Profile: Peggy Askin has been a lifelong union activist. When she retired in 2002, she was president of Local 203 Telecommunications Workers Union in Calgary, representing clerical and operator service workers. She had also served as co-chair of the Women’s Committee of the Calgary and District Labour Council, and on the CDLC’s executive. Earlier she was an executive member of Local 148, IBEW.
Askin describes labour’s long fight against the deterioration of working conditions at Telus and the decimation of its labour force through privatization. The privatization has produced a corporate culture that not only oppresses workers but also provides a poorer service to Telus customers than Alberta Government Telephones provided. Telus has imposed contracts on its workers without negotiations and silenced workers by creating a climate of fear of management retaliation to all criticisms. The Alberta Labour Relations Board has largely favoured the owners over the workers. Askin emphasizes that the experience of telecommunications workers shows the need to “have strong and renewed unions that listen to their membership and follow the mandate of their membership.”
Keywords: Alberta Government Telephones; Alberta Labour Relations Board; Calgary and District Labour Council; IBEW; Privatization; Telecommunications workers; Telecommunications Workers Union Local 203; Telus; Workers’ rights to free speech.
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See also: Women and Work