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Labor Eulogizes the Late Richard Trumka

New York, NY – Respected labor leader Richard Trumka, president of the AFL-CIO, died on August 5, of an apparent heart attack. Born in 1949, he served as president of the United Mine Workers from 1982 to 1995, and then as secretary-general of the AFL-CIO from 1995 to 2009. He was elected president in September of 2009, and remained at the post until his death.

Richard Trumka.

The AFL-CIO is the country’s largest labor federation, representing 56 labor unions worldwide and over 12 million workers. The organization released a statement saying, “The labor movement, the AFL-CIO and the nation lost a legend. Rich devoted his life to working people, from his early days as president of the United Mine Workers of America to his unparalleled leadership as the voice of American’s labor movement. He was a relentless champion of workers’ rights, workplace safety, worker-centered trade, democracy and so much more…standing on Rich’s shoulders, we will pour everything we have into building an economy, society and democracy that lifts up every working family and community.”

Senator Chuck Schumer, called Trumka’s death “the passing of a great friend.”

“The working people of America have lost a fierce warrior at a time when we needed him most,” Schumer said. “Just yesterday, Rich was lending his support to the striking miners in Alabama. Following in his father’s footsteps he worked in the mines, he went to Penn State, earned his law degree, he didn’t practice, didn’t go to work at some fancy place, he went right to work at the United Mine Workers. He had, in his veins, in every atom of his body, the heart, the thoughts, the needs, of the working people of America.”

President Joe Biden called Trumka, “A close friend of mine,” adding, “You knew whatever he said he’d do, he’d do. He was always there. He was an American worker, always fighting for the working people, protecting their wages, their safety, their pensions, and their ability to build a middle-class life.”

“The epitome of solidarity and grit, President Trumka was nothing short of a working-class hero,” said International Union of Elevator Constructors (IUEC) General President Frank J. Christensen. “A champion of workers and working families across the country, his prowess as a labor leader was only matched by his decency.”

Gary LaBarbera, president of the Building and Construction Trades Council of Greater New York, said, “Richard Trumka was a dedicated labor leader and his impact and influence will live on in the hearts and minds of union leaders, advocates, organizers, and working men and women. A fierce advocate for justice, integrity, and hardworking Americans, Richard led by example, blazing a trail that inspired others to follow. Our thoughts and prayers are with him and his family at this difficult time. America lost a truly honorable man.”

Vinnie Alvarez, NYC Central Labor Council President, said, “President Trumka was a larger than life figure, a tireless fighter on behalf of working men and women across our nation, and a true and loyal friend to the NYC Labor Movement. Over the years we have been proud to stand with him countless times to fight for a fair and level playing field at work, and to create an economy that works for all working people. President Trumka always answered the call to support NYC’s working families, and our Movement is stronger because of his leadership.”

LaborPress Publisher Neal Tepel said, “Rich Trumka devoted his life to working men and woman, from his early days as president of the United Mine Workers of America, to leadership as AFL-CIO president. In his death, the labor movement and the AFL-CIO lost a legend. President Trumka was never afraid to speak truth to power and he was a relentless champion of worker issues as worker rights, workplace safety, and worker-centered trade. A fierce warrior for the American worker as he fought for safety in the work place, increased wages, pensions, and the American middle class. Richard Trumka was a hands-on AFL-CIO president that gained the respect of both parties in our country and leaders around the globe.”

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