by Mitch Kokai
Senior Political Analyst, John Locke Foundation
A THUMB in the eye to the minimum-wage lobby is how most of the press depict the nomination by President-elect Donald Trump of Andrew Puzder to the post of Labor Secretary.
But offering up a fast-food entrepreneur for the Labor post does more than offend a particular interest group. The Puzder nomination represents a structural blow to the whole edifice that we have called “Labor Relations” since the Department of Labor was created more than 100 years ago.
First, consider Andrew Puzder. As the head of a restaurant company that by itself or through franchises employs 75,000 workers, Puzder has more to do every day with labor regulations than many executives do in a lifetime. Thousands, probably tens of thousands of workers in CKE Restaurants earn somewhere around the minimum wage. And because CKE Restaurants owns and operates so many restaurants—Carl’s Jr. and Hardee’s chains—Puzder has monitored many a natural experiment in wage hikes and regulation. Whatever the press says, Puzder’s main point isn’t that all regulation must be ended, but that it must be crafted so that it doesn’t kill jobs. This is a reasonable enough argument, coming straight out of multiple practical experiences. …
… It takes chutzpah, however, to select for a cabinet post someone from the fast-food industry, a sector that in Washington enjoys nowhere near the status of public-sector unions or hi tech. Left-leaning periodicals vilify fast-food executive for sport.
But maybe chutzpah is necessary. The fact is that Democrats have long counted on Republican presidential winners being too timid to appoint a Labor Secretary who might challenge Big Labor. …
… If confirmed, Puzder is likely to do something that demonstrates the economy expands better without government, powered by those shadowy figures who don’t usually win places at the top table. He’s likely, too, to remind us that a union-tilted Labor Department doesn’t necessarily serve the country best.