In an extraordinary year for health and safety issues in the workplace, Unifor is awarding the Bud Jimmerfield Award to six activists across the country.
“It goes without saying that in the middle of a global pandemic, the importance of our network of health and safety activists in Unifor has been amplified one thousand-fold,” Unifor National Secretary-Treasurer Lana Payne said during a virtual meeting Tuesday for workplace health and safety representative from across Canada.
Sari Sairanen, Unifor Director of Health, Safety and Environment, said 2020 has been a challenging year for health and safety representatives, but they have stepped up and helped ensure safe workplaces for Unifor members.
“These are the health and safety heroes. Not only during pandemic times, but every single day,” Sairanen said during the meeting.
This year’s recipients are:
- Angie Martz, Local 229 Thunder Bay, ON. Martz is a registered practical nurse working in the long-term care and hospital sector for more than 20 years. Martz’s passion at her local is focused on advocating on behalf of all members, especially members with disABILITIES, WSIB, long-and-short term disability cases.
- Mark Bruce, Local 1996 Quaker Oats, Peterborough ON. Bruce is a dedicated Health & Safety Representative who always puts his co-workers first and foremost. He ensures every day that everyone goes home safe at the end of the day. His knowledge and leadership exemplifies what health and safety should like in every Unifor plant.
- Dave Stewart, Local 598, Glencore Mine, Sudbury ON. Stewart has participated in several labour/government initiatives, standing up for the rank and file on many occasions. Stewart sat on advisory boards with Ontario Mining Review in order to affect change in Ontario’s mining industry. Stewart has also had the grim task of investigating a death in his workplace, as well as two other deaths in a mine that had Local 598 members working alongside the contractors.
- Todd Sleeper, Local 88, GM CAMI Assembly, Ingersoll, ON. Sleeper has been a member of Local 88 since 2013 and from that time, has always been active with all activities that pertain to the environment. Todd is the chair of the local’s Environmental Committee and a member of the GM’s Joint Environment Committee.
- Karen Paton-Evans, Unifor Unifaith Community Chapter, Ingersoll ON. While Paton-Evans’ official position is chair of the Communications Committee of Unifaith, her work with members, non-members, even employees of other denominations has been steady, effective, confidential, knowledgeable, tireless and intense, including creation and presentation of many anti-bullying workshops.
- Richard Clark, Local 697 Chemtrade, North Vancouver, BC. Clark has worked nearly 20 years as a Millwright at what is now the Chemtrade Chlor-Alkali plant in North Vancouver, and has worked tirelessly over his many years there to ensure every worker goes home at the end of their shift. His depth of knowledge and his willingness to hold management to the letter of the law and then ask them to do more sets him apart.
The annual award began in 1999 and is named for Bud Jimmerfield, President of Local 89 and a tireless Health and Safety, Environment and Workers' Compensation activist. He was exposed to cancer-causing agents in the workplace and died in 1996 at age 49. Before he died, Jimmerfield told union activists, “don't mourn my death, fight for the living and do your best to try to prevent future occupational diseases, death and injuries from occurring.”