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The world grieves as Richard Trumka passes

06 Aug 2021

We mourn the passing of Richard L Trumka, president of the American Federation of Labor and Congress of Industrial Organizations (AFL-CIO) who was devoted to improving the lives of working people.

We join our brothers, sisters and friends in unions around the world in remembering his dedication and the vision he gave us. Our thoughts are with his family.

“Brother Trumka’s sudden passing is a tragic shock and is a great loss,” said Paddy Crumlin, president of the ITF. “Rich was an inspiring and courageous leader who achieved great standing in US and the world, socially, politically and industrially. His passion and outstanding leadership will be long remembered by working men and women globally.”

Trumka was a third-generation miner who came up through the United Mine Workers of America. He was AFL-CIO president for 12 years, having been its secretary-treasurer for the previous 14. He led the federation’s 56 affiliated unions and 12.5 million members, working to build a fair and democratic society, lifting up every working family and community.

Trumka will be remembered by unions across the world for his commitment to the global labour movement. As President of the TUAC, he advocated relentlessly for social justice and inequality to be at the heart of the OECD’s thinking, including on issues such as climate change and green jobs. His advocacy has built powerful mechanisms of accountability for workers and their unions across the world. His work put strong labour standards and union rights on every policy table he sat at - a legacy unions everywhere will take forward.

“Our journey and work together reached back to his leadership with the miners,” said Crumlin, “I often visited him in Washington, we were great and loyal friends over three decades. He was a leader of inspiration and substance. A person from the people, for the people, and a true internationalist.”

Stephen Cotton, ITF General Secretary said that Trumka was a colossus standing bestride the union movement: “He will be sorely missed, but his energy and drive will live on in the memories of union activists everywhere. We collectively mourn today, as working people worldwide mourn the loss of one of the giants of the labor movement.”