One theme alluded to in some tributes, but not discussed in any depth, was the highly significant role that Sweeney played in broadening the labor movement — starting with his recognition that organized labor had a responsibility to be a voice for all workers, not only those already enjoying collective bargaining rights.
To bridge mutual understanding, he encouraged international union delegations to visit with American workers employed in the same multinational. It was always an eye-opener as another hitherto hidden side to corporate behavior was revealed. From anti-union busting campaigns, victimization and intimidation of employees, to third-class wages and unsafe conditions. He felt that if those delegations could walk in the shoes of his members, if even for a day, those human exchanges would build comprehension, sympathy and support.