Fighting Back: The Calgary laundry workers’ strike of 1995 (Download PDF) was written for the Alberta Labour History Institute (ALHI) by Edmonton author, Allan Chambers. This booklet provide an account of the issues faced by health care workers caught in the middle of one of the most trying decades for Alberta’s health care workers. The wildcat strike of laundry workers in two Calgary hospitals marked a ‘flash-point’ for these workers, at perhaps the low point of developments during the 90’s. ïn all my yeasrs in the labour movement,” said former AUPE President Carol Anne Dean, Ï have never seen a more committed, cohesive or braver group of workers.”
These workers were so committed, in fact, that they became the first to force Premier Ralph Klein to ‘blink’, to interrupt his draconian program of radical cutbacks and privatizations which were wreaking havoc with Alberta’s healthcare system. Betrayed by their managers, who a year ago had promised them job security in exchange for wage concessions, but had suddenly found a contractor who would do their dirty laundry for even less, the 120 low-paid workers reached within themselves and found a well of resistance that had, until then, eluded Alberta’s bigger, more powerful union locals. They pushed back and showed the rest of the labour movement and the Alberta public that there is power in the collective when workers stand together.