Reprinted from The New York Times by its Editorial Board on December 8, 2016.
Working in fast-food is no picnic. The industry is infamous for grindingly low pay and labor law violations. Yet Andrew Puzder, the chief executive of the company that operates Carl’s Jr. and Hardee’s, has been chosen by President-elect Donald Trump as labor secretary.
Here is the record at those restaurants. When the Obama Labor Department looked at thousands of complaints involving fast-food workers, it found labor law violations in 60 percent of the investigations at Carl’s Jr. and Hardee’s, usually for failure to pay the minimum wage or time and a half for overtime.
The central problem for workers today is persistently low pay, even at profitable companies with highly paid executives. Puzder, however, has been adamantly opposed to a meaningful increase in the federal minimum wage, which is $7.25 an hour. Trump has said he could stomach an increase to $10, which is still abysmal. Ideally, a labor secretary, who is supposed to have a deeper understanding of this issue, would push for much more. But Puzder has said that a big raise would mean fewer jobs for workers starting out. Even if that was true, and the evidence suggests otherwise, there are millions more who would benefit from raising the minimum wage. …