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Trump picks fast-food exec for labor secretary

AP file photo

U.S. President-elect Donald Trump walks with CKE Restaurants CEO Andy Puzder in Bedminster, N.J., on Nov. 19.

The Associated Press WASHINGTON (AP) — U.S. President-elect Donald Trump plans to add another wealthy business person and elite donor to his Cabinet, saying he would nominate fast-food executive Andrew Puzder as labor secretary.

Puzder heads CKE Restaurants Holdings, the parent company of Carl’s Jr., Hardee’s and other chains. In 2010, he published a book called “Job Creation: How it Really Works and Why Government Doesn’t Understand It.”

“Andy will fight to make American workers safer and more prosperous by enforcing fair occupational safety standards and ensuring workers receive the benefits they deserve, and he will save small businesses from the crushing burdens of unnecessary regulations that are stunting job growth and suppressing wages,” President-elect Trump said in a statement.

Puzder, in the same statement, said he was honored “to help President-elect Trump restore America’s global economic leadership.”

The Californian was one of Trump’s earliest campaign financiers, serving as a co-chairman of his California finance team and organizing fundraisers well before most major donors got on board with the eventual Republican nominee. Together with his wife, Puzder contributed $150,000 in late May to Trump’s campaign and Republican Party partners, fundraising records show.

As one of Trump’s most outspoken defenders, Puzder frequently appeared on cable news and Twitter to talk up the benefits of having a business leader in the White House.

A week after Trump’s election, Puzder said he agreed with Trump’s aim to ease business regulations.

“We’ve reached the point where overregulation is doing meaningful damage to our businesses,” he said last month at the Restaurant Finance & Development Conference in Las Vegas, citing high labor costs, increased health care costs and “political and social” policies as hindrances.

Union leaders decried Puzder as a secretary who would look out for millionaires — but not workers.

AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka said in a statement that Puzder’s “business record is defined by fighting against working people.”

Incoming Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer said there is reason to be skeptical about Puzder.

“Turning the Labor Department over to someone who opposes an increase in the minimum wage, opposes the overtime rule that would raise middle class wages, and whose businesses have repeatedly violated labor laws might be the surest sign yet that the next cabinet will be looking out for the billionaires and special interests, instead of America’s working class,” Schumer said in a statement.

Trump’s recent appointments have reflected his desire to turn to business leaders — who also were campaign donors.

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