Home Business Richard Trumka, head of AFL-CIO union federation, dies at 72

Richard Trumka, head of AFL-CIO union federation, dies at 72

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AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka addresses the Economic Club of Washington in Washington, DC on April 23, 2019.

Mandel Ngan | AFP | Getty Images

AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka died Thursday at the age of 72.

Trumka had served as president of the 12.5 million-member labor federation since 2009.

President Joe Biden called Trumka a close friend after learning of the labor leader’s death.

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-New York, choked back tears as he spoke on the Senate floor about Trumka.

” I rise today with some sad, horrible news about the passing of a great friend Rich Trumpka who left us this morning,” Schumer said, before pausing to compose himself. “We lost a fierce warrior.”

“His memory will, I know , importune all of us to do more, even more, for the working people of America who Rich Trumka so deeply loved.”

Trumka grew up in Nemacolin, Pennsylvania, and as a college and law school student worked a a coal miner, just as his father and grandfather had done.

At 33 years old, he ran on a reform ticket for the presidency of the United Mine Workers of America, and was elected as its youngest leader ever in 1982.

Pennsylvania Lt. Gov. John Fetterman said Trumka’s death was “truly heartbreaking.”

“We lost a larger than life figure who spent a career fighting for, and defending the Union Way of Life,” Fetterman, a Democrat, wrote in a tweet.

“It’s left to the rest of us to pick up the slack and never stop fighting.  #UnionStrong.”

This is breaking news. Please check back for updates.


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