Fight for $15 Supporters Oppose Puzder, Workers File Claims Against His Restaurant Chain

Mark Gruenberg

Mark Gruenberg Editor, Press Associates Union News

Fight for 15 members, many of them employees of the fast food chains owned by Andrew Puzder, Republican President Donald Trump’s nominee as U.S. Labor Secretary, hit the streets in 31 cities on Jan. 26 to urge citizens and senators to reject the fast-food magnate.

Meanwhile, another 33 workers from Puzder’s Hardee’s and Carl’s Jr. restaurants took the legal route, filing wage theft, labor law-breaking and sexual harassment claims against supervisors in those establishments on the same day.

The protests and suits mark an escalation in the battle to halt Puzder, a multimillionaire owner of those two chains and the Red Burrito and Green Burrito chains, from taking over the Labor Department. DOL enforces laws, including minimum wage and overtime pay laws and job safety and health laws, that Puzder openly hates.

Fight for 15, a nationwide movement of low wage workers that includes huge numbers of fast food workers, plans more anti-Puzder protests on Feb. 1, the day before the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee’s scheduled hearing on his nomination. 

Fight for 15, which the Service Employees and other unions back, is also urging its members and their allies to call or e-mail senators to reject Puzder.

“While millionaire Andy Puzder takes his corporate jet between speaking gigs to accuse voters of being lazy and entitled, his workers at Hardee's are struggling to put food on the table,” Fight for 15 said, in one of many tweets. “This man is the embodiment of everything wrong with the rigged economy. He must be stopped. Tell your senators to reject Andy Puzder for Secretary of Labor.”

Four workers at Puzder chain restaurants, in claims filed with the federal Equal Employment Opportunities Commission, said they were sexually harassed on the job. Another 22 filed wage and hour violation claims with labor departments in Illinois, Michigan, Nevada, California, Florida, Texas, Virginia, Alabama and both Carolinas.  And seven workers filed labor law-breaking – formally called unfair labor practices – charges with regional offices of the National Labor Relations Board.

In their suits, female workers described managers who forced them into unwanted kisses and other actions, while a gay worker in Oakland, Calif., was sexually harassed by his manager. Workers in several cases around the nation said they had not been paid in a month.

“If Andy Puzder can’t be trusted to pay his workers what they’ve earned, why should we expect him to enforce laws meant to protect working Americans?” Angel Gallegos of Los Angeles asked, in a statement on a pro-worker website.




Posted In: Allied Approaches

Union Matters

Get to Know AFL-CIO's Affiliates: National Association of Letter Carriers

From the AFL-CIO

Next up in our series that takes a deeper look at each of our affiliates is the National Association of Letter Carriers.

Name of Union: National Association of Letter Carriers (NALC)

Mission: To unite fraternally all city letter carriers employed by the U.S. Postal Service for their mutual benefit; to obtain and secure rights as employees of the USPS and to strive at all times to promote the safety and the welfare of every member; to strive for the constant improvement of the Postal Service; and for other purposes. NALC is a single-craft union and is the sole collective-bargaining agent for city letter carriers.

Current Leadership of Union: Fredric V. Rolando serves as president of NALC, after being sworn in as the union's 18th president in 2009. Rolando began his career as a letter carrier in 1978 in South Miami before moving to Sarasota in 1984. He was elected president of Branch 2148 in 1988 and served in that role until 1999. In the ensuing years, he worked in various roles for NALC before winning his election as a national officer in 2002, when he was elected director of city delivery. In 2006, he won election as executive vice president. Rolando was re-elected as NALC president in 2010, 2014 and 2018.

Brian Renfroe serves as executive vice president, Lew Drass as vice president, Nicole Rhine as secretary-treasurer, Paul Barner as assistant secretary-treasurer, Christopher Jackson as director of city delivery, Manuel L. Peralta Jr. as director of safety and health, Dan Toth as director of retired members, Stephanie Stewart as director of the Health Benefit Plan and James W. “Jim” Yates as director of life insurance.

Number of Members: 291,000 active and retired letter carriers.

Members Work As: City letter carriers.

Industries Represented: The United States Postal Service.

History: In 1794, the first letter carriers were appointed by Congress as the implementation of the new U.S. Constitution was being put into effect. By the time of the Civil War, free delivery of city mail was established and letter carriers successfully concluded a campaign for the eight-hour workday in 1888. The next year, letter carriers came together in Milwaukee and the National Association of Letter Carriers was formed.

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There is Dignity in All Work

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