AFL-CIO President John Sweeney met with Brazil’s President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva this past weekend, prior to Lula’s White House meeting with President Obama.
Lula, a metalworker and internationally recognized trade union leader before he was elected Brazil’s president in 2002, was re-elected in 2006. He has met frequently with the AFL-CIO on his visits to the United States since his election.
During their meeting Saturday, Lula and Sweeney discussed ways the international union movement and coordinated economic recovery policies can benefit workers in Brazil, the United States and around the globe.
Sweeney emphasized that strengthening the collective bargaining rights of U.S. workers by enacting the Employee Free Choice Act will benefit workers internationally by contributing to demand-driven growth in the global economy.
During the meeting, Lula emphasized the need for the International Trade Union Confederation and the international union movement to make sure their call for a real economic recovery and the creation of decent jobs is heard at the upcoming G-20 summit in London. He also said he supports and will reinforce that message at the summit, including a push for the International Labor Organization to be involved in talks about the recovery.
Lula recently showed he still honors his trade union roots. While most of the world’s heads of state preferred to attend the annual economic forum in Davos, Switzerland, in late January, Lula and several leaders of major Latin American countries participated in this year’s World Social Forum. In fact, Lula convened a meeting with three other Latin American presidents—Evo Morales of Bolivia, Rafael Correa of Ecuador and Hugo Chávez of Venezuela—during the social forum.