The National Committee of Social Democrats USA has issued the following statement:
Social Democrats USA joins working people throughout the United States in urging the Senate
to reject the nomination of fast-food executive Andrew Puzder to be Secretary of Labor. We urge members, supporters, and friends to sign the AFL-CIO petition against his confirmation.
The petition can be found at www.aflcionow.org.
The Secretary of Labor is charged with oversight of measures to improve wages and working conditions and with enforcing labor laws, but Puzder is, in the words of AFL-CIO President Richard L. Trumka, “a man whose business record is defined by fighting against working people.” Puzder has been a strong opponent of increasing the Federal minimum wage, now set at a pitiful $7.25 per hour, barely over the Federal poverty standard for a single person. As for the possibility that he would be an effective enforcer of the labor laws, it is worth noting that Puzder’s fast-food chain has a history of cheating workers of their wages.
Toward the end of his term of office, President Obama sought to improve workers’ conditions by issuing Executive Orders. One required Federal contractors to grant up to seven days per year of paid sick leave. This order is not likely to survive under Puzder. Another increased the eligibility to receive overtime pay of workers earning up to $47,476, and this measure is now tied up in the Texas courts. Puzder can kill this order by simply not appealing the lower court decision.
Andrew Puzder as Secretary of Labor would be a disaster for American working families, and we urge the Senate to reject his nomination for that office.
For the last several decades neoliberal Democrats and conservative Republicans have greeted proposals to help working families as “class legislation.” Throughout this time a very small part of the population has taken most of the productivity gains, unions have been all but destroyed, and working families have found it increasingly difficult to meet the costs of health care and education. This has been class war- a deliberate war against the working class.
We have come to an acute crisis in this war, when the conservatives have captured the three branches of the Federal government. Conservatives now have the power to destroy or drastically modify many of the social programs that began with the New Deal. We have to fight back, and a major weapon for us is to spread information about the costs to working families of the conservative attacks. In the months ahead Socialist Currents will publish a series of articles
about the right-wing attempts to destroy what is left of the safety net in America under the overall title “The Class War.”
No retreat, no compromise, no surrender!
Senators Warren and Schumer will discuss the Senate Democrats’ strategy to stop the repeal of the Affordable Care Act in a teleconference tonight at 10 p.m. Eastern Time. The call-in number
is 855-808-5137, followed by the PIN 113043#. The call is limited to 5,000 participants, so promptness is essential.
This teleconference is part of the efforts of Senators Sanders, Warren and Schumer to rally nationwide opposition to the Republican priority of repealing the ACA.
Since 1932 there has been a part of the Republican Party that has consistently resisted the New Deal, the Great Society and whatever we have had for the last eight years. As Democratic administrations enacted Social Security, Medicare and the Affordable Care Act, this faction fought the descent of the country into the pit of “socialism.” Their nadir came when the Eisenhower administration accepted the basics of the New Deal, but they roared back in 1964 with the Goldwater nomination. The Republican right-wing has continued to grow, and the once-plentiful Republican moderate has gone the way of the dodo. Today these reactionaries are on the verge of control of the three branches of the Federal government, and early indications are that they plan significant damage, and even destruction, to the great achievements of Democratic administrations since Franklin Roosevelt took the oath of office. The super-wealthy 1% have already gained a share of the national wealth not seen since 1929, and destroying an already frayed safety net will take us closer to that halcyon year for the rich. Maybe Herbert Hoover will at last have his revenge.
The reactionaries have long held control of the Republican caucuses in the House and Senate,
but a new feature is Cabinet secretaries devoted to the destruction of the social programs administered by their departments. We will likely have an Attorney General who was rejected as a Federal judge because of a suspicion of racism, a Treasury Secretary who is a Goldman Sachs alumnus (big surprise!) and whose bank played fast and loose with California’s foreclosure laws, a Health and Human Services Secretary who has been the House Republicans’ expert on gutting the Affordable Care Act, a Labor Secretary who is a fast food executive, who opposes raising the minimum wage and who would prefer employing machines rather than people, an Environmental Protection Administrator who has sued the EPA, an Energy Secretary who, when enumerating agencies he wanted to abolish, forgot the name of the department he will now head, and so it goes. The leader of this assault on the safety web is a real estate billionaire who proposes a massive tax cut to aid the 1%.
While the Clinton wing of the Democratic Party is still stunned and largely silent, there are signs that progressives are girding for battle. Perhaps most important they have developed an attitude expressed by our comrade Don Seastrum: No retreat, no compromise, no
surrender. Had this attitude prevailed throughout President Obama’s administration, perhaps
the Congress would not have been lost in 2010 and the presidential election of 2016 would have had a different outcome. The President would have had to explain the Affordale Care Act on a class basis: millions of poor and middle class people were going to get the health care they deserved. Those who opposed the Act or who sabotaged its implementation, such as
the Republican governors who refused to allow expansion of Medicaid, were sentencing millions of poor people to poor health and even premature death. They should have been eviscerated, not placated. Now, with repeal of the Affordable Care Act as the number one Republican priority, it should be opposed on the same class basis. We may not have the numbers to stop the reactionaries but we should make crystal-clear just what was lost, just who lost it and just who was responsible. This may not be”cool,” but when was class war ever “cool?”
Another early battle will be the confirmations of the Trump cabinet. Progressives must show clearly what each confirmation will cost ordinary people. What do we lose by a Treasury Secretary who has drunk the supply-side kool aid and who will preside over a tax gift to those who already have too much? What does an anti-worker Labor Secretary cost the working people of this country? What is the cost in human lives and health of the plans of the proposed Health and Human Services Secretary? There is no place for politeness in this fight. The rhetoric must be blunt, and progressives must throw bricks, not cream puffs.
The Jewish Labor Committee has asked the Senate to reject the confirmation of fast-food executive Andrew Puzder to be Secretary of Labor in the Trump administration. Calling him a “rigid anti-worker ideologue,” the Committee observed:”It is unprecedented to appoint a corporate chief executive officer to this position, especially one who in his public positions, in the sexist advertising promoted by his company, and in his numerous writings has made clear he opposes most of the laws he will be sworn to enforce.”
The Committee pointed out that, under Puzder’s leadership, his company has been a conspicuous violator of the wage and hour rules whose enforcement is a major responsibility of the Labor Department. It noted that Puzder’s company has been cited 98 times for safety violations since he became CEO in 2000. 36 of these citations involved risk of life or grave physical harm to workers. Even the company’s filings with the Securities and Exchange
Commission admit that it faces multiple class action law suits for wage and hour violations.
Further, the JLC called attention to his hostile attitude toward improving the conditions
of low-wage workers, including those in the notorious fast-food industry. Puzder, it said,
opposed expanding coverage of overtime rules and raising minimum wages. The JLC has been a
strong advocate of low-wage workers and the “fight for $15 and a union” movement.