Statement by AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka on the Passing of Senator Robert Byrd

June 28, 2010

America’s workers mourn the loss of one of their greatest champions. Senator Byrd was a son of the Appalachian coal fields who never forgot where he was from and dedicated his life to improving the lot of others. I am honored to have worked beside him and humbled to call him a friend.

Senator Byrd’s record in the Senate was unabashedly and unapologetically on the side of working families – as Majority Leader he helped lead the fight against the Republican filibuster of labor law reform in the 1970s.  He tirelessly fought for health and safety laws that protected workers, opposed job killing trade deals and when it came to standing up to the coal companies, a miner never had a stronger ally.

I will always cherish the memories of the long hours we spent together working to protect benefits for victims of black lung and passing landmark legislation guaranteeing the health benefits for retired coal miners, like so many in my own family.

While it is with great sadness we mourn his death, it is with great joy we remember his life and his work.  His legacy will live on in the annals of American history that he cherished so dearly.

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