AFL-CIO president to speak tonight
John Sweeney, president of the American Federation of Labor and the Congress of Industrial Organizations (AFL-CIO), will be on campus tonight to discuss the need for unions in the 21st century.
Sweeney will address topics such as the disparity of wealth between the upper and lower classes and the number of hours Americans must work to earn a living wage. He will also discuss the impact of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) and the World Trade Organization (WTO) on the quality of life for workers.
"He's very interested in justice for workers, an adequate wage, adequate pensions and health care, safe and healthy working conditions and reasonable hours of work," said Father Patrick Sullivan, associate director of the Higgins Labor Research Center. "He does this guided by the vast tradition of Catholic social teaching beginning back in 1891 with Pope Leo XIII."
As a Catholic and head of the AFL-CIO, Sweeney has a great impact on workers both internationally and in the United States, said Sullivan.
The AFL-CIO is a voluntary federation of 68 national and international labor unions that represent 13 million people. It is an important institution in the fight against sweatshop labor, a battle the University began last year when deciding to investigate companies that manufacture Notre Dame apparel.
The Higgins Labor Research Center, a sponsor of Sweeney's lecture, primarily does research on labor management issues and training. The center also works with graduate students from a range of the University's scholarly disciplines.
Sweeney has been a labor leader since he graduated from Iona College in New Rochelle, N.Y. Beginning as a research assistant with the Ladies Garment Workers, he joined the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) in 1960 as a contract director and was later elected president of the SEIU in 1980. He served four terms before he was elected president of the AFL-CIO in October, 1995.
His lecture, the 22nd annual Lloyd McBride Memorial Lecture, begins at 8 p.m. tonight in room 102 of DeBartolo Hall.
All News Stories for Wednesday, September 8, 1999