“Richard Trumka lived and breathed union,” said Steve Earle, a UMWA veteran who knew the AFL-CIO president for more than 40 years.
Trumka, UMWA president from 1982 to 1995, died unexpectedly today. He had just turned 72.
“It’s a shock and a tremendous loss for the labor movement and for working families all across America,” said Earle, Madisonville-based UMWA International District 12 vice president. “I traveled a lot of miles with Rich down through the years.”
Before he was UMWA president, Trumka was a staff attorney for the union.
Earle crossed paths with Trumka in the early 1980s during the UMWA strike at the Badgett Coal Terminal, a barge-loading facility on Kentucky Lake.
Earle, from Greenville, was a UMWA delegate at the 1995 AFL-CIO convention when Trumka was elected secretary-treasurer.
“I never will forget how proud all of us were of Rich and how hard he worked to get there,” said Earle, also a longtime member of the Kentucky State AFL-CIO Executive Board.
Born into a coal mining family in Pennsylvania on July 24, 1949, Trumka, who earned a law degree from Villanova University, was elected AFL-CIO president in 2009 after President John Sweeney retired.