Fast-food CEO who says machines are the answer to rising wages is expected to be named Trump's next labour secretary

Andrew Puzder, the CEO of CKE Restaurants, is expected to be named secretary of labour in President-elect Donald Trump’s Cabinet, the Wall Street Journal reports, citing people familiar with the situation.

Puzder, who runs the parent company of Carl’s Jr. and Hardee’s, supported Trump during his campaign, praising him as a “pragmatic centrist” and “negotiator.” Puzder also served as one of the candidate’s economic advisers.

Puzder is a vocal opponent of raising the minimum wage and of the Affordable Care Act, arguing that the policies result in lower employment rates.

In an interview with Business Insider in March, Puzder said fast-food workers could be replaced with kiosks and other automated technology to offset the cost of wages.

“I want to try it,” CEO Andy Puzder said of automated restaurants. “With government driving up the cost of labour, it’s driving down the number of jobs.”

“You’re going to see automation not just in airports and grocery stores but in restaurants,” he said.

According to Puzder, rising minimum wages are part of the reason that the fast-food industry is majorly investing in automation.

“If you’re making labour more expensive, and automation less expensive — this is not rocket science,” Puzder said.

Puzder has also been a harsh critic of President Barack Obama’s new overtime rules, which are designed to raise wages for millions of the country’s lowest-paid workers.

“This new rule will simply add to the extensive regulatory maze the Obama Administration has imposed on employers, forcing many to offset increased labour expense by cutting costs elsewhere,” Puzder wrote in a Forbes op-ed article in May.

Carl’s Jr. has been criticised for its ads starring scantily clad women, which Puzder says have helped the business appeal to “hungry, young guys.”

“I like our ads. I like beautiful women eating burgers in bikinis. I think it’s very American,” Puzder told Entrepreneur in 2015. “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.”

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