Yesterday afternoon, fast-food executive Andrew Puzder announced that he would be withdrawing his nomination to be the next US labor secretary. This came on the heels of last week’s announcement that Puzder was being sued via class-action lawsuit for an illegal wage-fixing scheme at his Carl’s Jr. restaurants.
Of course, as David Dayen reported in the Intercept, this was only on in a “growing list of concerns” before Puzder’s confirmation hearing, formerly slated for later today. Puzder had:
“[…] delayed his hearing four times to get his financial disclosures in order; admitted to employing an undocumented housekeeper; and worked under the tutelage of a notorious mob lawyer. His ex-wife appeared on Oprah in disguise in the 1990s to discuss domestic violence incidents in their marriage; senators in both parties have viewed the footage, and divorce records, which include additional allegations of assault, were unsealed on Tuesday.”
A rarity in today’s polarized America, Puzder’s record was odious enough to inspire ire from both the left and the right. From the NYTimes:
The toppling of one of President Trump’s cabinet picks was a victory for Democrats, unions and liberal groups that had been attacking Mr. Puzder’s business record and his character since he was chosen in December. Conservative publications, including National Review and Breitbart, had also expressed resistance, zeroing in on Mr. Puzder’s employment of an undocumented immigrant as his housekeeper.
But, of course: an odious record hasn’t proven sufficient to block some of other Trump’s cabinet nominees. So what happened here?
As John Nichols wrote in the Nation, a “vigorous nationwide campaign” successfully resisted Puzder’s nomination, “slow[ing] down the process and creat[ing] an opening for questions to be raised and opposition to build. He explains:
After months of agitating against Puzder, the AFL-CIO stepped up its activism even as Vice President Mike Pence was breaking a 50-50 Senate tie to save DeVos’s nomination for Education Secretary. […]
The International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers website summed the fight up this week with two words: “Keep Calling!” Working people kept calling. And it mattered.abor activists and their allies—especially in the farm and food safety movements—bet that Puzder could be stopped. They attracted support from the broader resistance movement. And they persisted.
Puzder really was a horrible nominee, with an anti-worker bias and a sordid past. But bad policies and bad backgrounds were not sufficient to derail Trump picks that McConnell and Republican leaders rushed through the confirmation process in late January and early February. This Trump nominee was stopped because an opposition movement is taking shape, developing inside-outside strategies and refusing to let Donald Trump and Mitch McConnell call all the shots.
The future remains unwritten.