Farm workers sadly learned that Richard Trumka, a third-generation coal miner who became president of the national AFL-CIO labor federation, has passed away suddenly.
Cesar Chavez went to Virginia when Trumka was president of the United Mine Workers in 1989 to support striking miners during the lengthy Pittston coal strike. Trumka later fired up United Farm Workers members when he delivered a rousing speech to delegates at the UFW constitutional convention.
Trumka helped convince then-California Governor Gray Davis to sign the UFW-sponsored 2002 law letting farm workers bring in neutral state mediators to hammer out union contracts when growers won’t negotiate them. This year he called on Congress to take “bold action” by passing immigration reform “that honors workers, families and our nation’s history,” including farm workers.
The 1997 photo shows Richard Trumka (second row center with hat) helping lead a mass UFW march in Watsonville, Calif. during a union organizing campaign among strawberry workers. (UFW photo by Jocelyn Sherman)