Working America statement on the passing of AFL-CIO President Emeritus John Sweeney
WASHINGTON, D.C. – John Sweeney was a steward of change throughout his life in the labor movement, including creating Working America. In 2003, working families were losing power when John Sweeney went to the AFL-CIO leadership with a new idea: Create a community-based labor organization that anyone could join as an associate member, restore belief in collective power, win elections and create a path for new union organizing. Though it was a big departure for the labor movement at the time, Working America was a huge success, organizing 1 million members at their doorsteps in the first year and continuing to thrive 18 years later.
“John Sweeney believed in organizing the unorganized. He understood that in order to build power, the labor movement needed to expand its reach beyond its ranks and give working people who didn’t have the benefit of a union on the job an on-ramp to progressive collective action,” said Working America Founding Director Karen Nussbaum. “Working America is just one of his many living legacies.”
Since its founding, Working America has recruited 3.5 million members across all 50 states and held 12 million conversations. Going door to door in working-class communities, Working America delivers a counter-perspective to the right-wing talking points delivered by Sinclair Broadcasting and Fox News. Our research shows that the information we provide and the relationships we form change minds and helps win elections.