American Federation of Labor and Congress of Industrial Organizations (AFL-CIO) President Richard Trumka unexpectedly died, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer said Thursday.
Richard Trumka, 72, had led the politically-powerful federation of labor unions and its roughly 12.5 million members since 2009, according to his official AFL-CIO bio. Before he was elected to lead the AFL-CIO, Trumka had served as the organization’s secretary-treasurer for nearly 15 years.
“Trumka’s economic advocacy extends from the kitchen table and spans the globe,” his AFL-CIO bio said. “He has rallied international labor support for workers struggling for justice, and he has fought to end unfair trade practices and restore U.S. manufacturing strength.”
Trumka first joined a labor union as a mine worker. In 1982, he was elected as the youngest president of the United Mine Workers of America at the age of 33 and helped unite the union’s leadership.
The late AFL-CIO president had also been an outspoken supporter of President Joe Biden and endorsed him months before the 2020 election. Less than a month after Biden was sworn in, Trumka attended a private White House meeting concerning infrastructure legislation and other priorities.
“The working people of America have lost a fierce warrior,” a teary-eyed Schumer said during brief remarks announcing Trumka’s sudden death Thursday afternoon.
Trumka’s death is believed to have been caused by a heart attack, according to Politico, which first reported the death.
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