February 13, 2017

Warren Releases Questions for Secretary of Labor Nominee Andrew Puzder Regarding Conflicts of Interest, his Public Opposition to Vital Protections for Workers, CKE’s Labor Violations, and More

Text of the letter available here (PDF)

Washington, DC - United States Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) today sent a 28-page letter to Secretary of Labor nominee Andrew Puzder, asking for information about Mr. Puzder's conflicts of interest and his plans for addressing conflicts of interest with the numerous companies of President Trump's that are regulated by the Department of Labor (DOL), his opposition to minimum wage laws and other vital protections for workers and families, and his company's prolific history of labor and discrimination suits. This letter follows a January forum in which 17 senators heard testimony from current and former employees who detailed his company's history of worker mistreatment and abuse.

"My staff's review of your 16-year tenure as CEO of CKE Restaurants, Inc., the parent company of Hardee's and Carl's Jr., reveals that you've made your fortune by squeezing the very workers you'd be charged with protecting as Labor Secretary out of wages and benefits," Senator Warren wrote. "Your company's record of prolific labor law abuses and discrimination suits - the most of any major burger chain - gives me great pause given that as Labor Secretary you'd be charged with enforcing these very laws. Further, the painful first-hand accounts of these abuses by the workers in your company and its franchises that have surfaced since your nomination (including three accounts from workers I heard from in person at a public forum) should sound an alarm for every member of the committee and the Senate."

The letter continued: "In addition to your role as CEO at CKE, 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."

"Unfortunately, despite repeated requests from me and my Democratic colleagues on the committee, and contrary to established committee precedent, the Republican Chairman has only allowed a few minutes for questions in previous confirmation hearings this Congress," Senator Warren noted. "To ensure that the Senate and the public can obtain answers about your readiness for this job and determine whether you are indeed qualified for this position, this letter contains my additional questions."

The 28-page letter contains 83 questions for Mr. Puzder, covering his personal conflicts of interest and conflicts regarding the companies of President Trump's that are regulated by DOL; his opposition to important protections for American workers including workplace health and safety standards; gender- and race-based discrimination at his company and its franchises; and his ability to enforce the law against all employers, including President Trump.

Sen. Warren sent similar letters to three previous nominees: HHS Secretary Tom Price, Education Secretary Betsy DeVos, and HUD Secretary nominee Dr. Ben Carson.