Robert King was elected UAW president on June 16, 2010, by delegates at the UAW's 35th Constitutional Convention in Detroit.
King, who is known for his activism and passionate beliefs in social and economic justice, served three terms as a UAW vice president. In his last term as vice president, he directed the Ford, Severstal, and Competitive Shops/Independents, Parts and Suppliers (IPS) departments.
King played a major role in both the UAW Ford 2007 National Agreement and the 2009 modifications of the agreement.
King was first elected a UAW vice president in 1998 and assigned to lead the unionís National Organizing Department. He was re-elected in 2002. During Kingís leadership the National Organizing Department assisted more than 80,000 workers in their efforts to join the UAW. He pioneered the use of innovative neutrality and majority sign-up agreements with employers that gave workers the right to join the UAW without employer interference.
King negotiated neutrality and majority sign-up agreements with many major automotive suppliers, allowing more than 36,000 unrepresented workers the opportunity to join the UAW. These agreements include employer neutrality during organizing drives, and fast and fair majority sign-up election procedures.
Prior to his service as vice president, King was elected to three terms (1989-1998) as director of Region 1A, which covers nearly all of Wayne, Monroe and Washtenaw counties in Michigan.
As regional director, King mobilized 1,500 unionists to support recently organized members in a pre-dawn demonstration at Johnson Controls Inc. (JCI) in Plymouth, Mich., in 1997. This demonstration and strong solidarity from UAW customer assembly plants resulted in a major victory for these new UAW JCI members and ultimately led to all JCI Detroit 3 seating plants organizing into the UAW. The UAW and JCI built a strong relationship and bargained innovative agreements in all of the newly organized facilities.
Under his leadership, Region 1A activists mobilized caravans to show solidarity for United Steelworkers and United Mine Workers. King led a caravan from Region 1A to Hamlet, N.C., in 1992 to participate in the March for Justice for 25 non-union workers killed in a fire due to lax safety standards at a chicken processing factory.
He has led delegations to Mexico and El Salvador to stand in solidarity with the oppressed. In 1990 he led delegations to El Salvador to support trade unionists and church members who were victims of a long campaign of deadly bombings, death-squad murders and disappearances carried out by Salvadoran military officers trained by the U.S. militaryís School of the Americas in Ft. Benning, Ga. King has long been involved in efforts to close the school because its graduates use the training received there to terrorize, religious activists, community activists, trade unionists, and political opponents in Latin America.
He joined UAW Local 600 in 1970 when he was hired at Fordís Detroit Parts Depot and began his electrical apprenticeship in 1972. King, a member of the UAW International Skilled Trades Advisory Committee, was elected vice president of Local 600 in 1981 and president in 1984. He was re-elected in 1987 and was twice elected chair of the UAW-Ford Negotiating Committee. While at Local 600 King was active in the fight to end apartheid, the successful campaign and legal action to open Dearborn parks, support for UAW Colt strikers, and many other social justice fights.
King has always involved members in standing up for social and economic justice. Region 1A gave strong backing to Detroit newspaper strikers and locked-out workers. King himself was arrested several times for non-violent civil disobedience in the face of illegal and anti-worker actions of newspaper management. He set up region-wide networks to stand behind workers in other nations, from Mexico and Central America to South Africa and Haiti. He is a firm believer in union education, including strategic planning for local union leaders.
King was one of the original members of the AFL-CIO Elected Leader Task Force on Organizing. He also founded the region-wide International Labor Solidarity Network. A 1968 graduate of the University of Michigan, King received his law degree in 1973 from the University of Detroit. He served in the U.S. Army from 1968-1970. King is a life member of the NAACP, a Michigan Democratic Party precinct delegate, and a member of the Coalition of Labor Union Women.
Born on Aug. 18, 1946, he lives in Ann Arbor, Mich., with his wife, Moe Fitzsimons. He has five children: Jennifer, Kathlene, Jackson, Bernadette, and William.