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Sidelined on UAW strikes, Biden White House talks economic aid By Reuters

Sidelined on UAW strikes, Biden White House talks economic aid

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© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: U.S. President Joe Biden steps out of an electric Chevrolet Silverado EV pickup truck being shown to him by General Motors Chief Executive Mary Barra during a visit to the Detroit Auto Show to highlight electric vehicle manufacturing in Americ

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By Nandita Bose

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – As the UAW strike enters its fifth day, the Biden administration is hobbled by any lack of legal authority to steer the talks and struggling to figure out UAW President Shawn Fain’s negotiating strategy or getting a clear read on his leadership style, three sources said.

The Biden White House is having discussions about ways to blunt any economic fallout from an extended auto workers strike, the sources said, as U.S. officials acknowledge they have a limited role to play in talks between General Motors (NYSE:), Ford (NYSE:) and Chrysler-owner Stellantis (NYSE:) and the union.

Top administration officials have held multiple calls with union leaders, Michigan lawmakers, company executives, suppliers, outside labor advisers and economists in the run-up to the strike to discuss aid for workers, suppliers and the local state economy, while both parties continue negotiations, one of the sources said.

The White House has started an “inter-agency process” to study the economic implications of the strike, with a focus on workers, said a fourth source familiar with the matter, who described the process as “routine.”

The White House and the administration have discussed “mitigation efforts” in the event of a full work stoppage, not in response to the actions taken by the union currently, two sources said.

White House spokesperson Robyn Patterson said “no decision has been made” on offering aid or lessening the economic impact.

On Friday, Biden sided clearly with the union, telling automakers to concede more to workers who walked off the job at Detroit’s largest car companies and share record profits fairly, and said he would dispatch two of his top officials to Detroit to support both sides in the negotiations.

But he was rebuked by UAW’s Fain, who said “this battle is not about the President,” and the two officials, Gene Sperling, and acting Labor Secretary Julie Su, were still in Washington as of Monday evening.

A White House official said “their goal is not to intervene or to serve as mediator but to help support the negotiations in any way both parties feel is constructive.”

“Nobody has a read on Fain,” said Art Wheaton, director of…

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