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Murray expresses concerns about Puzder, seeks outside witnesses

WASHINGTON, D.C. (Jan. 6, 2017) — On Thursday, Sen. Patty Murray (D-Wash.) met with Andrew Puzder (R-Carl’s Jr./Hardee’s), the CEO of CKE Restaurants who is President-elect Donald Trump’s nominee for Labor Secretary, ahead of the official nomination hearing likely to take place in the next few weeks.

After that meeting, Murray continued to express serious concerns about his record and has many questions about how he would lead an agency that is so critical to working families in Washington state and around the country. She issued the following statement:

“Working families need strong leadership at the Department of Labor and someone who is going to be on their side fighting for them — and not just for those who are already at the top — and so I met today with Andrew Puzder to make sure their voices and priorities are heard loud and clear as we head into the hearing process on his nomination.

As I continue to closely examine his record, it’s evident that Mr. Puzder has benefited from an economy rigged against workers, and that his policies and philosophy would make the challenges working families face today even worse — since he’s opposed raising the minimum wage, guaranteeing more workers overtime pay, increasing access to paid sick leave, and protecting workers’ civil rights. So I made very clear to Mr. Puzder that working families must have all of the facts about his positions, previous statements, and history as CEO of CKE Restaurants — and that he is going to have to explain in detail his vision to protect and to expand opportunities for workers. I expect to have all requested information completed and received with time to fully review before a vote on Mr. Puzder’s nomination.”

Also Thursday, Murray joined Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) and other Senate Democrats in sending a letter to Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.), chairman of the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP), calling on him to allow outside witnesses at Puzder’s confirmation hearing who can provide the committee with knowledge of and context on his business practices and values regarding the treatment of workers.

As Secretary of Labor, Puzder would be charged with overseeing the enforcement of many of the labor laws that his company has repeatedly violated, including the Fair Labor Standards Act and the Occupational Safety and Health Act.

Noting that Puzder is CEO of Hardee’s and Carl’s Jr., where Department of Labor investigations “have turned up violations of basic protections of workers’ rights in more than half of inspections,” the letter notes:

“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.”

See the full text of the letter to Alexander.

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