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Richard Trumka, A.F.L.-C.I.O. Chief, Dies at 72

Richard Trumka, A.F.L.-C.I.O. Chief, Dies at 72
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Richard Trumka, A.F.L.-C.I.O. Chief, Dies at 72

Richard Trumka, A.F.L.-C.I.O. Chief, Dies at 72

Richard Trumka, president of the AFL-CIO, the country’s main trade union federation, for 12 years and an influential voice in Democratic politics, died Thursday. He was 72 years old.

The federation confirmed the death. The cause was a heart attack, according to an AFL-CIO official, who did not specify where Mr Trumka died.

Senator Charles Schumer of New York, the Democratic leader, announced the death on the Senate floor. “American workers have lost a fierce warrior at a time when we needed him most,” Mr. Schumer said in a moving tribute.

Mr. Trumka was elected head of the federation in 2009, having served as secretary-treasurer, its second official since 1995, and president of the United Mine Workers of America before.

Under the AFL-CIO’s constitution, the current federation secretary-treasurer, Liz Shuler, will assume the presidency until its executive board can meet to elect a successor. The federation’s next presidential election was originally scheduled to take place this year, but has been postponed until next year due to the pandemic.

While the percentage of Americans represented by unions continued to decline in the long term under his leadership, to less than 11%, Mr. Trumka was close to the two Democratic presidents during his tenure and had been an influential outside voice to help shape the president. Biden’s ambitious jobs and infrastructure proposals.

Mr. Trumka, a third generation coal miner from Pennsylvania, went to work as a personnel lawyer for the United Mine Workers after graduating in law. In 1982, at age 33, he was elected on a reformist list at the head of the miners’ union.

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A full obituary will be published shortly.

Emily Cochrane contributed reporting.

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