WASHINGTON – President-elect Joe Biden hosted a joint meeting with union leaders and senior executives from major tech, retail and auto companies on Monday.
The directors of the virtual meeting were Mary Barra, CEO of General Motors, Satya Nadella, President and CEO of Microsoft, Brian Cornell, Chairman and Chief Executive of Target, and Sonia Syngal, CEO of Gap.
Biden later said he told CEOs, "I want you to know that I am a unionist," adding, "This is not anti-business."
"Unions will have more power [in a Biden government]," Biden said. In response, Biden said the CEOs only nodded.
The union leaders present were AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka; Mary Kay Henry, president of the Service Employees International Union; Rory Gamble, President of the United Auto Workers; Lee Saunders, President of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees; and Marc Perrone, President of the United Food and Commercial Workers International Union.
"To say the obvious, we're in a pretty dark hole right now," Biden said at the beginning of the meeting. "We are facing a dark winter with Covid."
"They all have different perspectives on how best to deal with the virus. And how we can make sure workers and small businesses are safe and we can get back to business as we should," said Biden, who joined the vice president is. choose Kamala Harris.
"We all agree on common goals. We're pretty much in step," Biden continued. "We agree that we cannot just back up [after Covid], we have to back up better."
The event marked the first time Biden, as President-elect, formally convened business and labor leaders to discuss his agenda for economic recovery.
The former vice president joked that he deserved "a Nobel Prize" for bringing union leaders and CEOs together at the same event.
"I look forward to hearing what you think," Biden said to the group. "What is Covid important to get back to work safely?"
The meeting was the latest example of Biden pushing the traditional schedule for an elected president despite President Donald Trump's refusal to allow the race.
Each of the union leaders represented a union that supported Biden's presidential campaign in whole or in part.
The presence of such high-profile CEOs was more notable, however, largely because it was a public affirmation of Biden's legitimacy as president-elect.
Following the meeting, Biden made comments on his "Better Back Down" business plan and called on Congress to pass a comprehensive Covid Relief Act.
This is a developing story. Please check again for updates.