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President-elect Donald Trump yesterday said he would nominate Andrew F. Puzder, CEO of the company that franchises the Hardee's and Carl's Jr. fast food chains, to be his secretary of labor in his administration.

“Andy Puzder has created and boosted the careers of thousands of Americans, and his extensive record fighting for workers makes him the ideal candidate to lead the Department of Labor," Trump said in a statement.

However, there are those who suggested that Puzder has not made workers and their careers a centerpiece of his business strategies.

Puzder, the New York Times reports, has been "an outspoken critic of the worker protections enacted by the Obama administration," and a firm critic of efforts to boost the minimum wage.

The Times writes that "on policy questions, he has argued that the Obama administration’s recent rule expanding eligibility for overtime pay diminishes opportunities for workers and that significant minimum wage increases would hurt small businesses and lead to job losses. He has criticized paid sick leave policies of the sort recently enacted for federal contractors and strongly supports repealing the Affordable Care Act, which he says has created a 'government-mandated restaurant recession' because rising premiums have left people with less money to spend dining out."

And, interestingly enough considering Amazon's unveiling earlier this week of a store format that has no checkout lanes because of some significant technological advances, Puzder also has advocated for replacing fast food employees with robots. Machines, he said, were “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.”
KC's View:
I found myself curiously conflicted yesterday when I heard the Puzder quote about automation. On the one hand, I feel bad for the poor fast food employees being replaced by robots. But on the other hand, I took a different position on automation when Amazon made its revelations earlier in the week. Is Hardee's any different from Amazon, at least in this regard?

Here's what I think. The problem is not automation replacing people. That's inevitable. As one MNB reader said yesterday, when was the last time you went to a bank teller as opposed to using an ATM or banking online? Cars replaced horses, which put buggy whip manufacturers out of business. People read newspapers and magazines online, which reduces the need for newspaper delivery boys and girls. This stuff is inevitable.

What is important, in my mind, is where you go from here. Once you accept that technology creates the displacement of humans in certain segments, you then have to look forward and figure out where the next jobs will be. And that's what you train people for. Tomorrow's jobs, not yesterday's.

If I were president (and this is something that nobody would want), I think I'd want a Labor Secretary who came from a company like Linked In or Monster - someone who knows where the jobs are going, as opposed to where they have been. I'd want someone who thinks in terms of the highest common denominator, not the lowest. I'd like someone who created a company that invested in employees and did not see them as liabilities.

But that's just me. And I'm not president.