Only 23% of Voters in Alaska, 22% of in Maine Want Their Senators to Support Fast-Food Mogul
Voters in Key States of AK, ME Say Puzder’s Record of Tax Dodging, Wage Theft, and Outsourcing Disqualifies Him from Job Protecting America’s Workers
Washington, DC – By an overwhelming margin, voters in Alaska and Maine believe the record of wage theft, tax dodging and outsourcing by President Trump’s choice for labor secretary, Andy Puzder, should lead Sens. Lisa Murkowski and Susan Collins to reject the fast-food CEO’s nomination, a new poll shows.
With Puzder’s confirmation hearing coming up Thursday and Murkowski and Collins still undecided on how they will vote, the poll, conducted by Hart Research Associates and released by the National Employment Law Project, shows that Alaska voters (by 61% to 23%) and Maine voters (by 65% to 22%) believe their senators should oppose the nomination.
Voters in Alaska and Maine are especially troubled by Puzder’s restaurants’ violations of the labor laws he would be called upon to enforce if he were confirmed as labor secretary. The poll shows that 70% of Alaska voters and 72% of Maine voters consider it to be a conflict of interest if Andrew Puzder were confirmed and then led a federal agency that is investigating his former companies, Carl’s Jr. and Hardee’s, for stealing workers’ pay.
“While Sens. Murkowski and Collins are undecided, their constituents’ opinion on Andy Puzder is clear—they feel he is unfit to hold the one job in the president’s cabinet that is focused squarely on protecting America’s workers,” said Christine Owens, executive director of the National Employment Law Project. “Voters in Alaska and Maine take the unique and important role of the labor secretary seriously and the idea of filling the position with a fast-food mogul who has lined his own pockets at the expense of low-paid workers doesn’t sit well with them. Sens. Murkowski and Collins should listen to the voters and reject Andy Puzder’s nomination.”
In a poll of 400 voters conducted Feb. 11-12, a large majority of voters in Alaska and Maine say Puzder should be rejected for the following reasons:
- Puzder employed an undocumented immigrant as a housekeeper for five years and did not pay taxes he was legally required to (in Maine 71% say it’s a reason to oppose Puzder; in Alaska 66%)
- Puzder’s restaurants have been repeatedly cited for violations of the laws he would enforce as labor secretary, including more than 1,000 wage theft violations (in Maine 68% say it’s a reason to oppose Puzder; in Alaska 67%)
- Puzder outsourced jobs of U.S. workers, shipping his company’s technology division to the Philippines (in Maine 67% say it’s a reason to oppose Puzder; in Alaska 57%)
- Puzder’s restaurants pay wages that leave many workers below the poverty line, forcing many to rely on public assistance, and costing taxpayers at least $247 million per year (in Maine 62% say it’s a reason to oppose Puzder; in Alaska 57%).
- Puzder started his career as a lawyer defending a client connected to organized crime who illegally borrowed $25 million from a workers’ pension fund and failed to pay it back (in Maine 62% say it’s a reason to oppose Puzder; in Alaska 51%).
- Puzder opposes raising the federal minimum wage significantly above its current rate of $7.25 an hour even though he was paid more than $2,000 an hour in a recent year (in Maine 58% say it’s a reason to oppose Puzder; in Alaska 51%).
The poll shows supporting Puzder’s nomination could come with political risk: 47% of Alaska voters and 54% of Maine voters say they would be less likely to support a senator for re-election who voted to confirm Puzder. Nearly half of Sen. Murkowski’s supporters (48%) and half of Sen. Collins’ supporters (50%) say the senators would be less likely to earn their vote if they voted to confirm Puzder as secretary of labor.
“Voters in Alaska and Maine deliver a clear verdict on Puzder—they want their senators to oppose his nomination,” said Guy Molyneux, a partner at Hart Research Associates. “Puzder’s record of labor law violations, tax avoidance, and outsourcing are among issues that clearly disqualify him in the eyes an overwhelming majority of voters in both states.”
“Andy Pudzer has a long history of holding down wages for his employees, and he is on record opposing employees having healthcare and paid sick leave,” said Tim Rich, a small business owner in Maine and member of the Maine Small Business Coalition. “These aren’t just financial issues – they are moral ones. Based on his record, Andy Puzder is the exact opposite of what working Americans need in a labor secretary.”
Puzder’s nomination is under heavy fire following a growing number of complaints and revelations about his business practices and personal history. On Monday, thousands of fast-food workers flooded Carl’s Jr. and Hardee’s restaurants in more than two-dozen cities across the country to demand Puzder withdraw his nomination or face rejection by the U.S. Senate. In response to reports last week that Puzder failed to pay legally-required taxes on his housekeeper’s wages for five years, nearly 150 civil rights, women’s rights, labor, and faith organizations released a joint statement calling for the Trump administration to withdraw Puzder’s nomination.
“Andy Puzder’s nomination is a slap in the face to middle class people,” said Robert Sewell, a public health worker at the Alaska Department of Health and Social Services. “Puzder opposes overtime pay, and as a fast-food CEO he shipped jobs held by U.S. workers to countries overseas. He fights for powerful corporations, not ordinary people. Senator Murkowski should stick up for middle class families in Alaska and vote no on Puzder’s nomination.”
In late January, Hardee’s and Carl’s Jr. workers filed 33 complaints with state and federal agencies alleging wage theft and sexual harassment and retaliation and intimidation against workers trying to organize on the job. And earlier this month, the National Employment Law Project released a report that shows Puzder’s low wages force taxpayers to pick up an estimated $250 million public assistance tab each year.