In June 1960, Jim first joined Local 413 after attending the Chester School District for eleven years and graduating from Upper Darby High School. In high school he played varsity sports.
Following high school, Jim used the union dollars that he earned during summer employment to attend West Virginia State College. He was active in extra-curricular activities including teaching neighborhood children how to improve their reading and writing skills. He developed a program to bring children, parents, and school administrators to college for open-house activities that continues today. He led civil rights demonstrations in Charleton, West Virginia, and he; also, participated in the ROTC Program.
After college, Jim went on to Penn State University Graduate School in 1965. He served as a graduate research assistant to several professors. His researched contributions were noted in various social psychology journals and a textbook. During this time, Jim continued mentoring youth, worked to reduce street gang tensions, taught and wrote papers on the Black History, which were read by students and adults.
Jim served in Vietnam after leaving Penn State. He attained the rank of Captain and received several decorations. He then returned to a teaching position at Penn State and rejoined Laborers’ Local 413 in 1974.
In May 1977, he was elected Business Manager. Jim and local 413’s membership believe in the union’s commitments to Unity, Education, Safety, and Community. Upon these commitments, the union has focused on the goals of achieving all that it can for every member. Jobs, strong collective bargaining, training, organization, and political action to service the union and the community. The more the union and its friends work together towards these basic goals, the union will succeed and grow.
James N. Harper 1941 - 2011
James N. Harper, Business Manager, Laborers’ Local #413, 1977-2011