PSAC-Quebec’s Education Program gives union members the tools they need to become active members. In every region, consultations are held with members, locals, regional committees and elected officials to develop the education plan that best meets their needs. The program also offers a global perspective and promotes solidarity at both the union’s regional and national levels.
We use modern adult education and community development techniques in leading our activities. Workshops, roleplays, case studies, discussion periods, interactive forums, group projects and audio-visual aids are just a few ways we share experiences, solve problems and come up with winning strategies for the future.
Education Committee Mandate
- Promote the development of an active network of Alliance facilitators in their region.
- Involve area councils, facilitators and locals in the development of the annual education plan.
- Actively participate in the development of the regional education plan.
- Make recommendations for the Quebec Council.
- Develop creative learning strategies to enhance union education within locals, the union, workplaces and communities.
- Promote education within the Quebec Council.
- Assess precise training needs of locals and regional bodies.
- Foster the establishment of education positions or education coordination committees within area councils.
- Promote regionalization as a way to strengthen the role of members in the union’s decision-making process; create opportunities for members to participate in union events and get involved in their union.
- Support the regional education team made up of elected representatives and staff who consider education to be critical to the union’s strength and growth.
- Develop a regional education plan that meets the needs of members and gives them access to union education in their workplace and community.
- Bring together regional and local leaders who are actively engaged in organizing, promoting union education.
The Education Committee submits its budget to the Quebec Council for approval.
The Education Program budget is dedicated to education for PSAC members. These funds cannot be used to support a political or administrative structure in a region.
Committee members communicate by conference call, email or using other technologies, especially when participating in meetings held simultaneously with other events.
Practices and measures adopted by the Committee are in keeping with the PSAC Members’ Education Policy.
PSAC Education Policy
There’s more to organizing than signing membership cards, holding a vote and applying for certification. As a first step, workers choose their union, but the next step is to become an active union member. Through a process of membership development and empowerment, a dynamic, united and democratic union can take root and grow strong. This process is more commonly known as “union education.”
The PSAC Education Program is vital to achieving our objectives as a union. Our training equips our members with the knowledge, skills and confidence they need to be effective organizers, communicators, spokespersons, representatives and leaders. Through workshops, seminars, courses and conferences, members explore topics of interest, become familiar with our principles, acquire skills and plan action strategies for meeting PSAC’s statutory, legal, social and moral obligations.
Training is a direct way to give the union meaning in the day-to-day lives of members, in their workplaces and communities. For example, it helps new officers (such as stewards, local presidents or regional vice-presidents) to better understand their roles and how to fulfil their responsibilities effectively; it identifies and develops new leaders and thus promotes the continued expansion of the base of union activities; it addresses current and emerging issues that serve to engage members; it promotes equity, inclusion and integration in our rich and diverse workforce; it rallies support for union campaigns and, on a broader scale, it contributes to positive social change.
Education is an integral and ongoing part of all union activity. It is about sharing information, taking stock of our situations, gaining new insight and knowledge, developing our skills and organizing for action. It is not a separate activity without relevance to the union’s current situation. Any gathering of PSAC members is a good opportunity for union education, including courses, conferences, meetings and large-scale activities. Education is regularly incorporated into everyday union activities as a practical application of learning within the more structured Education Program.
Membership engagement in a spirit of solidarity and for the greater good is key to the union’s strength and success. The primary goal of the union’s Education Program is thus:
TO BUILD AN ACTIVE, UNITED AND DEMOCRATIC UNION THROUGH A PROCESS OF MEMBERSHIP EDUCATION AND EMPOWERMENT
PSAC is committed to offering quality union education to its members and providing the resources to keep the program universal, innovative and stimulating.
The Standing Education Committee of the National Board of Directors is committed to maintaining the spirit of this education policy and ensuring that it remains relevant and effective.
The PSAC Education Program will achieve its goals by reflecting and upholding a clear set of standards or guidelines that provide a framework for meeting the goals of the program while incorporating flexible methods. These principles include:
1.1 Union education should be easy for members to get to; that is, it should be delivered in the workplace or community.
1.2 Union education should be accessible; that is, free of barriers due to geography, language, disability, income, family responsibility, working conditions and so on.
1.3 Union education should be equitable and inclusive and encourage the participation of all members in all components and all regions.
1.4 Union education should be well attended by members as the program progresses.
1.5 Union education should be flexible, adaptable and able to respond quickly to changing membership and organizational circumstances.
1.6 Union education should develop critical thinking, raise consciousness, broaden 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 designed and delivered to reflect the organizational model, principles and methodology of adult and popular education.
The cornerstones of PSAC’s structured Education Program are regional education plans, PSAC’s Alliance Facilitators Network and special initiatives.
2.0 Regional education plans
2.1 Each PSAC region shall plan, design and implement an annual regional education plan.
2.2 The plan shall include a range of opportunities for introductory, basic and advanced courses.
2.3 The plan shall make use of a variety of education methods, such as evening sessions, weekend courses and seminars, full-day activities and in-residence programs, and shall include a recruitment strategy.
2.4 The plan shall incorporate PSAC goals and priorities.
2.5 The plan shall include basic education activities to orient members, train stewards and representatives, and provide health and safety, equity, local organization and activism training.
2.6 The plan shall include training initiatives related to key PSAC campaigns such as organizing, political action and strike mobilization.
2.7 The plan shall be developed in consultations held with the intent to seek out the suggestions, comments and feedback of members, locals, component officers, and regional PSAC facilitators, structures and staff.
2.8 The plan shall specify the use of funding from the PSAC education budget that is earmarked for the region, in accordance with the standards and rights set out in this policy.
2.9 The regional education officer or, in their absence, a staff member designated by the regional coordinator, shall coordinate the design and implementation of the regional plan.
2.10 The regional executive vice-president shall approve the annual regional education plan and forward it to the AEC officer responsible for the PSAC Education Program.
2.11 The regions shall develop efficient mechanisms for forwarding the names of members who have completed basic education courses to the components.
3.0 The Alliance Facilitators Network (AFN) Policy (adopted by the NBoD in June 1995 and amended in January 1998).
If the empowerment of PSAC workers is to happen on a significant scale, then consciousness-raising union education has to be extended from weekend courses, advanced training or special interest seminars into the workplaces. Union education officers must find different, creative ways of reaching members and of addressing their pressing and ever-changing needs.
With this goal in mind, PSAC set up the first introductory facilitator training (now the AFTP) in 1984. Since then, PSAC has remained committed to the concept of training members to become facilitators in workplaces, locals, components and regions. The Alliance Facilitators Network benefits components and locals by helping them meet their individual, immediate education needs, and the organization as a whole. PSAC is also working to set up a system for ad hoc training for members on important, emerging union issues.
Objectives of the Alliance Facilitators Network (AFN)
|To provide members with local-based union education opportunities organized, developed and delivered by members trained as Alliance Facilitators (AFs).
|To provide interested members committed to union education with the appropriate training to become effective, skilled AFs.
|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 (Ads)
|To organize, design and deliver local- or region-based union education courses, as defined in each region.
|To set up and coordinate local education committees, and help them to operate smoothly.
|To provide active assistance in designing and delivering education courses within the components, including conferences and courses on component issues.
|To be willing to deliver courses on request to other locals and as part of activities organized by area councils, regional women’s committees, political action committees and any other regional body.
|To respond to requests to act as a facilitator at regional or national conferences organized by PSAC or a component, or both.
|To assist with coordinating PSAC’s local or regional union education activities, as defined in each region.
|To help to make the Alliance Facilitators Network a PSAC priority.
Belonging to the Alliance Facilitators Network
Any member interested in belonging to the Alliance Facilitators Network must:
|apply to become an Alliance Facilitator;
|obtain a recommendation from the regional office supporting their membership in the Alliance Facilitators Network (AFN);
|demonstrate a willingness to spend the time and energy required of a committed Alliance Facilitator.
AFN candidates should have the following qualities and skills: demonstrated adherence to union principles; experience as union activists and knowledge of union issues; completion of several Alliance Education Program courses; and a willingness to dedicate the necessary time to work as an Alliance Facilitator. Candidates should support local-based education, be well known and respected in their community and be good communicators. They should be self-learners and prepared to create learning situations and training resources with minimal guidance from a central body.
The AFN application process is as follows:
|After a regional office (RO) sends a call-out letter, members can express their interest in joining the AFN.
|Interested members receive an introductory letter with information on the AFN and the regional education program.
|A follow-up interview (telephone or other) is scheduled to discuss the member’s interest in the AFN and assess their knowledge and skills. They may be asked to provide union references.
|At this point, if a member is still interested in joining the AFN and the regional office considers them a good candidate, they are asked to apply in writing to become a committed AF.
|When enough new facilitators need the training provided in the Alliance Facilitator Training Program (AFTP), a course will be scheduled.
The following indicators of an engaged Alliance Facilitator will serve as standards to guide consultations with regional offices, AFNs and potential new facilitators:
An engaged AF is someone who:
|frequently delivers union education to members of a local that covers issues of interest to the component as well as local and regional issues. Examples of local-based union education include initiating workplace discussions on current issues and campaigns, distributing summaries on desks or by email and planning lunchtime information sessions;
|initiates learning opportunities (that is, initiatives organized at the component, local and regional committee levels);
|is willing to draft a plan;
|actively recruits members to take courses or other union education;
|seeks opportunities to collaborate with coalition partners;
|helps to design the regional education plan;
|is in contact with other AFs and the regional education officer;
|organizes professional development opportunities for AFs;
|communicates with the component on education issues;
|contributes regularly to the AFN’s supply of tools and resources;
|identifies learning needs identified by members who are active at the component, local and regional levels, and shares them during the regional planning process;
|is a committed union member who has completed advanced union education.
Alliance Facilitator Training
Training takes the form of an advanced course, the Alliance Facilitator Training Program (AFTP). This training course is intended to promote the Alliance Facilitators Network and strengthen PSAC locals through workplace and local-based union education. The AFTP develops members’ skills and confidence to undertake union education activities within their locals, components and regions. Participants explore how to identify learning needs, set learning objectives, facilitate discussions and develop workshops and seminars. Practical exercises show participants 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.
From time to time, Alliance Facilitators may be asked to co-facilitate a weekend course or an ASTP in order to enhance and apply their teaching skills. They can also request additional training on specific issues from their regional office.
Annual regional seminars for Alliance Facilitators should include training designed in consultation with Alliance Facilitators to address specific training needs.
Alliance Facilitators are encouraged to further develop their skills by taking part in seminars and courses offered by other union organizations (such as the CLC or a federation of labour) or community organizations. Funding is available from the regional office.
Support for Alliance Facilitators
For PSAC to live up to its commitment to dedicate part of its Education Program to member-driven courses delivered in locals, it must provide significant support for Alliance Facilitators in their role as workplace trainers. Without this support, the vision of a network of engaged union facilitators would be but an empty concept.
The following support should be available to Alliance Facilitators (AFs):
|Access to advice and support from regional office staff.
|Components should offer encouragement and resources to allow AFs to work with other component AFs and leaders on special educational initiatives for components (such as special conferences and education activities on component-specific issues).
|When setting up the annual schedule of weekend courses and ASTPs, regional offices should make a point of offering AFs the opportunity to co-facilitate courses so they can receive feedback and suggestions to help them maintain their skill level.
|The possibility of quarterly meetings with other AFs under the same regional office.
|Participation in a weekend regional seminar for AFs held once a year in each of the following regions: BC, Yukon, The Prairies, Northwest Territories, Ontario, National Capital Region, Quebec, Atlantic Provinces. This seminar gives AFs a chance to share their experiences, discuss impressions, plan education activities, strengthen their network and select the representative who will attend the PSAC Education Conference. Seminars should include an educational or professional development component.
|Representation: One AF from each of the eight regions (Atlantic, Quebec, National Capital Region, Ontario, The Prairies, BC, Yukon, Northwest Territories) at PSAC’s annual Education Conference.
|Access to preparation time. Each AF shall be entitled to an annual allowance (the amount of which is determined each year by the Education Section, depending on available resources) to allow for this preparation time.
|An annual allowance for AFs (the amount of which is determined each year by the Education Section, depending on available resources) for the purchase of materials.
|A regional newsletter published several times a year to strengthen the Alliance Facilitators Network: it would include brief descriptions of AF activities, advertise advanced courses and announce new modules.
|Promotion of AFs to labour councils, labour federations and other community organizations to create additional opportunities for advanced courses and profile enhancement in the region.
In each regional office, the regional education officer, or the regional representative if there is no education officer, is responsible for coordinating the Alliance Facilitators Network, but in a regional office, all representatives and education officers should share responsibility for providing AFs with an effective support system. The responsibilities of the coordinator are to:
|Work closely with regional representatives and locals to identify possible AF candidates and encourage their integration into the network; component representation, equitable representation of men and women and other equity groups in the system must be important considerations in any recruitment strategy at the AFTP.
|Ensure the program is well publicized in the region.
|Regularly offer AFs advice and assistance.
|Provide AFs with feedback for skills development and moral support by occasionally observing them at local training sessions.
|Observe AF efforts and contribution and submit a regular report to the Education Section. Reports should include a description of local education activities prepared or delivered, co-facilitated weekend courses or any other AF initiative to consolidate the regional network as well as a summary of program expenditures for the current year.
|Send the Education Coordinator the names of the members who are to be part of the AFN.
|Help plan and organize regional weekend seminars for AFs.
|Keep an updated list of addresses and telephone numbers of committed AFs.
|Help produce or coordinate production of a regional newsletter as described above.
|Review AF project proposals and approve funding for them.
|Recommend to the appropriate PSAC staff coordinator the names of AFs who could become conference and seminar facilitators.
|Coordinate fair opportunities for AFs to participate in joint training at weekend courses and ASTPs.
The responsibilities of the Education Section are to:
|Create a central system for filing AFN documents and prepare regular reports for the Centre and regional offices based on the data in the system.
|Design and produce a handbook and/or resource documents for AFs.
|Coordinate the development of teaching and learning documents for AFs as needed.
|Act as a clearinghouse for collecting and distributing AF-designed education materials.
|Coordinate the production of a quarterly publication for AFs that is designed to share information and that makes suggestions for education methodology and encourages AFs in the various regions to share their experiences. Each publication would include both region-specific features and articles of national interest.
|Design and produce brochures and leaflets explaining the AFN to locals, components, area councils, regional women’s committees, regional action committees, and other regional bodies, as defined in each region.
|Liaise with regional offices to provide assistance and information and ensure best use of the limited resources available.
|Ensure that program funding is used effectively and the program is in good financial health.
4.0 Special PSAC initiatives
4.1 In any given year, education activities may be scheduled by the Alliance Centre, in Ottawa. These activities may involve courses in which all regions participate (e.g. Union Development Program, National Officers Training Program) or special education projects developed in response to an emerging need.
5.1 Funding for the Education Program comes from the Member Education Services envelope in the budget approved at the PSAC convention.
5.2 Any surplus in the budget for Member Education Services in a given fiscal year is transferred to the provisional Member Education Services account. Any deficit in a given fiscal year is covered by the funds in the provisional account. If there are no funds in the provisional account, the fiscal year’s deficit shall be funded from the budget for the following year.
5.3 Every year, regional education budgets shall be drawn from PSAC’s overall education budget. These funds shall be allocated based on criteria agreed upon by the regions and approved by the Executive Vice-President for Education. Any surplus or deficit in the regional budgets shall be handled as set out in paragraph 5.2.
5.4 Every year, a portion of the education budget shall be earmarked for projects designed or scheduled by the Alliance Centre, in Ottawa. In general, the amount set aside for unforeseen expenditures may not exceed 10% of the overall education budget.
5.5 Membership participation in the PSAC Education Program shall 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.
|The union shall reimburse any lost wages incurred when a member must take unpaid leave to attend an education activity.
|PSAC’s childcare policy shall apply to union education activities.
5.6 Out-of-pocket expenses generally include transportation, meals and accommodation and shall be reimbursed as set out in the PSAC Travel Directive.
5.7 Members who complete a weekend course, or equivalent course, shall be entitled to a daily allowance of $25 for expenses.
5.8 Ten percent of the education budget shall continue to be earmarked for the Alliance Facilitators Network.
5.9 A region may decide to allocate additional funding to the AFN from the region’s overall education budget, but the reverse is not possible. However, in the last quarter, an assessment can be made as to whether it would be advantageous to assign funds unused by the AFN to the region’s overall program.
5.10 Regions shall use the following standards to determine which AF expenses to reimburse:
|Reimbursement of wages lost to preparation time, to a total of 5 days of unpaid leave a year.
|Reimbursement of out-of-pocket expenses, in accordance with the PSAC policy.
|An honorarium of $150 a day (taxable) for the delivery of courses on the weekend or on regularly scheduled leave days, as part of the regional education plan. Lost wages shall apply if the learning event takes place on a regularly scheduled workday. (The honorarium or lost wages shall be charged to the budget for the course, not the AFN budget.)
|A documentation allowance of $75 a year (not taxable).
|A professional development allowance of $50 a year (taxable).
5.11 On the AFN’s recommendation, and in consultation with the REVP, a region may decide, if it has reasonable grounds for doing so, to set fees that differ from the standards referred to above.
5.12 Reimbursement of AFs’ costs shall be “activity-based,” as set out in the AF plan.
5.13 The expenses of AFs who are asked by the regional office to facilitate a union activity, such as a conference for a specific campaign, shall be reimbursed from the budget earmarked for the activity.
6.1 The Membership Programs Branch, working closely with the responsible Executive Vice-President, is charged with implementing this policy, including developing a series of guidelines and administrative procedures for advertising courses, recruitment and selection, eligibility criteria, facilities and travel reservations, etc.
6.2 Education activities shall comply with and apply all PSAC policies (such as policies governing accessibility, harassment and a smoke-free environment).
6.3 All participants in education activities shall behave in a mature, adult manner and treat other participants with tolerance and respect.
Adopted at the NBoD – January 1998