Tuesday 17 November 2020

Joe Biden says he told GM, Microsoft and Target CEOs 'union guys are going to have increased power - and they just nodded' during talks on economy

 Joe Biden vowed on Monday that labor unions would have 'increased power' in his administration and he said business leaders agreed with him.

The president-elect spoke about the pandemic-devastated economy after holding a virtual meeting with CEOs and labor leaders, including AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka and General Motors CEO Mary Barra.  

'I said I want you to know I'm a union guy,' he said of his conversation with them. Unions will have increased power. They just nodded. They understand. It's not antibusiness. It's about economic growth, creating good paying jobs.'

His edict will please the left wing of the party, which was wary of Biden's long record of moderate politics, and serves as a warning to business where his priorities lay after the pro-business years of President Donald Trump's administration.

Joe Biden vowed labor unions would have 'increased power' in his administration

Joe Biden vowed labor unions would have 'increased power' in his administration

President-elect Joe Biden speaks to business and labor leaders during a virtual meeting

President-elect Joe Biden speaks to business and labor leaders during a virtual meeting

Biden, in his remarks, doubled down on his support of unions and the environment.

'We will make sure that labor is at the table and environmentalists are at the table and any trade deals we make,' he said. 

Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris met with business and labor leaders to discuss the economic recovery, including Trumka, Barra, SEIU President Mary Kay Henry, Microsoft President Satya Nadella, UAW President Rory Gamble, Target CEO Brian Cornell, UFCW President Marc Perrone, AFSCME President Lee Saunders, and GAP CEO Sonia Synga. 

'It was really encouraging quite frankly to get business and labor together, agreeing on the way forward,' Biden said after their sit down.

He said his plans to help the country recovery from the pandemic-induced recession included an increased minimum wage - he called for a $15 minimum wage nationwide - better benefits and stronger collective bargaining rights.

'That's how we build back the middle class better than ever. That's how we make sure your workers are treated with dignity and respect they deserve,' he said. 'I could tell you that I was very encouraged by our conversation. There's only so much we can do and only way we do any of this is when we work together. I know we can do this.'

He said he saw the election as a mandate from the American people for both sides to work together. '

'They want us to cooperate. They want us to deliver results. And the choice that we will make is we are going to do that. That's why I'm so pleased today that we were able to bring together business and labor leaders to make the choice jointly with us,' he said. 

He also warned a 'dark winter' is ahead as the nation battles the coronavirus pandemic and warned President Trump's refusal to start the transition process could result in more deaths.  

'We're all agreed that we want to get the economy back on track. We need our workers to get back to the job and that means getting the virus under control,' he said.

'We're going into a very dark winter. Things are going to get tougher before it gets easier,' he warned as coronavirus cases are on the rise in the United States. There have been more than 11 million cases of the disease in the United States and the average daily rate is more than 100,000. 

Biden also called on Trump's administration to give his transition team access to their plan to distribute a COVID vaccine.

'The sooner we have access to the administration's distribution plan, the sooner this transition will smoothly move forward,' he said.

'More people may die if we don't coordinate,' he added.

'How do we get over 300 million Americans vaccinated, what's the game plan? It's a huge, huge undertaking to get it done and prioritize those greatest in need and working our way through it,' he said. 'And they say they had this warp speed program that they not only dealt with getting vaccines but also how to distribute.'

He argued waiting until Inauguration Day is too long given the seriousness of the pandemic. 

'If we have to wait until January 20th to start that plan, it puts us behind a month,' he said.

President Trump holds a fist up to his supporters cheering from off the course on Sunday; he continues to insist he won the election

President Trump holds a fist up to his supporters cheering from off the course on Sunday; he continues to insist he won the election

The formal transition process is stalled amid President Trump's refusal to concede the election to his Democratic rival. The General Services Administration is the agency that formally begins the transfer of power but it's chief, appointed by Trump, has refused to start the process. 

Biden's Build Back Better economic recovery plan would spend over $7 trillion on initiatives such as infrastructure, which includes the creation of 10 million clean-energy jobs, and on housing, education, economic fairness and health care.

President Trump, meanwhile, refuses to concede to his Democratic rival even as his lawsuits in key battleground states have failed and his campaign has turned up no evidence of voter fraud.  

'I won the Election!' Trump tweeted Monday morning, again falsely claiming victory. Twitter posted a disclaimer on his Tweet, writing: 'Official sources called this election differently.' 

Biden holds 306 electoral votes to Trump's 232 - the same margin Trump won by in 2016 when he declared a 'landslide' victory over Hillary Clinton. Biden also leads in the popular vote by at least 5.5 million votes with ballots still being counted. 

The official transition process hasn't started yet amid the president's refusal to yield.

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