David Jenkins; S.F. Labor Leader, Union Historian
David Jenkins, a powerful leader of the labor movement in San Francisco, has died at 79.
Jenkins, a high school dropout who became a labor historian and adviser to five mayors, died Monday.
“He was a social conscience of the community and played a major role in stabilizing racial relations in San Francisco,” said former Mayor Joseph Alioto. “He was a real champion of working men and working women and the underprivileged generally. . . . We’ll miss him.”
Jenkins, a native of New York City, came to San Francisco in 1939. In the early days of World War II he became director of the California Labor School, recruiting faculty from Stanford and the University of California and opening branch campuses in Los Angeles and Oakland. He also taught courses in Jewish history, labor economics and black history.
In the 1970s, he helped introduce labor studies at San Francisco City College and the Labor Archives at San Francisco State University. Earlier this year he completed an oral history on the labor movement at UC Berkeley’s Bancroft Library.
Jenkins also was an adviser and political organizer for San Francisco mayors John F. Shelly, Alioto, George Moscone, Dianne Feinstein and Art Agnos.
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