder will repeat the process it used for Education Secretary Betsy DeVos, in which senators' questioning was limited to five minutes.
In St. Louis, about 100 opponents of Puzder's nomination marched in front of Hardee's headquarters in downtown St. Louis Monday afternoon around lunchtime. Hardee's has been based in downtown St. Louis for years, where the burger chain also has a restaurant, but is in the process of moving its headquarters to Nashville, where its parent company CKE is consolidating office space.
Participants in Monday's protest carried signs with Puzder's photo and the phrases "wage thief" and "tax cheat."
Lisa Brown of the Post-Dispatch contributed to this story from St. Louis.
Adam Aton • 202-298-6880
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