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LiUNA Issues Statement on the Death of AFL-CIO President Emeritus John Sweeney

Washington, D.C. (February 2, 2021) – Terry O’Sullivan, General President of LIUNA – the Laborers’ International Union of North America – made the following statement today:


On Monday, February 1, the world lost, and heaven gained, a true giant of justice; AFL-CIO President Emeritus John Sweeney. In his 86 years, John Sweeney did more than anyone else to advance the cause of working men and women, both in the United States, and around the world. John Sweeney devoted his entire life and career to the cause, the purpose, and the mission of the global trade union movement. As the incredible leader of the Service Employees International Union (SEIU), and, later, as President of the AFL-CIO, John ensured that the voices of working families were heard, and their power felt, on Wall Street and Main Street, in the halls of Congress and the White House, and in factories and job sites throughout our great country. John truly left our movement, our nation, and our world, far better than the way that he found them.

John Sweeney was the real deal; a legendary leader, a compassionate and relentless working-class champion who never forgot where he came from, who never forgot the value of hard work and those who do it, and who made sure that no one forgot that the greatest assets of any country are its working men and women. The proud son of working-class Irish immigrants, John saw, first hand, the enormous contributions his parents made to their adopted country, and the difference the labor movement made in their lives.

John Sweeney was one of the most decent and honorable individuals I’ve ever met, and a dear friend whose advice and counsel I sought regularly. He was a man of his word, who said what he meant, and who meant what he said. We bonded not only around our shared values, and our commitment to the labor movement; but also around our love for our common ancestral homeland, and our desire to see that great land united, and at peace. I will miss his fighting Irish spirit, his contagious smile, and his infectious laughter.

On behalf of the 500,000 strong, proud, and united men and women of the Laborers’ International Union of North America, I offer our deepest condolences and sympathy to the entire Sweeney Family. The light of John’s life may have gone out in this world, but it will live on forever in the cherished memories of all those who were fortunate enough to have known and worked with him.

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