Heather Sanford Johnson

Heather Sanford Johnson

Recording Corresponding Secretary


Heather began her career in the trades at a time when it was unusual for a woman to operate heavy machinery. Before she got her license as a Red Seal Mobile and Tower Crane operator, Heather drove everything from a water truck to a snow plow.

In 1996, back in her home province of Nova Scotia, Heather joined IUOE Local 721, but only after her fifth visit.

“I think it was new ground for them, so they were a bit hesitant at first to let me join. But it helps when you show up prepared, and with the money in your pocket.”

Heather has been the first to break a lot of new ground in her career. She was the first female snow plow operator for the Government of Nova Scotia as well as the first female crane operator at a dry dock in the Halifax Shipyard. In September 2016, Heather was also the first female crane operator to receive a 20-year-service award from a union.   

“Doing this work is really about having a positive attitude. For the most part, I feel like I have been treated with a lot of respect for the work I do. I don’t run around trying to prove myself. I just work the way I work.”

She says one of the best parts about working as a crane operator is the camaraderie.

“I really like working with my union brothers and sisters. We all have the same goal which is to have a good life. Honestly, sometimes when I am up in the tower crane, I think ‘I can’t believe they let me up in here.’ I am very lucky and I have an amazing career.”

Heather moved to Alberta in 2007 and has been an Executive Board member since 2014. She wants to ensure that members’ and agents’ concerns are heard and also shared. To Heather, being part of the union means belonging to an organization where its members are treated fairly in a safe and respectful environment. It’s an organization that strives to look out for and care for each others well being.

“I take great pride in being a part of this and continuing on this tradition.”    


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