President Trump’s nominee to lead the Department of Labor has pulled his name from consideration. Andrew Puzder, who is currently CEO of CKE Restaurants, was scheduled to appear before the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions tomorrow (February 16). He issued a statement today (February 15), which appears below, courtesy of The Washington Post:
After careful consideration and discussions with my family, I am withdrawing my nomination for secretary of labor. I am honored to have been considered by President Donald Trump to lead the Department of Labor and put America’s workers and businesses back on a path to sustainable prosperity. I want [to] thank President Trump for his nomination. I also thank my family and my many supporters—employees, businesses, friends and people who have voiced their praise and hopeful optimism for the policies and new thinking I would have brought to America as secretary of labor. While I won’t be serving in the administration, I fully support the president and his highly qualified team.
Puzder has been the subject of several protests, including one yesterday (February 14), and The Washington Post reported that Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) told the White House that Pudzer did not have enough votes to be confirmed. At least 12 Republican senators were reportedly planning to vote against him.
Labor activists have raised concerns regarding Puzder’s labor rights violations, opposition to an increase in minimum wage and past comments about robots making better employees than humans because, “They’re always polite, they always upsell, they never take a vacation, they never show up late, there’s never a slip-and-fall, or an age, sex or race discrimination case.” Congressmen have taken issue with his company’s racy advertisements and his dealings with an undocumented worker in his home, while some conservatives feel that his immigration stance does not line up with Trump’s.
The withdrawal comes hours after the Oprah Winfrey Network provided senators with video of Puzder’s ex-wife talking about the abuse he inflicted on her during their marriage. She has since recanted the allegations. While Winfrey did not send the video to the press, another of the guests on that episode of “The Oprah Winfrey Show” sent it to Politico.
Activists see the withdrawal as a win.
“When Donald Trump first tapped Andy Puzder to be labor secretary, fast-food workers told the president that if he sided with fast-food CEOs instead of fast-food workers, he’d be on the wrong side of history,” Darin Brooks, a Hardee’s worker and member of the Fight for $15’s Durham, North Carolina, chapter said in an emailed statement. “We rallied outside Puzder’s stores nationwide and showed America how his burger empire was built on low pay, wage theft, sexual harassment and intimidation. And today, we are on the right side of history. This is a major victory for the Fight for $15, but we can’t and won’t back down until the Trump Administration gives us a real labor secretary who will put working people over corporate profits.”