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Richard Trumka

Richard Trumka in 2004
Born July 24, 1949 (1949-07-24) (age 60)
Nemacolin, Pennsylvania, U.S.
Nationality American
Occupation Miner; Labor leader; Attorney/Litigator
Known for President, United Mine Workers of America; Secretary-Treasurer, AFL-CIO; President, AFL-CIO

Richard Louis Trumka (born July 24, 1949)[1] is an organized labor leader in the United States. He was elected President of the AFL-CIO on September 16, 2009, at the labor federation's convention in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.[2] He served as the Secretary-Treasurer of the AFL-CIO, from 1995 to 2009, and prior to that was President of the United Mine Workers from 1982 to December 22, 1995.

Life and career

Trumka, born in Nemacolin, Pennsylvania near Pittsburgh, is an Italian-American,[3] third-generation Polish American and coal miner son of Frank Richard and Eola Elizabeth (Bertugli) Trumka.[1][4] He went to work in the mines in 1968.[4] He received a bachelor of science degree from Pennsylvania State University in 1971 and a law degree from Villanova University in 1974.[1][5] He married the former Barbara Vidovich in 1982, and they have one son.[1][6]

From 1974 to 1979, Trumka was a staff attorney with the United Mine Workers at their headquarters in Washington, D.C.[1] He was elected to the board of directors of UMWA District 4 in 1981 and became President of the United Mine Workers in 1982.[1]

While President of the UMWA, Trumka led a successful nine-month strike against the Pittston Coal Company in 1989, which became a symbol of resistance against employer cutbacks and retrenchment for the entire labor movement.[7] A major issue in the dispute was Pittston's refusal to pay into the industrywide health and retirement fund created in 1950. Trumka encouraged non-violent civil disobedience to confront the company and relied on a sophisticated corporate campaign involving Wall Street investors.

Besides his domestic labor activities, Trumka established an office that raised U.S. mineworker solidarity with the miners in South Africa while they were fighting apartheid.[8] He further served as the U.S. Shell boycott chairman, which challenged the multinational Royal Dutch/Shell Group for its continued business dealings in South Africa. For these steps, Trumka received the 1990 Letelier-Moffitt Human Rights Award.

During his tenure as Secretary-Treasurer of the AFL-CIO, Trumka focused on creating investment programs for the pension and benefit funds of the labor movement, capital market strategies,[9] and demanding corporate accountability to America's communities. He chaired the AFL-CIO Industrial Union Council, a consortium of manufacturing unions focusing on key issues in trade, health care and labor law reform. He co-chairs the China Currency Coalition, an alliance of industry, agriculture, services, and worker organizations whose stated mission is to support U.S. manufacturing.[10]

On July 1, 2008, Trumka delivered a speech attacking racism in the 2008 presidential election.[4][11] A video [12] with an excerpt of the speech attracted more than 535,000 hits on YouTube as of July 1, 2009. [4] Trumka's video was "surely the first YouTube moment in the history" of the labor movement.[13]

Trumka was elected president of the AFL-CIO after the retirement of John Sweeney in 2009.[2]


  1. ^ a b c d e f Who's Who in America. 62nd ed. New Providence, N.J.: Marquis Who's Who, 2007. ISBN 0083797011
  2. ^ a b Greenhouse, Steven. "Promising a New Day, Again." New York Times. September 15, 2009; Greenhouse, Steven. "Labor Leader Is Stepping Down Both Proud and Frustrated." New York Times. September 12, 2009.
  3. ^ Richard Trumka Awarded 2003 Sons of Italy Foundation Humanitarian Award
  4. ^ a b c d Greenhouse, Steven. "Combative Union Leader Steps From the Shadows." New York Times. July 2, 2009.
  5. ^ Jim McKay, "From Mines to Summit of Unionism," Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, October 23, 1995.
  6. ^ "U.M.W. Chief Married; Threat Upsets Schedule." Associated Press. November 28, 1982.
  7. ^ Frank Swoboda, "Coal Miner Strike Was Symbol for Labor Movement," Washington Post, January 2, 1990.
  8. ^ Hill, Sylvia. "Presentation: The Free South African Movement." African National Congress. October 10-13, 2004.
  9. ^ Stephen F. Diamond. "Commentary: Trumka may give AFL-CIO the vitality it sorely needs." McClatchy-Tribune News Service. October 2, 2009.
  10. ^ "China Currency Coalition Applauds Senator Obama's Support of S. 796, The Fair Currency Act of 2007." Press release. China Currency Commission. May 2, 2008.
  11. ^ John Nichols, "AFL's Trumka: Labor Must Battle Racism to Elect Obama," Capital Times, July 3, 2008.
  12. ^ AFL-CIO's Richard Trumka on Racism and Obama
  13. ^ [ Alec MacGillis, "No Getting Around This Guy AFL-CIO's Richard Trumka Aims to Hold That Line on Health Care,"] Washington Post, September 7, 2009.

External links

Preceded by
John Sweeney
President, AFL-CIO
2009 -
Succeeded by
Preceded by
Sam Church
President, United Mine Workers of America
1982 - 1995
Succeeded by
Cecil Roberts


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