Interviewed by Sean Griffin and Bailey Garden
Cathy Walker was born in Vancouver, BC in 1949 and grew up in Burnaby. Her father was a member of the Machinists Union which influenced her perspective while growing up. She attended Simon Fraser University (SFU) during a time of fervent political activism by students and became involved in the Young New Democrats (YND) during the same time. She left school to pursue a working-class experience and began working at Cascade Electronics where she quickly became involved with the union, then the Canadian Association of Industrial, Mechanical and Allied Workers (CAIMAW). She became vice-president and eventually president of CAIMAW Local 1, along with running the union newsletter and actively servicing members through negotiations, grievances, workers compensation appeals etc. She later became Vice-President of Health, Safety & Environment for CAIMAW and came on full-time in that role when the union merged with the Canadian Auto Workers union (CAW) in 1992.
Keywords: All-China Federation of Trade Unions; Asbestos; Beijing Municipal Federation of Trade Unions; Big Three automotive plants; Burnaby, BC; Canadian Association of Industrial, Mechanical and Allied Workers (CAIMAW); Canadian Auto Workers union (CAW); Canadian Electrical Workers (CEW); China; Chinese trade unions; Confederation of Canadian Unions (CCU); Corrective Collective; Environment; Grievances; Health and safety; Indochina; Labour Code; Labour Environment Alliance Society; Labour Relations Board (LRB); Negotiating; New Democratic Party (NDP); Simon Fraser University (SFU); South Asian Canadians; Students for a Democratic University (SDU); Toxic-Free Canada; Vancouver, BC; Vancouver District Labour Council (VDLC); Women’s issues; Women in labour; Workers compensation; Young New Democrats (YND)