Leroy King, International Union of Longshore and Warehouse Workers (ILWU) leader and longtime San Francisco Labor Council delegate, has passed away at 91 years old. He died of natural causes at his home in Saint Francis Square in San Francisco’s Japantown, a cooperative complex he helped found to provide homes for union members and their families during a time in the 1960’s when housing discrimination against minorities was still an issue – even in a progressive city like San Francisco. Leroy King joined ILWU Local 6’s warehouse union after WWII and was soon appointed a regional Director for the International Union where he served during the leadership of the legendary Harry Bridges.
Even in retirement Brother King was a friend to the San Francisco Labor Council and helped me personally as Executive Director in our policies and duties. He brokered political tensions at our Martin Luther King Day celebrations; he was a reliable labor steward on the Redevelopment Commission where he served under six mayors from Diane Feinstein to Ed Lee. Leroy King was always available as a mentor to young leaders in our many unions and he had to be a little proud that some of the devastating redevelopment and gutting of the Fillmore District that displaced so many in the African American community, started to make a bit of a return with some of the build out of the Fillmore corridor in the Western Addition.
During my tenure at the Labor Council Leroy stopped by my 2nd floor office in the ILWU headquarters almost every month after doing business on the 4th floor. If I didn’t have to answer more than ten questions about the many legislative and political campaign we were working on I would be relieved. I’d often drive him back to his house in Saint Francis Square.
Leroy King was a legend and historic part of San Francisco labor history.
We will miss our friend.