Meet the New (Labor) Boss
By Olivia Grady
Andrew Puzder has been tapped by President-elect Donald Trump to run the Department of Labor. So who is this man who will wield so much authority over the nation's labor market?
Andrew Franklin Puzder was born on July 11, 1950 in Cleveland, Ohio to Winifred and Andrew Puzder. He attended Kent State University in Ohio, but dropped out after the Kent State shootings in 1970. He later started working in sales at a guitar studio and studying history at Cleveland State University, where he graduated in 1975 with a BA. He then went on to get a JD in 1978 from Washington University School of Law in St. Louis, where he was editor of the Law Quarterly.
After graduating from law school, Puzder was an associate in St. Louis for attorney Morris Shenker until 1984 when he started working with trial lawyer Charles Seigel at the Stolar Partnership.
Puzder expressed his pro-life views with another lawyer in the Stetson Law Journal in 1984 while practicing law. He argued that life should begin at conception for the purposes of contract and property law. He also wrote a Missouri abortion law that was upheld by the U.S. Supreme Court in 1989, and he became a founding member of the Common Ground Network for Life and Choice.
In July 1989, Missouri Governor John Ashcroft appointed him chair of the Task Force for Mothers and Unborn Children.
During this time, Puzder met Carl Karcher, the founder of the Carl’s Jr. restaurant chain who needed a lawyer to solve his serious financial problems. Puzder moved to California after accepting Karcher’s offer to be his personal attorney.
By putting together a transaction with the Chairman and CEO of Fidelity National Financial, William Foley, Puzder was able to save Karcher’s company, CKE Restaurants, Inc. (CKE). Foley became Chairman and CEO of CKE in 1994, and Puzder became Executive Vice President and General Counsel for Fidelity in 1995. In 1997, Puzder became Executive Vice President and General Counsel for CKE as well.
After CKE bought Hardee’s Food Systems, Inc. in 1997 and it underperformed, CKE’s Board of Directors asked Puzder to become president and CEO of Hardee’s and later in 2000, he became president and CEO of CKE. Under Puzder’s leadership, both businesses were saved and became successful.
Roark Capital Group bought CKE in December 2013, but kept Puzder as CEO of CKE. CKE now owns or franchises over 3,700 restaurants in America and foreign countries, generating $1.4 billion in annual revenue and employing over 75,000 people.
In 2016 Puzder raised money for the Trump campaign and personally contributed with his wife over $330,000. He was a Trump Presidential Trustee, Victory Finance Chair for California and Senior Economic Advisor, as well as Chairman of the Economic Platform Committee’s Sub-Committee on the economy, jobs and the debt.
Puzder is a member of the National Advisory Board of Washington University School of Law, the International Franchise Association’s Board of Directors and the Job Creators Network. He is also a National Council Co-Chair of the American Enterprise Institute.
He has also written for a number of publications, including the Wall Street Journal, Forbes, Real Clear Politics, and others, most notably on the harmful economic effects of the minimum wage.
Puzder has also delved into health issues. In a January 13, 2015 Wall Street Journal article called “Shunning ObamaCare,” he explained why ObamaCare doesn’t work:
ObamaCare has caused millions of full-time jobs to become part-time, imposed a tax on lower-income workers who cannot afford it, forced millions of people out of insurance they liked, restricted access to doctors for millions of others, and created an enormous bureaucracy that discourages our doctors and nurses while suppressing health-care system innovation.
In another Journal article, “Minimum Wage, Maximum Politics,” on October 5, 2014, Puzder discussed the minimum wage and how it hurts the poorest:
That sounds nice, and the hike would give a raise to Americans who already have jobs earning the minimum wage, assuming that they’re still employed after the required raise. Unfortunately, this 40% minimum-wage hike would also reduce employment opportunities for those who need them most.
Puzder is married to Deanna Descher and has six children.
The Center for Worker Freedom congratulates Andrew Puzder on his new position, and applauds Donald Trump for selecting such a tough, smart, insightful person to head one of the federal government's most important agencies.