Training & Education

Education plays an enormous role in creating strong social unions which founded Unifor. The Education Department offers extensive and informative labour education programs, located at your Local along with the Unifor Education Centre in Port Elgin. Unifor offers courses on a variety of subjects, ranging in length from 1 day to 4 weeks. Our education programs aim to provide members with a perspective on the development of unions, as well as teaching skills and strategies developed by our members which emphasize the importance of solidarity. The strength of our future is not only at the bargaining table or the picket line, but also in the classroom. Given the importance of education, we recommend to all of our bargaining units that contract proposals include paid education leave.

What is the Paid Education Leave program?

The Paid Education Leave program (PEL) is a fund negotiated by the Union in collective bargaining with employers. A lump sum or cents-per-hour is negotiated with the employer. This fund supports union-developed and union-delivered courses at the Unifor Education Centre in Port Elgin, Ontario. At our founding convention, delegates passed a resolution making bargaining PEL a priority.

What courses are offered at the Unifor Education Centre in Port Elgin?

Over 40 courses are offered at the Unifor Education Centre in Port Elgin. Most courses are one week in length. We also hold a four-week core program. A schedule is published twice a year.

What costs are covered?

All costs that would normally be covered under the PEL program include: room and board, lost wages (up to 40 hours), mileage (if the participant drives to the program), per diem and child care subsidy if applicable. For those who fly, costs involved in travel are also split (e.g. flights, mileage to/from the airport, taxi to/from the airport, airport parking). All of these are covered in accordance with the PEL bylaws.

What are the typical amounts bargained?

PEL is typically bargained two ways: either as a cents-per-hour amount (per employee), or a fixed dollar amount (per year or per contract). The preferred way is cents-per-hour. Among those with a cents-per-hour payment, the average is about 3 cents per member per hour worked.

Course List for Port Elgin

Regular Day Courses in your area (Not Port Elgin)

The Local 2003E Bylaws provide reasonable expense reimbursement for our members including lost wages if you are scheduled to work and a per diem if you are not scheduled to work. The Bylaws also contains reimbursement for mileage if you drive and parking.

For Day Courses, the Basic Steward course will now be called Grievance Handling Basic, and the Advanced Steward course will now be called Grievance Handling and Workplace Leadership.

Grievance Handling Basic Duration: 1 Day

Would you like to know how shop stewards or committeepersons investigate grievances, present them to management and write them up properly? Would you like to learn how by practicing these essential steps using actual workplace situations and contract language? Have you considered running for this position? Or are you simply interested in learning more about how the union handles workplace issues? If yes, this one-day introductory course is for you. You will come away with a better understanding of the grievance procedure as well as how the role of the workplace representative is so critical to building our union strength.

Grievance Handling and Workplace Leadership: Duration 3 Days

Are you a Chairperson, Steward or a Committeeperson? Would you like to develop or sharpen your skills?

The role of workplace representatives are critical to our union’s strength – it is a rewarding and challenging job. In this three-day course using case studies and hands-on practical activities, we focus on three key themes related to the role of the workplace representative:

Technical skills (what is a grievance, how to conduct an investigation, writing and presenting grievances, duty of fair representation);

Communication skills (listening, asking questions, formulating arguments);

Union building skills (actions and strategies for strengthening the union at the local and national level).

This program is designed to equip workplace leaders with the skills and tools needed to defend the rights of workers, and develop an understanding of the role of a workplace representative in building a strong membership and local union.

Collective Bargaining: Duration 1 Day

If you’re on your bargaining committee and want to know more about the bargaining process, or if you want to run for election, this is an important course to take. We all have ideas about what the collective bargaining process looks and feels like, and this program provides a closer view of what actually goes on at the table and in preparations for bargaining. It focuses on the importance of contract language, preparation, leadership, strategies and tactics for maximizing your bargaining power and developing a strategic approach to bargaining. It also features a mock bargaining exercise (time permitting).

Health & Safety for Provincial Workers: Duration 1 Day

This one-day program is for Unifor health and safety representatives and all those who want to help reduce and eliminate the toll of occupational injury and disease on the worker. Through small group discussions, case studies, body mapping, video presentation, role play, and other activities, participants draw from their own experiences and recent lessons from Unifor campaigns for insight into proven health and safety principles and best practices.

Participants are asked to critically examine the risks and responsibilities of workers and employers, the various approaches to hazard control, and the idea “worker carelessness”. This program gives participants practical, useful advice on how to make the most of joint union-management health and safety committee meetings, what to demand of minutes and agendas, how to get best results from workplace inspections, what to look for in a job safety analysis, why talking to the members is so important, how to take up a worker’s complaint, why we must defend the right to refuse hazardous work, and more.