The New Jersey State AFL-CIO is proud and grateful that Richard L. Trumka, President of the National AFL-CIO, has agreed to serve on Gov. Phil Murphy's Re-Start and Recovery Commission. As president of the 12.5-million-member AFL-CIO, Trumka is known throughout America and the world as a foremost advocate for social and economic justice. His work on behalf of working families is laser-focused on good jobs, equitable wages, and safe and healthful working conditions. To elected officials and employers alike, he is the face and voice of all who labor.
Trumka's labor activism started early. He grew up in a small Pennsylvania coal-mining town in a family of miners, and he followed in his father's footsteps. Trumka continued working in the mines even as he attended Penn State and Villanova University Law School. Trumka was elected AFL-CIO president in 2009, after serving as secretary-treasurer since 1995. Previously, he was elected the youngest president of the United Mine Workers of America in 1982, at age 33. His reform efforts with the UMWA transformed the union for the better.
"Having Rich Trumka on Governor Murphy's commission guarantees its success," Charles Wowkanech, President of the New Jersey State AFL-CIO, said. "He has been a friend to New Jersey and New Jersey's working families for a long time, and he has a deep understanding of the hardships that millions of Americans are suffering with in these crazy times. Look at everything he's done with Congress, advocating for our union brothers and sisters who lost their income, their safety, even their lives in the face of this pandemic," Wowkanech continued. "President Trumka understands the severity of this pandemic and he knows what it takes to ensure workers' safety. He approaches every challenge intelligently, thoughtfully and methodically, and he takes decisive action. We need that kind of insight and passion to get New Jersey back on our feet again. We congratulate Governor Murphy for making such a peerless choice for the panel," Wowkanech said. "Without a doubt, Rich Trumka is the right man for the job."
Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, Trumka has tirelessly advocated within Congress for working people's rights and needs as federal lawmakers shaped the coronavirus bailout and stimulus packages, including a possible CARES Act 2. And he stands alongside working families with "Safety First: The Working People's Plan for Reopening the Economy the Right Way":
- Workers must have a say in these decisions at every level: workplace, industry, city, state and federal.
- Decisions must be based on worker safety and sound science.
- Strong, clear, and enforceable workplace health and safety standards must be in place.
- Workers must have stronger protections against retaliation.
- There must be a massive increase in adequate levels and types of personal protective equipment for workers currently on the job - and then for those returning to the job.
- There must be a massive increase of rapid and reliable coronavirus testing.
- The federal government must oversee a system of recording, reporting and tracking worker infections.
- Employers, in coordination with local and state public health departments, must trace the contacts of infected workers and remove exposed workers from work with pay and without retaliation.
It's only logical, then, that Murphy would choose Trumka for his Re-Start and Recovery Commission, because Trumka's People's Plan dovetails well with Murphy's Six Principles for Reopening New Jersey. "We look forward to assisting President Trumka and Governor Murphy in every way we can," Wowkanech said.