Dueling Surveys Blast, Praise Labor Nominee Puzder
Andy Puzder, chosen as labor secretary by President-elect Trump, was keynote speaker at the Restaurant Finance & Development Conference last November.
The headlines this week were negative for Andy Puzder, Trump’s choice for secretary of labor and CEO of CKE Restaurants—so much so that the International Franchise Association commissioned a survey of Carl’s Jr. and Hardee’s employees to counteract a damning one released Tuesday by Puzder foes. (CKE operates both burger brands.)
ROC, also known as Restaurant Opportunities Centers United and an advocate for unionizing fast-food workers and for a $15 minimum wage, struck first with a survey conducted on Facebook.
It found that 66 percent of a purported 564 employees who took the online survey experienced sexual harassment at work; 79 percent said they had served or prepared food while they were sick; and 32 percent said they were not given meal breaks after working more than five hours.
The Guardian, for one, followed with this headline: “Restaurants run by labor secretary nominee report ‘disturbing’ rates of sexual harassment.” Later on January 10, ROC held a second news conference about the report with prominent Democratic senators including Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts and Patty Murray of Washington.
The IFA struck back, reporting the results of an Employment Policies Institute survey showing 92 percent of employees believe Carl’s Jr./Hardees are great places to work, and 93 percent of women who work there feel “safe and respected.”
The IFA’s Matt Haller said ROC’s methodology was suspect. "I would hardly call it a survey,” Haller said. “They put it up on the website…you could take it multiple times...there’s a lot of problems with it.
“It’s being done to smear Andy’s reputation and stop his nomination,” Haller said, adding Puzder’s foes are indicting the franchise business model and the fast-food industry, as much as they are targeting Puzder himself. “We’re in this by proxy, so we may as well engage and think about where the ball is going to bounce, rather than just sit back and take it.”
He emphasized the IFA’s survey was done through The Employment Policies Institute, led by an independent research firm and headed by lead researcher Dr. Lloyd Corder at Carnegie Mellon University.
Of course, your average reader would note this about the IFA’s survey, and take its lofty employee satisfaction numbers with a grain of salt as well: The IFA, where Puzder is a board member, manages the Employment Policies Institute.
Puzder’s confirmation hearing was delayed this week until an unspecified date after the inauguration, but Haller says that doesn’t concern the IFA. “Mostly it’s just traffic on the runway,” he said, citing numerous other nomination hearings and then a Senate retreat right after the Jan. 20 inauguration.
“We’re not concerned about the nomination itself,” he said about Puzder’s chances of being confirmed, but didn’t want ROC’s survey to go unanswered. “This is a political campaign. If you let the other side create the narrative, it will quickly take hold.”