Statement of Food & Water Watch Executive Director Wenonah Hauter
Washington, D.C.— “President-elect Trump’s apparent choice for the position of
Labor Secretary—fast food mogul Andy Puzder— once again lowers the bar for his administration. Following the nomination of Scott Pruitt to head up the EPA, the rumored appointment of Puzder illustrates once again that Trump is stacking his cabinet with corporate insiders. Contrary to his campaign promises, these appointments will do absolutely nothing to combat cronyism within the federal government.
“As CEO of Hardees and Carl’s Jr., Puzder is in no way qualified to set our nation’s labor standards or to lift up our workers. Puzder opposes the minimum wage and rules to protect workers. This rumored appointment raises disturbing implications for the safety of food industry workers, and by extension, the safety of our food system.
“The New Poultry Inspection System (NPIS) implemented by USDA, which seeks to privatize poultry inspection, is already seriously undermining the safety of our food system, and with Puzder helming the Department of Labor, things would get much worse.
“The NPIS system has been run as a pilot project since 1998 and additional plants began to switch to the new system in early 2015. Under the new system, inspectors are moved off slaughter lines to conduct testing activities, while only one USDA inspector remains to actually inspect carcasses. That lone inspector is responsible for evaluating up to 2.33 birds per second in broiler chicken plants; in turkey slaughter facilities, the inspector is expected to inspect one turkey carcass per second. To date, 50 plants participate in the NPIS system and USDA intends to extend the system to nearly all domestic poultry plants.
“In addition to making our food less safe, NPIS also exposes poultry plant workers and USDA inspectors to dangerous chemicals and bacteria, as well as other workplace hazards. These are working conditions that the current leadership of the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has begun to investigate, and has taken regulatory action against poultry plants that have violated worker safety standards.
“Whose interests will a corporate CEO care more about—workers, or major food corporations? We expect Puzder’s appointment to weaken the efficacy of OSHA, thereby threatening workers and the overall safety of our food.”
Contact: Kate Fried, Food & Water Watch, (202) 683-4905, [email protected].