Our Policy Statement
Union organizing doesnt stop once the membership cards are signed, the vote taken and the certification granted. The act of choosing the union is an important first step - becoming an active union member is the next. It is through a process of membership development and empowerment that a dynamic, united and democratic union takes root and grows strong. We more commonly know this process as union education.
The PSAC Education Program is fundamental to the achievement of our goals as a union. Through education, members gain the knowledge, skills and confidence they need to be effective organizers, communicators, advocates, representatives, and leaders. At workshops, seminars, courses and conferences members explore the issues, learn the principles, develop the skills and plan the actions that enable them to carry out the unions constitutional, legal, social and moral obligations.
Education plays a direct role in making the union relevant to the lives of the members, at their workplaces and in their communities. It does so in a number of ways: for example, it teaches new officers, be they stewards, local presidents, or regional vice-presidents, what their roles are and how to carry out their responsibilities effectively; it identifies and develops new leaders so that there is an ever expanding base of union activity; it introduces the current and emerging issues around which membership action can be mobilized; it promotes equity , inclusion and the integration of the rich diversity of the membership; and it builds support for union campaigns and, on a broader scale, positive social change.
Education is an integral and ongoing part of all union activity. It is about sharing information, analyzing our situations, gaining new insight and knowledge, developing our skills, and organizing for action. It is not something separate and apart, unconnected to the current reality of the union. Whenever groups of Alliance members gather, there is the opportunity for education to happen. In this context courses, conferences, meetings, mass actions, etc, all are appropriate venues for union education. As well, education takes place on an ongoing basis in the course of everyday union activism. This is the practical application of the learning that takes place within the more structured process of the Education Program.
Membership participation, in a spirit of solidarity and collective good, is key to the unions strength and success. To this end we define the primary goal of the PSAC Education Program as follows:
- To build an active, united, democratic, inclusive union through a process of membership education and empowerment.
- The Alliance is committed to providing members with quality trade union education and to ensuring that the necessary resources are in place to sustain a comprehensive, innovative and dynamic Program.
- The Standing Education Committee of the National Board of Directors will ensure that the intent of this Education Policy is carried out and will monitor the Policys relevance and effectiveness.
To achieve its goal, the PSAC Education Program will reflect and uphold a defined set of standards or guiding principles. These provide a framework within which to remain true to the goals of the PSAC Education Program, while allowing flexibility as to how the goals can be realized. The principles include:
1.1 Union education must occur close to the membership, i.e., at the workplace, in the community.
1.2 Union education must be accessible, i.e., free of barriers due to geography, language, disability, income, family responsibility, working conditions, etc.
1.3 Union education must be equitable and inclusive and encourage the participation of all members in all Components and all regions.
1.4 Union education must reflect a high level of membership involvement in the evolution of the program.
1.5 Union education must be flexible, adaptable and able to respond quickly to changing circumstances, for both the membership and the organization.
1.6 Union education should develop critical thinking, raise consciousness, create knowledge, enhance skills, and value risk-taking.
1.7 Union education should be democratic, interactive, action-oriented and member-centred.
1.8 Union education should be integral to all union activity.
1.9 Union education should be developed and delivered based on the organizing model and the principles and methodology of adult and popular education
The structured PSAC Education Program will include the following key elements:
- Regional Education Plans,
- the Alliance Facilitators Network, and
- Special PSAC initiatives
Regional Education Plans
2.1 Each PSAC region will plan, develop and implement a Regional Education Plan.
2.2 The Plan will include varied opportunities for introductory, basic and advanced training.
2.3 The Plan will offer alternate formats of education delivery - e.g., evening sessions, weekend courses and seminars, day long events, in-residence programs - and will include a recruitment strategy.
2.4 The Plan will be designed to integrate with the goals and priorities of the PSAC.
2.5 The Plan will include core education activities for membership orientation, steward and representatives training, health and safety, equity, local organization, and activist development.
2.6 The Plan will anticipate education initiatives in connection with major PSAC campaigns, e.g., organizing, political action, strike mobilization.
2.7 The Plan will be developed through a process of consultation, input and feedback involving members, locals, component officers, and Alliance Facilitators in the region, as well as regional structures and regional staff.
2.8 The Plan will clearly indicate the application of the funds allocated to the region from the PSAC Education Budget and in accordance with the standards and entitlements set out in this policy.
2.9 Coordination of the development and implementation of the Regional Plan will be the responsibility of the Regional Education Officer, or in the absence of such, a staff person assigned by the Regional Coordinator.
2.10 The annual Regional Education Plan must be approved by the Regional Executive Vice-President and forwarded to the AEC Officer who holds the portfolio for the PSAC Education Program.
2.11 Regions will develop effective systems for keeping Components informed of members who complete core education programs.
3.0 The Alliance Facilitators Network Policy (AFN)
(Adopted NBoD-June 1995 / Amended January 1998)
If the empowerment of Alliance workers is to happen on a significant scale then conscience raising union education has to be extended from weekend courses, advanced training or special interest seminars into the workplaces. Union education must find different, creative ways of reaching members and of addressing their pressing and ever-changing needs.
It is with that goal in mind that the Alliance initiated the first Basic Instructors Training Program (now AFTP) in 1984. The Alliance has been committed ever since to the concept of member educators trained to provide local, Component, regional and workplace based training opportunities. The Facilitators' Network offers advantages to Components, locals and the organization as a whole. Through the Facilitators' Network, Components and locals will be in a better position to respond to their immediate and specific training needs. Likewise, the Alliance is putting in place a mechanism by which it can, on a timely basis, provide training to members on important union issues of the day.
Objectives of the Alliance Facilitators' Network (AFN)
- To provide members with local-based union training opportunities organized, developed and delivered by members
- especially trained as Alliance facilitators;
- To provide interested members committed to union education with the appropriate training necessary for them to become
- effective and efficient union facilitators;
- To help union facilitators realize their potential in building strong, active, informed locals;
- To offer support mechanisms and resources instrumental in establishing regional networks of union facilitators.
Role of Alliance Facilitators (AFs)
- To organize, develop and deliver educational activities in the local and regional structure, as defined in each region;
- To establish, coordinate, and help maintain education committees at the local level;
- To be active in assisting in the development and delivery of Component educational initiatives including special,Component issue courses and conferences.
- To be available to provide training to other locals and at activities organized by the Area Councils, Regional Women's Committees, Political Action Committees or any other regionally organized forums, upon request;
- To be available to play the role of facilitator at any Component and/or Alliance sponsored Regional or National conferences, upon request;
- To help coordinate Alliance local and regional union education activities at the regional level, as defined in each region;
- To help make the Alliance Facilitators' Network a mainstream union activity.
Membership in the Alliance facilitators network
In order to be included in the Alliance Facilitators Network, an interested member must:
- apply to become an Alliance Facilitator;
- be recommended for the AFN by the regional office; and
- demonstrate willingness to commit the time and effort necessary to be an active AF.
A suitable candidate for the AFN is a member who has demonstrated commitment to union principles, has experience as a union activist and knowledge of union issues, has some experience with the Alliance Education Program, and is willing to dedicate the time to be an Alliance Facilitator. The individual should be committed to the objective of local-based education, be known and respected in his or her constituency, and have good communication skills. S/he should also be self-directed and willing to create teaching opportunities and facilitating resources without much direction from a central body.
The application process for the AFN will include the following steps:
- In response to recruitment initiatives by the RO, members will identify their interest in the AFN.
- An introductory letter will be forwarded to interested members, along with information about the AFN and the regional education program.
- A follow-up interview (telephone or otherwise) would be organized to further discuss the members interest in the AFN and to assess the applicants current level of knowledge and skills.
- Union references may be requested.
- If, at this point, a member wishes to pursue membership in the AFN and the regional office has determined that the applicant is a suitable candidate, s/he will be asked to sign a commitment to become an active AF.
- If the kind of training provided by the Alliance Facilitators Training Program is required for a sufficient number of new AFs, a course will be scheduled
The following Indicators of an Active Alliance Facilitator will be used as a standard to guide consultations involving regional offices, the AFN and potential new Alliance Facilitators:
An active AF is one who:
- provides members with locally based union training that will address Component issues, local issues and regional issues, on a frequent basis. Examples of locally-based training includes initiating workplace discussions on current issues and campaigns, desk drop/e-mail summaries and lunchtime information sessions;
- initiates learning opportunities (e.g. Component initiatives, in locals and regional committees);
- is willing to put a plan in writing;
- actively recruits for courses and other union training;
- seeks opportunities to cooperate with coalition partners;
- participates in the design of the regional education plan;
- stays connected with other Afs and the REO;
- initiates AF skill development opportunities;
- maintains education links with the Component;
- regularly contributes to the resource pool/tools of the AFN; identifies learning needs as identified by members active in the Component, local and regional structures, and communicates these within the regional planning process;
- is an active union member and has achieved a level of development within the union;
- respects and applies all PSAC policies in the conduct of their work as an AF.
Training of Alliance Facilitators
Training is offered through the advanced course, the Alliance Facilitators Training Program (AFTP). The goals of the course are to promote the Alliance Facilitators Network and strengthen PSAC locals through workplace and local-based union education. The AFTP develops members skills and self-confidence to undertake union education activities within their locals, their Components, and their regions. Participants explore how to identify learning needs, set learning objectives, facilitate discussions and develop workshops and seminars. Through practical exercises, participants learn how to choose and use various techniques and aids and how to foster positive group dynamics. They also learn the principles of popular and adult education and the elements of an effective learning experience.
To further assist Alliance Facilitators in developing and maintaining their facilitating skills, s/he may on occasion be asked to co-facilitate on weekend courses or SATP. Additional training on specific issues can be accessed through the regional office.
The annual regional seminars of Alliance Facilitators should include a training component designed, in consultation with Alliance Facilitators, to meet certain identified training needs.
Alliance Facilitators are encouraged to further develop their facilitator's skills by attending seminars and courses offered by other labour bodies (CLC or Federation of Labour) or community-based organizations. Financial resources can be accessed through the regional office for that purpose.
Support systems for alliance facilitators
If the Alliance is to be consistent with commitment to a local based, member-driven component of its union education programme, it must provide substantive support to the Alliance Facilitators in their role as facilitators in the workplaces. Without such support, the vision of a network of active union facilitators would remain a hollow concept.
The following kinds of support should be made available to Alliance Facilitators:
- Access to Regional Office staff for advice and support;
- The Components should provide AFs with encouragement and resources so that they can work with other Component AFs and leaders on special Component educational initiatives. (i.e., - special conferences and Component issue educational opportunities).
- When developing their annual schedule of weekend courses and SATPs, Regional Offices should make an effort to offer co-facilitating opportunities to Alliance Facilitators (AFs) so they can receive feedback and suggestions that will help them maintain their skills.
- Possibility of quarterly meetings with other Facilitators from the same Regional Office area;
- Participation at a week-end regional seminar of Alliance Facilitators organized once a year in each of the following regions: B.C.; Yukon; Prairies; NWT; Ontario; NCR; QuJbec; Atlantic. This seminar is an opportunity given to Alliance Facilitators to share experiences, compare notes, plan educational activities for the upcoming period, reinforce their network, and select their representative who will attend the Alliance Education Conference. The seminars should also include a skills development / training component.
- Representation (one facilitator from each of the 8 regions: (Atlantic; Quebec; NCR; Ontario; Prairies; B.C.; Yukon; NWT) at the annual Alliance Education Conference.
- Access to preparation time. Each participating Alliance Facilitator is entitled to a yearly allocation of funds (the amount to be established each year by the Education Section according to available resources) to allow for preparation time.
- Access to an annual Facilitators allowance (level of which will be established every year by the Education Section according to available resources) to cover material cost;
- A liaison bulletin published at the regional level a few times every year to help consolidate the Facilitators' Network. The bulletin would contain short descriptions of Alliance Facilitators' activities, advertise skill development opportunities, publicize the availability of new modules developed.
- Promotion of Alliance Facilitators to labour councils, Federations of Labour and other community-based organizations so as to provide them with more opportunities to further develop their facilitating skills and to increase their regional exposure.
In each Regional Office, coordination of the Alliance Facilitators' Network will be the responsibility of the Regional Education Officer (REO), or in the absence of an REO, a Regional Representative. However, in a Regional Office, all Represent-atives and REOs should consider themselves as sharing the responsibility to provide an effective support system for the Alliance Facilitators (AFs). The responsibilities of the Coordinator include:
- working closely with Regional Representatives and locals to identify potential AF candidates and to encourage their entrance into the Network; Component representation, gender parity and other equity group representation within the Network must be important considerations in any AFTP recruitment strategy;
- ensuring the program is well advertised in the region;
- providing ongoing advice and assistance to AFs;
- providing feedback for skills development purposes and moral support to AFs by occasionally observing them at local educationals;
- monitoring AFs efforts and contributions and reporting to the Education Section on a regular basis. These reports should include a description of local educationals prepared and/or delivered, weekend courses co-facilitated, or any initiatives undertaken by AFs to consolidate the regional net-work as well as a "year-to-date" summary of programme expenditures;
- advising the Coordinator, Education, of members to be included in the Alliance Facilitators' Network;
- participating in the planning and organizing of the weekend regional seminar of AFs;
- keeping a current list of addresses and phone numbers of active AFs;
- contributing to, or coordinating the production of a regional liaison bulletin as described above;
- reviewing and approving AFs project proposals for funding;
- recommending to the appropriate Alliance staff coordinator, AFs to be considered as conference/ seminar facilitators;
- coordinating equitable opportunities for AFs to co-instruct at weekend courses/ SATPs.
The Education Section will be responsible for the following:
- designing a central records system for the AF Network. Preparing regular reports for the Centre and R.O.s based on the information held in the system;
- designing and developing a "manual" or "resource package" for Alliance Facilitators;
- coordinating the development of didactic materials for use by AFs on a need basis;
- acting as a "clearing house" for gathering and distributing educationals developed by AFs;
- coordinating the production of a quarterly "mail-out" to AFs that would serve as a vehicle to keep them informed, to provide them with tips on education methodology, and to share experiences of AFs in the various parts of the network. Each mail-out would contain submissions from the regions as well as items of national interest;
- designing and developing brochures/leaflets to explain the AF Network to locals, Components, Area Councils, RWCs, PACs, and other regional structures, as defined in each region;
- liaising with R.O.s to provide assistance and information and to ensure that the best utilization possible is made of the limited resources available;
- ensuring that the programme funds are put to good use and that the programme is financially sound.
4.0 Special PSAC Initiatives
4.1 In any given year certain education activities may be scheduled by the Alliance Centre in Ottawa. These could include courses in which all regions will participate (e.g., Union Development Program; National Officers Training Program) and/or special training projects developed in response to an emerging need.
5.1 The PSAC Education Program is funded by the budget approved at PSAC Convention under the heading of Membership Education Services.
5.2 Any surplus in the Membership Education Services budget in a fiscal year shall be transferred to the provisional account for Membership Education Services. Any deficit in a fiscal year shall be offset by the funds in the provisional account. If there are no funds in the provisional account, a deficit in a fiscal year shall be recovered from the budget of the following year.
5.3 Each year regional education budgets will be allocated from the overall PSAC education budget. These allocations will be based on criteria mutually agreed upon among the regions and approved by the Executive Vice-president responsible for Education. Surpluses or deficits in regional budgets will be treated as described in section 5.2.
5.4 Annually, a portion of the education budget will be allocated to projects initiated or scheduled by the Alliance Centre in Ottawa. Normally this contingency amount would not exceed 10% of the total education budget.
5.5 Membership participation in the PSAC Education Program will be supported through a set of expense entitlements based on the following principles -
- membership participation in the union is a form of volunteerism
- no member will be out of pocket as a result of participating in a union education activity
- when a member is required to take leave without pay to attend a training event, the associated loss of salary will be reimbursed by the union
- the PSAC Family Care Policy will apply to education activities
5.6 Out of pocket expenses normally include such items as transportation, meals, and accommodation and will be reimbursed in accordance with the provisions of the PSAC Travel Directive.
5.7 Members who complete a weekend course, or the equivalent, shall be entitled to an allowance of $25 per day in lieu of expenses.
5.8 Ten percent (10%) of the education budget will continue to be allocated to the Alliance Facilitators Network (AFN).
5.9 A region may decide to allocate additional funds to the AFN from the general education budget for the region, but not vice versa. However, in the last quarter of the year, there will be a review period to determine if any unused AFN funds could be usefully allocated to the general program for the region.
5.10 In determining AF expense reimbursement, regions will be guided by the Policies of the PSAC. In addition, an honorarium of $75 per day (which is taxable) and $25 per day (which is not taxable) to be paid for education done on weekends or scheduled days off as part of the Regional Education Plan. LOS will apply should the education take place on a scheduled working day. (The honorarium or LOS will be charged to the cost of the course, not to the AFN budget.)
5.11 A region, on recommendation of the AFN and in consultation with the Regional Executive Vice President (REVP), may, with reasonable justification, decide to set entitlements different from these standards.
5.12 AF reimbursement will take place by activity in accordance with the AF plan.
5.13 AFs who are requested by the Regional Office to facilitate at union events such as conferences or in conjunction with a special campaign will have their expenses paid from the budget specifically allotted for that activity.
6.1 In close collaboration with the responsible Executive Vice-President, the Regional Offices Branch shall be responsible for implementing this policy, including the development of a set of administrative guidelines and procedures with regard to the advertisement of courses, recruitment and selection, eligibility criteria, facilities and travel bookings, etc.
6.2 All PSAC policies will be adhered to and actively applied at education functions (e.g., accessibility; harassment; no-smoking; etc.).
6.3 All who participate in education activities are expected to demonstrate mature, adult behaviour and to treat other participants with tolerance and respect.
PSAC Policy Statement - Membership Education Program (Adopted NBoD - January 1998 Amended NBoD - September 2000)
Date Modified : 2011/11/15