Small Business Loses Andy Puzder As Labor Boss; Vending Gains Tom Price As HHS Secretary

Posted On: 2/20/2017

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TAGS: Andy Puzder, Labor secretary, Obama-era labor rules, overtime pay, minimum wage, CKE Restaurants Holdings Inc., National Automatic Merchandising Association, Amusement and Music Operators Association, Alexander Acosta, Tom Price, Health and Human Services

WASHINGTON -- Andy Puzder's withdrawal from consideration to become Labor secretary was a blow to the White House and the small-business community. Puzder had received strong support from small businesses and franchised-business trade groups, which viewed him as a job creator who would roll back Obama-era rules expanding overtime pay and raising the minimum wage.

Puzder, chief executive of Carpinteria, CA-based CKE Restaurants Holdings Inc., which operates the Carl's Jr. and Hardee's chains, withdrew as President Trump's nominee on Feb. 15. Restaurant owners in particular saw Puzder as an ally, and were counting on him to scrap the Labor Dept.'s wage enforcement strategy that specifically targets quick-service eateries.

Both the National Automatic Merchandising Association (NAMA), which represents vending machine and coffee service operators, and the Amusement and Music Operators Association, which represents jukebox and games businesses, are concerned about federal wage increases and dramatic changes in overtime requirements.

Trump has tapped U.S. Century Bank chairman Alexander Acosta as his next nominee for Labor secretary. Acosta has experience serving on the National Labor Relations Board and has a comprehensive background in law, including teaching employment law. Edward Hugler, a career bureaucrat employed by the department since 1978, will likely remain acting secretary until a new nominee is approved.

 Tom Price, vending, calorie-disclosure, Health and Human Services
Tom Price

Separately, NAMA's government affairs division sees the confirmation of Tom Price as secretary of Health and Human Services as a positive development for the vending industry. The association had signed letters of support for Price (R-GA), a retired orthopedic surgeon from suburban Atlanta who served as chairman of the House Budget Committee.

As HSS secretary, Price is expected to orchestrate the repeal of and a replacement for the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare, which his congressional colleagues have been working on this year. The 2010 law mandates the FDA's calorie-disclosure rules for food and beverages sold through vending machines, which went into effect last year.

"We look forward to working with Secretary Pricem given that his department is charged with oversight of FDA and calorie disclosure and, more broadly, promoting and protecting public health," said Eric Dell, NAMA's senior vice-president of government affairs. "Through NAMA's commitment to nutrition and wellness -- through our signature outreach initiative Fit Pick -- HHS and our members have a lot of common ground, and we'll continue to ensure the industry's voice is heard."

Price oversees a $1 trillion agency, the largest budget of any Cabinet secretary. In addition to Obamacare, HHS administers the Medicare and Medicaid programs, and oversees the National Institutes of Health, among other programs and agencies.

NAMA has also signed a letter of support for Georgia Gov. Sonny Perdue to be approved as USDA Secretary.