With the announcement of the passing of immediate past AFL-CIO
President John Sweeney on February 1, MTD President Michael Sacco
recalled his many years of friendship and working with his fellow New
“John was very dedicated to improving the lives of working people,” Sacco said.
“He came from a humble background and rose to the top of the Labor
Movement. But he never, never forgot where he came from.
“John was right at home on a shop floor, in a union meeting or at the
White House. His priority always was the workers and their families,”
“We both came up through the ranks – in tough times and good. He was
always the same person and a great leader. We shall miss him deeply.
“We extend our love and best wishes to his wife, Maureen, and his
whole family,” he concluded.
Sweeney was a member of the MTD Executive Board while president of the
Service Employees International Union (SEIU) from 1984 until his
election to lead the AFL-CIO in 1995. He addressed MTD conventions in
1995, 1997, 1999, 2001, 2005 and 2009 (the year he retired as AFL-CIO
Also recalling his years of friendship and work with Sweeney was
President Joe Biden.
“Time and again over the many years of our friendship, I saw how
lifting up the rights, voices and dignity of working Americans was
more than a job to him. It was a sacred mission. It was a calling,”
Sweeney, 86, led the SEIU from 1980 to 1995. In the mid-1950s, he was
a researcher for the International Ladies Garment Workers Union,
before signing on with an SEIU local in New York In 1960. He became
the head of that local in 1976. President Obama awarded him the
Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2010.