Published by The Hill on 1/16/17

Restaurant owner on Andrew Puzder: Bad for workers, bad for the economy

According to secretary of Labor Nominee and CKE Restaurants CEO, Andrew Puzder, and the National Restaurant Association (NRA) that he has co-led, business owners across America want to lower wages for their employees, ease taxation and regulations, relax workplace standards, and protect the two-tiered tipped minimum wage system. As successful restaurant owners ourselves, we can assure you Mr. Puzder does not speak for us. He is out-of-touch with today’s fairer, more equitable business approach; he is the wrong choice not only for workers, but for employers as well.

We are a collective of restaurant and other employers from across the nation, committed to taking the ‘high road to profitability’, a road of fair wages and workplace practices. Andrew Puzder and the NRA’s vision is one in which workers work full time and live in poverty. In our industry many workers make as little as $2.13 per hour, and thus rely on tips — rather than a fair wage from their employer — to survive. Puzder and the NRA set standards in a restaurant industry in which 1 in 7 tipped workers rely on food stamps to feed their families, and in which 90 percent of restaurant workers report being sexually harassed on the job.

Our growing coalition of employers envision an industry that is both ethical and profitable. We want to raise the minimum wage, eliminate the subminimum wage for tipped workers, and establish one fair, living wage for all workers. We want an industry in which tipped workers – who are in large majority women – are treated with dignity and respect by customers, employers, and colleagues, and in which workers of color are afforded the same opportunities and wages as their white counterparts. Puzder represents the opposite of these values.

The policies and practices espoused by Puzder and the NRA are bad for workers, bad for consumers, and bad for the economy. We do not want our employees to suffer under the paralyzing weight of economic insecurity. Employees that work for fair pay and under just workplace conditions are more productive, provide better customer service, and have some extra money to spend back into the economy, too!

The job of the secretary of Labor is to protect our nation’s most vulnerable workers, in part by ensuring employers are following the law. This does not just benefit workers; unscrupulous employers actually put us, as employers seeking to comply with the law, at a competitive disadvantage. Throughout his controversial career, Andrew Puzder has faced multiple class action suits alleging wage theft. He is the last person to whom such an important responsibility should be given.

America is at a crossroads. ‘High Road’ employers are joining workers and their allies to forge a fairer and more prosperous restaurant industry. Andrew Puzder as Secretary of Labor with his clear embrace of dangerous, unfair and ineffective policies is a major step in the wrong direction.

Michael Landgarten is owner of Lil’s Café and Bob’s Clam Hut in Kittery, Maine


The views expressed by authors are their own and not the views of The Hill.

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