"And old joke…you go home with them that brung you to the dance," the vice president said, according to remarks put out by the White House. "Well, you all brought me to the dance a long time ago. And it's time we start dancing, man. It's time we start dancing."
Biden noted that the National Labor Relations Act "explicitly says this nation's policy is to encourage -- encourage -- collective bargaining, encourage unions."
He said he backed so-called card-check legislation that would make it easier for workers to unionize. Many business groups oppose the legislation.
Biden said that in the Obama administration "it will not take divine intervention" for union leaders like Sweeney "to get invited to the White House," arguing that "you can't have a middle class without a strong labor movement."
In a separate appearance, the vice president also announced that $8.4 billion from the stimulus package would be made available for public transportation infrastructure. Joined by Secretary Ray LaHood and Miami Mayor Manny Diaz, he noted that the Miami Intermodal Center was an example of a project that received that funding and said it represented "the wave of the future."
"Investments in public transportation put people to work, but they also get people to work in a way that moves us towards our long term goals of energy security and a better quality of life," LaHood said in a statement.
The vice president and AFL-CIO have come under criticism from some on the right today for not allowing cameras into the event. AFL-CIO representatives responded by saying that executive council meetings are usually not open to the press at all and that print reporters were allowed in this year, reportedly at the vice president's insistence.
But that explanation didn't satisfy Republican critics: The Republican National Committee this morning sent to reporters a CNS News story claiming that the White House ordered no cameras be allowed at the resort hotel.
As that story points out, the Fontainebleau "has 1,504 rooms and suites, 22 oceanfront acres, 11 restaurants and nightclubs including three signature name chef restaurants, a 40,000-square-foot spa, and a 'sophisticated poolscape' with private cabanas."