Global Labor Justice-International Labor Rights Forum Mourns the Passing of AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka and Honors His Legacy Promoting International Labor Solidarity

WASHINGTON DC — Global Labor Justice-International Labor Rights Forum (GLJ-IRLF), our staff, and our allied unions and community organizations around the globe mourn the loss of AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka. 
As a third-generation miner and son of immigrant parents, President Trumka often publicly called on that experience as he defended important positions for working people and unions in the U.S. and around the world.  

During his term as President of the United Mineworkers of America, he met South African miners challenging the South African Apartheid regime.  He helped organize the U.S. Shell Boycott in solidarity with them, later earning the 1990 Letelier-Moffitt Human Rights Award from the Institute for Policy Studies in recognition of these efforts. President Trumka also led the AFL-CIO in supporting the labor movements of Tunisia, Egypt, and Bahrain during the Arab Spring, recognizing the role that these trade unions played in challenging corporate power and government impunity and in ensuring meaningful worker protections in the 2018 U.S. Mexico Canada Trade Agreement (USMCA). 

GLJ-ILRF Executive Director Jennifer Rosenbaum remembered, “In 2010, Rich welcomed and hosted the first Excluded Worker Congress meeting bringing together day laborers, domestic workers, guest workers, and global supply chain workers and their organizations.  The convening including workers from Asia, Central America, the Caribbean, and Africa along with Black workers from the U.S. South. Together we analyzed how multinational corporations and global capital pit countries and workers against each other and how this exacerbated existing structural oppression around issues of race, gender, and migration status. These conversations planted the seeds that led to the founding of Global Labor Justice. Under Rich’s leadership, the AFL-CIO affiliated the predominantly immigrant National Taxi Workers Alliance; entered into partnerships with workers’ centers; and deepened collaboration with U.S. and global partners on successful efforts to adopt the ILO Domestic Workers’ Convention (C189) and then the ILO Convention to End Gender-Based Violence and Harassment (C190).”

Much of President Trumka’s recent efforts focused on passing the Pro Act — legislation that would update labor law provisions so workers in the U.S. can effectively exercise the right to organize and collectively bargain. The Pro Act would strengthen the U.S. labor movement along with transnational labor efforts. We urge those in Congress to honor President Trumka’s memory through concrete action to pass the Pro Act. President Trumka’s recent leadership with the Biden Administration has also been critical in advancing a U.S. agenda that empowers unions and workers as a part of U.S. trade, development, and foreign policy.  This includes locating U.S. efforts in broader cooperation with the ILO and other multilateral efforts. President Trumka was clear that worker-centered policy must include workers around the world.” 

We send our deepest condolences to his family and friends as we honor President Trumka’s powerful legacy—he fought hard battles and left the world a better place for unions and working people. We also send our solidarity to the leaders at the AFL-CIO who carry forward the work at this critical time.

Oxfam AmericaPartnership for Working FamiliesRainforest Action Network (RAN)The American Friends Service Committee (AFSC) Unidad Latina en Accion -ConnecticutWashington Office on Latin America WeCount! -Florida Witness for Peace Solidarity CollectiveWorkers Center of Central New YorkWorkers Defense Action Fund -TexasWorkers’ Dignity/Dignidad Obrera -Nashville

Cooperationand Development (OECD) must be used to align its practices regarding freedoms of association, expression and assembly with those of the OECD.In addition, the Biden administration should impress upon Colombia the importance of accepting the fact-finding mission recently proposed by the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR).The U.S. human rights and labor movements, stand in solidarity with the National Strike Committee (Comité Nacional del Paro) and the Colombian people from different sectors, communities and regions, especially young people and women,small farmers,indigenous and Afro-descendent communities, as they continueto peacefullymobilize and protest in support of their full demands, including negotiating an agreement with the Colombian social movements on taxreformthat motivated the recent protests, and negotiations over the Unified Emergency Proposal of the National Strike Committee.These demands are not the product of the most recent events but reflect widespread discontent with the Duque government’s refusal to honor the commitments of the 2016 peace process, rising poverty and inequality, and public health distress caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.Simply de-escalating the violent repression of valid social protest while urgently needed will not resolve the root causes of the 2019 protests and current ones.We urge theBidenadministration to offerstrongguidance and formsof assistance that focus on immediately restoring constitutional order with full protection of human rights and democracy to the country andsupporting good faith negotiations to reach clear and binding commitments on these issues.Thank you for your time and attention to this urgent matter. Sincerely,ActionAid USAARISE CHICAGOCASA Casa Latina -SeattleCenter for Constitutional Rights (CCR)Centro de Trabajadores Unidos en Lucha (CTUL) -MinnesotaCoalition of Labor Union Women (CLUW) Committee in Solidarity with the People of El Salvador (CISPES)Fair World ProjectFarmworker Association of FloridaFood Chain Workers AllianceGeorgia Stand-UpGlobal Health PartnersGlobal Labor Justice-International Labor Rights Forum (GLJ-ILRF)Jobs with Justice Justice Is GlobalLatin America Working Group (LAWG)National Day Laborer Organizing Network (NDLON)National Employment Law Project (NELP)New Labor Oxfam AmericaPartnership for Working FamiliesRainforest Action Network (RAN)The American Friends Service Committee (AFSC) Unidad Latina en Accion -ConnecticutWashington Office on Latin America WeCount! -Florida Witness for Peace Solidarity CollectiveWorkers Center of Central New YorkWorkers Defense Action Fund -TexasWorkers’ Dignity/Dignidad Obrera -Nashville