Communications Workers, City of York Councillor
A devoted union organizer, City Councillor, housing advocate, and author, Joan Roberts was born in Toronto to a working class family and felt a deep connection to the city and people who lived and worked within it. In 1978, Joan put aside her full-time university studies to join a union organizing campaign by telephone operators at her employer, Bell Canada – Canada’s largest telecommunications company – where she worked part-time as a telephone operator. Over the next 2 years, Joan dove into the campaigns and first contract strike for over 2 years. The experience would shape her approach to activism and politics throughout her life.
In addition to her union organizing and writing, Joan continued to dedicate her life to advancing just causes. She helped to build co-op housing, and was elected to the City of York Council, where she served from 1991 – 1998. In 2015, Joan would recall her time organizing in 1980 and explore it further in her book, “Cracked: How telephone operators took on Canada’s largest corporation and won!”.