THE Irish American community has described as ‘losing a legend’ the recent passing of international labour leader William (Bill) O’Driscoll.
West Cork man Bill died on Friday, July 8th at the age of 87. The Cork-born union activist defended the rights of all working men and women and demanded fair immigration laws for everyone in his adopted USA.
Born and raised in Lisheen, Skibbereen, he attended Lisheen National School and St Fachtna’s in Skibbereen.
Prior to immigrating to New York in 1957, Bill attended the Catholic Workers’ College in Dublin, where he continued his labour studies, later graduating from Cornell University.
While employed with Trans World Airlines, Bill became active within the International Association of Machinists (IAM) Airline Members Union of New York, serving as chairman of the 1966 Strike Committee.
In 1968, Bill was elected president of the largest transportation union in the US – Local Lodge 1056 – of the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers (IAMAW).
In 1974, he was elected general chairman of District Lodge 142 representing workers in 21 airlines. In 1988, he was elected president-directing general chairman of District Lodge 142, a position he held prior to his retirement in 2006.
Bill served on the board of directors of Trans World Airlines, as well as being a delegate to the International Transport Federation (ITF), the largest transportation federation in the world, serving over five million members worldwide.
Bill O’Driscoll was a devoted Corkman, officer and chairman of numerous committees within the Co Cork BP&P Association, including the association’s 1984 Centennial Committee from New York to Cork and the association’s 125th anniversary. ‘We are proud of Bill’s legacy and contributions to the Irish American community, who was an advocate for immigration reform and served on the board of directors for the Emerald Isle Immigration Center,’ said Cork BP&P Association past president, Denis McCarthy.
In addition to being celebrated as Corkman of the Year, Bill was honored by numerous Irish organisations including the Emerald Isle Immigration Center, Clan na Gael, the United Irish Counties Association of New York (as Gael of the Year), and as Grand Marshal to the Queens County St Patrick’s Day parade in New York.
‘We extend our condolences to his wife Catherine (nee Murphy) of Ballinskelligs, Co Kerry, their four children, Hannah, John Stephen, Deirdre & William, their seven grandchildren, Stephen Andrew, Thomas Joseph, Bridget Jane and Shannon Rose O’Driscoll, and Kiera Elizabeth, Caitlin Rose and Jillian Marie Murphy, and extended family members,’ said Mr McCarthy.