Born into a progressive working class family in Baltimore, MD, Carl Wood has been active in the civil rights and anti-war movements since childhood. He attended the University of California, Riverside where he was elected student body president and organized local opposition to the Vietnam war. After serving two years of alternative service as a conscientious objector, Wood and his new bride Anne moved to Indiana, where he completed an apprenticeship as an industrial electrician in the huge U.S. Steel plant in Gary.

Seven years later, the Woods, with two chidren in tow, returned to California, where Carl worked at Kaiser Steel in Fontana until he was laid off in 1981. Carl found employment at Southern California Edison Co., and in 1986 was elected Business Agent (chief officer) of Utility Workers Union of America (UWUA) Local 246, representing 2000 power plant employees. In 1987, Wood was elected to the National Executive Board of UWUA. In 1997, he was appointed Senior National Representative, servicing UWUA locals in California and the other Western states and acting as the union's National Deregulation Coordinator.

In 1999 Wood was appointed to the California Public Utilities Commission, where he played a key role in protecting the state's consumers from the disastrous Enron-inspired deregulation project. At the end of his 6-year term at the CPUC, he worked for a number of unions, retiring from the UWUA in 2016.

As a long-time member of the Communist Party USA, Carl Wood does not take a one-dimensional view of the fight for democracy and progress. He believes that movements for social justice cannot succeed in isolation from each other. As a union leader Wood has fought for racial and gender equality and for LGBTQ rights. He has championed the right of working class consumers to reasonably priced, universally accessible and high quality utility services. He has worked successfully to build coalitions between unions, environmental justice organizations, community groups and consumer advocates. Since the 2016 election, Wood has played an active role in protesting and resisting Trump's fascistic assault on democracy and peace.