White House won’t cross firefighter’s picket line to attend mayor’s conference.

Vice President Biden and other key administration officials, who had been scheduled to attend the national mayor’s conference in Providence, RI, have backed out because they refuse to cross a picket line. The AP reports that there is “a years-long conflict between the Providence mayor, David Cicilline, and local firefighters over contract matters. Cicilline is the host of the conference in his home city, and the firefighters, backed by the International Association of Fire Fighters, plan to stage a picket line at the event.” The White House said respecting picket lines is the administration’s policy:

bidenfirePresidential spokesman Robert Gibbs told The Associated Press that the administration is taking no position on the labor dispute itself. But, he said, “We have always respected picket lines, and administration officials will not cross this one.”

“We appreciate the Obama administration’s support of fire fighters,” said International Association of Fire Fighters General President Harold Schaitberger. “This is another example of the administration’s unqualified support for workers and organized labor.”