Dave Churchill receives Bud Jimmerfield Award, Unifor marks 25 years since Bud’s death

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Five people standing together one holding an award.

This year’s Bud Jimmerfield Award is presented to Dave Churchill of Local 28, Unifor’s Health and Safety Policy Committee Co-Chair for Bell Technical Solutions (or BTS) Ontario.

In this position, Dave works to identify problems, risks, and hazards in what is recognized as one Canada’s most dangerous jobs. His dedication has resulted in creative ways to adapt to rapidly changing workplaces.

“A lot of our new hires are newcomers, so we’ve adjusted our materials to be available in many languages,” said Churchill, when receiving the award. “I’d like to thank Unifor for creating an environment for training, whether at Port Elgin’s Family Education Centre, or in the various remote trainings.”

Churchill explained more about the challenges faced by the workers employed by Bell and the need for health and safety protections.

Telco technicians work under pressured deadlines, in extreme weather, at great heights, with potentially deadly hazards. The need for strong health and safety protections is high, and Dave has demonstrated the fact-based, data-driven tenacity and leadership needed to hold employers accountable.

During the COVID-19 pandemic, Dave’s guidance and leadership was pivotal in guiding 3,600+ Unifor Telco members in Ontario through a dangerous and stressful period.

In the summer of 2022, Dave had the unfortunate task of leading the investigation into the on-the-job fatality of a Unifor Telco member. His conduct through the course of this investigation was indicative of Dave’s consistent approach of being thorough, compassionate, and dedicated. 

He has worked tirelessly with local committees across the province to promote adherence to and the updating of Health and Safety practices and policies.

When Unifor signed the employer-paid Harassment and Violence Prevention Coordinator Memorandum of Understanding with Bell, Dave convinced BTS not only to follow suit, but to make improvements for Unifor BTS members.

Active and eager to support fellow Unifor members on the picket line, Dave is also deeply rooted in community activism, volunteering at his local youth centre’s quarter marathon every summer and is a constant presence at the local dog park. 

Congratulations to Dave Churchill for receiving the 2023 Bud Jimmerfield Award.

Who was Bud Jimmerfield?

Bud Jimmerfield was a tireless Health and Safety, Environment and Workers’ Compensation activist, not just at his workplace but at other workplaces and in communities from coast to coast.

Bud worked as a machinist for 31 years, exposed every working day to cancer-causing metalworking fluids at an auto parts plant in Amherstburg, Ontario. When Bud was diagnosed with esophageal cancer at the age of 47, the compensation board initially denied that his cancer was caused by exposure to metalworking fluids at his place of work. Bud and his union fought back, presenting evidence to an appeals board that agreed that Bud's cancer arose from workplace exposure. This appeal decision was ground-breaking and resulted in national attention on the effects of exposure to hazardous substances in the workplace.

It has been 25 years since Bud's death in January, 1997, 18 months after his diagnosis, at age 49, leaving behind his eight children and wife Diane.

Before he died, Bud charged union activists with an important responsibility “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.”

As Bud’s union, Unifor continues his legacy through activism and education. Since 1999, the union has presented outstanding health, safety and environment activists with the Bud Jimmerfield award.

Previous Bud Jimmerfield Award Recipients

  • Marc Roussel, Local 219, 2022
  • Ed Steers, Local 199, 2021
  • Richard Clark, Local 697, 2020
  • Karen Paton-Evans, UniFaith Community Chapter, 2020
  • Todd Sleeper, Local 88, 2020
  • Dave Stewart, Local 598, 2020
  • Mark Bruce, Local 1996, 2020
  • Angie Martz, Local 229, 2020
  • Shirley Egan, Local 444, 2019
  • Grant Truscott, Local 686-B, 2018
  • Roger Haggerty, Local 592, 2017
  • Emil Mesic, Local 707, 2016
  • Susan Markus, Local 1859, 2012
  • Nadia Anton-Collins, Local 707, 2010
  • Gord Piper, Local 114, 2009
  • Wayne Butler, Local 20, 2008
  • Gary Parent, Local 444, 2007
  • Dave Renaud, Local 222, 2006
  • Jamie Wright, Local 88, 2005
  • Karen Willsey, Local 2168, 2004
  • Ken Bondy, Local 200, 2003
  • Bob Bourrier, Local 100, 2002
  • Dick Martin, Canadian Labour Congress, 2001
  • Jim Mahon, Local 1520, 2001
  • Hector McLellan, Local 27, 2000
  • Jim Campbell, Local 195, 1999