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July 05, 2024

President Biden cancels Sunday's speech at teachers union convention in Philly due to strike

Members of the National Education Association set up picket lines outside the Pennsylvania Convention Center on Friday.

2024 Election Democrats
Biden Philly Speech Max Correa/Milwaukee Journal Sentinel / USA TODAY

President Joe Biden is shown above at a campaign stop in Madison, Wisconsin, on Friday. He will not give a speech in Philadelphia on Sunday as previously planned due to a strike disrupting the annual convention of the National Education Association.

President Joe Biden will not speak as planned at a teachers union convention Sunday in Philadelphia after staff at the National Education Association went on strike and set up picket lines outside the Pennsylvania Convention Center. The organization had been scheduled to conclude its annual conference there this weekend before labor negotiations broke down.

Biden, who has been a champion of unions, said he would not cross the picket line to appear at the event.

“The president is still planning to travel to Pennsylvania this weekend," the Biden campaign said, but it didn't immediately reveal alternative plans.

The NEA is the nation's largest labor union and represents public school teachers, faculty and staffers at colleges and universities, retired educators and college students preparing to become teachers. On Friday, the National Education Association Staff Organization (NEASO) went on strike and filed a pair of complaints with the National Labor Relations Board, which included allegations of wage theft and withholding requested information about NEA's use of contractors.

NEA was founded in Philadelphia in 1857 and had anticipated 7,000 delegates would attend this weekend's conference in the city. The organization said Friday it would continue negotiations with staff to resolve the labor dispute with NEASO, which represents 350 members of NEA's 3 million member union, the Pennsylvania Capital-Star reported

Biden's speech had been planned amid turmoil about his bid for reelection in the aftermath of a poor showing in his first presidential debate against Republican challenger Donald Trump late last month. Democrats have reportedly weighed whether the president should exit the race in favor of another candidate, but the White House so far has insisted Biden is "absolutely not" dropping out of the contest. The Democratic National Convention will be held in Chicago from Aug. 19-22.

On Friday at 8 p.m., ABC News will air Biden's first TV interview since the debate — a sit down with George Stephanopoulos that will give the president a chance to address the growing concerns about his candidacy.

Biden last appeared in Philadelphia in May for an event with Vice President Kamala Harris to rally support among Black voters in the city.