President-elect Donald Trump will name fast-food executive Andy Puzder to head the U.S. Department of Labor, according to a source familiar with the matter, in an appointment likely to antagonize organized labor.
Puzder, chief executive of CKE Restaurants Inc., which operates the Carl’s Jr. and Hardee’s fast-food chains, has been a vociferous critic of government regulation of the workplace.
Puzder frequently publishes commentary and gives media interviews in which he argues that a higher minimum wage would hurt workers by forcing restaurants to close and praises the benefits of automation in the fast-food industry.
Fast-food workers, who are largely not unionized, are engaged in a multi-year campaign known as the “Fight for $15,” which is supported by labor unions, to raise minimum wages to $15 per hour. They have garnered state-wide successes in New York and California and in cities and municipalities such as Seattle.
The selection of Puzder, first reported by The Wall Street Journal, was expected to be announced soon, the source said.
Trump transition spokesman Jason Miller, when asked on a daily briefing call about Puzder, did not address him directly but said there would be “additional cabinet information” released later on Thursday. Puzder did not respond to requests seeking comment.
Trump’s decision to tap Puzder as the chief of the country’s largest labor agency, which regulates wages, safety and discrimination in the workplace, comes as the president-elect is engaged in a Twitter brawl with the head of a local United Steelworkers union in Indiana.
United Steelworkers Local 1999 President Chuck Jones, who represents workers at United Technologies Corp’s Carrier plant in Indianapolis, criticized Trump for inflating the number of jobs that would be saved by his intervention in the company’s decision to move some production to Mexico.
Trump posted on Twitter that Jones has done a “terrible job representing workers.” Some of the president-elect’s supporters sent Jones death threats.
Jones said, after speaking to the company, that 800 jobs will remain in Indianapolis and 730 of those will be union jobs, with another 70 management positions. But Trump said last week during an appearance at the Carrier plant that a deal made by Indiana to give the company $7 million in tax breaks would keep 1,100 jobs in the region.
“Our people, at that point in time, got their hopes back up that they might have a job,” Jones told CNBC on Thursday. “I’ve said at every interview that I’m grateful for President-elect Trump getting involved — without his involvement these 800 jobs would not remain in Indianapolis.”
“All he had to do is come back and say I was misled by (United Technologies) … instead of doing that he goes on the attack on me?” Jones added.