CKE Restaurants’ Puzder advocates for immigration reform in Washington

 

 

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As the immigration debate continues on Capitol Hill and across the country, ImmigrationWorks, a national organization advancing immigration reform that works for all Americans, held an event in Washington D.C. today at the American Enterprise Institute to help lawmakers and voters understand the most important elements for creating a better legal system for the future.

Andrew Puzder, CEO of CKE Restaurants, provided insights on how the immigration reform bill would affect American businesses and the consequences of not addressing key issues in the debate.  With 3,300 restaurants throughout 48 states and approximately 70,000 workers employed by Carl’s Jr. and Hardees Restaurants, Puzder believes a bill like the one before Congress would spur economic growth and advance consumption.

“A rational, enforceable and practical immigration policy is something that would reinforce the idea that the U.S. is the land of opportunity,” said Puzder.

What American businesses like Puzder’s really need is the comfort that a person his restaurants have hired is here legally and that the system for legalization is easier for those involved to understand.

“E-verify has been very helpful for businesses who really want to comply with the law,” explained Puzder.  “If we had reform and were able to hire people without concern, we would have a better and more diverse workforce in this country.”

According to Puzder, the most important thing is economic growth and businesses have been fighting to survive since 2008.  “A bill like the one before Congress could really be a benefit to the U.S. economy and it would be nice to participate in an economy that was constantly growing,” he said.

 

 

IFA Continues Immigration Reform Listening Tour with Business Leaders in Arizona

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Franchise industry leaders held a roundtable discussion on the topic of franchising’s role in the economy and the impact the recently introduced immigration reform bill could have on franchise businesses today at the Westin Kierland Hotel & Resort in Scottsdale, Ariz., in conjunction with the Restaurant Leadership Conference, a gathering of 1,700 restaurant industry participants.

IFA Pres. & CEO Steve Caldeira opened the roundtable by reacting to the recently introduced immigration reform bill by saying, “the Senate Gang of Eight bill includes many of the priorities of the IFA’s goals for immigration reform, including a mandatory e-verify system and a new W-visa program that allows employers to access foreign workers for lesser-skilled jobs, but only after Americans have had the opportunity to fill those jobs first.”

“We see the pendulum swinging on this issue in the direction of having more positions available than we can fill with workers right now, even with a still relatively high rate of unemployment,” said Don Fox, President of Firehouse Subs.

It isn’t just restaurants that are facing difficulties finding workers to fill the forecasted demand for growth in their franchise businesses. Peter Tourian, the founder and CEO of SYNERGY home care, part of the growing non-medical in-home care industry, said immigration reform can help fuel the necessary demand for workers in his growing enterprise. “With 10,000 baby boomers turning 65 everyday, the demand for non-skilled care in our industry will continue to grow as this industry grows in the coming years.”

One of the priorities of IFA’s immigration agenda is the inclusion of a federal e-verify system that protects employers who may unknowingly hire illegal employees as a result of worker fraud. Several of the roundtable participants shared their concerns with the current e-verify program, which is mandatory in Arizona and would be mandatory nationwide as part of the Gang of Eight bill.

“There must be safeguards in e-verify to ensure that companies like mine who do the right thing by hiring legal workers are not held liable due to shortfalls in the system,” said Scott Novis, founder and CEO of GameTruck Licensing.

Aslam Khan, the largest franchisee of Church’s Chicken, implemented e-verify at his restaurants last year. “We want to do the right thing and hire legal workers, but as a result we lost many of our best workers who came back as undocumented.”

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The event was part of IFA’s integrated advocacy campaign taking place across the country to ensure the franchise industry’s voice is heard in the immigration reform debate. Participants in the Arizona roundtable included Don Fox, CEO, Firehouse Subs, Aslam Khan, CEO, Falcon Holdings (Church’s Chicken, Jack in the Box, Long John Silver, A&W and Schlotzsky’s franchisee), Scott Novis, CEO, GameTruck Licensing, Eddie Goitia, CFO, Tilted Kilt Pub and Eatery, Steve Chavez, Senior VP of Franchise Operations, Native New Yorker Franchising and Peter Tourian, CEO, SYNERGY HomeCare.

Making franchising’s voice heard on immigration

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As the immigration reform debate heats up in Washington ahead of the anticipated release of the Senate “Gang of Eight” legislative framework next week, IFA is making the voice of franchising heard to ensure the industry has the workers it needs as it continues to grow in the years ahead as part of any guest worker program that is included in the legislation.

On Wednesday, IFA Pres. & CEO Steve Caldeira penned an op-ed with Jerry Howard, CEO of the National Association of Home Builders, that appeared in The Wall Street Journal, arguing for a market-based guest worker program:

“Elegant political deals, anchored by common principles agreed to by business and labor groups often at odds, may bring cheers in Washington. But the real key to success will be a final immigration measure that is comprehensive in nature. That would mean ensuring that the government isn’t put in the position of picking winners and losers, and that the legislation is appropriately aligned with the constantly changing needs of small and large businesses.

An employer’s access to lower-skill workers participating in the visa program should be triggered after a check with the domestic labor market. If Americans want the jobs that employers need to fill, they would be first in line to get them and there would be less need for foreign workers. But the need will always exist to some degree, and a guest-worker program that permits a market-based supply of lower-skill workers is essential. Without such a program, no immigration reform bill will be worthy of the name. With one, the framework will be set to power the most prosperous economy in the world.”

The piece serves as a great reminder of the economic impact of the franchising industry to the overall economic recovery, and how a guest worker program that works for our businesses will help power the economy, which continues to create jobs at rates faster than other businesses.

Also on Wednesday, IFA was quoted in this POLITICO story that noted the concern of IFA and other leading business groups with the emerging details of a the potential legislative framework of the immigration reform package coming from the Gang of Eight and negotiated by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and the labor unions.

International Franchise Association CEO Steve Caldeira also told POLITICO he is concerned about the size of the program and economic indicators used as triggers.

“Obviously we would like to see a number higher than 20,000 workers at the start of the program,” said Caldeira. If Americans want the jobs that employers need to fill, they would be first in line to get them and there would be less need for foreign workers.”

The POLITICO story led to an appearance on Thursday evening by IFA President & CEO Steve Caldeira and ImmigrationWorks USA CEO Tamar Jacoby on FOX Business’ Cavuto program to discuss whether or not the “deal” negotiated by the Gang of Eight is sufficient.

In the segment, Caldeira and Jacoby expressed praise for the Senate negotiators and the business and labor groups involved in crafting the current framework.

“We believe in the basic principles negotiated by the Gang of Eight and the Chamber and Labor, but we believe it does not go far enough as it relates to guest worker program. The caps that you just mentioned on the program account for not even 1/10 of the workers we’ll need in franchise industry as well as construction industry…In our industry, we added 150,000 jobs last year, we forecast 162,000 jobs this year, but we can’t find the workers to meet the forecast of demand moving forward.

As the debate evolves in the coming weeks and months over immigration reform, IFA will continue to engage in an integrated lobbying, grassroots, media outreach and member engagement campaign throughout the country to ensure the franchise industry’s voice is heard. This campaign included a roundtable at last week’s Franchise Update Multi-Unit Conference in Las Vegas and at the upcoming Restaurant Leadership Conference in Arizona. The Las Vegas outreach resulted in a story in the Las Vegas Review-Journal featuring comments from Aslam Khan, George Zografos, and IFA VP for Government Relations & Public Policy Jay Perron, as well as an April 1 Las Vegas Review-Journal opinion piece by IFA member Patrick Walls, the president of Capriotti’s Sandwich Shops.