Democrats and Allies Wage Fight to Derail Labor Secretary Pick

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From The New York Times:

by Noam Scheiber

Democrats on Capitol Hill, together with labor groups and other allies, are waging an unusually aggressive campaign to derail the nomination of Andrew Puzder as labor secretary.

Mr. Puzder, chief executive of the company that franchises Hardee’s and Carl’s Jr. fast-food restaurants, has been a lightning rod as an outspoken foe of the Obama administration’s overtime regulation and the Affordable Care Act.

It is not clear how the Democrats intend to flip any Republican votes in the committee or in the full Senate, as they will need to do to defeat the nomination.

But if nothing else, the nomination battle has become a proxy for a larger struggle between labor and industry groups to shape public opinion on issues crucial to both.

In a forum that Senators Patty Murray and Elizabeth Warren organized earlier this week, one current and two former workers at one of the chains offered accounts of being denied proper overtime pay, and of being pressured to work off the clock and through breaks they were legally entitled to take.

On Thursday, fast-food workers and a variety of others protested Mr. Puzder’s nomination in more than a dozen cities across the country, in some cases at Hardee’s or Carl’s Jr. locations and in front of Department of Labor offices in others.

A spokesman for one of the organizers of the protest, the union-backed Fight for $15 minimum-wage campaign, said that thousands of workers had turned out.

Chuck Schumer, the Senate minority leader, made it clear that Mr. Puzder was one of the Democrats’ biggest targets in the confirmation hearings.

“Mr. Puzder has spent his career rigging the system against American workers by opposing the overtime rule, opposing the minimum wage, and underpaying his own workers,” he said in a statement. “His nomination as labor secretary is proof positive that the incoming administration won’t keep its promises to working people.”

Democrats and labor groups were heartened this week that the Senate panel overseeing his confirmation process, the Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions, delayed the hearing for the second time, to an indeterminate date.

Read more from The New York Times.