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CUPE 3736 president - Anita LabossiereAnita Labossiere has worn many hats at North Sask Laundry over the last 13 years. She has been a shipper, laundry aide, loader, sorter, linen coordinator, sewer, and the recording secretary and president of the CUPE local representing the employees.
“I loved the people,” she says. “I loved serving the public and making sure there was quality product for the patients and facilities.”
The local was in bargaining when the shut-down of the facility was announced.
“I was devastated. But I kind of expected it after hearing about their research into private laundry,” she says about her reaction to hearing the news.
As the president of her local, Anita says she felt strangely responsible.
“I was really passionate about working for my members and ensuring they had a good place to work. I felt like I kind of failed.”
Personally, she says she feels overwhelmed both financially and emotionally. As the mother of a child with special needs, financial security and a regular schedule were especially important to Anita and her family as was having a guaranteed income.
“I had planned on being there forever. Now I have to deal with the stress of not knowing what I’m going to do or where I’m going to go,” she says.
While her future is still up in the air, Anita does have a direction she’d like to follow.
“I’d like to continue working with CUPE and continue my union work. I believe very strongly in workers’ rights, in having fair wages, and I believe public services should be public because they’re better.”
She says that at North Sask Laundry employees were motivated by providing a good service for the public. It was important to her and her coworkers to provide good quality, clean linens to health care facilities because they knew it was their families, friends, and neighbours who’d ultimately use them.
“If you are unfortunate enough to end up in the hospital, the last thing you should need to worry about is the cleanliness of the linens. Those are things that should just be there for you and they should be plentiful and clean,” she says.
She says she doesn’t believe K-Bro, the company contracted to take over hospital linen services in Saskatchewan, can possibly provide a service as good as what North Sask Laundry did.
“The private system is motivated by profit. Nothing else matters. That’s just the way it is when managers have shareholders to answer to. A public service answers to the public,” she says.
While she isn’t certain what her future holds career-wise, Anita is sure of one path she will always follow.
“All this has only made me a stronger proponent of public services, of workers’ rights, and of people taking care of each other. It’s a fight I’ll fight forever. In public and at the polls.”