Donald Trump is expected to name fast food CEO Andy Puzder as his choice for Labor secretary, a source familiar with the transition told CNBC.
Puzder heads CKE Restaurants, the California-based parent of Carl's Jr. and Hardee's, a private company that generates about $1.3 billion in annual revenue and employs roughly 70,000 people. He joins a string of wealthy Trump Cabinet picks with a business background, including Treasury choice Steven Mnuchin and Commerce pick Wilbur Ross.
Puzder has argued broadly against too much regulation and cheered Trump's presidential win, which was driven by a populist message, as a victory for business. He has also contended that broad minimum wage hikes cut job opportunities, especially for young people, and opposed expansion of overtime pay.
"I like our ads. I like beautiful women eating burgers in bikinis. I think it's very American. I used to hear, brands take on the personality of the CEO. And I rarely thought that was true, but I think this one, in this case, it kind of did take on my personality."
Many Americans may remember Hardee's and Carl's Jr. for their provocative commercials featuring scantily clad models and celebrities. The burger giant's target audience is comprised of "young, hungry guys," he told CNBC in 2014.
"I like our ads. I like beautiful women eating burgers in bikinis. I think it's very American," he told Entrepreneur last year. "I used to hear, brands take on the personality of the CEO. And I rarely thought that was true, but I think this one, in this case, it kind of did take on my personality."
He made headlines earlier this year when he outlined what he deemed the advantages of automation, saying machines are "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 later clarified in a column that automation would only be ideal for some functions, not replacing all workers.
Puzder has also argued that President Barack Obama's landmark Affordable Care Act, which President-elect Trump has pledged to repeal, slows businesses down.
"The ACA has to go and it has to go quickly. No. 1, it increases the costs of employing people ... and No. 2 it takes discretionary income away from consumers," Puzder told CNBC the day after Trump's election, arguing that consumers have been less likely to eat at restaurants because of Obamacare premium increases.
He seemingly may clash with Trump on one key issue: immigration. Puzder previously wrote in a Wall Street Journal op-ed that deporting millions of undocumented immigrants was "unworkable," adding that deportation should "be pursued only when an illegal immigrant has committed a felony or become a 'public charge.'"
Puzder, like some other Trump appointees, also put money behind the president-elect's campaign. He gave $10,000 to pro-Trump super PAC Rebuilding America Now in August, according to Federal Election Commission records. He also donated $75,000 to a Trump joint fundraising committee with the Republican Party and gave the maximum $2,700 to Trump's campaign in May.
As they have done after several Trump Cabinet picks become public, Democrats raised concerns about Puzder in the Labor department. Incoming Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer of New York called the pick "the surest sign yet the next cabinet will look out for billionaires and special interests, instead of America's working class."
Democratic House leader Nancy Pelosi of California said in a statement that "choosing a Secretary of Labor who opposes overtime pay and raising the minimum wage sends a clear signal about what the incoming Administration has in store for working families in our country."
New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman also said in a statement that "the fact that Mr. Pudzer has now reportedly been selected to lead the same agency that uncovered wage theft at his restaurants is a cruel and baffling decision by President-elect Trump."