PSAC Advanced Course Descriptions

Here is a list of advanced courses offered by the PSAC. They are usually held ‘in residence’ and last 3-4 days.

Advanced Representation Training for Stewards

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.  

Pre-requisites for the PSAC Advanced Representation Training for Stewards are the PSAC Talking Union Basics course or Introduction to the Union for Indigenous Members (formerly National Aboriginal Peoples' Circle) course, the PSAC Grievance Handling course and experience representing members with management.

Representing and Advocating Against Workplace Racism

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.

Pre-requisites for this course are the PSAC Talking Union Basics course or Introduction to the Union for Indigenous Members (formerly the National Aboriginal Peoples’ Circle) course, the PSAC Grievance Handling course, the Human Rights Are Workers’ Rights course and experience representing members with management. 

Local Officers Advanced Training (LOAT)

  • Please note: The LOAT is open to Stewards and Local Officers.
  • Prerequisite: Talking Union Basics (TUB) or equivalent experience.

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 Local Officers Advanced Training (LOAT) is the course for you! The LOAT is an Advanced, In-Residence course that is geared specifically towards Local Officers and Stewards. The LOAT 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!

Political Action Training Program

Our rights as workers and as concerned citizens fighting for social change are in danger of disappearing completely from the political agenda. The federal election looms around the corner and the political landscape is set to shift more drastically then ever before, both federally and provincially. Whether the direct impact is on your job or on the community you live in, the time for action is now.

Join other PSAC members in BC and take a leadership role in ensuring that the rights of our members are a critical priority in the upcoming months. At stake is the future of the public service and civil society at large.
This 5 day advanced course will provide you with the tools necessary for playing a key role in the upcoming election and other political action campaigns. Participants will create an action plan and will be expected to actively apply their knowledge in the upcoming months. The course will focus on the “hot” issues of the day, how they will affect our members and the skills needed to take the union’s message to the membership and the electorate at large. Topics include: direct action, media and communications planning, coalition building, defending public services, lobbying, campaigning, globalization and using the internet for political action.

UDP (Union Development Program)

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.

Women At Work

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.

Alliance Facilitator Training

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.

Pre-Requisites: To be considered for this course, applicants must have completed the Talking Union Basics (TUB) or the National Aboriginal People's Circle (NAPC) course, or have equivalent union or community experience.

Selection Process: Participant selections 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.

Advanced Duty to Accommodate: Accommodating Members with Disabilities

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.
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