Biden meets with top CEOs, labor union leaders

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President-elect Joe Biden held a virtual meeting with major industry CEOs and labor union leaders on Monday to discuss the economic recovery during the coronavirus pandemic.

Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris participated in the Zoom call with General Motors CEO Mary Barra, Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella, Target CEO Brian Cornell and Gap CEO Sonia Syngal.

“Thanks for being here,” Biden said. “To state the obvious, we seem to be turning a pretty dark corner now.” 

He said his objective was to “get our economy back on track. We all agree on the common goals, just have a slightly different perspective.” 

Other participants included labor union leaders Richard Trumka, president of AFL-CIO; Mary Kay Henry, president of the Service Employees International Union; Rory Gamble, president of United Auto Workers; Marc Perrone, president of the United Food and Commercial Workers International Union; and Lee Saunders, president of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees.

“We need to manufacture the respirators and personal protective equipment that continue to be in short supply. We need to make the investments to retrofit our workplaces and schools to meet the ventilation and distancing requirements scientists and workplace safety experts tell us are absolutely vital. We need to make sure all COVID-19 cases are counted and reported so we know where the major outbreaks are before they get worse,” Trumka said at the meeting, according to remarks released by AFL-CIO.

Trumka said “the most important thing” is that a future Occupational Safety and Health Administration, a division of the Department of Labor, protects workers.

“OSHA has been totally absent during this pandemic, and workers across industries have been left to fend for ourselves. One of the best ways OSHA can reestablish its mission is through an emergency temporary standard to protect workers from COVID-19. We’ve petitioned for it. We’ve sued for it,” he said.

Biden said he thought he deserved credit for bringing labor and business leadership together.

“We agree that we can’t just go back on the economy,” he said, adding that he remains an optimist that America will come out stronger.

Biden received endorsements from all the unions that participated in the meeting on Monday.

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