Roosevelt Institute Saddened by Loss of AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka, Franklin D. Roosevelt Distinguished Public Service Awardee

August 5, 2021

The Roosevelt Institute mourns the loss of labor rights warrior Richard Trumka, a longstanding champion of racial and global justice within the labor movement


The Roosevelt Institute mourns the loss of AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka, a 2011 ​​recipient of the Franklin D. Roosevelt Distinguished Public Service Awards (DPSA). 

A lifelong fighter for union rights and worker power, Trumka was elected president of the AFL-CIO in 2009. President Trumka was deeply committed to fighting for racial justice and workers’ rights, and led efforts to address the history of racism in the labor movement. He was also dedicated to global justice, including actively fighting against apartheid and for fair trade and climate justice.  

President Trumka’s work exemplified an argument at the basis of years of Roosevelt’s work: Inequality is a choice—one that we make through the rules we create to structure our society and economy. “Working people should not have to beg for what is due to them in this country,” he said during his DPSA speech. “We all do better when we all do better.” 

“I am deeply saddened by the loss of Rich, a friend of the Roosevelt Institute and a true inspiration to all of us in the progressive movement,” said Felicia Wong, President, and CEO of the Roosevelt Institute. “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.”

The labor movement has lost a true warrior today. May he rest in power.

Portrait of AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka
Richard L. Trumka, AFL-CIO President