Bud Jimmerfield Award 2012

Toronto, Ontario

December 8, 2012

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Susan Markus 2012 Recipient of the Bud Jimmerfield Award
December 8, 2012

Toronto, Ontario
December 8, 2012

Susan Markus
CAW Local 1859

"I would like to thank my local union for nominating me, the executive board for sending in the nomination and of course Deb Tveit, words of support as well. She came out of the same workplace, and the same local where I am working from, so I really appreciate those words of support.

I also need to thank my family because my activism took me away from home quite often and sometimes they grew up with a mother was out trying to save the world to make things different and better for everyone, and now that they are adults they really truly appreciate it. Of course I have to thank my partner as well because now he is carrying on the same tradition as me being away and fighting a cause for somewhere down the road. I like to think that my activism has influenced some people, not only with my family because I do have a daughter that is a health and safety rep and she has taken on the fight in her workplace, and another daughter that doesn't let the employer push her around. In the broader community, in the broader workplaces, my influence can make a difference.

When I first started in health and safety, it was really hard to be heard because basically you had a room full of men, because it was mainly dominated by men at that time, and you were trying to get your point across.

When we got organized in Johnson Controls the main driving force on that was the health and safety conditions, we worked with Isocyanides. People were being exposed constantly to those chemicals day in and day out and we didn't have any support from the Ministry of Labour at that time. So I was really a driving force and since then things have changed a lot. And one of the main reasons they changed is the union. They knew couldn't push us around, we couldn't get support from the Ministry of Labour, but certainly people would stand up and exercise their rights and they did quite frequently time, after time after time.

And with those workers who exercised their rights is what also made change in our workplace. Last year has been a roller coaster for me, just with my health, and I'm glad to be back and to fight. We're re-launching the Prevent Cancer Campaign and we're having speakers from the Cancer Society. And you know I'm a statistic as well now too, so you never know. You never know when you're going to be that statistic, and you've really got to look back to your workplaces, and back to your communities and see what's going around you and fight. Fight to get those carcinogens out! When you see the new Cancer pamphlet and the new Prevent Cancer booklet, take a look at those chemicals, take a look at those exposures, take a look at the work you are doing and the work that is being done you in your community and stand up and fight.

In closing I just wanted to say that I am honoured, greatly honoured to be in the category of the past recipients of the Bud Jimmerfield Award, aptly named after a true, true activist Bud Jimmerfield. He stood up and spoke up quite often, even before his illness about the working conditions he had in his workplace and he tried to make a difference. And in closing again I want to thank everyone in our union, this is truly a family, my second family, my extended family, for allowing me to learn, mentor and make a difference every day. Thank you! "

CAW Making A Difference.

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