AFL-CIO President Emeritus John Sweeney received the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the nation’s highest civilian honor during a White House ceremony held February 15, 2011.
Sweeney, who chairs the Solidarity Center Board of Trustees, served as president of the AFL-CIO from 1995 to 2009 and transformed the union movement into a voice for all working Americans. Under his leadership, the AFL-CIO led efforts to strengthen the middle class, create good jobs for all Americans, and fight corporate greed.
Sweeney said he was “profoundly honored to receive this award among so many exceptional recipients.”
It is with great admiration and respect that I accept this award on behalf of hard-working Americans. I am deeply fortunate to have been able to devote my life to protecting and promoting the rights of working families everywhere.
AFL-CIO President and Solidarity Center Secretary-Treasurer Richard Trumka said:
Of the many great individuals who have received the Presidential Medal of Freedom, none are more deserving than John Sweeney.
No matter how high he rose, John lived the values that drew him to the labor movement as a young man, and he has never stepped back from his devotion to the working people who were the heart and soul of the working-class immigrant community where he grew up. John’s integrity, commitment and passion for the least among us has earned him an award that all of labor can be proud of.
The Presidential Medal of Freedom is the highest civilian award in the United States. It recognizes those individuals who have made “an especially meritorious contribution to the security or national interests of the United States, world peace, cultural or other significant public or private endeavors.”
Sweeney was one of 15 honorees in a White House ceremony with President Obama and first lady Michelle Obama.