Protest held at Oakland Carl's Jr. to denounce president's labor nominee

OAKLAND (BCN)— Business at an Oakland Carl's Jr. restaurant was disrupted for nearly an hour as dozens of protesters held a rally inside to denounce President Donald Trump's nominee for U.S. Secretary of Labor, who is the fast food chain's CEO.
   
At noon, about 60 people entered the restaurant, located at 3770 Telegraph Ave., chanting and holding signs in favor of workers' rights.
   
Among the protesters were fast food workers and members of organizations such as Fight For $15 and Service Employees International Union.
   
Trump's nominee for the Labor position, Andrew Puzder, is the CEO for CKE Restaurants, which owns Carl's Jr. and Hardee's.
   
According to organizers, Puzder's restaurants have a history of worker abuse, including wage theft, sexual harassment and retaliation and intimidation tactics against workers who tried to organize.
   
During the rally, protesters also called for $15 hourly wages for fast food workers. Puzder has reportedly said in the past that he was against minimum wage hikes, organizers said.
   
According to two women who work at other Bay Area Carl's Jr. restaurants, employees are regularly denied breaks and asked to work longer hours without compensation.
   
Connie Betancourt, who has worked at an Alameda Carl's Jr. for 14 years, accused the company of wage theft, saying that she often works six days a week, but only gets paid for five days.
   
"I don't support Andy because I don't want what happened to me to happen to anyone else," Betancourt said.
   
According to Estela Salinas, a nine-year employee at a San Jose Carl's Jr., workers are not always given breaks and forced to work overtime.
   
"What I didn't notice is that there are so many abuses happening to the workers. During my 8 hour shifts, I wasn't given my two 10-minute breaks, and during my lunch I was forced to work," Salinas said.
   
Today's action was part of more than a two-dozen other rallies happening across the country to declare Puzder as an unfit choice for the position.
   
"He doesn't believe the people behind the counter are worth anything, but they're the ones making him his money," Kathryn Lybarger, president of California Labor Federation and president of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees Local 3299, said of  Puzder.
   
"He's depending on people's poverty... And this is the guy who's supposed to be in charge of workers in the country," Lybarger said.
   
"It's really unfortunate that the fast food industry is based on the exploitation of workers - immigrant workers, undocumented workers and elderly people who might have to make additional money," Mike Donaldson, a retired worker and organizer with the SEIU, said.
   
"We want all workers in fast food, and the restaurant industry as a whole, to have an income that is sufficient," Donaldson said.
   
During the rally, a handful of Oakland police officers showed up, however the demonstration remained peaceful and ended by 1 p.m.
   
Puzder is reportedly scheduled to attend a confirmation hearing in Washington D.C. on Thursday.
   
CKE Restaurants did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

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