WASHINGTON — Fast food executive Andrew Puzder, President Trump’s embattled Labor Secretary nominee, withdrew his name from consideration Wednesday over controversies that included his admission of hiring an illegal immigrant as a housekeeper.
Puzder issued a statement withdrawing his name from consideration on the eve of his Senate confirmation hearing slated for Thursday.
Puzder, chief executive officer of CKE Restaurants, a conglomerate that owns Hardee’s and Carl’s Jr. restaurants, has been under fire from Democrats and labor groups for weeks and recently reportedly lost the support from several top Republicans in the Senate, all but dooming his confirmation.
“Andrew Puzder’s withdrawal as Labor Secretary is a victory for the American worker,” said Sen. Chuck Schumer (D., N.Y.), the minority leader in the Senate. “The fact that someone so antilabor was even nominated shows how far President Trump is from where he campaigned. If President Trump is remotely serious about standing up for workers, he will nominate someone for Labor Secretary that champions workers’ rights rather than suppresses them.”
Puzder was a vocal opponent of rules finalized by the Labor Department under President Obama that sought to expand the number of people eligible for overtime pay.
The overtime rule became ensnared in a legal skirmish with several states and a coalition of more than 50 business groups that filed a lawsuit against the DOL and its leading officials in September.
The coalition, which included the National Retail Federation, charged in the lawsuit that the agency overstepped its statutory authority in issuing the regulation and violated the Administrative Procedures Act. The legal dispute is pending and on hold under the new administration.
Puzder was also critical about a minimum wage increase, arguing in the past that it could force companies to cut jobs. Several business lobbying groups, including the National Retail Federation, rallied behind Puzder in recent days.
“Andrew Puzder is a businessman with years of experience and proven expertise related to running successful businesses,” said David French, senior vice president of government relations at the NRF. “His withdrawing from consideration to be President Trump’s Secretary of Labor is truly regrettable.”
But his nomination as Labor Secretary was blasted by Democrats, labor groups and former fast food employees, some of whom alleged they were not treated fairly under his watch. He also faced scrutiny over an allegation of domestic violence once made by his wife, who later retracted the charge.
The federal agency enforces regulations that have implications for many segments of the fashion business, including the country’s minimum wage and overtime laws under the Fair Labor Standards Act, as well as health and safety regulations.
The agency also monitors and assists in reducing and eradicating the use of child labor in the garment, footwear and textile industries around the world.
Since 1995 the Labor Department has funded more than 250 child labor projects in more than 90 countries. The agency publishes an annual list of goods produced by child and forced labor that the fashion industry watches closely.
The Labor Department has also been aggressive in enforcing the minimum wage and overtime laws in Southern California. A recent sweep of garment factories there prompted the DOL’s wage and hour administrator to declare that sweatshops still exist in U.S.