Villanova Law Announces 2010 Commencement Speaker
Richard Trumka, Villanova Law Class of 1974, will address the class of 2010 at Villanova Law School’s Commencement Ceremony on Friday May, 21st. Trumka is president of the AFL-CIO (American Federation of Labor and Congress of Industrial Organizations). Trumka was elected President of AFL-CIO, the nation’s largest labor federation, in September 2009. Before being elected as President, Trumka served as AFL-CIO’s Secretary Treasurer for 15 years. He spent more than seven years working in the mines, financing his education at The Pennsylvania State University. He received a Bachelor of Science degree from Pennsylvania State University. After law school, Trumka worked on the legal staff of the United Mine Workers for four years before returning to mine work in 1979, doing pro bono legal work for local families in the Nemacolin area during his hours away from the mine.
Once back at work in the mining community, Trumka quickly rose through the ranks, first serving as chair of the United Mine Workers of America Local 6290’s safety committee and later on the union’s International Executive Board. At 33, he was elected as the UMWA’s youngest president and was sworn into office by his father. He set about reforming the Mine Workers’ fractious bureaucracy. As president of the UMWA he held one of the most successful strikes in recent American history against the Pittson Coal Company, which tried to avoid paying into an industry-wide health and pension fund. Breaking with the decades of tradition, his consistent non-violent civil dissidence led to his being given the Labor Responsibility Award from the Martin Luther King Jr. Center for Nonviolent Social Change in 1990. Among his other accomplishments are : winning the passage of the COAL Act that provides guaranteed health care for retired miners, bringing the UMWA into the AFL-CIO, mobilizing support to win a contract of 18,000 miners forced out on strike and establishing an office that rallied support among mineworkers for the anti-apartheid movement in South Africa. He has also served as the U.S Shell Oil boycott chairman, which challenged the company for its business dealings in South Africa.
Trumka chairs the AFL-CIO’s Strategic Approaches Committee, charged with assisting affiliated unions that seek assistance in achieving their strategic goals through collective bargaining. He also chairs the AFL-CIO Finance Committee and the AFL-CIO Capital Stewardship Committee, which works to ensure workers’ deferred wages are wisely invested to provide the best long-term benefits to America’s working families.
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