Famous for his work on behalf of British trade unions, Woodley held high-ranking positions with both the Transport & General Workers Union and the Unite organization (which merged the T&G and Amicus unions).
He began working for the Ocean Steam Ship Company when he was just fifteen years old. In his late teens, while employed by Vauxhall Motors, he became involved with labor unions.
A major supporter of the Vauxhall Motors football (soccer) club, he eventually became president of the organization.
The son of fellow labor unionist George Woodley, he grew up in Wallasey, Merseyside, England. He and his wife, Janet Timmis, welcomed a son in late 1990.
He and Hispanic-American activist Baldemar Velasquez both held high-ranking positions within prominent labor unions.