Nov 30, 2016 - 9:00am

Fight for $15 Gets Personal

Senior Vice President, Employment Policy Division


Pro-union signs lay in the street before the start of a "Fight for $15" rally in New York.
Pro-union signs lay in the street before the start of a "Fight for $15" rally in New York. Photo credit: Victor J. Blue/Bloomberg.

Yesterday marked the latest round of protests by the so-called “Fight for $15” organization (which is actually a front for the Service Employees International Union).  With the pending change in administration, however, the campaign seems to have gotten a bit personal.  Exhibit one is a piece in the American Prospect, which argues that Andy Puzder, the CEO of CKE Restaurants, would be Fight for $15’s “worst nightmare” if he became the Secretary of Labor.  This bit of hyperbole seems based on the fact that Mr. Puzder has spoken out against a number of new regulations and mandates on employers.

While this has included opposition to a $15 minimum wage (about which left-of-center publications have also raised concerns), it is certainly not limited to that issue.  For example, Puzder has been a leading opponent of the National Labor Relations Board’s (NLRB or Board) misguided attempt to broaden the definition of joint employment, which would make businesses liable for workplaces they don’t control and workers they don’t employ.  This opposition certainly seems justified.  In the words of Board members Phil Miscimarra and Harry Johnson, who wrote the dissent in the Browning-Ferris case that established the new joint employer doctrine, the NLRB’s approach:

“…will subject countless entities to unprecedented new joint-bargaining obligations that most do not even know they have, to potential joint liability for unfair labor practices and breaches of collective-bargaining agreements, and to economic protest activity, including what have heretofore been unlawful secondary strikes, boycotts, and picketing.”

Puzder has also criticized the Department of Labor’s overtime rule, which seeks to raise the salary threshold for overtime by more than 100% overnight.  Numerous individuals, businesses, and associations (including the U.S. Chamber) have done the same.  This criticism appears vindicated now that a federal judge has placed an injunction on implementation of the rule for straying outside of the Department’s statutory authority.

Opposition to these various regulations, as well as support for America’s employers, is well within the mainstream of political dialogue.  Fight for $15 and its media allies may disagree.  But based on the inconvenience Fight for $15 is willing to inflict on Americans with their “day of disruption” one suspects they aren’t happy about much these days.


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About the Author

Glenn Spencer Headshot
Senior Vice President, Employment Policy Division

Glenn Spencer is senior vice president of the Employment Policy division at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.