FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

Trump Picks his Secretary of Labor. Ho-Hum.

It was announced that President-elect Donald Trump (how those four words still curdle in our throat!) will be appointing Andrew Puzder as his Secretary of Labor. Even though there is no real surprise in this appointment, let us count the ways that it should scare the bejeezus out of anyone who roots for the working class.

Firstly, Andrew Puzder is a deregulation fiend, a fanatic, who doesn’t believe in the salutary benefits of labor laws, whether they be municipal, county, state or federal. In a word, he views the overwhelming majority of labor laws (including the landmark National Labor Relations Act) as impediments to doing business.

As a consequence, he doesn’t believe it’s the federal government’s place to establish a “minimum wage” (like any other “free market” fundamentalist, he believes the marketplace should freely determine an employee’s rate of pay on a case by case basis), but if the feds insist on doing so, that figure should be no higher than $9 per hour, which amounts to $18,720 annually for someone working 40 hours a week, 52 weeks a year.

Secondly, as CEO of CKE Restaurants, which owns, among other things, the Carl’s Jr. hamburger chain, Andy Puzder opposes having fast-food workers and retail sales employees belong to labor unions. Considering that unions offer the triumvirate of better wages, better benefits, better working conditions, Andy’s opposition is solely profit-based. Indeed, it might be classified as the doctrine of a classic fiscal conservative. That or a “greedy bastard.”

This is unfortunate because fast-food workers and retail sales people (think of the employees of the mega- Wal-Mart corporation) are regarded by organized labor as the platform from which to launch the Second Wave of the labor movement. The First Wave was industrial; the Second Wave will be service oriented (health care and civil service jobs are already leading the charge).

Unlike vulnerable and outdated smoke-stack industries, restaurants and retail stores (of which there are many tens of thousands nationwide) aren’t “portable.” Which is to say, you can’t sell Carl’s Jr. hamburgers to customers in Peoria, Illinois, by relocating the restaurant to labor-cheap Bangladesh. This circumstance gives fast-food workers at least a modicum of leverage.

And thirdly, as Secretary of Labor, Andy Puzder will be the position to kick everyone’s butt, and to do it legally. As the highest ranking (both functionally and symbolically) labor figure in the U.S., he will not only set the tone for labor-management relations during a Trump presidency, he has the right to appoint three (a majority) of the five members of the NLRB.

This is a huge responsibility. Among other things, the NLRB is charged with adjudicating critical labor disputes—those involving the very definition of workers’ rights. For instance, when a labor union, or a group of employees seeking to be represented by that union, contacts the NLRB and accuses the company of using unfair or illegal tactics to keep the union out, it falls upon the Labor Board to make a ruling, and that decision is pretty much final.

Given Andrew Puzder’s virulently anti-union sentiments, and him pulling the strings while eating hamburgers, one can only imagine how rare it’s going to be for the Board to side with labor in any crucial dispute. As Bette Davis (playing Margo Channing) famously said, “Fasten your seat belts; it’s going to be a bumpy night.”

More articles by:

David Macaray is a playwright and author. His newest book is How To Win Friends and Avoid Sacred Cows.  He can be reached at dmacaray@gmail.com

December 10, 2018
Jacques R. Pauwels
Foreign Interventions in Revolutionary Russia
Richard Klin
The Disasters of War
Katie Fite
Rebranding Bundy
Gary Olson
A Few Thoughts on Politics and Personal Identity
Patrick Cockburn
Brexit Britain’s Crisis of Self-Confidence Will Only End in Tears and Rising Nationalism
Andrew Moss
Undocumented Citizen
Dean Baker
Trump and China: Going With Patent Holders Against Workers
Lawrence Wittner
Reviving the Nuclear Disarmament Movement: a Practical Proposal
Dan Siegel
Thoughts on the 2018 Elections and Beyond
Thomas Knapp
Election 2020: I Can Smell the Dumpster Fires Already
Weekend Edition
December 07, 2018
Friday - Sunday
Steve Hendricks
What If We Just Buy Off Big Fossil Fuel? A Novel Plan to Mitigate the Climate Calamity
Jeffrey St. Clair
Cancer as Weapon: Poppy Bush’s Radioactive War on Iraq
Paul Street
The McCain and Bush Death Tours: Establishment Rituals in How to be a Proper Ruler
Jason Hirthler
Laws of the Jungle: The Free Market and the Continuity of Change
Ajamu Baraka
The Universal Declaration of Human Rights at 70: Time to De-Colonize Human Rights!
Andrew Levine
Thoughts on Strategy for a Left Opposition
Jennifer Matsui
Dead of Night Redux: A Zombie Rises, A Spook Falls
Rob Urie
Degrowth: Toward a Green Revolution
Binoy Kampmark
The Bomb that Did Not Detonate: Julian Assange, Manafort and The Guardian
Robert Hunziker
The Deathly Insect Dilemma
Robert Fisk
Spare Me the American Tears for the Murder of Jamal Khashoggi
Joseph Natoli
Tribal Justice
Ron Jacobs
Getting Pushed Off the Capitalist Cliff
Macdonald Stainsby
Unist’ot’en Camp is Under Threat in Northern Canada
Senator Tom Harkin
Questions for Vice-President Bush on Posada Carriles
W. T. Whitney
Two Years and Colombia’s Peace Agreement is in Shreds
Ron Jacobs
Getting Pushed Off the Capitalist Cliff
Ramzy Baroud
The Conspiracy Against Refugees
David Rosen
The Swamp Stinks: Trump & Washington’s Rot
Raouf Halaby
Wall-to-Wall Whitewashing
Daniel Falcone
Noam Chomsky Turns 90
Dean Baker
An Inverted Bond Yield Curve: Is a Recession Coming?
Nick Pemberton
The Case For Chuck Mertz (Not Noam Chomsky) as America’s Leading Intellectual
Ralph Nader
New Book about Ethics and Whistleblowing for Engineers Affects Us All!
Dan Kovalik
The Return of the Nicaraguan Contras, and the Rise of the Pro-Contra Left
Jeremy Kuzmarov
Exposing the Crimes of the CIAs Fair-Haired Boy, Paul Kagame, and the Rwandan Patriotic Front
Jasmine Aguilera
Lessons From South of the Border
Manuel García, Jr.
A Formula for U.S. Election Outcomes
Sam Pizzigati
Drug Company Execs Make Millions Misleading Cancer Patients. Here’s One Way to Stop Them
Kollibri terre Sonnenblume
Agriculture as Wrong Turn
James McEnteer
And That’s The Way It Is: Essential Journalism Books of 2018
Chris Gilbert
Biplav’s Communist Party of Nepal on the Move: Dispatch by a Far-Flung Bolivarian
Judith Deutsch
Siloed Thinking, Climate, and Disposable People: COP 24 and Our Discontent
Jill Richardson
Republicans Don’t Want Your Vote to Count
John Feffer
‘Get Me Outta Here’: Trump Turns the G20 into the G19
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail