Meet Mike McDonnell
Omaha – Meet Mike McDonnell. Mike is a new labor educator who joined the William Brennan Institute in August of 2014. He earned his Master’s in Public Administration from Bellevue University, Bachelor’s Degree in Criminal Justice and Associates Degree in Fire Protection Technology from the University of Nebraska at Omaha.
On November 8, 2013, Mike retired as Fire Chief from the Omaha Fire Department after 24 years of service to the citizens of Omaha. Prior to serving six years as Fire Chief, Mike was the Union President of Omaha Firefighters Local 385 for ten years and is currently President Emeritus. He was also the State President of the Nebraska Professional Firefighters Association and Executive Board Member for the Nebraska State AFL-CIO, serving in both positions for 4 years. He served as a Field Representative for the International Association of Firefighters covering Iowa, Kansas, Missouri and Nebraska assisting local Firefighter unions with collective bargaining, grievance handling, organizing and daily operations of a union.
Being Union President for ten years and Fire Chief for six years gives Mike a unique perspective when it comes to understanding the union/management relationship. He has great negotiating skills and decades of experience with collective bargaining, arbitration, mediation and discipline cases. He has worked with a wide variety of unions in the public and privates sectors of the economy. Mike tries to bring the life lessons he has learned in his career in public service to his teaching.
Mike was raised in a union family, his father Bill McDonnell was an Omaha Firefighter for 40 years, and he retired as an Assistant Fire Chief. He was Omaha Public Safety Director and managed the Police and Fire Departments for the City of Omaha under Mayor Al Veys. Mike’s dad is President Emeritus of the Omaha Firefighters Union Local 385 and a member of the Nebraska AFL-CIO Labor Leaders Hall of Fame. Mike recalls that “my father taught me many things and one was to try to learn from other people’s mistakes, it’s very beneficial and personally less painful!”
Mike is opening new doors for the Institute. At present the Institute is currently working on building relationships to offer labor history and worker rights content with Boys Town and the Omaha Public High Schools. Mike is a native of Omaha and his wife Amy currently teaches for the Omaha Public Schools. Mike and Amy have a son Ryan who is in 7th grade.
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