From February 2009 to August 2011, Ron Bloom
served as a senior official in the Obama
Barack Hussein Obama II is the 44th and current President of the United States. He is the first African American to hold the office. Obama previously served as a United States Senator from Illinois, from January 2005 until he resigned following his victory in the 2008 presidential election.Born in...
Administration. From February 2011 to August 2011, Bloom served at the White House as the Assistant to the President for Manufacturing Policy. Prior to holding that role, Bloom served at the Department of the Treasury, first as a Senior Advisor to the Secretary of the Treasury and member of the President’s Task Force on the Automotive Industry and subsequently as Senior Counselor to the U.S. President for Manufacturing Policy.
Ron Bloom was born in New York City
New York is the most populous city in the United States and the center of the New York Metropolitan Area, one of the most populous metropolitan areas in the world. New York exerts a significant impact upon global commerce, finance, media, art, fashion, research, technology, education, and...
and raised in Swarthmore, PA
Swarthmore is a borough in Delaware County, Pennsylvania, United States. Swarthmore was originally named Westdale in honor of noted painter Benjamin West, who was one of the early residents of the town. The name was changed to Swarthmore after the establishment of Swarthmore College...
. His mother, Paula Yackira, was an educator, and his father, Joel Bloom, served 21 years as President of the Franklin Institute
The Franklin Institute is a museum in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, and one of the oldest centers of science education and development in the United States, dating to 1824. The Institute also houses the Benjamin Franklin National Memorial.-History:On February 5, 1824, Samuel Vaughn Merrick and...
Science Museum. The elder Bloom was a prime mover in the conception and development of the Mandell Futures Center, a 90000 square feet (8,361.3 m²) wing that transformed the institute “from a dusty bin of outmoded exhibits into what is probably the most advanced science museum in the world.” A co-author of the influential ‘’Museums for a New Century: A Report of the Commission on Museums for a New Century’’, he was a president of the American Association of Museums
The American Association of Museums is a non-profit association that has brought museums together since its founding in 1906, helping develop standards and best practices, gathering and sharing knowledge, and advocating on issues of concern to the museum community...
(the first science museum president to serve in that capacity), chairman of the U.S. National Committee of the International Council of Museums, and founding president of the Association of Science-Technology Centers. In 1993, the American Association of Museums presented him with its Award for Distinguished Service to Museums; and in 2002, the Franklin dedicated its renovated observatory as the Joel N. Bloom Observatory.
After graduating from Wesleyan University
Wesleyan University is a private liberal arts college founded in 1831 and located in Middletown, Connecticut. According to the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching, Wesleyan is the only Baccalaureate College in the nation that emphasizes undergraduate instruction in the arts and...
in 1977, the younger Bloom went to work first for the Jewish Labor Committee
The Jewish Labor Committee is an American secular Jewish organization dedicated to promoting labor union interests in Jewish communities, and Jewish interests within unions. The organization is headquartered in New York City, with local/regional offices in Boston, New York, Philadelphia, Chicago...
and a year later for the Service Employees International Union
Service Employees International Union is a labor union representing about 1.8 million workers in over 100 occupations in the United States , and Canada...
. After a time, however, he realized that labor unions suffered from a lack of business knowledge, so he enrolled at Harvard Business School
Harvard Business School is the graduate business school of Harvard University in Boston, Massachusetts, United States and is widely recognized as one of the top business schools in the world. The school offers the world's largest full-time MBA program, doctoral programs, and many executive...
, earning an MBA with Distinction in 1985.
Upon graduation from HBS, Bloom joined the investment banking firm of Lazard Frères & Co. At Lazard, he divided his time between mergers and acquisition, the firm’s principal business, and working with unions whose members were involved in corporate bankruptcies and restructuring transactions (a practice originated by Lazard partner Eugene Keilin). Many of the employee-related transactions involved the steel industry—whose hourly employees were represented by the United Steelworkers
The United Steel, Paper and Forestry, Rubber, Manufacturing, Energy, Allied Industrial and Service Workers International Union is the largest industrial labor union in North America, with 705,000 members. Headquartered in Pittsburgh, U.S., the United Steelworkers represents workers in the United...
(USW)—and the airline industry, where Lazard represented pilots who were members of the Airline Pilots Association (ALPA).
Keilin and Bloom
In 1990, Bloom joined Keilin to create their own investment banking firm, Keilin and Bloom, which specialized in representing unions and other employee groups in turnaround and restructuring situations. Representing the USW in the Canadian bankruptcy of Algoma Steel, Bloom avoided a liquidation of the company and succeeded in obtaining majority ownership for the employees in the reorganized company.
Continuing a project they began together at Lazard, Keilin and Bloom also represented the ALPA pilots at United Airlines
United Air Lines, Inc., is the world's largest airline with 86,852 employees United Air Lines, Inc., is the world's largest airline with 86,852 employees United Air Lines, Inc., is the world's largest airline with 86,852 employees (which includes the entire holding company United Continental...
in their attempts to acquire ownership of the company through an employee stock ownership plan (ESOP). In 1994, they succeeded in obtaining a majority stake in United for the ESOP, creating one of the largest employee-owned companies in the United States.
In 1996, Bloom left the firm to become Special Assistant to George Becker
George Becker was a steelworker, American labor leader and president of the United Steelworkers from 1993 to 2001. During his tenure as president of the Steelworkers, Becker also served as a vice president of the AFL-CIO.-Early life:Becker was born in 1928 in Madison, Illinois, to George and...
, the President of the USW. His duties included helping the union affect corporate business restructuring, investments, bankruptcies and mergers. In his time with the Steelworkers, he reinforced his reputation as both a fierce negotiator and a creative problem solver, helping shepherd the steel industry through a painful transition period.
Bloom’s work on behalf of the Steelworkers has been documented by major news publications, including the Wall Street Journal and BusinessWeek
Bloomberg Businessweek, commonly and formerly known as BusinessWeek, is a weekly business magazine published by Bloomberg L.P. It is currently headquartered in New York City.- History :...
. Three examples of transactions in which he played a major role are described briefly below.
LTV, Bethlehem, and ISG
In April 2002 and February 2003 respectively, Bloom facilitated the sale of the assets of LTV Steel and Bethlehem Steel
The Bethlehem Steel Corporation , based in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, was once the second-largest steel producer in the United States, after Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania-based U.S. Steel. After a decline in the U.S...
to the International Steel Group (ISG)
International Steel Group was a steel company headquartered in Cleveland, Ohio. In 2004 it was ranked #426 on the Fortune 500. It was created after the turn around fund, WL Ross & Co. LLC, purchased LTV Steel in February 2002...
. Led by the financier Wilbur L. Ross, Jr., ISG sought to acquire the assets of LTV and Bethlehem out of bankruptcies without having to assume expensive obligations to former workers. Bloom negotiated a Voluntary Employee Beneficiary Association (VEBA)
A voluntary employees' beneficiary association is a form of trust fund permitted under American tax law whose sole purpose must be to provide employee benefits...
that would finance health care for retirees using a portion of ISG’s profits. Describing his dealings with Bloom, Ross said, “I found him first of all very, very pragmatic, not overly ideological,” and “a very, very good negotiator.”
In September 2003, Bloom led contract negotiations with Goodyear Tire
The Goodyear Tire & Rubber Company was founded in 1898 by Frank Seiberling. Goodyear manufactures tires for automobiles, commercial trucks, light trucks, SUVs, race cars, airplanes, farm equipment and heavy earth-mover machinery....
, where the USW represented 19,000 active employees and more than 40,000 retirees. The company’s management believed rising costs required that they replace several U.S. factories with new facilities in Asia, but the USW proposed an alternative that entailed major changes to Goodyear’s long-term business plan. Ultimately, Bloom negotiated an agreement that included concessions in exchange for limits on executive salaries, agreements to restructure the company’s debt and invest in U.S. factories, and the right of the union to nominate someone to sit on the company’s Board of Directors. The USW avoided significant layoffs, and Jonathan Rich, a senior Goodyear executive, said, “We got what we needed” to become competitive again.
In 2006, the Brazilian steel company Companhia Siderúrgica Nacional (CSN)
Companhia Siderúrgica Nacional is the second major steel-maker company in Brazil. Its main plant is located in the city of Volta Redonda, in the state of Rio de Janeiro...
tried to merge with Wheeling-Pittsburgh Corporation (Wheeling-Pitt)
Wheeling-Pittsburgh Steel was a steel manufacturer based in Wheeling, West Virginia, which is located at the edge of the Pittsburgh metropolitan area...
, a transaction what would have cost a significant number of U.S. jobs. The Steelworkers were opposed to the deal, so Bloom orchestrated a hostile takeover by Esmark, a Chicago-based steel-distribution company, to keep Wheeling-Pitt out of CSN’s hands and avoid layoffs.
Auto Industry Restructurings
In February 2009, Bloom was named Senior Advisor to the Secretary of the Treasury on the President’s Task Force on the Automotive Industry. As the deputy to Steve Rattner (who led the Auto Team at Treasury
The Department of the Treasury is an executive department and the treasury of the United States federal government. It was established by an Act of Congress in 1789 to manage government revenue...
), he helped manage the process that led to the reorganization of General Motors
General Motors Company , commonly known as GM, formerly incorporated as General Motors Corporation, is an American multinational automotive corporation headquartered in Detroit, Michigan and the world's second-largest automaker in 2010...
Chrysler Group LLC is a multinational automaker headquartered in Auburn Hills, Michigan, USA. Chrysler was first organized as the Chrysler Corporation in 1925....
. An experienced dealmaker, he played a key role in extracting concessions from the companies, their lenders and other creditors, and the United Auto Workers (UAW)
The International Union, United Automobile, Aerospace and Agricultural Implement Workers of America, better known as the United Auto Workers , is a labor union which represents workers in the United States and Puerto Rico, and formerly in Canada. Founded as part of the Congress of Industrial...
Bloom was particularly central to the Chrysler negotiations, where his strategy emphasized shared sacrifice to maximize value for all parties. He convinced the UAW, whose principal interest was preserving jobs, to accept painful wage-and-benefit concessions. In return, a VEBA for UAW members would receive a significant equity stake in the reorganized company. The announcement of that agreement put pressure on Chrysler’s creditors to forgive a significant portion of their loans. With those commitments sealed, the Treasury agreed to provide the necessary financing to set the company back on its feet.
When Rattner left the government, shortly after GM emerged from bankruptcy in August 2009, Bloom took over the responsibility of “monitoring [the auto] industry and protecting the substantial investment the American taxpayers have made” in GM and Chrysler.
On April 21, 2010, GM paid back its outstanding loan from the U.S. government (five years ahead of the scheduled maturity date and also ahead of the accelerated repayment schedule the company announced in 2009). The remaining Treasury stake in GM consists of $2.1 billion in preferred stock and 60.8 percent of the common equity. Bloom has said that this remaining taxpayer interest in the company will be disposed of “as soon as practicable.”
On Labor Day, 2009 (September 7), President Obama formally introduced Bloom as the Administration’s Senior Counselor for Manufacturing Policy. He was charged with “working closely with the National Economic Council
The National Economic Council of the United States is the principal forum used by the President of the United States for considering economic policy matters, separate from matters relating to domestic policy, which are the domain of the Domestic Policy Council...
[to] provide leadership on policy development and strategic planning for the President’s agenda to revitalize the manufacturing sector.”
In this capacity, he was instrumental in the formulation of the Administration’s Framework for Revitalizing Manufacturing (released on December 16, 2009). The Framework underlines the critical role manufacturing plays in the U.S. economy and in the fabric of American life; it outlines the major factors that have contributed to the significant difficulties facing American manufacturers; and it describes the Administration’s efforts to address each of these factors and revitalize the manufacturing sector.
From February to August 2011, Ron Bloom served as the Assistant to the President for Manufacturing Policy at the White House. During this time, Bloom played a key role in the agreement between the federal government and leading automakers to raise light-duty vehicle fuel economy standards to 54.5 miles per gallon by 2025. The White House has estimated that these standards will save consumers $1.7 trillion and reduce oil consumption by an estimated 12 billion barrels. . Bloom also oversaw the launch of the Advanced Manufacturing Partnership, an initiative between industry, universities, and the federal government designed to invest in the emerging technologies that will make U.S. manufacturers more economically competitive.
Post Obama administration
On October 16, 2011, The New York Times
The New York Times is an American daily newspaper founded and continuously published in New York City since 1851. The New York Times has won 106 Pulitzer Prizes, the most of any news organization...
reported, "the National Association of Letter Carriers
The National Association of Letter Carriers is an American labor union, representing non-rural letter carriers employed by the United States Postal Service...
announced that it had hired Mr. Bloom and Lazard, the financial advisory and asset management firm, to develop a strategy to revitalize the deficit-laden [U.S.] postal service", currently facing a deficit of nearly $10 billion. The union is looking to Mr. Bloom to help expand and explore possible solutions needed to address the service’s immediate fiscal crisis as well as a range of long-term business strategies. The national president of the union, Fredric V. Rolando, commented about Bloom and Lazard: "They have experience in analyzing large, financially complex institutions and crafting creative solutions."
Bloom has been praised for his role in the Auto Industry restructurings and for his work as Senior Counselor for Manufacturing Policy. On April 29, 2010, he was named as one of Time Magazine
’s 100 Most Influential People in the World
Time 100 is an annual list of the 100 most influential people in the world, as assembled by Time. First published in 1999 as a result of a debate among several academics, the list has become an annual event.-History and format:...
(in the category of World Leaders). In the Time 100 issue, Bill Saporito wrote that “his role in brokering the rescue of General Motors and Chrysler while preserving more than 100,000 jobs demanded a synergist who could work both sides of the equation with authority and respect.”
The Detroit News
and a book by Bloom's boss Steven Rattner
Steven Lawrence Rattner is an American financier who served as the lead auto advisor in the United States Treasury Department under President Barack Obama...
claimed that at the Auto Task Force's farewell dinner in July 2009, Bloom said of his government service: "I did this all for the unions." In testimony under oath before Congress, Bloom denied making the statement at all, even in jest.
In October 2009, political commentators focused on comments made by Bloom in 2008, namely: "We know that the free market is nonsense. ...We kind of agree with Mao
Mao Zedong, also transliterated as Mao Tse-tung , and commonly referred to as Chairman Mao , was a Chinese Communist revolutionary, guerrilla warfare strategist, Marxist political philosopher, and leader of the Chinese Revolution...
that political power comes largely from the barrel of a gun." While conservatives Glenn Beck, Rush Limbaugh, and others juxtaposed Bloom's comments with details of Mao's violent dictatorship, liberal groups such as MediaMatters cited instances where conservatives had quoted Mao and where Stephen C. Shadegg claimed to have "followed the advice of Mao" in the 1960s.
Bloom's efforts toward automobile dealership closures was criticized for including "completely arbitrary factors"; American Thinker
explicitly claimed that "objective measures...often got ignored in favor of politics".
- The New Republic Magazine
The magazine has also published two articles concerning income inequality, largely criticizing conservative economists for their attempts to deny the existence or negative effect increasing income inequality is having on the United States...
: “Bloom…managed the negotiation that plucked Chrysler from its deathbed and married it off to Fiat, making him perhaps the most successful yenta in corporate history.”
- President Obama: “Distinguished by his extraordinary service on the Auto Task Force and his extensive experience with both business and labor, Ron has the knowledge and experience necessary to lead the way in creating the good-paying manufacturing jobs of the future.”
- An anonymous Obama Administration official, describing Bloom’s role in the Chrysler restructuring: “Ron has been the quiet force that relentlessly and aggressively knocked people's heads together."
- Matthew Feldman, lead bankruptcy attorney for the Treasury Auto Team: “In the course of the Chrysler negotiations, Ron maneuvered so that he was the fulcrum of it all. There were a lot of counterparties—United Auto Workers, Chrysler, the Canadians, GMAC—and they all sort of felt like when they hit a wall in bilaterial relations, they could go to Ron and he would find a workaround. Without him, I don’t think the Chrysler negotiations would have happened. People naturally looked to him as the person who can solve problems.”