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The sudden August 5 passing of AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka, 72, sent waves of shock and grief through the ranks of organized labor everywhere. Many PEF members and retirees may remember his appearance as the keynote speaker at PEF’s convention in 1996.

At that time, Trumka was the secretary-treasurer of the AFL-CIO, and the former president of the United Mine Workers of America.  PEF delegates were moved by his warmth and friendliness, and roused by his fiery, passionate rhetoric, reminiscent of the Appalachian preachers he grew up hearing speak every Sunday.

Trumka became AFL-CIO president in 2009, after serving 14 years as its secretary-treasurer.

“It’s incredibly sad that labor has lost such a passionate and experienced national leader so abruptly,” said PEF President Wayne Spence.  “We send his family our sincerest sympathies for their loss.  And, although he is no longer with us, his vision, leadership and steadfast caring for workers everywhere will continue to inspire us all.  He never tolerated disrespect, injustice or the withholding of dignity from working people, and that is an example for all of us to follow.”