Fast Food CEO Says Minimum Wage Increase Will Devastate United States

any_puzderThe multimillionaire head of Carl’s Jr. complains that a rise in minimum wages will destroy the restaurant industry. In an interview on Fox News, Andy Puzder, the CEO of CKE Restaurants which includes Carl’s Jr. and Hardees, complains that “the anti-business” Obama’s plans to raise the minimum wage to $10.10 an hour along with the ACA and the “war on fossil fuels” is why businesses like his don’t hire anymore.

Sure, we hear a lot about the owners and boards of McDonald’s, Papa Johns, and Chik-fil-A, but Andy Puzder, the head of Carl’s and Hardees, may be just as bad. After all, his work is out there for everyone to read. In addition to being interviewed on Fox, he also contributes to Wall St Journal and Human Events. Additionally, he co-authored a book and he has his own blog where he praises Charles Koch and outlines other Ayn Randian thoughts as it relates to the persecuted rich white man. So double-whammy in that he has workers and readers.

On Fox and in a follow-up blog, Puzder cited a CBO study that estimated that around half a million people could lose their jobs due to the proposed minimum wage increase. What he failed to mention is that the same study expected an increase for many others, bringing 3 million families out of poverty. As well, the minimum wage increase is estimated to increase the real income of families one-to-three times above the poverty level (working poor to lower middle class) by twelve billion dollars. Perhaps what’s really bugging Puzder is the loss in income for families at or above 6 times the poverty level. Randians don’t like income equality.

This faux concern for the working poor is standard fare for Andy Puzder. In one of his WSJ articles, he complains that giving managers overtime will hurt them, as they look forward to status more than pay:

Workers who aspire to climb the management ladder strive for the opportunity to move from hourly-wage, crew-level positions to salaried management positions with performance-based incentives. What they lose in overtime pay they gain in the stature and sense of accomplishment that comes from being a salaried manager. This is hardly oppressive.

A friend of mine worked as one of these managers for a large national retail chain. There was no compensation, no bonuses. Being salaried at or above 23000 a year means the company could and often would work her not only over 40 hours a week, but usually at least 60 and often 80-90. One week I came in and she was nearing a hundred hours. This is a single mom who in these weeks was not able to see her children, barely slept, and made less than minimum wage per hour. She was not being incentivized, she was being forced by oppressive company policy that did not need to abide by working regulations for managers. Under the new regulations, these companies will either have to properly pay their managers or hire more employees and stop using their managers as virtual slave labor.

A manager working at the minimal base pay of $455 per week would average $5.69 an hour if she was working 80 hours that week. I’m not sure what kind of stature this counts as in Puzder’s world. As Laura Clawson puts it, “As is well known, grocery stores and car dealerships accept stature and a sense of accomplishment as payment.”

Puzder himself makes over 4 million dollars a year now and gained $25.6 million when CKE was bought by a private equity firm in 2010. So I’m sure he’s feeling the pains of the working poor. He bragged that he was mostly happy he didn’t have to undergo the regulations he faced as a publicly-traded company for the two years prior. You know, cuz Obama. He also talks a lot about the changes made in the “anti-business” Obama administration. For Randians, everything that doesn’t make them richer and give them absolute control over their workers is “anti-business.”

Personally, I don’t tend to believe in boycotts as workers gotta eat. But I do think we should send Puzder and his Randian buddies a message. The workers are speaking and they’re saying, “Raise the minimum wage!”


When he’s not riding both his city’s public transit system and evil mayor, Jasdye teaches at a community college and writes about the intersection of equality and faith - with an occasional focus on Chicago - at the Left Cheek blog and on the Left Cheek: the Blog Facebook page. Check out more from Jasdye in his archives as well!


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