John Sweeney

AFL-CIO president John Sweeney was Tuesday's guest. Here are excerpts from his remarks:

On the labor movement's many problems:

"We have been organizing hundreds of thousands of workers, but we have been losing millions of good-paying manufacturing jobs. [Those have been] replaced by low-wage, part-time jobs, in many cases, with little or no healthcare and little or no retirement security. The [Bush] administration has been as anti-worker and anti-union as any administration in the history" of the US.

On how he hopes to prevent the loss to the AFL-CIO of five large unions that have formed a dissident coalition:

"[There are] very narrow gaps between the position of the five unions that have formed the coalition and the other unions of the AFL-CIO. My goal is to narrow those gaps and to reach a consensus of agreement prior to or during" [our convention, which takes place July 25-28]. "I am very hopeful that we are going to be able to avoid a split."

On whether a split would cause the death of organized labor in the US:

"No. There have been splits before. If there is a split, we will have to deal with the more than significant number of [unions] who will continue to be part" of the federation.

On whether he would consider stepping down as president in favor of a unity candidate:

"I decided to run for reelection and I'm running for a four-year term. And with the help of God, my plan is to serve that four-year term."

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