GOP lawmaker slammed for criticizing AFL-CIO leader Trumka on day of his death


Rep. Virginia Foxx (R-NC) criticized the late AFL-CIO leader Richard Trumka in a statement apparently intended to offer condolences on the day he died.

A North Carolina Republican is under fire after she issued what critics characterized as a classless and indecent statement that was supposed to offer condolences to the family of Richard Trumka, the late head of the AFL-CIO who died on Thursday at the age of 72.

"I am sad to hear about the news that Richard Trumka has passed. My heart goes out to his family in this trying time. We disagreed fiercely on policy issues and the best direction of our country, but Mr. Trumka was someone who fought for what he believed was right," Foxx said in the innocuous part of her statement.

She went on to add, "That said, I will continue to defend workers against force unionization, jobs-killing mandated wages, and other socialist policies endorsed by the AFL-CIO."

Democratic lawmakers were aghast that Foxx would use a statement meant to memorialize someone who died to attack his beliefs and the organization he led.

"There's moral bankruptcy and then, well, there's this," Rep. Jerry Nadler (D-NY) tweeted in response to Foxx's statement. "Richard Trumka stood for the working class. All that this statement stands for is crassness and cruelty. @virginiafoxx: no condolence note should ever include 'that said.' Have some decency."

Sen. Chris Murphy (D-CT) noted that Foxx's statement — which was posted as an image on Twitter — bolded the parts of the statement that criticized Trumka, saying that it was done purposefully "just to make crystal clear the point is the attack."

"Rooting against the U.S. Olympic team. Sending out hit pieces on people the day they die. What a embarrassment the modern Republican Party has become," Murphy tweeted, referencing not only Foxx's statement but Republican criticism of American Olympic athletes who do not hold conservative views.

Trumka was a giant in the labor movement.

As head of the AFL-CIO, the largest labor federation in the United States, he was politically powerful, helping boost Democratic candidates and push for progressive policies such as a $15 minimum wage and other worker safety issues.

A handful of Republican lawmakers issued condolences and praised Trumka's work to improve working conditions.

Rep. Brian Fitzpatrick (R-PA) said he was "incredibly saddened" at Trumka's death, adding, "Rich was relentless in fighting for workers' rights, workers' safety, and workers' pay. Most importantly, Rich loved his family more than life itself. He was truly someone I looked up to in the labor movement, and he left this life doing what he loved to do."

Foxx was the only one to include an attack.

Foxx is the top Republican on the House Committee on Education and Labor. If Republicans were to retake control of the House after the 2022 midterms, she would be first in line to lead the committee — which has jurisdiction over things like unions, employment discrimination, workplace safety issues, and job training, among other things.

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.