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U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown: Trumka was champion for organized labor

Editor’s note: The following are Sen. Brown’s floor remarks on AFL-CIO president Richard Trumka, who died Thursday at age 72.

Rich Trumka embodied the soul of the labor movement – the dignity of work, the idea that hard work should pay off for everyone.

Few have done more for working people in this country than Rich. Giving workers a voice has been his life’s work – from the coal mines of Pennsylvania to the picket line, from the bargaining table to the White House and the halls of Congress.

He understood that carrying a union card empowers people to build careers and provide for their families, with rising wages, safe workplaces, respect on the job and shared prosperity.

Our hearts are with his wife Barbara and their son Richard Jr., and with all of the workers around the country who looked to Rich Trumka for leadership and inspiration in fights for justice.

Connie and I are proud to have called him a friend, and we will remember fondly all of the time we spent together with him in Ohio, advocating for Ohio workers.

We’ve walked picket lines together, we’ve rallied together, we’ve fought alongside each other for workers’ pensions and wages and jobs and health care, and for a fairer trade policy that puts workers – not corporations — at its center.

It saddens me that we lost Rich as we are on the verge of passing a generational investment in American, union jobs that he was a fierce advocate for, and as we are still in the midst of our fight to pass the Protecting the Right to Organize Act, to level the playing field between workers and corporations.

I call on all who loved Rich to work with us to finish the job, and pass that transformational bill in his honor.

As we mourn Rich’s passing and honor his legacy, let us hold fast to the motto of our labor movement – solidarity. Let’s carry on his life’s work by standing in solidarity with all the women and men of our labor movement, who built the strongest middle class the world has ever seen and who continue to be its engine today.