Biden to honor late labor icon Trumka with medal of freedom

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FILE PHOTO: President of the AFL-CIO Richard Trumka speaks about his role in securing labor protections in the USMCA trade agreement in Washington

WASHINGTON – U.S. President Joe Biden plans to honor Richard Trumka, the deceased former head of the largest U.S. labor organization, with the medal of freedom on Thursday, Biden said at an event marking the culmination of a bid to bolster pension plans.

“Tomorrow I’ll be awarding the highest honor that can be given to a civilian, the presidential medal of freedom, to our dear friend, the late Rich Trumka, who fought so damn hard…for the protection of these pensions,” Biden told a crowd of supporters in Cleveland on Wednesday.

Trumka, a key figure in Democratic politics who voiced concern about corporate power and a growing income gap between rich and poor, led the AFL-CIO, a federation of 56 unions representing 12.5 million workers, from 2009 until his death last August at age 72.

Biden, who pledged to be the United States’ most pro-union president, described Trumka last year as a “great close personal friend.”

(Reporting by Jeff Mason and Alexandra Alper; Editing by Marguerita Choy)