Born in 1956, Ron Bloom was raised in Swarthmore, Pennsylvania. During his childhood, he was deeply involved with Habonim -- "a progressive Labor Zionist youth movement that emphasizes cultural Judaism, socialism and social justice." Bloom's experience with this movement had a major influence on his personal development and worldview. Many years later, in 2009, when accepting a post in the Barack Obama administration, Bloom noted that the lessons he had learned from Habonim – “identifying with the underdog, and … observing the world through a lens [of] people who don’t have as much and aren’t as lucky” -- remained “part of what I try to do in my work life.” “That’s one of the things that made me want to work for Obama,” he elaborated.
After graduating from Wesleyan University in 1977, Bloom took a job as an organizer, negotiator, and research specialist for the Service Employees International Union (SEIU). While at SEIU, he observed that many union negotiators lacked the skills necessary for bargaining effectively with management:
"Unions were being backed into corners by companies and couldn't understand on a sophisticated level, the company's arguments ... Labor needed to be armed with the equivalent skills."
After his stint with SEIU, Bloom went on to work as Executive Director of the Massachusetts Coalition for Full Employment; then as New England Regional Director of the Jewish Labor Committee.
In 1985 Bloom graduated from Harvard Business School and spent the next decade as an investment banker with several firms, most notably the New York-based Lazard Freres & Co. (where he was a vice president).
In 1996 Bloom joined the United Steel Workers (USW) union as a special assistant to the president. At that time, the USW president was George Becker, a co-founder of the Campaign for America's Future. Bloom retained his position as special assistant when Becker was replaced by Leo Gerard (who today serves as a board member of the Apollo Alliance) in 2001. Both Becker and Gerard have close ties to the Democratic Socialists of America (DSA). Both have been honored by Chicago’s DSA chapter, for their “leadership in building working class solidarity across borders”; their “advocacy of fair trade over free trade”; and their “commitment to finding a better way to run the economy for working people everywhere.”
In June 2006 Bloom was a featured speaker at the metal industry’s Steel Success Strategies XXI conference in New York, where he said:
“The Steelworkers have some advice for industry execs on how to make sure there’s plenty for both shareholders and workers. The theme of this advice will be really quite simple -- be hard-headed and pragmatic capitalists -- run the companies and actively participate in the political process on the basis of what is good for your shareholders -- and not based on outmoded nostrums about unions, free enterprise, deregulation, free markets and free trade.
“In today’s world the blather about free trade, free markets and the joys of competition is nothing but pablum for the suckers. The guys making the real money know that outsized returns are available to those who find the industries that get the system to work for them and the companies within those industries that dominate them.”
Bloom supports federal-government control of the American health care system (“Management must support universal single-payer national health care”). He also believes the government should be authorized to regulate the production and provision of all forms of energy (“It is time to support a comprehensive national energy program”).
At a 2008 “distressed investors” forum, Bloom said:
“Generally speaking, we get the joke. We know that the free market is nonsense. We know that the whole point is to game the system, to beat the market. Or at least find someone who will pay you a lot of money, ’cause they’re convinced that there is a free lunch. We know this is largely about power, that it’s an adults-only, no-limit game. We kind of agree with Mao, that political power comes largely from the barrel of a gun.”
On July 13, 2009, Bloom replaced Steven Rattner as head of the Presidential Task Force on the Auto Industry (a position popularly known as “Car Czar”). This position was created by Barack Obama to oversee federal bailouts of failing automobile manufacturers and the restructuring of General Motors and Chrysler. On September 8, 2009, President Obama appointed Bloom to an additional post -- Senior Counselor to the President for Manufacturing Policy (a position popularly known as “Manufacturing Czar”).