Richard Trumka, president of the AFL-CIO, dies at 72

AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka takes part in an onstage interview during The Atlantic Economy Summit in Washington March 18, 2014.   REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst
Trumka takes part in an onstage interview during The Atlantic Economy Summit in Washington. Thomson Reuters

Labor leader Richard Trumka has died at age 72.

He had been president of the AFL-CIO since 2009.

President Joe Biden, speaking to reporters, described Trumka as “a very close personal friend,” NBC News correspondent Kelly O’Donnell reported.

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer also announced the death on the floor of the US Senate.

“The working people of America have lost a fierce warrior at a time when we needed him most,” he said, according to the Associated Press.

Staff at the labor union were informed of the news Thursday morning, Politico reported, which cited sources familiar with the matter.

In a statement, AFL-CIO Communications Director Tim Schlittner said the labor movement “lost a legend today.”

“He was a relentless champion of workers’ rights, workplace safety, worker-centered trade, democracy and so much more,” Schlittner said.