2020 Outstanding Member Achievement Award winners
December 29, 2020
Announcing this year’s winners of the Outstanding Member Achievement Awards.
Every year, the Local Union awards four prizes of $500 to members demonstrating outstanding contributions in four categories:
- Enhancing and Achieving improvements in workplace Health & Safety or Workers Compensation;
- Demonstrating outstanding contributions to the community;
- Dedication to fundraising for the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society of Canada (LLSC), and;
- Manifesting Leadership and Advancement of the UFCW.
This year’s winners are Chris Bernardi, Franca Johnston, Robert Morin, and Navidad Talbot.
Find out more information on each of this year’s winners below and look for next year’s nomination window to open in early August!
Chris Bernardi, Maple Leaf Heritage
Chris Bernardi is Chief Steward at Maple Leaf Heritage near Hamilton. In the fall of 2016, Chris took a weeklong scholarship course that led him to take a more active role in the Union. Since then, Chris has been elected Steward and now Chief Steward at the plant. He is also a Vice President on the Local 175 Executive Board.
Chris is a diligent promoter of the Union at the workplace and beyond. His friendly and encouraging approach goes a long way to helping members manage a variety of concerns. That support, attention, and representation of all employees have resulted in positive changes in the workplace.
Chris furthered the reach of UFCW by volunteering to take part in the Union’s Member-to-Member election campaigns to inform members during the 2018 provincial election and the 2019 federal election.
He has a consistent presence on social media; Chris shares, likes, and comments on a regular basis to promote and recognize the work and contributions of UFCW members and other labour advocates as well.
In the words of one of his nominators, Chris is a vocal advocate for equality in the workplace and is always available to his co-workers when they need him.
Franca Johnston, Ross’ YIG Ottawa
Franca Johnston has been a member at Ross’ YIG in Ottawa since 2002 and she was a Steward in her store for many years. While attending a Stewards’ conference, Franca was inspired to organize a fundraiser to support the LLSC. With the support of her Union Representative, Jacques Niquet, Franca turned that inspiration into the very successful annual Arts for Leukemia event.
From musicians to artists, local artisans and baked goods, Franca has organized nine consecutive years of the event and raised an incredible $21,500 for the LLSC. Franca’s team includes both of her sons and her daughter-in-law, and her extended family always attends too.
Since the last event in 2019 – in fact, just two days after the 2019 event – the cause reached even closer to home when Franca’s niece was diagnosed with Leukemia. And while her niece is now thankfully in remission, her niece’s mom – Franca’s sister – passed away in February 2020.
This year would have marked a milestone 10th anniversary for the event but it was cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic. We look forward to future successful events with Franca at the helm.
Robert Morin, Leuschen Transportation
Robert Morin has been a driver for Leuschen Transportation in Timmins since 2011 and a member of Local 175 since 2018 when Leuschen employees ratified their first contract.
In 2012, Robert approached the City of Timmins to use an old baseball diamond on vacant land as a dog park. Robert succeeded with his proposal and the city even paid to complete the fencing around the yard to enclose the space.
Since that time, Robert has volunteered his time to maintain the Riverview Off Leash Dog Park. This includes providing ‘doggie bags’ and purchasing a riding lawnmower. In addition, Robert empties the garbage bins, cleans and paints the benches and cabins, fixes the fences when needed, and buys toys for the park too. After noticing that some larger dogs antagonized some smaller dogs, Robert built a second enclosure within the fenced area so smaller dogs had their own space to run.
To help with park upkeep costs, Robert has placed coffee mugs, dog scarves, and other items for sale at various local businesses. The proceeds from those sales go toward purchasing the baggies, fuel for the mower, and general maintenance.
Robert thanks the City of Timmins for the land and the local businesses that donate and help sell items to keep the park running. Robert expressed his thanks for the Membership Achievement Award and said “this money is going into the park.”
Navidad Talbot, Cargill Dunlop
Navidad Talbot has worked at Cargill Dunlop in Guelph for more than 20 years and has been a Steward for his entire time at the plant, too. Navidad, who is now the Plant Chairperson, became a Vice President on the Local 175 Executive Board in November 2018.
Through his 20+ years at the plant, Navidad has gained a wealth of indispensable experience and knowledge about the plant and its inner workings. When it comes to Health & Safety and Workers’ Compensation, Navidad has worked to further his learning and development consistently.
The members at Cargill have benefited from Navidad’s commitment to educating himself on:
- WSIB and Claim Management;
- Improving the Union’s access to information for Workers’ Compensation files;
- Speaking with injured workers to understand their needs and monitor their progress;
- Assisting and advocating for injured workers’ rights in Return to Work meetings;
- Following up on health and safety concerns arising out of workplace injuries, and more.
With his long-time service to his co-workers and commitment to workplace safety, Navidad has proven himself to be a dedicated activist for workers’ rights and a great asset to the members in the workplace.
Thank you to Robert, Navidad, Franca, and Chris for being valued members of the Union and their communities.
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