Year: 2003, 2007
Profile: Reg Basken was president of the Alberta Federation of Labour from 1972 to 1978 and has been an important figure in the Alberta labour movement and the NDP from the 1960s onwards. Born and raised on a farm in Churchbridge, Saskatchewan, Basken could only afford more one year at the University of Saskatchewan. So he took a menial job at Saskatchewan Power and then became a linesman. Soon he was also a union steward for the Gas Coke and Chemical Workers Union, handling grievances. That work led to his being asked to join the staff of the Oil Chemical and Atomic Workers. While there, he became the first graduate of the Labour College of Canada.
Basken came to Alberta in 1967, invited by OCAW’s Canadian district director Neil Reimer to become assistant director. He became active in union drives at Suncor and Syncrude and in negotiating environmental protection measures to address workers’ health and safety concerns. As AFL president he lobbied the Alberta government for health and safety laws for all workers. When the Canadian district of OCAW became the independent Energy and Chemical Workers Union in 1984, Basken became its first president. He opened talks with the Canadian Paperworkers Union and the Communications Workers Union that led to the creation of the Communications Energy and Paperworkers Union of Canada in 1992. Basken served as executive vice-president, secretary and treasurer of CEP before his retirement in 1998.
Keywords: Canadian Paperworkers Union; Communications Energy and Paperworkers Union of Canada; Communications Workers Union; Energy and Chemical Workers Union; Gas Coke and Chemical Workers Union; Labour College of Canada; New Democratic Party; Oil Chemical and Atomic Workers Union; Oil workers; Union stewards
Transcript: Download PDF – 2003; Download PDF – 2007
Reg Basken comments on the Edmonton Celanese plant and its closure in the ALHI documentary here: