PSAC Basic Course Descriptions

Here is a list of basic courses offered by the PSAC BC Regional Education Program. They are generally held on weekends with both 1 and 2 day offerings depending on the course. The courses are divided into 2 categories: those that we offer frequently as a core part of the regional education program and those that we offer in addition to the core courses based on demand and interest from members.

Frequently offered core basic courses:

Talking Union Basics (TUB)

This is the union’s key “introductory” course. If you have wondered what it means to be a union member, how the PSAC works, and what happens to your dues dollars, then Talking Union Basics provides answers to these questions. The course also introduces the collective agreement, your employee rights and your rights as a member of the PSAC. You will learn about the many opportunities to be active in the union and ways you can make a contribution to building strong locals in the B.C. region. It is recommended that members take Talking Union Basics first, as it provides the basic knowledge you need to get the most from other PSAC courses.

Understanding & Interpreting the Collective Agreement (UICA)

This course explores key provisions in members’ collective agreements and introduces an easy four-step framework for interpreting the contract. We will practice applying the four-step interpretation method and examine cases providing examples of “aids to interpretation”. Using a number of case studies from adjudication / arbitration decisions (e.g., sick leave; operational requirements; other leave with or without pay; acting pay; discharge), we also will practice applying the collective agreement to actual workplace situations. Working with actual cases enhances your ability to problem solve through analysis and discussion. The course will “demystify” the collective agreement and provide you with the necessary skills and tools for on-going, self-directed learning. NOTE: please bring your collective agreement to this course.

Grievance Handling (GH)

This training is a must for stewards and other workplace representatives, or members who want to use the acquired knowledge and skills to solve problems in the workplace. You will find out what the law says about grievances, grievors and their representatives, and the protections built in for those who choose to use the grievance procedure to solve problems. You will develop grievance-handling and problem-solving skills through “hands-on” exercises on gathering facts, analyzing a problem, drafting grievance wording, building a complete file, framing the arguments and presenting the case to the employer. You will work on case studies based on actual grievances and, in the process, improve your knowledge of case law. Normally this is a 2-day course.

Local Officers Seminar

This is an introductory course for new Local Officers who need to know how to run a Local. Sessions cover the role of the Local Executive; Local administration, including by-laws and budgets; effective communications and Local meetings; and how the Local can access the wider resources of the PSAC. A major theme throughout the course is the organizing model of unionism and how to put it into practice so as to build a strong union presence at the workplace.

Health and Safety – Canada Labour Code Pt II (CLC II)

This course, designed for Local health and safety activists, will provide participants with hands-on application of The Canada Labour Code Part II. Participants will practice interpretation and analysis of various parts of the act as they pertain to the workplace. There is a strong focus on key amendments to the act and how these changes should be applied and monitored. Learning activities cover such things as; changes to the Canada Labour Code Part II; duties and responsibilities of the parties; committee roles; and mobilization around occupational health and safety.

Other basic courses:

ABCs of UMCs

Do you often wonder how to make your Union Management Consultations more effective and help you deal with issues at the workplace? If so, this is the course for you! Together we will examine the legal framework, protocol and practice of union/management consultation. We will also explore the appropriate use of interest based workplace negotiations as well as introduce some hands-on techniques. And last but definitely not least, when formal and informal union/management consultation fails we can always rely on the power of the collective to make our voices heard. Learn how to organize and carry out strategic and effective workplace actions and campaigns.

Health and Safety Activism

A safe and healthy work place is a basic worker right. This course will re-empower members to ensure we have secure work places. Participants will start with their own knowledge of their work, and work places, and will critically examine the risks and responsibilities of workers and employers, including the notion of ‘worker carelessness’. Participants will develop action plans to mobilize members and to ensure the employer provides the necessary tools, training and funding to support a healthy and safe work place.

Bargaining from Strength

“The difference between bargaining and begging is the power to effect change.”

Want to get more information about the Collective Bargaining process and how it affects you? Wondering how it all works and how you can get more involved? Ever pondered the connections between bargaining and the larger political context?

Understanding and being involved with the Collective Bargaining Process is essential for all union activists.

This 2 day course will provide an overview of the Collective Bargaining process and how it connects to broader global, economic and political context and more specifically to the union’s work on Political Action.

Together we will discuss the importance of collective bargaining and how it fits within the larger social and political context. We will look at the steps involved in the bargaining process, the roles and responsibilities and how agreements are ratified. We’ll explore ways in which we can be more involved in the various stages of the negotiations process. We will also identify the importance of being involved in Political Action as part of our bargaining strategy and learn specific skills such as lobbying and communications to help us be more effective in putting forward our priorities in the broader political arena.

Unionism on Turtle Island

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-Aboriginal members who want to learn more about Aboriginal issues and who want to work in solidarity with their Aboriginal sisters and brothers. This course begins the process of providing a basic awareness of Aboriginal people’s history and culture as well as contemporary issues they are facing today.

By analyzing current political and social Aboriginal experiences, and learning the uniqueness of Aboriginal cultures, participants will be able to create a better understanding of the shared struggles of Aboriginal people and unions and deepen their understanding of Aboriginal 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 Aboriginal 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

Convention Procedures

By the end of the course, participants will understand the purpose of conventions, become familiar with convention procedures such as voting, elections, reports, etc., and become more skilled at using Rules Of Order. We will examine the roles of convention committees, committee chairpersons, convention chairpersons, and gain some understanding of the dynamics of conventions.

Creating Respectful Workplaces

This fast paced and interactive course will take you through the basic steps of creating and maintaining respectful work environments. Together we will identify the signs of an unhealthy workplace, look at underlying factors, gain an understanding of different forms of harassment and identify concrete solutions for creating healthier working relationships. We will examine what is meant by diversity and what measures can be used to make our workplaces more inclusive. We will also discuss strategies for increasing participation and our effectiveness on joint employment equity committees. With regard to harassment and bullying, we will look at the legal framework, policies and recourse routes. We conclude with a section on how to prevent harassment in the workplace bringing the course full circle.

Duty to Accommodate

This training is a must for Local Officers and other workplace representatives. You will learn what the law says about the Duty to Accommodate and how this law is applied in the workplace. These rights and our ability to enforce these rights have serious ramifications for the members, the union, and the employer.

Harassment Awareness Training (HAT)

This course brings together Alliance members to further their understanding of what constitutes harassment, and the conditions that make people vulnerable to this type of behaviour. Participants develop both individual and Local strategies for effectively dealing with harassment in the workplace.

Public Speaking For Trade Unionists

One of the biggest fears people have is speaking in public. As trade union activists you will have many opportunities to do so, especially as we approach our conventions. Learn how to do it effectively and with the minimum amount of anxiety. The course will provide you with some hints to help you overcome your fears and assist you to learn how to speak in public effectively.

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.

If People Counted! Economics Through a Union Lens

Power goes to two poles – to those who’ve got the money and those who’ve got the people.

Imagine that you live in an economy that works for everyone, where jobs are enjoyable, prices of basic needs are affordable and the minimum wage brings an annual income above the poverty line. What would the economy be like if it was not built on the accumulation of wealth in the hands of a few people?

Who said learning about economics can’t be fun! Join us for this interactive course where we will put the “popular” back in “economics” and debunk the myth that only economists and politicians can understand and make decisions about our economic lives!

Using popular education techniques and drawing from our collective knowledge, we will learn the basics of economics and the impact of the economy on our union, our workplaces and our communities.

Creating Workplace Change Through Employment Equity

PSAC believes that Employment Equity legislation must be maintained and strengthened to ensure it achieves its purpose: equality in employment.

All workers should be recognized for their skills and abilities. However, barriers and biases – intentional or not – are very much a factor when it comes to hiring and promotion in many workplaces.

How do we address these biases and barriers and create equitable systems within our workplace? By working together to create and strengthen workplace Employment Equity initiatives. Employment Equity focuses on changing workplace culture and hiring practices so that individuals from historically disadvantaged groups get jobs they are qualified to do and can fully contribute to the workplace.

This course will provide participants with an overview of Employment Equity, what it is, its purpose, the legislation involved and the roles and responsibilities of all parties in the workplace.

Our Organization: