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Barbara Petersen Oral History Interview #1

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Barbara Petersen shares her work experience as a sewer at Levi Strauss in Albuquerque in the 1970s where she was active in a union organizing drive. Petersen talks about her developing political and social and economic justice consciousness around issues of civil rights, workers’ rights, and teachers’ rights. After leaving Levi Strauss, she worked in the Albuquerque Public Schools (APS) in kindergarten as an EA for 2 years and a teacher for 33 years. As a member of AFT, Petersen learned the “bigger picture” of union membership that included teacher voice, political action centered on school funding, standardized testing, tests score data issues, and workers’ pay and benefits. Petersen has been a member of the CLC since 1978 where she appreciates the diversity of union members with whom she shares solidarity. She is currently an APS School Board member.

The Working People's History of New Mexico Project (WPHNM) is an oral labor history project created to gather the labor stories of working people in New Mexico. While part of the interviews focus on the specific jobs that the interviewees performed, the interviews also explore labor-management relations as well as union, workers council, and social activism participation.  The interviews contain information about family and social relationships and offer themes of social and historical interest in New Mexico and the US.