AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka, a leader for labor rights in Washington, dies at 72

AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka, a leader for labor rights in Washington, dies at 72

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WASHINGTON — Richard Trumka, the head of one of the nation’s largest labor unions who advocated for worker rights, died on Thursday, a senior AFL-CIO official confirmed to NBC News.

Trumka, 72, has served as president of the massive 12.5 million-member labor union for more than a decade.

Democratic politicians quickly memorialized him as a titan for worker rights.

“We are heartbroken to inform you that our brother and leader Rich Trumka passed away this morning at the age of 72,” said Liz Shuler, AFL-CIO Secretary-Treasurer in a note to staff.

Richard Trumka at the Democratic National Convention in Charlotte, N.C. on Sept. 5, 2012.Joe Raedle / Getty Images

The internal message described Trumka as a legend, “And he knew there was nothing more powerful than workers standing together for a better life.”

President Joe Biden addressed Trumka’s death on Thursday, after apologizing for being late to a meeting with Asian American, Native Hawaiian, and Pacific Islander civil rights leaders, he said to reporters, “I just learned a very close friend passed away.”

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., shared his condolences on the Senate floor.

“It’s just horrible news,” he said. “We have just lost a giant. And we need him so. We will remember him forever. And his memory will, I know, importune us to do even more for working people.”

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi called Trumka an “unsurpassed titan of labor” who dedicated his life to the labor movement.

His life “was a testament to the power of organizing and mobilizing for progress, and his leadership leaves a legacy of inspired advocacy for workers,” said Pelosi, in a statement.

This is a breaking news story. Please check back for updates.

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