The Leadership Conference Statement on the Death of AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka

Media 08.5.21

August 5, 2021
Contact: Stephen Peters, [email protected], 202.466.1887

WASHINGTONWade Henderson, interim president and CEO of The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, issued the following statement on the death of Richard Trumka, president of the AFL-CIO and recipient of the 2011 Hubert H. Humphrey Civil and Human Rights Award — the civil rights community’s highest honor:

“Unafraid to challenge racism and classism anywhere, Richard Trumka was a civil and human rights champion who leaves behind a legacy matched by few. From his participation in the Free South Africa Movement protests to his influential leadership of the AFL-CIO, he unquestionably moved mountains in the fight for a more just and equal society. Our thoughts are with his family and friends during this very difficult time.” 

Trumka was the president of the AFL-CIO, America’s largest coalition of public and private sector labor unions, representing more than 12 million workers across the country. He also served for 15 years as the AFL-CIO’s secretary-treasurer and was the president of the United Mine Workers of America from 1982 to 1995. Over the course of his career as a labor activist, Trumka’s organizing acumen helped energize the American labor movement and counter efforts to weaken collective bargaining and workers’ rights at the state and national levels. He led a successful nine-month strike against the Pittston Coal Company in 1989 and established an office that rallied support among mineworkers for the anti-apartheid movement in South Africa. He also served as the chairman of the Shell Oil boycott, which challenged the company for doing business in South Africa. Trumka was a third-generation, native western Pennsylvanian coal miner. 

The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights is a coalition charged by its diverse membership of more than 220 national organizations to promote and protect the rights of all persons in the United States. The Leadership Conference works toward an America as good as its ideals. For more information on The Leadership Conference and its member organizations, visit