Maine workers, business owners ask Sen. Collins to reject Puzder
Making the case that an opponent of the minimum wage and workplace protections shouldn’t head the U.S. Department of Labor, Maine small business owners and activists for workers’ rights held a press conference outside Sen. Susan Collins’ office in Bangor today to urge her to reject President Trump’s nomination of fast food company CEO Andrew Puzder for Secretary of Labor.
“For the good of every worker in our nation, we need to stop Puzder,” said Ramona Welton, President of the Maine State Employees Association. “Since Puzder became CEO back in 2000, investigations by the U.S. Department of Labor have found wage and hour violations at over half of the Carl’s Jr. and Hardees chains and his restaurants have been sued for race discrimination and sexual harassment more often than any other hamburger chain.”
Last week, representatives from the Maine AFL-CIO and local unions met with Collins’ staff and delivered petitions signed by nearly 4,000 Mainers asking her to oppose Puzder’s nomination.
At the Bangor event, both workers and business owners took aim at Puzder’s stance on the minimum wage, a particularly salient issue in Maine where a minimum wage increase referendum passed overwhelmingly in November.
“Like most small business owners, I pay well above minimum wage, as I am determined to take care of my workers and the community to which I feel indebted,” said Laurie Osher, owner of Osher Environment Systems. “This is exactly the opposite of what Mr. Puzder does, refusing to pay employees the money they have earned. Mr. Puzder doesn’t even believe the federal minimum wage of $7.25 should be raised.”
Participants also faulted Puzder for his opposition to the Affordable Care Act, which has provided important support for Maine’s small business economy.
“The Affordable Care Act has given thousands of small business owners access to healthcare. Even with the ACA, medical bills are still the number one cause of bankruptcy in the United States, and Mr. Puzder would make that problem significantly worse,” said Jonathan Fulford, owner of Artisan Builders.
Puzder’s nomination hearing has been indefinitely postponed as he has not yet submitted required paperwork to the Senate committee overseeing his confirmation. Eventual Senate approval is likely to come down to a close vote and Sen. Collins’ position could be crucial.
“Mr. Puzder’s policies would give big corporations an even larger upper hand. His policies would mean more wealth flowing to the top, more economic inequality, more poverty among workers, shorter lifespans for workers, less security for small businesses, and a system that is fundamentally rigged toward the very wealthy. I believe we can do better, and I believe Maine deserves better than Mr. Puzder,” said Fulford.
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