Wisconsin Restaurant Owners, Workers Watching Puzder Nomination

Labor Secretary Nominee Scheduled For Thursday Confirmation Hearing

Carolyn Kaster/AP Photo

The restaurant industry in Wisconsin will be paying attention Thursday to a confirmation hearing for President Donald Trump’s nominee for Labor Secretary, Andrew Puzder.

Labor groups like the Service Employees International Union have been calling for a $15 per hour minimum wage, including for restaurant workers. The groups have been holding protests against Puzder, a restaurant chain executive who opposes a mandated wage boost.

Rashaun Rodgers said he makes $8.50 an hour working at a Milwaukee-area Wendy’s. Rodgers has a message for Puzder: “Have you walked and talked in our shoes? Have you seen the struggle? You haven’t, so how can you say, ‘That’s too much?’” Rodgers said.

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But Wisconsin Restaurant Association President Ed Lump said the $15 wage would shut out many people from entry level jobs. Lump said he’d like to see someone from his industry as Secretary of Labor .

“It is, from our perspective, refreshing to have somebody from our industry in a high position like that that understands the importance of starting jobs, and the importance of getting people skills so they can advance,” Lump said.

Puzder has said he wants to clamp down on the guest worker program and make sure open jobs are offered to American workers first.

Senate Democrats are expected to oppose Puzder’s nomination. At least five Republican senators say they want to hear Puzder’s explanation for not paying taxes on an undocumented immigrant housekeeper until five years after he fired her, according to The Associated Press. Puzder said he has fully paid back taxes to the IRS and state of California.

Editor’s Note: Puzder said around 2:40 p.m. Wednesday that he is withdrawing as President Donald Trump’s nominee for labor secretary, according to The Associated Press.