John Sweeney, President of the AFL-CIO

This is a partial transcript from Your World with Neil Cavuto, January 29, 2002. Click here for complete access to all of Neil Cavuto's CEO interviews. 

NEIL CAVUTO, HOST: President Bush getting ready to give his State of the Union address tonight. Among other things, he's going to outline the progress that has been made since the September 11 attacks on our nation.

But when it comes to the state of our nation's work force, our next guest says that the president has got nothing to brag about. Joining us now from Washington is John Sweeney. He is the president of the AFL-CIO. Mr. Sweeney, good to have you.

JOHN SWEENEY, PRESIDENT, AFL-CIO: Nice to be here, Neil.

CAVUTO: Rate this president on labor issues thus far.

SWEENEY: Well, we've supported the president in the war on terrorism and national security. But the president really hasn't been focused on the domestic program to the satisfaction of working families and that's what polls are showing us.

People are concerned. They're concerned about the war on terrorism. But they are very much concerned about the economy at home and how it affects their lives, their jobs and their retirement security. And we'll be listening to what the president has to say, but we'll also be looking to see what the president is going to do about it.

CAVUTO: Are you surprised, John, that polls take on this issue of the economy rate the president more highly than Democrats?

SWEENEY: No, I am not surprised. I mean, the president has tremendous national support. We're all solidly united in the war on terrorism and all concerned about the national security issues. But if you read into the polls themselves, you will see that people are anxious about their jobs. They are anxious about how the economy has gone and the fact that millions of workers are out of work and many more without health insurance and looking for relief and help. And nothing has been done to address workers' issues since we bailed out the airline industry.

CAVUTO: Now, you were critical of that at the time, but many are saying in retrospect, it looked like it was a good thing to do because now it's getting back on its feet. It seems to be rebounding. A number of hotel leisure executives are saying they're happy to hear about it. A lot of the workers at those places are happy. What do you say after that?

SWEENEY: Oh, no. We are seeing a lot more misery and a lot of folks continuing to lose their jobs, a lot of layoffs taking place.

CAVUTO: So you think it was a mistake?


CAVUTO: Yes. You know, apparently James Hoffa Jr. is going to be sitting next to Laura Bush, we understand, at the president's State of the Union Address tonight. Do you find that odd?

SWEENEY: No. Labor leaders have attended. I've attended some of the State of the Union addresses. And I will be there as Tom Daschle's guest tonight.

CAVUTO: Have you ever been a guest of a Republican?

SWEENEY: No, I haven't.

CAVUTO: In and of itself, don't you find that a little weird?

SWEENEY: No. I'm just happy to be a guest and to be in the gallery to hear what the president has to say. It's an important message and...

CAVUTO: So, their isn't an schism, in other words, between the two prominent unions in this country?

SWEENEY: Oh, no. The labor movement is very solid and very united. We all have different views on some issues, but that's what a Democratic labor movement is all about.

CAVUTO: So if the president or Laura Bush had invited you to sit next to them before you got the word from Daschle, would you?


CAVUTO: You would. OK.


CAVUTO: Finally, on hiking the minimum wage, something you've been pushing for a long time. Doesn't look like it's going to happen anytime soon, but could it be a debate point to get a stimulus package through?

SWEENEY: It certainly would help in terms of stimulating the economy. And the more we can address the issues of low wage and middle income workers, the better we're going to stimulate the economy because that money goes back into the economy as soon as workers and their families get it. Tax breaks for the wealthy and the corporations is not the way to stimulate the economy.

CAVUTO: Are you hearing from Al Gore whether he wants to run again? And would you offer support if he did?

SWEENEY: No. Al Gore is a friend and I hear from him and talk to him on a regular basis. But we'll go through a process at the right time in terms of presidential politics.

CAVUTO: Well, has he told you, keep your powder dry?

SWEENEY: No, he hasn't really expressed either way.

CAVUTO: Have you told him keep his powder dry?

SWEENEY: No, we haven't even talked about it.

CAVUTO: All right. John Sweeney, always a pleasure. Thank you very much.

SWEENEY: Thank you.

CAVUTO: The head of the AFL-CIO, John Sweeney, in Washington.

Copy: Content and Programming Copyright 2002 Fox News Network, Inc. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. Transcription Copyright 2002 eMediaMillWorks, Inc. (f/k/a Federal Document Clearing House, Inc.), which takes sole responsibility for the accuracy of the transcription. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. No license is granted to the user of this material except for the user's personal or internal use and, in such case, only one copy may be printed, nor shall user use any material for commercial purposes or in any fashion that may infringe upon Fox News Network, Inc.'s and eMediaMillWorks, Inc.'s copyrights or other proprietary rights or interests in the material. This is not a legal transcript for purposes of litigation.