Bill Onasch lives with his wife, Mary Erio, and her four cats, in the Hyde Park Historic District of Kansas City. Now a Social Security pensioner, Onasch has been in the labor movement since he was a teenager.
From 1975-85, while employed at Litton Microwave in suburban Minneapolis, he was an active member of United Electrical, Radio & Machine Workers (UE) Local 1139, holding elected positions of Chief Steward, Shop Chairman, and Local President. In 1980, on union leave from his Litton job, he worked on a successful UE organizing drive at a Litton runaway plant in Sioux Falls, South Dakota.
When Litton began closing its Minneapolis operations in 1985, Onasch was selected to represent UE workers in a Dislocated Workers Project at Minneapolis Community College. On a temporary faculty appointment while there, he was elected to represent MCC in the Minnesota Education Association community college delegate assembly.
Returning to his home town of Kansas City in 1989 he began a fourteen year stint as a bus driver for the Kansas City Area Transportation Authority. He soon started publishing a rank-and-file union newsletter, Transit Truth; headed a union Community Outreach Committee that mobilized transit riders and workers in actions that delayed cuts in transit service; worked on a successful drive to unionize a privatized spin-off at Johnson County Transit; and was elected to a term of Vice-President of Amalgamated Transit Union Local 1287. He continues to pay retiree dues to Local 1287 as well as active member dues to the National Writers Union.
Onasch participated in the Founding Conference of US Labor Against the War in January, 2003 and filed the first news story about that event.
He was part of the Labor Party Advocates steering committee that called the 1996 Labor Party Founding Convention. Onasch served on the party’s Electoral Policy Commission and was elected to represent Midwest Labor Party chapters on the Interim National Council, the party’s equivalent of the national committee.