President Biden contradicted White House officials on Thursday, saying they had not been directly in touch with either side in the looming national rail-road strike.
Biden said to reporters in Nantucket, Massachusetts that negotiations between unions representing railroad workers and their employers were ongoing. The president said he had engaged directly with any of the parties since the talks were ongoing.
Biden said that his team has been in touch with all the parties, in rooms with the parties. I have not been directly engaged yet because they're still talking. Biden's comments contradict those of White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre, who said earlier this week that Biden was directly involved in the negotiations.
The president is directly involved, said Jean-Pierre. I don't want to get into the details at this time, but he has been involved. He remains focused on protecting America's families. The International Association of Sheet Metal, Air, Rail and Transportation Workers SMART-TD partnered with the nation's major freight railroads earlier this week. The union's decision has raised the possibility of a nationwide railroad strike that could affect the economy ahead of the holiday season.
Administration officials have been trying to find a compromise to avert the strike. At least one union official involved in the negotiations has suggested that Biden has been largely dismissed by Jean-Pierre during a White House press conference on Tuesday.
This is the third time I'm saying he's been directly involved, Jean-Pierre said. You're talking about a union president. You're talking about one. She said he was directly involved when pressed by reporters. I'm not going to get into more details about that, but you're talking about one president out of 12.