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Minneapolis Building Trades picks new business manager, IBEW's Dan McConnell

From the Minneapolis Labor Review, August 26, 2011

By Steve Share, Labor Review editor

MINNEAPOLIS — The Minneapolis Building and Construction Trades Council has named a new business manager, Dan McConnell, the former political director of International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local 292.

McConnell was appointed unanimously to the business manager position by the Council’s executive board to fill out the unexpired term of Scott Gale, who resigned to return to the staff of Plumbers Local 15. The appointment runs until July, 2012, when the next election for business manager is scheduled.

McConnell has been a member of IBEW Local 292 since 1998 and served Local 292 as political director from 2005 to 2011. He was a candidate for Local 292 business manager earlier this year.

Advocating with local government for investment in infrastructure will be one of McConnell’s roles as business manager of the Minneapolis Building and Construction Trades Council. “We need to invest in our country, especially now when interest rates are low and prices are competitive and people need work,” he says. “Now is the time to build.”

Dan McConnell visits the Flux Apartments jobsite, Minneapolis

McConnell, 41, lives in the Longfellow Neighborhood of Minneapolis, where he was born and raised. He was a third generation graduate of Roosevelt High School and later graduated from the electrical construction program at Dunwoody.

Growing up in his family, McConnell relates, he was surrounded by building trades workers. His father, John McConnell, was a member of Carpenters Local 851 and a 37-year building inspector for the City of Minneapolis.

“I grew up helping my dad do different construction projects, building my mom’s house, remodeling grandma’s kitchen, building a cabin… We were always doing some project.”

Several older cousins were members of IBEW. “I really looked up to those guys,” McConnell says. “They looked like they enjoyed life and made a good living.”

McConnell’s path to a career in the building trades, however, took some time. After graduating from high school in 1988, he applied twice for the IBEW Local 292 apprentice program but wasn’t accepted. “I drove a tow truck for 12 years,” he reports.

“I really enjoyed working there,” he says of his tow truck years, but “I didn’t have health care and benefits… It gave me an appreciation of the benefits of working in a union.”

McConnell enrolled in Dunwoody’s electrical construction program in 1995, graduated two years later, and was accepted into IBEW Local 292’s apprentice program in 1998. He worked four years as an apprentice and three years as a journeyman before becoming IBEW Local 292’s political director.

McConnell says one of his goals now, based on his experience, is “trying to create a better pathway for people interested in joining the building trades.” That’s important for increasing diversity in the trades, too, he notes. “If you put too many roadblocks in the way, people of less means can’t get in.”

McConnell previously has served the Minneapolis Building Trades Council as chair of its Committee on Political Education. He has an extensive record of involvement with community groups and local economic development boards.

McConnell once skipped a U of M class to attend his precinct caucus, he shares. His continuing passion for politics led to election in 2009 to his current position as chair of the Minneapolis DFL Party. He also serves as a member of the DFL state executive committee.

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