Profile: Irish-born Jimmy Arthurs arrived in Canada in 1976, afterwards serving as a Calgary hospital electrician for 30 years. From 1977 to 1997 he served in the maintenance department at the Calgary General Hospital, moving to the Peter Lougheed Centre when Ralph Klein’s government blew up the General. When he first began working in Canada, Arthurs was an IBEW member. At Calgary General, he became an active member of CUPE Local 18. When the Calgary hospital laundry workers struck in 1995, Arthurs was involved in solidarity work that brought together CUPE and AUPE hospital workers, as well as support from the union movement generally. Maintenance staff had to balance support for the strikers with necessary service provision for hospital patients.
Arthurs suggests Calgary General’s decision in 1993 to contact out housekeeping services led to deterioration of hospital facilities. Hospital closures and cutbacks mean “we don’t have adequate hospital space to cater to the needs of sick Calgarians.” In 2007, because of forced consolidation of units for collective bargaining, Arthurs’ former local joined an AUPE local. He became a shop steward and in 2009 became a full-time membership services officer at AUPE.
Keywords: Calgary General Hospital; CUPE, Local 18; Electrician; Healthcare cutbacks; Hospital maintenance workers; IBEW; Peter Lougheed Centre; Privatization of housekeeping.
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