Thoughts on the Passing of Richard Trumka

Yesterday, AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka suddenly passed away. A titan of the labor movement, he will be missed by so, so many.  Our thoughts are with our friends in the labor movement during this time of loss.

I did not know him personally, but anyone who works on policy in Washington certainly knew of him and his significant influence in American politics as a constant force for standing up for worker rights and safety, democracy and better lives for all Americans. 

Trumka: We Must Be Pro-Job and Pro-Environment, Feb, 2014

When it came to environmental issues, we shared the same long-term goals on addressing environmental health, addressing the climate crisis and making a better world for families and workers.  We didn’t always agree on the exact right path to reach those goals, but never did those differences stop the work toward the larger goal.  If anything, understanding these differences helped make our approach on addressing the climate crisis better and more inclusive.

When he said that workers must “not bear the cost of climate policy alone”, it was a clear call for us to put workers at the forefront of climate policy.  To those of us who listened, his words made a difference and we have been working to make sure that the clean energy future we work towards is also one where workers thrive not just survive. Where those historically left out of prosperity have new roads into a better future. Products like the BlueGreen Alliance's Solidarity for Climate Action platform are a direct result of reconciling these differences.

Others mourning his loss have described him as a “relentless champion”. It is clear his passion inspired so many in labor. We have seen that passion every day in the dedicated men and women in the labor movement who work with us to solve the climate crisis, address environmental harms, and build a better life for everyone. His leadership will be sorely missed as the work must go on. Thanks to him, we are all better equipped to succeed in creating a world that is healthier, fairer, and cleaner. 

About the Authors

Marc Boom

Director of Federal Affairs, Government Affairs
Blog Post

The coronavirus pandemic has illustrated the drastic inequities in our society, and it’s decimated the workforce across the board. More than 20 million people are unemployed, most of them Black and Latino. Losses through June exceeded 400,000 jobs across the clean energy sector alone. Fortunately, the House Select Committee’s report for acting on climate provides recommendations for smart and inclusive solutions to get people back to work and building a lower-carbon economy.

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COVID-19 is just the latest threat to essential workers, many of whom are dealing with another public health crisis: climate change.

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