Sombrotto was a letter carrier at Grand Central Station in New York City in 1970, when postal workers’ pay and working conditions were so poor they were eligible for public assistance. He became a leader and spokesman in a New York City wildcat strike of postal employees. That strike pitted the might of the U.S. government, which sent in strike-breaking troops. The resolve of the strikers never wavered and led to a new law creating the modern United States Postal Service and granting collective bargaining rights to postal employees.
AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka said, “We mourn this loss of a thoughtful and creative champion of working people.”