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Government

Longtime AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka Has Died

Richard Trumka
Alex Brandon/AP
/
AP
FILE - In this April 4, 2017 file photo, AFL-CIO president Richard Trumka listens at the National Press Club in Washington. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)

Richard Trumka, the powerful president of the AFL-CIO labor union, has died, according to Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer.

Schumer, an ally of the union boss, announced Trumka’s death from the Senate floor Thursday.

“The working people of America have lost a fierce warrior at a time when we needed him most,” Schumer said.

President Joe Biden called Trumka “a close friend” who was “more than the head of AFL-CIO.” He apologized for showing up late to a meeting with Asian American, Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islander civil rights leaders, saying he had just learned Trumka had died.

Further details of Trumka’s death were not immediately available. The AFL-CIO did not immediately return messages seeking comment.

Trumka oversaw a union with more than 12.5 million members, according to the AFL-CIO's website.

A longtime labor leader, Trumka was elected at age 33 in 1982 as the youngest president of the United Mine Workers of America.

There, he led a successful strike against the Pittston Coal Company, which tried to avoid paying into an industrywide health and pension fund, the union's website said.

Eulogies quickly poured out Thursday from Democrats in Congress.

“Richard Trumka dedicated his life to the labor movement and the right to organize," House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said in a statement. “Richard’s leadership transcended a single movement, as he fought with principle and persistence to defend the dignity of every person.”

U.S. Sen. Joe Manchin of West Virginia offered similar sentiments upon news of Trumka's passing.

“I am heartbroken to learn of the death of my dear friend Richard Trumka. Rich’s story is the American story – he was the son and grandson of Italian and Polish immigrants and began his career mining coal," Manchin said. "He never forgot where he came from. He dedicated the rest of his career to fighting for America’s working men and women. He was a fierce advocate for working people and a truly decent man."


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