Most Americans are unaware that the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation, the Federal body that stands behind corporate pension plans known as defined benefit plans, has only three members and three votes on its board of directors: the U.S. Labor Secretary, the U.S. Commerce Secretary and the U.S. Treasury Secretary. The New Nationalist (TNN) discussed Commerce’s Wilbur Ross here and Treasury’s Steve Mnuchin here.
Andrew Puzder is Trump’s nominee for U.S. Secretary of the Labor Department. From 1978 to 1991, Puzder was a trial lawyer in St. Louis at the law offices of (((Morris A. Shenker))), the man LIFE magazine called the “foremost lawyer for the mob in the U.S.” The magazine alleged that Shenker controlled the massive $700 million Teamsters Union pension fund and its investments, and he was intimately connected with Jimmy Hoffa.
Shenker borrowed more than $200 million from the pension funds of labor unions that he influenced and took over the Dunes Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas. Then, in 1984, Shenker filed for bankruptcy after a $34 million court judgment against him by the Culinary Workers pension fund. In February 1989, Shenker was indicted by a grand jury but died before his trial.
Puzder then met Carl Karcher, the founder of the Carl’s Jr. quick-service restaurant chain, while practicing law in St. Louis. Karcher was embroiled in serious financial difficulties, in part related to an investigation into insider trading by the Securities and Exchange Commission. Puzder arranged a low-ball settlement and is credited with a deal that saved Karcher from bankruptcy. Karcher served as chairman and CEO of the company until its own board of directors voted him out in 1993 after years of infighting over strategy.
Puzder became general counsel for CKE Restuarants in 1997. CKE purchased the Hardee’s quick-service restaurant brand. The transaction burdened CKE with $700 million in debt. The company under performed and, faced with serious financial and operational issues, CKE’s board of directors named Puzder as president and CEO of Hardee’s Food Systems in June 2000 and president and CEO of CKE Restaurants.
Puzder is credited with turning around both the Hardee’s brand and CKE. His method was finding financing conduits to sell stores to new or existing franchisees. Like other Trump appointees, the key for Puzder appears to be (((finance))) connections and deal making. The reader can decide if that will serve the country well.
Founder Karcher, a devout Catholic and high ranking masonic Knight of Malta, objected to the sexualized nature of Carl’s Jr. ad campaigns of the early 2000s under Puzder and was said to have been “heartbroken that a company he founded on Christian principles has taken such an amoral act.”
Regarding Carl’s Jr. bikini ads, Puzder said in a 2011 press release, “We believe in putting hot models in our commercials, because ugly ones don’t sell burgers. We target hungry guys, and we get young kids that want to be young hungry guys.”
TNN’s verdict: Well, at least it’s hardcore heterosexual advertising, which is actually still a market.
A recent report by the workers’ rights nonprofit Restaurant Opportunities Centers (ROC) United found that 28% of Carl’s Jr. and Hardee’s employees surveyed said they had worked off the clock, and roughly 33% reported wage theft violations, such as not receiving overtime pay. Puzder is against unions, and he calls minimum wage and overtime “restrictions” and employees “extra cost.”
Speaking to Business Insider in 2016, Puzder said that increased automation could be a welcome development because machines were “always polite, they always upsell, they never take a vacation, they never show up late, there’s never a slip-and-fall or an age, sex or race discrimination case.”