Lawsuit Alleging Antitrust Violations Filed Against Puzder’s Company

Yesterday, shift leaders at Carl’s Jr. filed a complaint on behalf of themselves and those similarly situated alleging various antitrust violations by Carl’s Jr. Restaurants and CKE, of which Andrew Puzder is CEO. The complaint was filed in California Superior Court.

The complaint is based on a “no hire” policy extending to all CKE franchises, under which franchisees must agree not to hire or seek to hire anyone who works as a shift leader or any higher position at a CKE restaurant or has worked at a CKE restaurant in the prior two years. The policy might not be a problem if all the workers were employed by CKE, but “CKE and Puzder have gone out their way” to stress that the franchises are not part of a single entity that hires and fires workers (thereby avoiding some federal and state labor protections). According to the complaint, the effect of the “no hire” policy has been to “suppress the wages of the restaurant-based managers” and “worsen[ ] working conditions” by diminishing competition between the restaurants.

The complaint was filed just as Puzder’s confirmation hearing was rescheduled for the fourth time to Feb. 16. A spokesman for Puzder said that the delays were “prompted by Puzder’s need to divest financial holdings that the Office of Government Ethics judged a conflict of interest.” If confirmed, Puzder would have to sell his stake in the fast-food companies, which are valued at 10-50 million dollars.

Guest Post: An Obama Executive Order That Trump Should Love

Sharon Block served in the Obama Administration as the Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary for Policy at the Department of Labor and Senior Counselor to the Secretary of Labor.  In February, she will become the Executive Director of Harvard University’s Labor and Worklife Program.  Chris Lu served in the Obama administration as the Deputy Secretary of Labor, and is now a Senior Fellow at the University of Virginia Miller Center.  This post originally appeared in The Huffington Post.

As former political appointees in the Obama administration’s Labor Department, we can think of few areas where we are in agreement with Donald Trump.  In fact, we have fundamental differences with him about how to build an economy that works for everyone.

Yet, we share his belief that government needs to do more to lift up American workers.  If the new president is interested in delivering on his promise of creating jobs and growing wages for workers, there’s an executive order already in place that he should support.

Every year, the federal government spends hundreds of billions of dollars on procurement contracts.  By some estimates, one quarter of all American workers are employed by a federal contractor — that’s millions of families whose livelihoods are connected to the federal procurement system.

In 2014, Barack Obama signed an executive order called “Fair Pay and Safe Workplaces” that was premised on two fundamental principles: doing business with the federal government is a privilege, not a right; and taxpayer money should only go to companies that are abiding by the laws that protect American workers.  Under the Obama executive order, the federal government would give contracts only to companies that pay their workers the wages they’ve earned, protect the health and safety of employees, and prohibit discriminatory practices.

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Politics and the DOL Website

I reported on Saturday that at the very moment Donald Trump was at the Capitol delivering his Inaugural Address promising a better life for the working class, a staffer was inside the Department of Labor taking information off the DOL website.  The first to go was a report on efforts to promote LGBT inclusion in the workplace.  After a furor on social media about the deletion of the report, it was briefly restored to the site, but now it is gone again.

Other things have also disappeared. For example, if one searches “Paid Leave DOL” on Google, or on the DOL site, one gets the following:

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The New Regime

President Trump’s first afternoon in office was short on major developments for labor rights.  The big news was that shortly after noon, a U.S. Department of Labor webpage about LGBT rights suddenly disappeared from the government’s website.  You can read the deleted report here.

Now, a Google search on the DOL.gov site for LGBT produces the following item on the list of search results:

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But clicking on the link produces this:

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The other labor news from the new Trump Administration comes from his Inaugural Address.  In dark tones, he hit on his populist campaign themes about the decline of American manufacturing and American jobs.  The annotated transcript of his address is on the New York Times website.

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Weekend News & Commentary — Nov. 26-27, 2016

In the wake of the recent election, unions — which spent over $100 million campaigning against Donald Trump — now have some tough questions to face.  Republicans are eager to build momentum on right-to-work legislation (a conservative Supreme Court pick will no doubt help), and President-elect Trump is expected to roll back much of the Obama administration’s labor-related reforms — including the Department of Labor’s overtime rule, which a federal court blocked earlier this week with a nationwide injunction (read more here).  Steven Greenhouse, writing for The New York Times, speculates that with a White House that is more hostile to labor, unions will have to focus on local battles (for example, state minimum-wage referendums) while workers experiment with new methods of organizing (taking their cue, perhaps, from the Fight for 15 movement).

Meanwhile, President-elect Trump has not forgotten his campaign promises to keep American jobs from moving overseas.  Over Thanksgiving he reached out to air conditioner manufacturer Carrier, which plans on shuttering two factories in Indiana and moving over 2,000 jobs to Mexico.  “I am working hard, even on Thanksgiving, trying to get Carrier . . . to stay in the U.S.,” Trump tweeted (“MAKING PROGRESS,” he added).  If negotiations succeed, it’ll be a big political win for the President-elect.  Read more here.

Local governments are stepping up efforts to give part-time workers more predictable, more remunerative schedules.  Seattle, New York City, and other cities are considering “fair scheduling” legislation that will provide workers with more notice of their schedules, The Wall Street Journal reports.

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Guest Post: Trump, Sunk Cost Fallacies, and the Next Labor Movement

David Rolf has led some of the largest union organizing campaigns since the 1940s.  He is President of SEIU 775, The Workers Lab, Working Washington, and the Fair Work Center; International Vice President of SEIU; and the author of “The Fight for Fifteen” (New Press, 2016).  Views expressed here are his own.

This post is part of a series on Labor in the Trump Years.

If one were able to magically scrub the embedded racism, misogyny and xenophobia from Donald Trump’s slogan “Make America Great Again,” one might conjure up an image of unionized America circa 1946-1976: high wages, high employment, stable jobs,  good benefits; expanding investments in infrastructure, education, and home ownership;  a growing economy that lifted all boats and created more middle class wealth than in any era before or since.  “Solidarity Forever,” we would sing, to the tune of the Battle Hymn of the Republic, “for the Union makes us strong.”

But although Donald Trump spent precious few words on labor law and labor policy during his campaign, it’s fair to expect that single-party Republican control of all three branches of the federal government will bring only bad news for America’s already-fading unions.

Between now and at least 2021, the best scenario that union leaders can reasonably hope for from the Federal government includes hostile appointments to the NLRB, the DOL, and the judiciary; a rolling-back of progressive Obama-era efforts to modernize both NLRB election procedure and DOL overtime rules; the use of regulation, budget-writing, procurement, and other government powers to chip away around the edges of prevailing wages, wage and hour protections, workplace safety, and nondiscrimination; total or partial repeal of Obamacare; and some short-term job creation if the President-elect is successful in passing an infrastructure package and renegotiating trade agreements on more favorable terms (and assuming he is simultaneously unsuccessful in deporting 11 million wage-earners and triggering a depression by doing so).

A worse but equally likely scenario is a continued and concerted national campaign to weaken and shrink unions themselves.  More right to work laws.  The return of Friedrichs and its ilk. Continued assaults on public employee unions in the two-thirds of state houses controlled by conservatives.  And legal challenges to the notion of exclusive representation itself, brought by adherents of previously obscure and cultish legal theories.

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Labor in the Trump Years: A Series

The election of Donald Trump along with a Republican Congress presents a set of profound challenges and questions for the labor movement and for workers.  As the readers of OnLabor know, the election of 2016 may mean (among other things): a national right to work law for the private sector; national right to work rules for the public sector (through the return of Friedrichs-type cases); the possibility that exclusive representation itself could eventually be ruled unconstitutional; a reshaped NLRB willing to undo much of what the Obama board has done, including on questions of joint employment, arbitration, graduate student organizing, and rules for non-union workplaces; a Department of Labor, potentially led by Scott Walker, and willing to undo what the historic Obama Department has achieved; workplace raids aimed at undocumented immigrant workers; a different approach to Title VII and the EEOC.  The list, of course, continues. Continue reading