Top labor leader and AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka has died at the age of 72.
Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) grew emotional as he announced the news on the Senate floor Thursday, saying, “It’s just horrible news. I’ll have more to say about it later, but I wanted to inform my colleagues that we have just lost a giant, and we need him so.”
He continued, “We will remember him forever, and his memory will, I know, importune all of us to do more, even more, for the working people of America who Rich Trumka so dearly and deeply loved.”
Watch his announcement below:
An emotional Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer tearfully announces the death of AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka on Senate floor:
“It’s just horrible news … we have just lost a giant, and we need him so.” pic.twitter.com/Jnz2LiDMxe
— The Recount (@therecount) August 5, 2021
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) also released a statement expressing her sadness over the news.
“Richard Trumka dedicated his life to the labor movement and the right to organize, from his work as an attorney for the United Mine Workers of America to his decades-long leadership of the AFL-CIO. Richard’s leadership transcended a single movement, as he fought with principle and persistence to defend the dignity of every person – whether speaking out against apartheid and discrimination abroad or fighting bigotry and racism here at home,” she said.
Pelosi added, “His courage in speaking truth to power made a difference for millions and made him a cherished ally in our mission to advance the health, financial security and well-being of working families.”
Additionally, she said Trumka’s “life was a testament to the power of organizing and mobilizing for progress, and his leadership leaves a legacy of inspired advocacy for workers.”
President Joe Biden called Trumka a “very close” friend and said he was “more than head of AFL-CIO.” He continued, “At least he was with people who adore him.”
Trumka’s death sparked a reaction from several lawmakers, including Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W. Va.).
“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,” Manchin said in a statement.
My statement on the death of my dear friend Richard Trumka: pic.twitter.com/CJHKGwPaM9
— Senator Joe Manchin (@Sen_JoeManchin) August 5, 2021
Others praised Trumka and offered condolences to his family and the AFL-CIO.
Rich Trumka went from working in the mines of Pennsylvania to leading the AFL-CIO. He was one of our country's clearest voices for labor rights and a staunch advocate for workers everywhere. He never forgot where he came from. My condolences to his family & the AFL-CIO.
— Amy Klobuchar (@amyklobuchar) August 5, 2021
I join the entire labor family in mourning the passing of @AFLCIO President and stalwart, Rich Trumka. His dedication to the union values of fairness, equity, justice and opportunity will continue to resound for all. Deepest condolences to his family + friends. We will miss you.
— Stacey Abrams (@staceyabrams) August 5, 2021
Heartbreaking news. Richard was a tireless champion for working people and economic justice. My thoughts are with his family. https://t.co/7dNa7Ac7eQ
— Julián Castro (@JulianCastro) August 5, 2021
AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka was a tireless champion for U.S. workers; he dedicated his life to ensuring more Americans could attain the American Dream. He’ll be sorely missed. https://t.co/ZqcW1mukqB via @politico
— Rep. Eric Swalwell (@RepSwalwell) August 5, 2021
Richard Trumka spent his life fighting for working people across our country, and his powerful legacy will continue to live on.
I'm thinking of his family, loved ones, and the entire @AFLCIO community. May he rest in peace.
— NY AG James (@NewYorkStateAG) August 5, 2021
AFL-CIO Communications Director Tim Schlittner said of Trumka, “He was a relentless champion of workers’ rights, workplace safety, worker-centered trade, democracy, and so much more.”
He added, “Today, the 56 unions and 12.5 million members of the AFL-CIO mourn the passing of our fearless leader and commit to honoring his legacy with action. 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.”
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