RIP Richard Trumka: Workers’ Hero

Todd N. Tucker
3 min readAug 5, 2021


This quote — from the night Rich Trumka won the @rooseveltinst’s Distinguished Public Service Award — encapsulated his legacy.

Trumka fought for global justice and against apartheid and racism in the labor movement.

A tough negotiator but a kind soul, always quick to chat and laugh with whomever was around him.

Check out this @greenhousenyt profile from 2009.

Here’s Trumka from 1999, in the lead up to the Battle in Seattle.

“If workers have no seat at the WTO table, then the WTO is the wrong table,” AFL-CIO Secretary-Treasurer Richard Trumka told the opening session of the federation’s biennial convention. (…)

Here’s Trumka from 1988, from his days as a labor leader in the anti-apartheid movement — on how capital used race and borders to pit workers against one another. (–808-…)

Here’s Trumka from 2008 on how labor leaders have a special responsibility to call out racism among union workers.

There’s a growing body of scholarship that suggests Trumka’s support delivered the 2008 election for Obama. See here from Timothy Minchin. (…)

Here’s the 1999 @AFLCIO executive statement that Trumka helped secure, laying out a bold vision of global governance that supports workers. If policymakers had heeded that vision, much harder to see rise of Trump. (…)

Here’s Trumka after the Michael Brown killing in Ferguson, urging unionists to stand with #BlackLivesMatter.

Here here

The Senate can honor Trumka’s legacy by passing the PRO Act and doing it today. We can use that as a foundation for remaking our economy so that it works for ALL workers. (…)

And this is also true. Despite being a third-generation coalminer, Trumka got that the future of American workers had to be green.

Here is our @rooseveltinst statement on the passing of President Trumka.

@FeliciaWongRI: “As we think of how to honor Rich’s legacy I can think of no better way than the Senate passing the bill Rich most cared about, the PRO Act, today.” (…)

(Adapted from this thread.)



Todd N. Tucker

Director, Industrial Policy & Trade, Roosevelt Institute / Roosevelt Forward. Teach, Johns Hopkins. PhD. Political scientist researching economic transitions.