President BidenJoe BidenPelosi sets Thursday vote on bipartisan infrastructure bill Pressure grows to cut diplomatic red tape for Afghans left behind President Biden is making the world a more dangerous place MORE on Thursday said he spoke with the family of Richard Trumka, remembering the longtime labor leader who died earlier in the day as a close friend and a fierce advocate for the middle class.
Biden told a gathered crowd of lawmakers and auto union workers outside the White House that he was late arriving to an event promoting electric vehicles because he was on the phone with Trumka's wife and son.
"He wasn’t just a great labor leader, he was a friend," Biden said. "He was someone I could confide in, and you knew whatever he said he’d do, he would do. ... He was always there. He was an American worker, always fighting for working people. Protecting their wages, their safety, their pensions and their ability to build a middle class life."
Biden confirmed that Trumka died of a heart attack at age 72.
A third-generation coal miner from Nemacolin, Pa., Trumka rose to prominence in 1982 when he became the youngest president of the United Mine Workers of America. He was elected president of the AFL-CIO in 2009.
Trumka served as president of the influential labor group, which represents more than 12 million workers, for more than a decade.
Democrats mourned Trumka's death, praising him as a strong advocate for workers and a man of principle.
“Richard Trumka dedicated his life to the labor movement and the right to organize,” Speaker Nancy PelosiNancy PelosiNorth Dakota Republican latest House breakthrough COVID-19 case Pelosi sets Thursday vote on bipartisan infrastructure bill Cheney says a lot of GOP lawmakers have privately encouraged her fight against Trump MORE (D-Calif.) said in a statement Thursday. “Richard’s leadership transcended a single movement, as he fought with principle and persistence to defend the dignity of every person.”
Labor unions on Thursday pledged to keep fighting for Trumka’s legislative priorities, including the PRO Act, a sweeping pro-union bill that passed the House in March but faces Republican opposition in the Senate.