(Washington, D.C.) – Today, Senator Patty Murray (D-WA), Chair of the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Committee, released the following statement on the passing of Richard Trumka, President of the AFL-CIO:
“I’m so deeply saddened to learn of the passing of my great friend, Richard Trumka. I have worked with Rich for years, and for years he has led the charge in creating a country that treats all workers with the dignity and respect they deserve. To say Rich was a champion for workers is an understatement—he dedicated his life to fighting to secure and strengthen workers’ rights and root out systemic inequities and racism, and this country is better because of it. We must honor Rich’s legacy and his lifetime work by continuing the fight for workers, which must start by passing the PRO Act in his name. My heart goes out to his wife, Barbara and his son, Rich Jr. during this tragic time.”
Senator Murray also spoke about Richard Trumka on the Senate floor.
Watch her full speech HERE and find the full text below:
“I’m so deeply saddened to learn of the passing of my great friend, Richard Trumka. To say Rich was a champion for workers is an understatement. He dedicated his life to fighting to secure and strengthen workers’ rights.
“Everyone who knew Rich, knew just how deeply committed he was to that mission. He understood how hard people in this country work for their families. He understood the dignity of work. He grew up understanding it: his grandfather was a coal miner, his father was a coal miner, and so was he.
“And it’s because he knew how hard people across the country work that he was driven to work so hard himself to hold Washington accountable, and make sure our country was looking out for working families.
For decades, Rich led the charge in creating a country that treats all workers with the dignity and respect they deserve and where every worker had the right to join a union, including by fighting to root out systemic inequities and racism in this country.
“Rich once said, ‘There’s no evil that’s inflicted more pain and more suffering than racism and it’s something we in the labor movement have a special responsibility to challenge.’ And he worked to live up to that challenge and to push others to as well, and this country is better because of it.
“I’ve worked with Rich for years, and seen firsthand how hard he fought every day to make sure workers had a seat at the table. On health care, education, taxes, climate change—whatever the issue, you could expect to hear from Rich because of how those issues affect working people.
“I will always remember working together to develop and draft the PRO Act which embodied our vision to give workers and their families a fair shot in this country—something that Rich not only fought for everyday, but in my mind will always be remembered for on this floor, in the walls and all across the country.
“And if you didn’t hear him in a meeting, you’d hear him over the bullhorn soon enough. Because he was as comfortable on a picket line as he was in a board room or in the halls of Congress—if not more comfortable.
“Which is why, even as Rich shaped national policy conversations and led one of the nation’s biggest unions in the country through some of the most trying times in history—including a recession and a pandemic—his legacy stretches far beyond his legislative accomplishments, and beyond his leadership of the AFL-CIO.
“And it will stretch onward still— as we continue his lifetime’s work of fighting for workers. That is how we can honor Rich’s legacy.
“Rich may have become a recognizable face on television—especially with his mustache. He may have met with Presidents regularly. He may have changed the history of our nation for the better. But perhaps the most remarkable thing is even at his tallest, he never talked down to people. Even at his biggest, he fought for the small. And even after all he accomplished—he never stopped fighting to do more. Which is why we must not either.
“My heart goes out to his wife, Barbara and his son, Rich Jr. during this tragic time.”