When you ask people about Robert (Bob) Morales, they always say three things. First, he was a true and committed union man; he worked tirelessly to bring the benefits of a union membership to thousands of workers across the Bay Area and the country. Second, he was determined and unstinting in his support of numerous charities. And finally, he was a very private man, rarely mixing his personal and Teamster life. That’s why so many Teamsters were surprised to learn that Bob had cancer, the disease that ultimately took his life on January 26, 2015. He was 72 years old.
Born in El Salvador, Bob came to the U.S. in 1958, completed his education and joined the Army after graduation. Bob started his union career working for the Metal Polishers & Platers Union of the AFL-CIO. In 1973, he moved offices upstairs to take his first position with the Teamsters, and from there, he never looked back.
Bob was devoted to the Teamsters and to Local 350, which he headed as Secretary-Treasurer since 1975. He started as a Trustee of Joint Council 7 since 1981 and was proud to serve as Secretary-Treasurer for the last 20 years. He was honored to have headed up both the California and the National Teamsters Hispanic Caucus for a time, and was privileged to be named Director of the IBT’s Solid Waste and Recycling Division in 2006.”
Bob worked hard in the waste industry to insure better wages, benefits and working conditions for those in that industry. He could, and often did, boast that his contracts were the best in the nation.
“Bob’s ability to negotiate the best waste contracts in the country and to lobby in the City and County of San Francisco for workers’ rights has no peer,” said Joint Council 7 President Rome Aloise, reflecting back on his 40 years of work with Bob.
“Bob delivered the American dream for the people he represented,” says former Joint Council 7 President Chuck Mack. “He recognized that to effectively represent the members, you had to do more than just go to the bargaining table with the employers. You had to build power in the political arena.”
Underscoring the point, former Local 665 Secretary-Treasurer Ernie Yates says that Bob built the Bay Area Union Labor Party to become a major political force. “Politicians came to Bob,” Yates says. “He was one of the few people to endorse Barbara Boxer when she first ran for local office in Marin County. And he became a close friend of Dianne Feinstein, Willie Brown, and Art Agnos from when they each served as Mayor of San Francisco, as well as with elected officials from numerous cities.”
In addition to his other Teamster responsibilities, Bob served as a Trustee of the Teamsters Benefit Trust and the Western Conference of Teamsters Pension Trust, and was Chair of the Western States Representative Retirement Plan. He also served on the San Francisco Film and Video Arts Commission, appointed by Mayor Gavin Newsom.
Some of Bob’s many charities include United Way of California, the Martin Luther King Jr. Society of San Francisco, the A. Philip Randolph Association, the Hispanic Foundation Senior Centers and GLIDE. And he was always the first to support a union cause. Bob Morales is survived by his wife Maria Morales, three children and seven grandchildren.”