The current fight for a $15 minimum wage is being lead by fast food workers. The fight to crush that movement may be lead by a man who was made rich off their poverty.
Donald Trump's nominee for Labor Secretary is Andy Puzder, the CEO of a million-dollar restaurant company that owns chains like Carl's Jr. and Hardee's. He opposes raising the minimum wage and expanding eligibility for overtime pay, thinks unions are bad, and wants to replace the people behind the registers at his restaurants with machines.
The restaurant executive's comments on replacing human workers with automated bots are particularly notable now that he is set to lead the department that administers federal labor laws. “You order on a kiosk, you pay with a credit or debit card, your order pops up, and you never see a person," Puzder told Business Insider earlier this year.
He went on to explain how automation is also a pretty useful way to avoid complying with federal labor and anti-discrimination laws: "They're always polite, they always up sell, they never take a vacation, they never show up late, there's never a slip-and-fall, or an age, sex, or race discrimination case."
As Labor Secretary, Puzder would be in charge of the agencies that handle exactly these claims. (You know, it's almost as if Trump has displayed a pattern of appointing people to head federal departments that they openly disdain and want to destroy.)
Given the added context of the recent Carrier psychodrama—Trump promised to save 2,000 manufacturing jobs at two of the heating and cooling company's Indiana plants, then gave Carrier's parent company a $7 million tax break and a promise of less regulation so that they would keep around 700 jobs in the state, then personally attacked the head of the steel workers union who represents the plant's workers and called for the union to "reduce dues"—it's clear that the next four years are going to be difficult ones for workers, particularly those in low- and moderate-wage industries.
But Trump's cabinet picks aren't the only threat to labor playing out right now. While cities across the country have pushed to raise their local minimum wages in recent years, a number of states have tried to stunt that momentum with sweeping wage laws.
In Ohio this week, less than 24 hours after the Republican-controlled state Legislature used an anti-child abuse law to ban abortion as early as six weeks, lawmakers used a puppy mill law to pass a measure to block an increase to the minimum wage in Cleveland. The city, which also hosted the Republican National Convention this summer, had proposed raising its current rate from $8.10 an hour to $15. (A living wage for a single parent with one child in Cleveland is $21.08, meaning that even a $15 minimum wage falls short.)
But the bill is also loaded down with other amendments. In addition to freezing wages for 2017, the measure also outlaws bestiality, making the state's major priorities pretty clear: you can't fuck animals, but you can fuck workers.