The CEO of the parent company of Hardee's and Carl's Jr., Puzder is a staunch opponent of a federal minimum wage increase — views he expressed in a March Business Insider interview about automated restaurants.
"With government driving up the cost of labor, it's driving down the number of jobs," he whined. "You're going to see automation not just in airports and grocery stores, but in restaurants." He explained in the interview that he was interested in adopting the automation phenomenon whereby "you order on a kiosk, you pay with a credit or debit card, your order pops up, and you never see a person."
Added Puzder, the CEO of CKE Restaurants, "This is the problem with Bernie Sanders, and Hillary Clinton and progressives who push very hard to raise the minimum wage." He asked, "Does it really help if Sally makes $3 more an hour if Suzie has no job?"
To build on his dystopian hypothetical: If Andy makes 291 times more than Sally — let's call it $4.458 million in 2012 — what thread count must his sheets be for him to be able to sleep at night knowing that Suzie's out of a job?
"If you're making labor more expensive, and automation less expensive — this is not rocket science," Puzder told Business Insider.
He has a point. Cutting overhead isn't rocket science. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, which he will soon oversee, the median annual wage for rocket scientists in 2015 was roughly 41 times smaller than Puzder's take-home pay.
"We have a grave concerns about this potential nomination," Christine Owens, executive director of National Employment Law Project, said in a press call on Thursday afternoon.
Owens said Puzder's opposition to a minimum wage hike is "not only inconsistent to the role of the secretary of labor and the priority of raising wages for working people, but it's really out of line with where most of America is."
Puzder's likely nomination, she said, "really is like giving the fox the key to the henhouse."