Executive Council Statement

On the Retirement of Terry O'Sullivan

The AFL-CIO Executive Council recognizes the service and leadership of Laborers’ International Union of North America (LIUNA) General President Emeritus Terry O’Sullivan.

O’Sullivan began his tenure as the second-longest-serving general president in the union’s 120-year history on Jan. 1, 2000, and for the next 23 years and four months he positioned LIUNA as an organizing and political powerhouse.

Under his leadership, LIUNA significantly increased its resources for organizing efforts, growing its membership to the highest number in the union’s history, and dramatically grew the union’s political presence and influence.

O’Sullivan became a recognized leader in the energy, infrastructure and other large industrial sectors, building strategic alliances with contractors, owners, investors and industry trade associations.

A fierce advocate for worker health and safety, O’Sullivan established the LIUNA Charitable Foundation to fund research on the leading causes of illness and death among laborers, and to provide financial assistance to the families of LIUNA members killed on the job.

A proud native of San Francisco, O’Sullivan grew up surrounded by the union he would eventually lead. His father, Terence J. O’Sullivan, was a 69-year member of Laborers Local 261 who rose through the ranks to serve as the union’s general secretary-treasurer.

O’Sullivan’s own distinguished career with LIUNA first started in 1974 as a laborer. His tenure with the international union began in 1987 as an instructor for the West Virginia Laborers' Training Trust Fund, where he was appointed administrator two years later. He would go on to serve LIUNA in a number of positions, including assistant director for the construction, maintenance and service trades department; administrator for LIUNA Tri-Funds; staff assistant to the general president; and chief of staff.

Prior to his tenure as general president, O’Sullivan served as LIUNA vice president, mid-Atlantic regional manager and assistant to the general president. 

O’Sullivan’s passion and advocacy for working people extended beyond the borders of the United States and Canada. A longtime, vocal supporter of Sinn Féin and its work to secure a peaceful, just and united Ireland, O’Sullivan continues to work closely with the party, its allies and Irish labor leaders to advocate for full implementation of the historic Good Friday Agreement.

Through his leadership, LIUNA has become a powerhouse for working people, and the Executive Council wishes Terry O’Sullivan a long, healthy and active retirement.