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Trump taps former St. Louis lawyer to lead U.S. Department of Labor

Profile photo of CKE Restaurants Chief Executive Andrew Puzder.
CKE Restaurants Inc.

Donald Trump has chosen a former St. Louis lawyer to lead the U.S. Department of Labor.

The president-elect plans to tap Andrew Puzder, chief executive of CKE Restaurants, the parent company of Carl’s Junior, Hardees and other fast food chains, to lead the department which oversees the welfare of wage earners, job seekers and retirees.

In a statement, Trump says Puzder will fight to make American workers "safer and more prosperous" and expects him to protect small businesses from "unnecessary regulations."

Puzder holds a law degree from Washington University and practiced law in St. Louis for more than a decade. For a time, he worked in the St. Louis law offices of Morris A. Shenker, who was a lawyer for Teamsters union head Jimmy Hoffa. Puzder was considered one of the top anti-abortion lawyers in the state during the 1980s and 1990s, writing and advocating for a state law declaring life begins at conception.

Puzder was one of Trump's earliest campaign financiers. At the Republican National Convention in Cleveland last July, he had high praise for Trump.

“Working class Americans don’t envy Donald Trump. They don’t resent Donald Trump. They don’t think he’s an evil rich guy. They see a billionaire, but they see his success and they want to emulate it,” he said.

Puzder has opposed efforts to expand eligibility for overtime pay and increase the minimum wage to $15 an hour.

His Senate confirmation is likely to draw opposition from Democrats and labor groups who favor higher minimum wages, and who defend the Affordable Care Act.

This March, Puzder moved CKE headquarters from St. Louis to Nashville.

Follow Joseph Leahy on Twitter: @joemikeleahy