January 05, 2017

Kaine: Puzder Confirmation Hearing Must Include Outside Witnesses To Speak To His Treatment Of Workers

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, U.S. Senator Tim Kaine, a member of the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee, joined 22 of his colleagues in sending a letter to Chairman Lamar Alexander calling for the confirmation hearing for Secretary of Labor nominee Andrew Puzder to include outside witnesses who can provide the Committee with knowledge of and context on Puzder's business practices and values regarding the treatment of workers.

"Mr. Puzder's tenure at CKE and his company's treatment of thousands of working families "bear directly" on his qualifications and suitability to serve as Secretary of Labor," wrote the Senators.  "In addition to numerous violations of wage protection laws, the company is facing "several potential class action lawsuits" by its employees regarding disputes over wages and meal and rest breaks. Other allegations at CKE restaurants have raised concerns about compliance with health and safety standards.

"If confirmed to serve as Secretary of Labor, Mr. Puzder would be responsible for overseeing the enforcement of many of the labor laws his company has repeatedly violated, including the Fair Labor Standards Act and the Occupational Safety and Health Act. These federal laws are designed to ensure that American workers are paid fairly for their work, are able to work in a safe environment, and can achieve financial security for themselves and their families. Fully understanding Mr. Puzder's tenure at CKE, where he oversees 20,000 workers, is critical to assessing his fitness to serve as the nation's top enforcement official for labor laws that protect more than 150 million American workers."

The full text of the letter is available below

January 5, 2017

The Honorable Lamar Alexander
Chairman
Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions
United States Senate
Washington, DC 20510

Dear Chairman Alexander:

            We ask that the Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee's ("HELP Committee") hearing on the nomination of Andrew Puzder to serve as Secretary of Labor include witnesses who can provide the Committee with knowledge of and context on Mr. Puzder's business practices and values regarding the treatment of workers.  As you know, Mr. Puzder is the CEO of CKE Restaurants, Inc. (CKE), a company that owns several popular fast food franchises, including Hardee's and Carl's Jr., two companies where Department of Labor investigations have turned up violations of basic protections of workers' rights in more than half of inspections. It is essential that the Committee hear from these employees and other Americans who have had first-hand experience with Mr. Puzder or the businesses he has led.

The HELP Committee has an obligation to hear from these witnesses. The Constitution authorizes the President to appoint officers of the United States "by and with the advice and consent of the Senate." Consistent with that constitutional mandate, Senate HELP Committee Rule 18 states that the purview of the Committee's consideration of Presidential nominees includes "information relating to financial and other background of the nominee, to be made public when the committee determines that such information bears directly on the nominee's qualifications to hold the position to which the individual is nominated."

            Mr. Puzder's tenure at CKE and his company's treatment of thousands of working families "bear directly" on his qualifications and suitability to serve as Secretary of Labor. In addition to numerous violations of wage protection laws, the company is facing "several potential class action lawsuits" by its employees regarding disputes over wages and meal and rest breaks. Other allegations at CKE restaurants have raised concerns about compliance with health and safety standards.

If confirmed to serve as Secretary of Labor, Mr. Puzder would be responsible for overseeing the enforcement of many of the labor laws his company has repeatedly violated, including the Fair Labor Standards Act and the Occupational Safety and Health Act. These federal laws are designed to ensure that American workers are paid fairly for their work, are able to work in a safe environment, and can achieve financial security for themselves and their families. Fully understanding Mr. Puzder tenure at CKE, where he oversees 20,000 workers, is critical to assessing his fitness to serve as the nation's top enforcement official for labor laws that protect more than 150 million American workers.

To fulfill the Senate's constitutional duty, the HELP Committee should hear testimony from a broad range of individuals familiar with Mr. Puzder and his business practices. We hope you will work with us to ensure that Mr. Puzder's nomination hearing before the HELP Committee includes these voices.

Sincerely,

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