By MARY ANN O’TOOLE HOLLEY
When Dan O’Donnell started working as a roofer in the spring of 1979, he was a student at the University of Missouri-St. Louis and thought he was taking on a summer job. Now, 42 years later, he has retired as president/business manager of Roofers’ Local 2.
“I remember going down to the union hall and where I met then Business Manager Bill Mahler, who signed me and became my mentor,” O’Donnell said. “It ended up being the best move I ever made.”
Over the years, O’Donnell served in a variety of positions in the union, “You name it, I’ve held it,” he said
In 1985, O’Donnell became a member of the union’s Executive Board; in 1992 he was elected financial secretary, and in 2000, he was elected as business manager.
“The trade has certainly evolved over the years. The materials have changed, but the bottom line is having a well-trained workforce,” O’Donnell said. “When I started in the trade, they told me to get up on the roof and go to work. It’s much different now. It has evolved, materials have changed, but education and safety training are at the forefront.”
O’Donnell says he is proud that during his tenure as business manager, the union purchased a new building to accommodate union offices and provide an expanded training center for members and apprentices. Plans are underway to move the union offices to the Westport area in the coming year. It’s a larger facility, O’Donnell said, and will be a better fit for the local.
“It’s hard to make the decision to retire,” O’Donnell said, “but I am confident knowing that Denny Marshall, our newly elected business manager, has the skills to lead us into a strong future.”
O’Donnell officially retired April, but will continue to serve as a vice president with the International Union, a position he has held since 2004. He said he will be attending all of the International Board meetings.
“It’s been the honor of my lifetime to serve the local’s 850 members,” O’Donnell said. “When you work for the betterment of unions and working men and women, it’s not a ‘job,’ it’s a lifestyle. My devotion to Organized Labor will never go into retirement.”
With his newfound free time, O’Donnell says he plans to spend time with his family, including his wife, Debbie, his three adult children and three grandchildren.
“I’m also getting back to playing handball more often,” O’Donnell said. “And the family has been keeping me busy.”
BUSINESS MANAGER, OFFICERS ELECTED BY ACCLAMATION
At Local 2’s June union meeting, President/Business Manager Denny Marshall was elected by the membership without opposition. In fact, O’Donnell said, there was no opposition to any of the officers.
Nominations were open, but with no opposition for any of the officer positions, a motion was made, seconded and approved by the body to elect the following to their respective offices:
- President/Business Manager Denny Marshall Jr.
- Recording Secretary Matt Wittenborn.
- Vice President John O’Connor.
- Financial Secretary/Field Representative Tom Hamilton.
- Sergeant-at-Arms Gary Stepka.
- Board Members re-elected include Dennis Bello, Dan Knight, Todd Heisserer and Bill Thurston.
Marshall, 33-year member and a fourth-generation roofer, says he’s devoted to the Labor Movement and the roofing trade, because he’s had a lot of wonderful knowledge and first-hand stories passed down from his father, grandfather and great-grandfather, and has gained a huge appreciation for the trades and the opportunities they provide.
In 2000, he was elected as Local 2 financial secretary, a position he has held for 21 years. In-between he has served on numerous committees, projects and other union activities.
“I’m fourth generation and I’ve seen the importance of making the jobsite safer for roofers,” Marshall said. “It’s a hard job and our guys deserve everything they can get.. I try to do whatever I can for them.”
Marshall says one big plan for the future is to revamp the Roofer’s Apprentice program, and, next year the union’s contract comes up for negotiation.
“We are looking for some good changes,” Marshall said. “That’s my goal. To continue to make progress where needed and do what we can to improve skills and solidify safety methods.”