August 5, 2021

Jobs With Justice mourns the passing of AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka, an inspiration and leader for millions of workers

Contact: Nick Voutsinos, Jobs With Justice,, 717-413-7613 

Washington, DC — Early this morning, the labor movement lost one of its most enduring leaders — AFL-CIO President and Jobs With Justice co-founder Richard Trumka. President Trumka led the 12.5-million-member labor federation since 2009. Jobs With Justice Executive Director Erica Smiley gave the following statement in remembrance: 

“One of my first interactions with Rich Trumka went like this: I sat down beside him on some steps in the back of a rally where workers were speaking. He put his arm around me like we were old friends, innately knowing that we’d been in this struggle together for many years despite not having spoken until then — a struggle that our ancestors started and that we continued with feverish purpose. With that same embrace, Rich embraced Jobs With Justice — elevating our role in bringing more people who sought to organize and collectively bargain into the labor movement.

“Shortly after becoming president, Rich hosted the first meeting of the Excluded Workers Congress for those who sought to organize but were excluded from joining a union. He championed pilot projects that built relationships between the AFL-CIO and immigrant workers, formerly incarcerated Black workers and workers in non-union low-wage sectors. Rich knew that we could not combat the downward pressure of an economy rigged against working people unless we did it together. His steadfast leadership saw the AFL-CIO grow to 12.5 million members strong, including 56 unions across different industries. He helped workers realize that when we unite, we have power – which is why today, unions are more popular than they’ve been in decades. 

“President Trumka leaves huge shoes to fill — but thanks to his vision, the workers of America are ready to carry on his legacy until every, single working person in this country who wants to be in a union can be in a union. In his final days, Rich was fighting tirelessly to pass the PRO Act, which would give millions of workers access to union representation. Jobs With Justice, our friends at the AFL-CIO, and the entire labor movement carry on this fight in his memory. We won’t rest until your vision becomes reality, Rich. Rest in power.” 


Jobs With Justice is the country’s leading nonprofit in the fight for workplace and economic democracy. Comprising of a national network of local affiliates in nearly every state, Jobs With Justice brings together coalitions of unions, worker organizations, community groups, students, and faith institutions to win concrete improvements in people’s lives. 

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