WASHINGTON — President Biden plans to meet with Prince William and his wife Kate Middleton on Friday — just hours before he hopes to sign a bill overriding rail worker objections to a benefits package that doesn’t include paid sick days.
Biden will schmooze the heir to the British throne in Boston, where the Prince and Princess of Wales are attending an environmental awards ceremony. Biden is visiting Beantown for an event raising funds for Senate Democrats.
“The president intends to greet the Prince and Princess of Wales when he is in Boston. We are still finalizing and working through the details,” White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said Wednesday at a briefing.
A Kensington Palace spokesperson confirmed to The Post that “we’re looking at meeting with President Biden while he’s in Boston,” but did not give additional details.
Biden’s plan to gladhand the royals was first reported late Tuesday by the Daily Mail. It sets up awkward optics for the 80-year-old chief executive, who frequently describes himself as the most pro-union president in US history.
On Saturday, Biden intends to sign legislation that will force a new labor contract onto railway unions after four of 12 syndicates rejected a White House-brokered deal unveiled in September.
Biden says he will force the unions to accept the deal that his administration proposed to prevent the possibly devastating economic consequences of a strike in the middle of the holiday shopping season.
The House of Representatives overwhelmingly approved legislation Wednesday to force the labor-agreement onto unions, sending the bill to the Senate. The House also passed a bill to grant workers seven days of paid sick leave each year, but that proposal faces longer odds in the upper chamber due to the 60-vote threshold required for most bills.
“His number one priority is making sure that we get this done. So he does not support any bill or amendment that will delay the bill getting to his desk by Saturday,” Jean-Pierre told reporters.
Biden said Tuesday that forcing a new labor package on thousands of rail workers was one of his top priorities before Christmas.
“There’s a lot to do, including resolving the train strike and the train — the what we’re doing now. And Congress, I think, has to act to prevent it,” Biden said during a meeting with congressional leaders in the White House’s Roosevelt Room.
“It’s not an easy call, but I think we have to do it. The economy is at risk,” the president added.
In 1992, Biden was one of just six senators to vote against setting up an arbitration system to end a similar work stoppage, which Congress is empowered to do by the federal Railway Labor Act of 1926. Biden has argued in the past that such legislation unfairly undermines union collective bargaining efforts.
The pending pact that Biden intends to mandate would give rail workers 24% raises and $5,000 in bonuses retroactive to 2020 — meaning the average employee would get an immediate payout of $11,000 if the deal is ratified.
Workers also would receive an additional day of paid leave per year as well as unpaid time off for doctor’s appointments and medical procedures, and employee health insurance premiums would be capped at 15% of the total plan cost.
Additional reporting by Sara Nathan
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