PSAC Advanced Course Descriptions

PSAC Advanced/Region-wide Course Descriptions

Here is a list of the advanced and region-wide offered in the PSAC BC Region. They are usually held ‘in-residence’ and last 2, 3 or 4 days. Most of these courses have pre-requisites. They are open to any PSAC member in good standing in BC who meets the pre-requisites.

Selection Process: Usually, participant selections for advanced and region-wide courses will be made with a view to having equitable representation from components, directly chartered locals, geographic areas, young workers and the five equity seeking groups (women, LGBT members, racialized members, Aboriginal members, and members with disabilities). Consideration will also be given to past and present union, community and social justice activism. This process is subject to applicants meeting the pre-requisites.

Advanced – BC Region

Advanced Duty to Accommodate: Accommodating Members with Disabilities (ADTA) (2 Days)

The goal of the Advanced Duty to Accommodate course is to develop our union's ability to provide effective representation on the duty to accommodate members with disabilities, at the Local level. This course is for PSAC union representatives (stewards, local officers, etc.) who have either:

  • training on and experience with representing members with disabilities;
  • training on and experience with the duty to accommodate; and/or
  • some union training (or equivalent experience) directly related to representing members in the workplace.

The pre-requisites for this course are: PSAC members in good standing who have completed a Talking Union Basics (TUB) or National Aboriginal People's Circle (NAPC) course or equivalent. Preference will be given to applicants who have also completed a Grievance Handling (GH) course and/or a Duty to Accommodate (DTA) course or their equivalents and who have experience representing members in the workplace.

By the end of the course, participants will


  • when the duty to accommodate becomes applicable;
  • the different processes involving workplace accommodation for members with disabilities i.e. Disability benefits, return to work (RTW), Workers' Compensation and injury on duty (IOD), health and safety provisions, and medical assessment;


  • more confident when dealing with some of the challenges and key issues related to duty to accommodate members with disabilities (i.e.; mental health disabilities, multiple disabilities and other oppressions and harassment);
  • they have the tools and information needed to effectively represent members requiring accommodation in the workplace;

Be Able To:

  • apply the legal definition of discrimination and accommodation in the workplace;
  • identify proactive accommodation measures for the workplace;
  • name various recourse mechanisms for members requiring accommodation.

Advanced Local Officers Training (ALOT) (4 days)

Please note: The ALOT is open to Stewards and Local Officers.

“Strong and effective Locals are the building blocks of our Union. They are essential to having a mobilized membership. Education is critical to the development of strong and effective Locals.” National Board of Directors (NBoD)

Are you a Local Officer and/or Steward? Are you interested in finding new ways to make your local executive function more efficiently? Do you want to gain tools and knowledge that will help you develop leadership, problem-solving and mobilization skills? Do you want to meet and network with other members from across the region and share skills and experiences? Then the Advanced Local Officers Training (ALOT) is the course for you!

The ALOT is an advanced, in-residence course that is geared specifically towards Local Officers and Stewards. The ALOT will provide you with an in-depth understanding of the tools necessary to run effective locals and provide you with the skills needed to be a successful union activist.

Course content includes the role of the local executive, strategic planning, local activities, local committees and terms of reference, communicating and recruiting, building an inclusive union, representation issues, local meetings, improving the rights and protections of union representatives and many other topics. Participants will also learn about social activism and how to involve members in the broader labour movement!


  • Talking Union Basics (TUB) or Introduction to the Union for Indigenous Members (IUIM), and
  • Local Officer Training (introductory course), or
  • equivalent experience

Advanced Representation Training for Stewards (ARTS) (4 days)

If you are a PSAC Steward with some experience representing members with management and you want to improve and practice your representational skills, then this course is for you.

The PSAC Advanced Representation Training for Stewards is a four-day, advanced course, with a focus on representation. You will look at various routes for engaging members in helping them to resolve workplace issues. You will deepen your knowledge of the processes and legal framework of grievance handling and what is needed from you to support the PSAC’s representation of members at all levels of the grievance process, up to arbitration/adjudication. Using case studies based on grievances that have been to arbitration, you will practice steps in the grievance process including; interviewing a member, fact-finding, meeting with management for initial problem-solving, drafting a grievance, preparing for a grievance hearing and representing a member at a grievance hearing.  


  • the PSAC Talking Union Basics (TUB) course or Introduction to the Union for Indigenous Members (IUIM) course,
  • the PSAC Grievance Handling (GH) course, and
  • experience representing members with management.

Alliance Facilitator Training (AFT) (4 Days)

Are you an educator at heart? Have you always wanted to facilitate workshops or lunch-and-learns for your local? Or maybe you'd like to gain the skills to host a discussion after your Annual General Meeting (AGM)? Do you think education is key to getting members involved in our union?

The BC Region is seeking to create a network of Alliance Facilitators committed to building union engagement through member-to-member education. This course will train members in the principles and practices of varying methods of union education and facilitation. Participants will learn how to deliver short (3 hours or less) workshops that deal with issues of key importance to our members.

Please note! Taking this course involves a long-term commitment. You should only apply if you are willing to take the plunge. After this training, you will undertake a certification process where you will practice your facilitation skills with the support of the PSAC's Regional Education Officer and Regional Representatives. Once you are certified, you will develop an annual work plan to put your skills into practice.


  • Talking Union Basics (TUB) or Introduction to the Union for Indigenous members (IUIM), or
  • have equivalent union or community experience

Representing and Advocating Against Workplace Racism (RAAWR) (2 days)

If you are a PSAC Steward with experience representing members with management and you want to improve and practice your representation and advocacy skills around workplace racism, then this course is for you.

The PSAC Representing and Advocating Against Workplace Racism is a two-day, advanced course intended to develop our union’s ability to provide effective representation on racial discrimination at the Local/Branch level.

You will deepen your knowledge about racism and racial discrimination and available options to address these issues in the workplace. You will strengthen your skills to advocate and represent members on racial discrimination grievances. You will learn how to support racialized members who are victims of racism and identify appropriate means of resolving workplace racial discrimination situations.


  • the PSAC Talking Union Basics (TUB) course or Introduction to the Union for Indigenous Members (IUIM) course,
  • the PSAC Grievance Handling (GH) course,
  • the Human Rights Are Workers’ Rights course, and
  • experience representing members with management. 

Unions Work for Women (UWW) (4 Days)

60% of PSAC members are women and the numbers of women in leadership positions are increasing every year. This course will help participants continue the momentum of building real equality in our Union and in our communities. Participants will explore our herstory and understand the importance of a feminist analysis in ensuring our collective agreements, our union structures and our communities reflect our principles and our goals. We will also develop strategies to advance women’s issues, both locally and globally.

This course is open to PSAC members who are women.


  • the Talking Union Basics (TUB) or Introduction to the Union for Indigenous Members (IUIM), or
  • proven activism within the women’s community

Region-wide – BC

Introduction to the Union for Indigenous Members (IUIM) (2 days)

Are you a First Nations, Inuit or Métis PSAC member who would like to learn more about your union? If yes, we invite you to apply for the PSAC BC Introduction to the Union for Indigenous Members (IUIM) course. (Note: participants must self-identify as an Indigenous person)

The IUIM course is for Indigenous members who have had little or no exposure to their union and would like to learn more about it.  During the course participants will learn more about:

  • the role of the union in advancing Indigenous rights in the workplace, the union, and our communities;
  • resources and decision-making in the PSAC;
  • how to become more active in the PSAC through local, regional and national structures.

Unionism on Turtle Island (4 days)

This course was originally developed by the Saskatchewan Federation of Labour Aboriginal Committee in 2001. The course is open to all members but is designed for non-Indigenous members who want to learn more about Indigenous issues and who want to work in solidarity with their Indigenous sisters and brothers. This course begins the process of providing a basic awareness of Indigenous people’s history and culture as well as contemporary issues they are facing today.

By analyzing current political and social Indigenous experiences, and learning the uniqueness of Indigenous cultures, participants will be able to create a better understanding of the shared struggles of Indigenous people and unions and deepen their understanding of Indigenous issues. Participants will examine, in a positive environment, the barriers to diversity in the workplace and explore their personal attitudes about an inclusive work environment. This training will begin the process of preparing our workplaces and locals for the increased involvement of Indigenous people.

When completed, participants will be able to connect new information and theory to what they already understand and build their capacity to help create positive change.

Highlights from past participants:

“It has encouraged me to look deeper into issues relating to Aboriginal people. It will help me to promote awareness with my community, workplace and in my union.”

“The friendly atmosphere enables participants to learn in a comfortable environment.”

“It cleared up most of the myths that I heard about Aboriginal People.”

“I benefited because I get it now. I will never again turn my back, my eyes are open.”

note: Turtle Island is an Aboriginal term for North America

Violence Prevention

This two-day course is for PSAC Health & Safety Committee members, PSAC Local Executive members and PSAC Local Stewards. This course is designed to provide information and better enforcement tools on the Canada Labour Code (CLC) Part II requirements on violence prevention as well as its applicable regulations.

The objectives are:

  • To highlight the legal requirements on violence prevention within Part II of the CLC and Part XX of the Regulations;
  • To understand the existing recourses available in preventing and dealing with violence occurrences in the workplace;
  • To assist members in better understanding the rights and obligations for workers, workplace committees and for the union; and
  • To better understand how a complaint is handled and what other protections are available for PSAC members.


  • the Talking Union Basics (TUB) or Introduction to the Union for Indigenous Members (IUIM), and
  • a H&S Committee member, a Local Executive member or a Local Steward

Young, Organizing, Unionizing and Resisting!

YOUR course is a participatory, action-oriented course for PSAC members 35 years of age and under. Participants will meet other young workers to share experiences, discuss and analyze the issues they face at work, in the union, and in society.

Participants will talk about their rights as workers, find out what it means to be in a unionized work environment, and a member of a union like the PSAC. They will also share and learn about global issues and the role of young workers in the dynamic movement for social justice.

Advanced – National

UDP (Union Development Program, currently under national review)

The Union Development Program (UDP) is an intensive national education program designed to develop the leadership skills of emerging PSAC activists. UDP participants are allocated, according to their home region, into three cross-regional groupings. They are: West/North (BC, Prairies, North); English East (Atlantic, Quebec, NCR, Ontario); French East (Atlantic, Quebec, NCR, Ontario)

UDP has six mandatory steps which take place over nine or ten months, beginning in January each year. The program includes: three face-to-face gatherings, remote learning, self-directed projects and mentoring. The "host region" will rotate between each of the Regions. For UDP West/North, the rotation for 2015 to 2017 will be Prairies then BC and then North. Steps 2 and 6 will take place in the "host region" for that year.

UDP Step 1: (January and February) Welcome to Your UDP Journey (remote learning), will introduce you to the UDP and prepare you for subsequent steps. This step will involve approximately 8-9 hours of self-directed work.

UDP Step 2: (March) The Workplace, Unions and Transformation is a cross-regional, face-to-face gathering where you will have the opportunity to review your learning from Step 1, build relationships with one another, look at issues of power and oppression and how to foster collaborative relationships with allies. You will also meet regional union leaders from the PSAC and activists from the broader social justice movement.

UDP Step 3: (April and May) Building a Workers Agenda (remote learning) will encourage you, supported by your UDP mentors, to start working with labour and community groups. You will explore Canadian political and economic systems and how these systems affect the lives of workers. You will talk with your mentors to learn how better to navigate the PSAC democratic processes. This step will involve approximately 9 - 10 hours of self-directed work.

UDP Step 4: (May - Ottawa, Ontario) Coast-to-Coast-to-Coast Connections (national face-to-face meeting) is a three-day national gathering in Ottawa for the three groupings of UDP participants from across the country. It will give everyone a chance to meet with each other, share learning, listen to inspiring speakers, and learn more about the union's history of struggle and the current political realities we face. You will have the chance for hands-on leadership skills development so you can put your learning into action.

UDP Step 5: (July and August) Strategies for Positive Change (remote learning) will further your understanding of the PSAC's democratic processes. This step will involve approximately 7-9 hours of self-directed work.

UDP Step 6: (September) Union Leadership Moving Forward (regional face-to-face) will bring you together for another four-day, cross-regional gathering to develop interpersonal skills, build strategic alliances, debate important issues, and create a plan for continuing your journey as activists and leaders.

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