PITTSBURGH Union officials said this week that President Obama selected the perfect negotiator, expert and innovative thinker when he chose Ron Bloom, a special assistant to United Steelworkers (USW) International President, to serve as a senior advisor in the Treasury Department for U.S. auto industry restructuring.
"Solving the problems of the domestic auto industry is a monumental challenge, but Ron has tremendous ability," said USW President Leo Gerard. "There’s not much you haven’t seen when you’ve restructured 50 companies in bankruptcy," Gerard said, referring to firms Bloom worked to revive in his position as head of the USW’s corporate research, industry analysis and pattern bargaining department.
Bloom brought a unique perspective to negotiations when he joined the USW, specializing in dealing with corporations facing financial difficulties or undertaking corporate transactions. With an MBA from Harvard and experience as a vice president at the investment banking firm of Lazard Freres & Co., and his own firm, Keilin and Bloom, he had experience in corporate finance that enabled him to suggest novel solutions. His restructuring plans are recognized for preserving thousands of manufacturing jobs and health care benefits for workers and retirees alike.
"Ron is very passionate in his belief that manufacturing is essential to a healthy economy," said Gerard. "The auto industry relationship to manufacturing is as important as Goldman Sachs or Citibank is to the financial community," said Gerard. "Ron knows this."
And while Bloom has earned the respect of corporate CEOs and financiers, such as financier Wilbur L. Ross Jr., he maintains his long-held belief that unions are key to a solid middle class in America, saying at a recent conference organized by the group, Campaign for America’s Future, "We stand without apology for the principle of paying people well…that is both morally right, and we believe the right way to organize an economy."
Saving the domestic auto industry is crucial to the economic renewal of the U.S., said Gerard. "The steel, glass, auto parts, tires, and paper industries produce products for this industry and employ a quarter million of our members alone,” he said.
The USW represents 1.2 million active and retired workers in the U.S. and Canada in industries including metals, rubber, chemicals, paper, oil refining and the service sector.