The Fight for $15 movement was accused of using paid union activists Thursday as part of a nationwide protest against President-elect Donald Trump’s pick for labor secretary.

CKE Restaurants President Andy Puzder was nominated Dec. 8 to become the next secretary of labor. He currently operates several franchises including Carl’s Jr. and Hardee’s. The Fight for $15 movement launched the protest claiming workers at those chains oppose his nomination. The International Franchise Association (IFA) says the protest mostly consisted of paid union activists.

Minimum Wage vs EITC
Photo by WageIndicator.org – Pictures from Paulien Osse and

“These union front organizations are simply more of the same PR stunts, and as we have seen so many times in the past, most of these protesters are paid union activists, not workers,” IFA Public Affairs Director Matt Haller said in a statement. “Furthermore, these protests distract from the real issues at hand for our nation’s leaders.”

The Fight for $15 movement didn’t respond when asked by InsideSources if they used paid union protesters. IFA also accused the movement of being part of a hidden union agenda to undermine Puzder. The Fight for $15 is primarily supported by labor unions like the Service Employees International Union (SEIU).

“By picking Andrew Puzder for labor secretary, Trump made it pretty clear – the next four years are going to be about low pay, wage theft, sexual harassment, and racial discrimination,” Fight for $15 states on its website. “He opposes the minimum wage. He thinks workers are overprotected. He is against unions. He even said he wants to fire workers and replace them with machines.”

The Fight for $15 added that the Senate should reject his nomination. Puzder was denounced within days of being picked for running television commercials featuring models eating hamburgers in sexually suggestive ways. He does oppose the $15 minimum wage but told the Los Angeles Times that he supports a more moderate increase.

“It’s shameful to see Big Labor use their hard-working members’ dues to orchestrate protests,” America Rising Squared Communications Director Jeremy Adler told InsideSources. “After eight tough years under President Obama, our country’s workers need a labor secretary who fights for more jobs and economic growth and that is a mission Andy Puzder is uniquely qualified to lead.”

America Rising Squared is a nonprofit research group that promotes conservative policies. The Fight for $15 movement and labor unions have been adamantly opposed to the upcoming administration. Labor unions, for the most part, backed Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton during the election. Many union members supported Donald Trump.

Democratic Sen. Patty Murray and AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka argued during a press call Dec. 22 that the president-elect has already betrayed his promise to the working class by picking Puzder. Trump’s supporters, however, see the nomination as a way to bring balance back to what has become a highly-politicized Department of Labor.

The Fight for $15 has been at the forefront of the minimum wage debate since it started in November 2012. The SEIU and Trump transition team did not respond to requests for comment by InsideSources.

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