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Carl's Jr. CEO Who Loves Robots And Hates Raising The Minimum Wage Tapped For Labor Secretary

CKE Restaurants CEO Andy Puzder leaves a meeting with President-elect Donald Trump. (Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images)
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The people Trump has been selecting for his cabinet and as advisors has been an endless horror show. Yesterday he selected a man who is hellbent on destroying the environment to lead the EPA, and today he's tapped a man who wants to replace workers with robots and is against raising the minimum wage to be the U.S. Secretary of Labor.On Thursday, the Trump team announced it had selected Andy Puzder, the CEO of CKE Restaurants (Carl's Jr.'s parent company), to head the Department of Labor. "Andy will fight to make American workers safer and more prosperous by enforcing fair occupational safety standards and ensuring workers receive the benefits they deserve, and he will save small businesses from the crushing burdens of unnecessary regulations that are stunting job growth and suppressing wages," Trump said in a statement.

"The president-elect believes, as do I, that the right government policies can result in more jobs and better wages for the American worker," said Puzder.

Ironic, given Puzder said earlier this year that he would consider opening restaurants that would literally have no workers. This came after he visited an Eatsa location, a fully-automated restaurant that serves quinoa bowls. "I want to try it," he told Business Insider earlier this year.

"They're 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," he said about robot workers, negging the thousands of employees currently employed at Carl's Jr.'s (and its affiliated restaurants') at over 3,700 locations worldwide. He later walked back those statements a bit in a Wall Street Journal op-ed.

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Puzder has also been an outspoken critic of raising the federal minimum wage and expanding overtime pay, both issues Democrats have been pushing under President Obama. Puzder could be taking over the Labor Department as Obama's new overtime expansion hangs in legal limbo.

During the campaign, Puzder was an advisor to Trump, and since the election has blogged that he feels that Trump's win will reverse the negative "impact of overregulation on the restaurant industry, jobs and the economy."

The one area he seems to diverge from the Trump camp, though, is being tough on immigration. Puzder has been a proponent of immigration reform and offering legal status to undocumented immigrants. Of course, as The Intercept points out, offering legal status to millions of workers would provide his restaurants with a cheap workforce.

He said at an American Enterprise Institute event in 2013:

They're very hardworking, dedicated, creative people that really appreciate the fact they have a job. Whereas in other parts of the country you often get people that are saying, 'I can't believe I have to work this job.' With the immigrant population you always have the 'Thank God I have this job' kind of attitude.

"It's hard to think of anyone less suited for the job of lifting up America's forgotten workers—as Trump had campaigned on—than Puzder," said Christine Owens, executive director of the National Employment Law Project, in a statement. "He opposes raising the minimum wage, threatens to replace restaurant workers with machines, has consistently opposed long-standing rules that protect workers and law-abiding employers, and demonstrated that he prizes corporate welfare and profits over workers' well-being."

CKE Restaurants is currently based out of Carpenteria in Ventura County, but will eventually be moved to Nashville. Under Puzder's leadership, the company became known for its saucy commercials, which featured bikini-clad celebrities like Paris Hilton and Kim Kardashian eating their food very suggestively.

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