AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka, 72, had a net worth of $6 million at the time of his death on Aug. 5. What is Trumka best known for?
As the head of the country’s most powerful labor organization, Trumka’s estimated gross salary was about $286,299. How did he accumulate his net worth?
Trumka died of a heart attack this week while on a camping trip with his family, The New York Times reported. Upon the news of his death, many labor leaders and politicians remembered him as a champion of working people and worker’s rights.
“Rich Trumka devoted his life to working people, from his early days as president of the United Mine Workers of America to his unparalleled leadership as the voice of America’s labor movement. He was a relentless champion of workers’ rights, workplace safety, worker-centered trade, democracy, and so much more," AFL-CIO Communications Director Tim Schlittner said in a statement.
Democratic Senator Chuck Schumer praised Trumka and said, “The working people of America have lost a fierce warrior at a time when we needed him most."
Trumka was a known supporter of Democrats and critical of Republicans. As a close ally of President Joe Biden’s administration, he helped promote Biden’s infrastructure bill and the Democrat-backed voting right bill, CNN reports.
Richard Trumka started working in the coal mines at 19.
Trumka was born in Nemacolin, Pa. to his Italian American mother and Polish American father. When he was about 19 years old, he went to work in the coal mines alongside his father.
Trumka also continued his studies in college and he received a bachelor’s degree from Pennsylvania State University in 1971. He went on to get a law degree from the Villanova University School of Law.
With his law degree in hand, Trumka got a job as a staff attorney with the United Mine Workers of America (UMWA). After eight years, Trumka became president of the organization in 1982.
As UMWA president, Trumka led miners on several strikes for workers’ rights, including in 1989 against Pittson Coal Company and in 1993 against Peabody Coal.
In 1995, Trumka became the AFL-CIO secretary-treasurer, where he led the charge to create investment programs for the pension and benefit funds for the labor movement. He also chaired the organization’s Industrial Union Council, which focused on trade, health care, and labor law reform.
Trumka was elected as the AFL-CIO president in 2009, and he held that position until his death. He also took the role of president of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development’s Trade Union Advisory Committee in 2010.
Esquire magazine named Trumka one of its Americans of the Year in 2011. In an interview with the magazine, Trumka talked about his dislike of corporate America and his support for Democrats’ plan to raise taxes on the rich.
"This is what we need — to be able to share the wealth more equitably. That's how the middle class was built, from '46 to '73, and that's how it should be built again. 'Cause the country isn't poor, the country's as rich as it ever was. Our wealth is just concentrated in the hands of very few. More people need to get a bigger share of what's being produced," Trumka said in the 2011 Esquire interview.
In 2018, Trumka was recognized for his dedication to worker’s rights when he was chosen as the first recipient of the World Peace Prize for Labor Leadership.
Who is Richard Trumka’s wife?
Trumka married Barbara Vidovich, a coal miner’s daughter, in 1982. The couple was still married at the time of Trumka’s death. The couple has one son, Richard Jr.