Josef Středula graduated from the Secondary Industrial School in Opava, and immediately after graduating he joined the Vítkovice Ironworks, where he worked in technical professions. After November 1989, he participated in the creation of new unions. He has been working in trade union positions since February 1990. In 1993 he was elected vice-chairman of the trade union KOVO, and in 2005 he became its chairman. He was reelected to this position twice, in 2009 and 2013. In April 2014, he became the head of the largest trade union headquarters, the Czech-Moravian Confederation of Trade Unions (ČMKOS). He has been active for a long time in various tripartite working teams – the Council of the Economic and Social Agreement of the Czech Republic (RHSD). He is a member of the steering committee and since 2019 the vice president of the European Trade Union Confederation (ETUC).