Harry Van Arsdale Jr.

 

Harry Van Arsdale Jr. was born in Hell‟s Kitchen, New York on November 23, 1905. He attended Townsend Harris High School, which was an experimental school for gifted pupils. After finishing high school, Harry joined Local #3 in 1924 as an electrician‟s helper. In 1933 he rose to the leadership of Local Union #3 and became Business Manager. Harry was President of the New York City .C.L.C., AFL-CIO, Business Manager d Financial Secretary of Local #3 and International Treasurer of the I.B.E.W.

Brother Van Arsdale was a pioneer in negotiating a wide variety of social benefits for his members including welfare, pension and health benefits. He was instrumental in setting up one of the first union funds to provide interest free loans for members seeking to buy homes, cars or cooperative apartments. In 1950, realizing the need for low-income housing for Local #3 members, he developed Electchester Housing, a cooperative 2,100-unit apartment complex in the Borough of Queens, New York. His work in this area convinced Governor Rockefeller to appoint him a member of the Housing Committee‟s Special Task Force on Housing.
Another program established by Harry Van Arsdale, Jr. to improve the quality of life for members and their families was the Bayberry Land facility in South Hampton, New York. This 314-acre estate, purchased by the Pension Committee in 1948, has provided members with a convalescence home, an educational facility, a picnic area and a summer camp for the children of Local #3 members.

Harry was a zealous advocate of education and as Business Manager he implemented the “Critical Thinking in Human Behavior” program and other practical and technical skills training programs. He was also instrumental in establishing the S.U.N.Y. Labor College to offer members an Associate in Science degree in Labor Studies. Harry Van Arsdale Jr. established a scholarship program through the auspices of the Educational and Cultural Trust Fund. Today, in addition to the Scholarship Program, the Fund offers a Tuition Reimbursement program for members and their spouses, as well as a College Tuition Loan program.

Van Arsdale‟s concern for children and minorities was evident in his philanthropic endeavors. He donated his time, talents and vision to a multitude of important programs such as the Civil Rights Movement, Affirmative Action Programs, and Equal Rights amendments, the NYC Urban Coalition, the Boy Scouts of America and the Council of the State University College.

Harry was married to Mary Casey; and together they had two sons, Harry Van Arsdale III; and Thomas and two daughters, Margaret and Kathryn. At the time of his death in 1986, he was married to the former Madeline Reilly.

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