Born in Büderich, now part of Meerbusch, North Rhine-Westphalia, Sommer studied political sciences at Free University of Berlin from 1971 to 1980. He has been a member of the German Post Trade Union, which became part of ver.di in 2001, since 1971. After his final degree, Sommer worked for the trade union. He climbed the ladder in the trade union becoming chairman of ver.di on 18 March 2001. A year later, on 28 May 2002, he was elected chairman of the DGB. He served for twelve years, retiring in 2014.
- Aktion Deutschland Hilft (Germany's Relief Coalition), Member of the Board of Trustees
- Friedrich Ebert Foundation (FES), Deputy Chairman of the Board
- Volkswagen, Member of the Sustainability Council (since 2016)
- Volkswagen Foundation, Member of the Board of Trustees (since 2009)
- Schloss Neuhardenberg Foundation, Chairman of the Board of Trustees
- KfW, Member of the Supervisory Board (2003-2014)
- "Abschied von Michael Sommer: Reiner Hoffmann ist neuer DGB-Chef". Der Spiegel. May 5, 2014. Retrieved 20 May 2014.
- Organizational Structure Friedrich Ebert Foundation (FES).
- Volkswagen Group appoints international Sustainability Council Volkswagen, press release of September 28, 2016.
- Board of Trustees Volkswagen Foundation, Hannover.
- Board of Trustees Schloss Neuhardenberg Foundation.
- 2003 Annual Report KfW.
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