This week, I had the pleasure to attend an event featuring employees of Hardee’s and Carl’s Jr. They provided insight on their work experience at those establishments that contradicts the rhetoric coming from Democrats, unions, and allies in their efforts to discredit President Donald Trump’s Labor Secretary nominee Andrew Puzder.
Puzder is CEO at CKE Restaurants, which owns the Hardee’s and Carl’s Jr. brands. He is a proven job creator; CKE employs over 75,000 workers and Puzder himself is a proponent of free-market labor policy, as opposed to the heavy handed government mandates that the Obama administration implemented.
Progressives are pulling out all the stops to derail his nomination. The Restaurant Opportunities Center (ROC), a union-funded front group, put out an unscientific survey claiming that Hardee’s and Carl’s Jr. workers are not satisfied at work. Additionally, Democratic Senators, the ROC, and unions have greatly distorted the compliance record of Hardee’s and Carl’s Jr.
All of these attacks can easily be debunked. A more rigorous and scientific survey produced by the Employment Policies Institute (EPI) found over 90 percent of respondents said Hardee’s and Carl’s Jr. was a great place to work.
Diana Furchtgott-Roth wrote a great piece for Investor’s Business Daily that takes a look into the numbers regarding Hardee’s and Carl’s Jr.’s compliance record. Her findings show that Hardee’s and Carl’s Jr. have an excellent record of compliance with wage and hours laws:
But records from the Labor Department’s Wage and Hour Division collected by Bloomberg-BNA show that Hardee’s and Carl’s Jr have far fewer Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) violations per store on average than other chains. In the past eight years, the average CKE restaurant has had 0.16 FLSA violations. That is, one would have to combine six different CKE restaurants to expect to find even one violation over the past eight years.
It is important to note that currently 8% of these restaurants are owned by CKE, down from about 32% in 2009, and the rest are owned by franchisees.
Other restaurant chains have an average of 0.56 FLSA violations over the past 8 years. Thus, one would expect to find one FLSA violation for every two restaurants outside of CKE.
It is important to note that CKE, the company Puzder runs, is not responsible for most the violations. CKE operates less than 10 percent of Hardee’s and Carl’s Jr. stores. The rest are own and operated by franchisees. These franchisees are independent business people who run the day-to-day operations like paying wages and scheduling employees’ hours.
In contrast to unions and Democrats greatly distorting the record of Puzder and the restaurants CKE owns, actual employees at Hardee’s and Carl’s Jr. had positive comments about their work experiences.
For example, Corina Ortiz, a Carl’s Jr. employee from Albany, Oregon said, “Carl’s Jr. offered me a new career path when I needed it most. I’ve only been working there since September, but I was promoted within two months on the job, and now I see a long-term career path with the restaurant. I may even manage my own store some day.”
Another Hardee’s employee from Florida, Ann Devane, remarked “I’ll work at Hardee’s until I retire—that’s how much I love the job. I worked at the company a number of years ago, and then took some time off to take care of my dad when he got sick. I came back because of the fond memories, and I still enjoy it. Customers love my biscuits so much that they’ll call ahead to see if I’m at the store that day. I’m proud to work at Hardee’s!”
I’ll paraphrase the comments of Patsy Eskilson, a Hardee’s employee from Lake City, Florida. She was asked about employees associated with the Fight for $15 who are critics of Puzder and Hardee’s. Patsy had some wise words. She said something along the lines of, when you have a company that employs over 75,000 workers you are always going to have disgruntled employees and that you cannot always please everyone. But, as you see from the EPI survey, an overwhelming majority enjoy working at these restaurants and many employees feel Hardee’s has given them a chance when no one else would.
The next Secretary of Labor will have a lot on his plate. My colleague Iain Murray and I have several suggestions for prioritizing reform options in our recent Web Memo, First Steps for the Trump Administration: Unleash America’s Labor Force.