Posts tagged ‘Richard Trumka’

On Richard Trumka and Reader Mail

Richard-Trumka-AFL-CIO-PresidentWe know that copies of our new issue have arrived in members’ mailboxes when we start hearing from readers, and the first week of the new year has already brought plenty of feedback. Not all of it is positive, of course; there’s very little we could write about that a diverse body of 170,000 Alumni Association members would completely agree on. But as is usually the case, the negative feedback increases anytime we run a story with a remotely political slant.

So it is with Richard Trumka ’71, the subject of a feature-length profile in our Jan/Feb issue. As the outspoken president of the AFL-CIO, the country’s largest trade union federation, Trumka is an obvious target for anyone critical of organized labor. Trumka knows this, of course, and part of what makes him a compelling feature subject is his willingness to engage those critics. A 2010 Distinguished Alumnus, Trumka’s entire life story is pretty compelling: Growing up in southwestern Pennsylvania the son and grandson of coal miners, he spent time in the mines himself, trading work for tuition money through a deal with the local chapter of the United Mine Workers.

Trumka was elected AFL-CIO president in 2009, but it was a 2008 speech in which he challenged racism among the traditionally white, working-class union membership that put him in the national spotlight.

He’s since clashed with President Obama on issues like the Trans-Pacific trade partnership, a reminder that Trumka’s advocacy has less to do with ideology than with issues. We know some of our readers won’t agree with Trumka on either, just as we’ve known over the years when profiling the likes of senator Rick Santorum ’80 or climate scientist Michael Mann. In every case, we’ve written about them because they’re Penn Staters whose work has put them in the national spotlight. We’re hopeful that most of our readers appreciate that.

And as always, we’re happy to get your letters.

Ryan Jones, senior editor

January 7, 2016 at 1:54 pm 1 comment

Inside Our January/February 2016 Issue

JF16Cover.jpgIt’s a busy time of year for the mailing industry, and we are contributing to all of the special packages being delivered this week with our Jan./Feb. issue.

On the cover is a rich illustration of one of Penn State’s most treasured traditions, the Dance Marathon. We asked readers to send us their THON memories and we weren’t disappointed. Starting on page 32, “My THON” is a collection of those funny, magical, meaningful, and just plain personal stories.

Also in this issue, senior editor Ryan Jones profiles Richard Trumka ’71. In his rise from coal miner to president of the AFL-CIO, Trumka is focused on the future of American labor.

Mere months after a freak injury cost him the use of his legs, former Nittany Lion soccer standout Brett Gravatt has moved from the field to the track, where he is excelling in unprecedented ways. Read about his incredible story, “In No Time Flat,” on page 26.

Plus, best-selling author David Morrell ’67, ’70 pens a remembrance of longtime professor Paul West; we celebrate a national championship with the women’s soccer team; and we’re excited to introduce our new Penn State Alumni Association CEO, Paul Clifford.

Send us your thoughts about the new issue by commenting below or emailing us at And, from all of us at The Penn Stater, best wishes for a happy and healthy New Year.

Amy Downey, senior editor

December 22, 2015 at 1:39 pm 3 comments

The Penn Stater Daily — Nov. 20, 2013

Paterno movie update: Jessica Tully of Onward State checked in with David McKenna, the screenwriter for a planned biopic on Joe Paterno based on the book by Joe Posnanski. There’s still no timeline. There’s still no casting update, although Al Pacino is still apparently slated to play Paterno. McKenna said he had admired Paterno growing up, since he’d watched Penn State’s 48-14 victory over Pitt in 1981. Said McKenna: “I vividly remember asking myself ‘Who’s that little Italian guy with the glasses on the sideline?’ Well, let’s just say I was hooked after that.”

Married on campus: It shouldn’t surprise anyone that when Buzzfeed decided to do a list of “insanely beautiful colleges you can get married at,” Penn State made the list. I don’t think the photos do this place justice, though. Old Main is a great venue, but I can’t believe Buzzfeed couldn’t find wedding party photos from the gardens outside my office at the Hintz Family Alumni Center or at the Arboretum. Photos like those might have put Penn State higher than No. 13.

Income gap widening: Economists in the College of Agricultural Sciences released a report Tuesday that’s sobering for residents of Pennsylvania: the state lost 16,000 jobs from 2001 to 2011, and the economists also found what Ted Alter, professor of agricultural, environmental and regional economics, called “major shift in employment from higher to lower wage industries.” Ted Fuller, development economist in the college’s Center for Economic and Community Development, noted that “this loss of high-middle wage jobs–through recent cyclical ups and downs alike–probably does not bode well for the Pennsylvania economy.” You can read the Penn State news release by clicking here or check out the full report at this link.

Trumka celebrates Lincoln: And if you’ve not yet digested enough coverage of the 150th anniversary of the Gettysburg Address, which was Tuesday, you should check this out: Richard Trumka ’71, president of the AFL-CIO,  participated in a project by documentary filmmaker Ken Burns and PBS in which celebrities recited the Gettysburg Address. His reading clocks in at 1 minute, 51 seconds. It’s a genius speech, so it’s always worth your time to listen.

Lori Shontz, senior editor

November 20, 2013 at 11:26 am Leave a comment

A Few Photos From Reunion Weekend

We just wrapped up our annual Reunion Weekend here at University Park—members of the Class of 1960 were here to celebrate their 50th reunion, and grads from other class years came back as well. One of the activities I helped to staff was the All-Class Luncheon on Saturday at the Penn Stater Conference Center, and I thought I’d share a few photos I took at that event.

First we have a couple of returning grads posing for photos with the lion mascot…

…and then later the attendees discovered that the lion is none other than President Spanier, who, after taking the lion head off, gave some remarks about the state of things at Penn State.

A highlight of the lunch was a performance by some musical theatre students:

Among the attendees at the luncheon were not only the returning grads but also a group of Penn Staters who had just been recognized on Friday as Distinguished Alumni. Perhaps the most prominent of those was Richard Trumka ’71, president of the AFL-CIO.

The luncheon closed with a Penn State tradition: everyone singing the alma mater.

Afterward, many of the attendees piled onto buses for campus tours led by the Lion Ambassadors. The group below was especially lucky and got to ride on “Molly Trolley” instead of a school bus.

All in all, it seemed like everyone was pretty happy to be back.

Tina Hay, editor

June 7, 2010 at 8:42 am 1 comment

Trumka About to Become Head of AFL-CIO

trumkaRichard Trumka ’71 will become the most powerful labor leader in the country this week, when he takes over the presidency of the AFL-CIO.

Trumka, who grew up in western Pennsylvania, was the son of a coal miner and worked in the mines for seven years himself. At Penn State he was an accounting major; after he graduated he went to Villanova and earned a law degree.

He was president of the United Mine Workers union from 1982–95 and since 1995 has been secretary-treasurer of the AFL-CIO, which now has 11 million members.

The Philadelphia Inquirer went back with Trumka to his hometown of Nemacolin, Pa., and produced this profile of him in today’s edition. The AFL-CIO convention is taking place this week in Pittsburgh, just an hour away from Trumka’s hometown.

Tina Hay, editor

September 14, 2009 at 5:00 pm 1 comment

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