Statement by Ambassador Katherine Tai on the Passing of Dr. William E. Spriggs

June 09, 2023

This week we lost a giant who devoted his life to advancing economic justice and equal opportunity for workers everywhere.  Dr. William E. Spriggs was a brilliant economist, a dedicated public servant, and a caring friend and colleague.

Bill understood that workers are the engine of our economy.  Throughout his storied career, including as Chair of Howard University’s Economic Department, as Chief Economist for the AFL-CIO—the first Black American to hold the position—and across two presidential administrations, Bill fought for and validated the lived experiences of working people with infinite wisdom and technical expertise.

Bill left an indelible mark on trade policy.  His groundbreaking research on the impact of trade on workers, including and especially Black and Brown workers, continues to drive our new story on trade.  Bill was central to the U.S. International Trade Commission’s unprecedented investigation on the distributional effects of U.S. trade and trade policy on workers, as he shared his insight through roundtables, an academic symposium, and hearings.  Simply said, Bill embodied our worker-centered trade policy.

I offer my deepest condolences to the Spriggs family.  Thank you for sharing Bill with us and with the American people.  We will miss him greatly, and his legacy will live on through our work to build fairer and more equitable tomorrow for all.