Bob King, the immediate past president of the United Auto Workers (UAW), told the nearly 50 attending the May meeting of the San Francisco Bay Area and Vicinity Port Maritime Council that it is time to quash the myth that unions are no longer necessary.
“We must knock this myth out and reinstate the Wagner Act,” King declared. (The Wagner Act – also known as the National Labor Relations Act – was passed by Congress and signed into law by President Franklin Roosevelt in 1935. It created the National Labor Relations Board and established a federal framework for workers to collectively bargain in the private sector. Several laws have since been passed to considerably weaken the original measure.)
King noted the recent events in the Midwest which have turned pro-worker states such as Michigan, Indiana and Wisconsin into right-to-work-for-less locations.
“We must take back the power. Unions take people out of poverty. There will be no major social change without collective action,” he added.
“There is no middle class without a workers’ movement – strong unions – we need millions of workers covered under a collective bargaining agreement!”
After serving in the Army from 1968 to 1970, King went to work full time at Ford and became a member of UAW Local 600. He rose through the union’s ranks, helping to expand the UAW through organizing workers from other sectors. He served as UAW president between 2010 and 2014.