Bud Jimmerfield Award Goes to Longtime CAW Local 636 Activist

December 7, 2011, 10:20 AM EST

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CAW health and safety activist Garry Gray has seen the conditions of work change dramatically in his more than 40 years on the job.

Gray is the 2011 Bud Jimmerfield Award recipient and a member of CAW Local 636 at SAF/Holland Canada in Woodstock, Ontario.

Gray started at SAF/Holland Canada in 1966 as a machinist and by 1967 was elected to the bargaining committee. When Gray started at the facility, he told delegates that the welding shop was so full of dark smoke that it wasn't even possible to see 10 feet ahead.  "Now you can see from one end of the plant to the other.  I swore that one day, there wouldn't be anymore smog."

Gray was involved in 13 sets of contract negotiations over the past 40 years and elected to the joint health and safety committee, where he served as the co-chair for 24 years.

In presenting Gray with the award on December 3, Health, Safety and Environment Director Sari Sairanen told delegates that that he has strived to ensure everyone goes home whole at the end of their work day.

"All his working life Garry has taken great pride and pleasure in teaching H&S and representing workers at all levels of WSIB/CPP and EI appeals throughout Ontario," said Sairanen. She said that according to his co-workers, Gray has only ever lost one appeal.

Over his years as a health and safety activist, Garry has trained thousands of union and non-union workers not only in Ontario but also in Newfoundland and Nova Scotia. He recounted fond memories of training health and safety activists in the fishery of Newfoundland, shortly before FFAW members joined the CAW. 

Bud Jimmerfield, President of CAW Local 89, passed away nearly 13 years ago from cancer of the esophagus caused by exposure to metalworking fluids.  At the CAW Council in December 1997, Bud challenged Council delegates to go back to their workplaces and locals to prevent occupational and environmental cancers from occurring. 

The award is presented each year in his honour.

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