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Austin workers protest, denounce Trump’s pick for labor secretary


Protesters rallied outside a Carl’s Jr. restaurant, whose parent company is led by labor nominee Andrew Puzder.

Critics decry Puzder’s opposition to a minimum wage hike and his use of scantily clad women in company’s ads.

Austin #Fighfor15 activists and fast-food workers joined in nationwide protests on Thursday to denounce President-elect Donald Trump’s pick to lead the U.S. Labor Department.

Trump nominated Andrew Puzder, the head of CKE Restaurants, the parent company of Carl’s Jr. and Hardee’s, for labor secretary last month.

Around 20 protesters marched along South First Street to a Carl’s Jr. in the 600 block of West Slaughter Lane in South Austin, condemning corporate greed and calling for an increase in the hourly minimum wage to $15.

“I’m fighting for my rights,” said Jessenia Adame, a mother of three who has worked at Carl’s Jr. for just over three months. “I work really hard here, and I believe I deserve more for what I do.”

Adame said that while her company does work with her on scheduling, she doesn’t receive benefits and works difficult hours, sometimes leaving at 11:30 p.m. and returning at 5 a.m.

Business leaders have lauded Puzder for helping Carl’s Jr. and Hardee’s burger chains climb to nearly $1.3 billion in annual revenue, but his critics have decried his opposition to a minimum wage increase and embrace of automation, as well as his company’s use of scantily clad women in ads to sell burgers.

“He’s just like Trump. I don’t like it at all. I mean, he degrades women,” Adame said. “Have you seen the (burger) commercials? I wouldn’t want to be in any commercials like that, and I don’t see any other woman liking the commercials.”

#Fightfor15 activists held a similar event late in November in which more than 50 people paraded through fast-food drive-through windows decrying corporate greed and unacceptable working conditions.

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