UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. -- AFL-CIO president and Penn State alumnus Richard L. Trumka will deliver the 2016 commencement address for the Penn State Dickinson School of Law in University Park on May 14.
Trumka was elected president of the 12.5 million-member AFL-CIO, the largest organization of labor unions in the country, in 2009, after serving as the organization’s secretary-treasurer from 1995 to 2009. Prior to joining the AFL-CIO, Trumka was president of United Mine Workers of America (UMWA) for 13 years, after being elected in 1982 at age 33 as the youngest president in the organization’s history.
Born in Nemacolin, Pa., Trumka followed his father and grandfather into the southwestern Pennsylvania coal mines, working his way through college and then law school. He earned a bachelor’s degree in 1971 from the Smeal College of Business and received his J.D. from Villanova University in 1974.
After graduating from law school, Trumka worked on the legal staff of the UMWA in Washington, D.C., for four years before returning to mine work in 1979 and 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 rose quickly through the ranks, first serving as chair of UMWA Local 6290's safety committee and later on the union's International Executive Board.
A member of the AFL-CIO executive council since 1989, Trumka has also served on the executive boards of the International Miners' Federation and the International Confederation of Free Trade Unions, and played a key role in organizing a global coalition of coal miners’ unions in five countries. He currently serves as president of the Trade Union Advisory Committee (TUAC) to the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD). TUAC is an international trade union organization which has consultative status with the OECD and its various committees.
Trumka served on the Penn State Board of Trustees from 1983 to 1995. He currently serves on the boards of the Union Labor Life Insurance Company (ULLICO) and Union Privilege, as well as various pension funds.
In 2010, the Penn State Board of Trustees presented Trumka with the Distinguished Alumni Award, the University’s highest honor for an individual.
The law school’s 2016 commencement ceremony in University Park will be held at 10:30 a.m. on Saturday, May 14, in Eisenhower Auditorium. Tickets are not required for the 90-minute ceremony, which will be followed by a reception at the Lewis Katz Building for family and friends of graduates.
For complete details on the 2016 commencement ceremony, visit pennstatelaw.psu.edu/commencement.