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Twins 5, Rangers 4 for sold-out 'Trade Night at Target Field'

Laborers Local 563 apprentice LeWanda Harper throws out the first pitch of the game

From the Minneapolis Labor Review, June 24, 2011

By Steve Share, Minneapolis Labor Review editor

[For photos from this event, visit the MRLF facebook page]

MINNEAPOLIS — Tickets sold out quickly for this year’s “Trade Night at Target Field,” which brought a group  of 1,000 Building Trades union members, family and friends to see the Twins defeat the Texas Rangers 5-4 June 9.

The evening first began with a Building Trades picnic at the nearby Minneapolis Farmers’ Market.

Special honors then went to Laborers Local 563 apprentice
LeWanda Harper, Minneapolis, who threw out a ceremonial first pitch of the game.

Harper, now 41, joined Laborers Local 563 and its apprentice program three years ago after graduating from a pre-apprentice program at Summit Academy.

“The money is great,” Harper said. She enjoys “being outside working with my hands.” And, she added, “I’ve never been scared of getting dirty.”

“I’ve worked on the Twins stadium, the Gophers stadium, on the highways and in my own neighborhood,” Harper said. “The diversity is great.”

The Building Trades chose Harper for the first pitch honors to highlight their apprentice programs. “The apprentice programs are what set us apart from the non-union,” said Tim Mackey, Construction and General Laborers Local 563 business manager. Apprentices receive proper skills training and safety training. “We believe training is the key,” Mackey said.

“I think the Laborers apprenticeship and training program is great,” Harper said. “More training means more money as I advance through the apprenticeship program,” she noted.

Originally from Chicago, Harper moved to Minneapolis in 1991 seeking a better life.

She had worked in accounting for 15 years before entering the pre-apprentice program at Summit Academy. “I just got tired of office life,” she said. “I needed something different to do and I went to a job fair at Summit Academy.”

Summit referred Harper to Veit Companies, a union contractor, and she then joined the Laborers.

Harper is now a Level 2 apprentice with Laborers Local 563. “I’m a good worker so I manage to fit in,” she said. “The guys treat me well.”

Harper  continues to be involved with Summit Academy, helping lead seminars to encourage more women to become involved in the Building Trades.

Harper has a 20-year old daughter who is in college in Chicago and a 15-year old son at home.

And, by the way, she hurled that pitch like a pro!

LeWanda Harper



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