President-elect Donald J. Trump on Thursday named Andrew F. Puzder, chief executive of the company that operates the fast food outlets Hardee’s and Carl’s Jr. and an outspoken critic of the worker protections enacted by the Obama administration, to be secretary of labor.
Mr. Puzder has spent his career in the private sector and has opposed efforts to expand eligibility for overtime pay, while arguing that large minimum wage increases hurt small businesses and lead to job loss among low-skilled workers.
He strongly supports repealing the Affordable Care Act, which he maintains has helped create a “restaurant recession” because rising premiums have left middle- and working-class people with less money to spend dining out.
Mr. Puzder will arguably have less experience in government than any labor secretary since the early 1980s, when President Ronald Reagan appointed a longtime construction executive named Raymond J. Donovan. Mr. Donovan’s tenure was marked by an easing of numerous regulations.
In selecting Mr. Puzder, Mr. Trump appears to be banking on the idea that he can replicate some of his own appeal. Mr. Puzder, too, is a successful businessman prone to making populist pronouncements — he complained that “big corporate interests” and “globalist companies” were supporting Hillary Clinton in the presidential election — and the occasional streak of political incorrectness.
The advertisements that Mr. Puzder’s companies runs to promote its restaurants frequently feature women wearing next to nothing while gesturing suggestively. “I like our ads,” he told the publication Entrepreneur. “I like beautiful women eating burgers in bikinis. I think it’s very American.”
But Mr. Trump is also taking a risk that a wealthy chief executive will be viewed as a credible advocate for workers.
In a 2012 filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission, Mr. Puzder’s company listed his base salary as over $1 million. “Annual base salaries should be competitive and create a measure of financial security for our executive officers,” the filing said.
Many advocates of raising the minimum wage significantly argue that it is necessary to provide a measure of financial security to ordinary workers.