Fast Food Nation: Trump Set to Name Minimum Wage-Hating Burger Czar as Labor Secretary

Donald Trump is leaning toward naming a fast food CEO to a key position tasked with enforcing the country’s workplace laws.

Andrew Puzder, the head of Carl’s Jr. and Hardee’s, is expected to be named Trump’s Secretary of Labor, according to Thursday reports in both The New York Times and The Wall Street Journal.

Though Trump routinely promised to “drain the swamp,” during the presidential campaign, he would be nominating, in Puzder, a man whose industry allies stand to benefit immensely from the appointment. Puzder is currently on the board of the International Franchise Association, a trade lobbying group that has pushed for the maintenance of liberalized labor markets.

“Instead of focusing on stepping up workplace regulation to create jobs and higher wages, Mr. Puzder would likely call for tools such as an overhaul of the tax system,” a spokesperson for the organization told the Journal.

Puzder has been an outspoken critic of some of the Obama administration’s most prominent labor initiatives, including its joint-employer rule. The rule would close a loophole that allows major retail companies and fast food chains to skirt basic labor laws — by maintaining a network of franchises, run by independent contractors.

The burger magnate has also said the federal minimum wage should be no higher than $9 per hour, WSJ noted. In the past few years, labor organizers have been uniting with low-wage workers, including those from the fast food industry, to call on Congress to raise the federal minimum to $15 per hour. (If it kept pace with worker productivity, the federal floor would be more than $20 per hour.)

Puzder has also hit out at the Labor Department’s recent overtime rules, which would make 4.2 million salaried workers eligible for additional pay, when they work more than 40 hours per week. The rules, which are currently being held up in court, could end up seeing fast food restaurant managers entitled to higher pay.

The nomination of Puzder would represent the second major clash this week that Donald Trump has set up with organized labor.

On Wednesday night, he took to Twitter to lash out at a local union leader in Indiana who criticized the President-elect’s characterization of news that Carrier wouldn’t be sending 1,100 jobs to Mexico.

Chuck Jones, president of the United Steelworkers Local 1999, had accused Trump of exaggerating the number of US jobs saved by the air conditioning manufacturer, in an announcement touted by the incoming administration as an example of early success.

“The union leader said Trump appeared to be taking credit for rescuing 350 engineering positions that were never scheduled to leave,” The Washington Post reported Thursday. “Five hundred fifty of his members, he said, were still losing their jobs. And the company was still collecting millions of dollars in tax breaks.”

The paper reported that Jones started getting threatening messages on his phone, roughly 30 minutes after Trump said that Jones “has done a terrible job representing workers.”