ANAHEIM – More than 200 people marched, screamed and chanted outside CKE Restaurants’s corporate offices here to protest Andy Puzder’s nomination for U.S. labor secretary.
Janitors, fast-food workers and security officers held signs at noon that read, “Andy Puzder earns more in 1 day than I do in 1 year. #NotOurLaborSec.”
Marisol Rivera, vice president for SEIU USWW, said about 35 union members were there to support the Fight $15 campaign.
“We are not OK with having a person that only wants to provide the minimum wage to the workers,” Rivera said. “We want $15 an hour with benefits.”
Puzder is a lawyer and CEO of CKE Restaurants, which has 3,263 franchised or company restaurants that include Carl's Jr. and Hardee's stores.
President Donald Trump’s nomination of Puzder has been met with resistance from pro-labor groups, which have called out Puzder’s long-standing opposition to the Affordable Care Act and increasing the national minimum wage.
Fast-food operators have jumped to defend Puzder’s pro-small-business position, including some of his employees. Cheryl Doerr, a Carl’s Jr. director of operations and an Orange County franchisee, said Puzder knows that happy workers are the key to a successful restaurant.
“I’ve known Andy for just shy of a decade, and during that time Andy has always treated me fairly and equitably,” she said in a statement.
In a statement, a Puzder spokesman said, “Andy Puzder will resign from CKE when he is confirmed as secretary of labor.” It’s unclear who will run the company if Puzder is confirmed.
Puzder acknowledged last week he had employed a housekeeper who wasn’t authorized to work in the U.S.
Puzder has been a loud critic of rising minimum wages. To him, the wage rules unfairly raise the cost of doing business for restaurant operators.
CKE Restaurants will leave its Carpinteria-based headquarters in March, ending a decades-long era for the fast-food company founded 60 years ago in Anaheim by Carl Karcher. The company is consolidating offices for Hardee’s and Carl’s Jr. in Tennessee.
In 1945, Carl Karcher moved his hot dog business from Los Angeles to Anaheim, where he opened a full-service restaurant, Carl’s Drive-In Barbeque. A year later, hamburgers were added to the menu. He opened the first Carl's Jr. in 1956 in Anaheim.
For years, the main corporate offices were based in Anaheim. In 2000, the headquarters relocated to Carpinteria.
An office in Anaheim will continue to operate with 275 employees working in various departments such as human resources, finance, customer service call center, payroll and accounting. It will be the only office left in California, CKE said.
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