- Basic Grievance Handling for Union Building
This course is designed to examine the grievance process from a
workplace organizing perspective. Grievances are opportunities to build the
union. This hands-on course helps members analyze situations to decide whether
a grievance is the best approach. They will learn about different types of
grievances and the remedies available through the grievance/arbitration
process. They will develop technical skills in writing, processing grievances
and practice communication to assess whether a member’s rights have been
should bring their Collective Agreements to the course.
NEW - Follow the Money: A First Course in Public Economics
Are you worried about your economic
future and that of your children? Are you frustrated by the growing gap
between the soaring wages of CEO’s and the stagnant take-home pay of your
family? As a union member and a public employee, are you surprised that you
have somehow become “the problem”?
Follow the Money: A First course in
Public Economics takes you on a guided tour of today’s economy. We’ll
examine who runs it and who doesn’t. We’ll discuss what this all means for
people, public services and the planet. We’ll look at how economics is tied
up with politics and the role played by corporate power and public
relations. Lastly, we’ll draw some inspiration from folks who are fighting
for a fair economy and identify what we can do to be part of those struggles
in our locals and communities. The course has 6 modules which can be taught
separately in meetings or local events.
Challenging Discrimination in Everyday Union Work
This course looks at everyday situations
in our workplaces and union where inequality and racism are at work, and
where people can take effective action. It uses case scenarios and analysis
to examine different forms of discrimination – race, gender, age and
disability – and its divisive effects. And it draws from videos and role
play to get people to practice responding practically to situations. The
course helps us to see equity and human rights as basic union work for all.
And it strengthens our skills as effective allies and advocates to build
more inclusive workplaces and locals.
Advanced Grievance Handling for Union Building
Does your local have a grievance committee? Can your experience
in handling a grievance help to build the local? Can you use your knowledge of
common grievance issues to raise awareness at demand setting meetings? Have you
ever thought of what it is like to be on the Employer side of the table? These
are some of the topics that will be explored in the NEW Advanced Grievance
Handling for Union Building course. You will also get the opportunity to
practice being on the Union’s team and the Employer’s Team as you work through
some scenarios. Building on the Basic Grievance Handling for Union Building
course, this course focuses on expanding both the steward’s and Local’s ability
to process grievances from start to finish. Through active interviewing process,
participants will explore how to identify grievances, practice negotiating
settlements and draft realistic, enforceable grievance settlements.
Participants should bring their Collective Agreements to the course.
Advancing Union Issues through Labour Management Committees
Often union-side members become cynical about labour management
committee work because the employer refuses to meet, or follow through on
action. This course aims to strengthen skills of labour management committees to
solve workplace problems and build the union, whether management is cooperating
or not. A variety of activities are used to clarify the union-building potential
of LMC’s, to assess the effectiveness of a labour management committee, and to
strengthen skills to move a workplace complaint to resolution at the LMC.
Attention is paid to a) arguing an issue; b) addressing management tactics; c)
using the LMC to communicate with members; d) strategies to mobilize members to
back LMC work; e) connecting LMC work to bargaining and mobilizing work in the
Local. Bring Your Collective Agreement to this course.
Building your Community through Political Action
What do you know about the political climate in your
municipality, in Ontario, in Canada? How do you identify the current issues in
your community? Do you have the confidence to speak to someone about an issue
that you consider very political? Can you use your power of communication to
raise awareness of a subject that is making an impact on your life? Do you know
the players in the political arena? How do you find the right persons to speak
These are some of the topics that will be explored in the NEW
Building your Community through Political Action course. You will get the
opportunity to practice mingling with others while chatting about topics of
interest. You will find out how and when to lobby or protest and demonstrate how
to lobby a group on a topic that is of interest to you. This course will also
build your confidence and take you through some strategies you can use to
influence others and elicit change for all. (This generic course will be
updated by regional offices to reflect current local political realities.)
Climate Change: It’s a Union Issue
This course taps into the worries and hopes so many union
activists have of building sustainable societies that count workers in. Starting
with our lived experience and concern about climate change, participants will
analyze how we got here, and what the impacts of environmental degradation are
on different communities. We’ll examine what other organizations and societies
are doing about climate change and what we can learn to take action in our
workplaces, unions and communities. The course uses a variety of interactive
activities, films and discussion to move from analysis to action. January 2010.
Cross-Cultural Communication at Work: A Union Perspective
In our workplaces, unions, and communities, we
experience daily interactions with diverse groups including co-workers,
and our union sisters and brothers. There are moments when these
interactions lead to miscommunication, and misunderstanding about
cultural expressions and social cues. In order to work through some of
these communication challenges, an introductory course, Cross-Cultural
Communication has been designed. Participants will work through case
scenarios to develop strategies designed to improve their cross-cultural
Dealing with Workplace Conflict
Everyday, in our lives, we have to deal with situations of
conflict. It may be with our family, our work colleagues, our friends, our
peers or our supervisors. In this 1 ½ day course we will define and analyse
conflict and look at the range of processes aimed at alleviating or eliminating
sources of conflict. There are many tools available to persons in conflict. How
and when they are used depends on several factors that will be perused. We will
also look at mediation and its role in conflict resolution.
Duty to Accommodate: A Tool for Inclusive Workplaces (March 2010)
Provincial legislation and existing case law require employers
and unions to provide accommodation short of undue hardship.
This interactive course examines the roles and responsibilities
of the employer, the union and the member in accommodating members with
disabilities and all other protected groups under the Ontario Human Rights Code.
It builds activists’ skills to support members requiring an accommodation, and
to deal with employer resistance to accommodation in the workplace.
Duty to Accommodate 2: Making Accommodation Work
Does your employer balk at providing proper
accommodations? Has your employer challenged the medical information the
member has provided? Is the employer asking members for independent
medical exams? Do you hear grumblings from co-workers about the number
of accommodations in the workplace?
Building on the skills and information in the first
course, “Duty to Accommodate: A tool for inclusive workplaces”, Making
Accommodation Work: Duty to Accommodate 2 examines the challenges of
supporting a worker in need of an accommodation. This course
investigates strategies and skills for gathering information,
challenging employer tactics used to prevent accommodations, developing
a fair accommodation plan, and communicating with co-workers to build
more workplace solidarity.
While the course focuses mainly on the practical aspects
of accommodation due to disability, many of the issues such as
collective agreement language, attendance management programs, co-worker
resentment apply to accommodation based on sex and family status as
Note: Due to the volume of information about
Duty to Accommodate, it is strongly advised that participants take “Duty
to Accommodate: A Tool for Inclusive Workplaces” before Duty to
Health and Safety: Level One
This course is designed for members and stewards who want to
become more involved in health and safety activities in their workplace. There
is a strong focus on health and safety legislation to enable participants to use
the legislation effectively in their own workplaces. Participants work in groups
to explore the legislation and to gain a better understanding of their rights
and employers’ obligations under the Occupational Health and Safety Act and its
regulations. Participants are introduced to the concepts of hazard
identification, assessment and control and develop a greater understanding of
the components of an effective health and safety system.
Health and Safety: Level Two
This course is designed for Health and Safety committee members
and union activists with a strong interest in Health and Safety. Participants
learn how to be more effective members of their JHSC’s as they work in small
groups learning how to better identify, categorize, and control hazards. Using
case studies and examples from their own workplaces, participants learn how to
improve workplace inspections, and how to begin accident and illness
investigations. The course offers the opportunity to prioritize and strategize
around health and safety problems and to address problems specific to
participants’ own workplaces. The course builds on the material in OPSEU’s Level
1 course and assumes that participants have a basic knowledge of the
Occupational Health and Safety Act.
Health and Safety: Level Three
This course builds on concepts covered in OPSEU Health and
Safety Level 1 and 2. OPSEU Health and Safety Level 3 is designed to help
union activists, worker joint health and safety committee members, health
and safety representatives, and workers to address complex hazards using
their local health and safety systems and external resources. Drawing from
their own experiences, participants will strategize effective approaches to
complex hazards, such as investigating concerns about potential occupational
cancers and ergonomic hazards. Participants will also learn basic approaches
to investigating indoor air quality complaints. They will discuss the
precautionary principle and the ALARA principle and understand the
centrality of these two concepts in health and safety activism.
Participants will develop strategies to address ergonomic hazards, develop
recommendations and practice facing the employer to propose their
recommendations, enhancing their organization skills and confidence to
represent members in their efforts to achieve safer and healthier
workplaces. (September 2010)
Human Rights, Union Rights and Global Solidarity
This course is for OPSEU members who want to understand how
global economics are affecting our workplaces and what activists worldwide are
doing about it. The course analyses how global forms of privilege and
oppression operate in our workplaces and exposes the privatization of public
jobs, services and resources in Ontario and globally.
Interpreting Your Collective Agreement: An Activist’s Role
Do you know what your collective agreement is? Do you have a copy
of it? Have you ever wondered what is in your collective agreement and
how to find information on different articles? Do you know how the
collective agreement is structured? Are you confused by some of
the terms used in it?
In this newly revised version of the Contract Interpretation course
members will be assisted in understanding the power of their collective
agreement and how to interpret and enforce their collective agreement.
Using interpretation guidelines developed through case law, participants
will build the skills and confidence needed to understand and use their
collective agreements. Activities will give participants an
opportunity to review legislation, examine the importance of timelines,
discuss case scenarios and debate some common clauses and what they
mean. Participants should bring their Collective Agreements to the course.
Labour History – Strategies for Today Through the Lens of the Past
This is an introductory course examining the issues facing members in their
union, locals and workplaces today. The course will explore how these issues
have been approached in the past and the outcomes. Potential topics include;
health and safety, working conditions, bargaining, equity, globalization and
the environment. By examining the actions of OPSEU, the labour movement and
individual workers, participants will devise strategies and skills to
address current and future challenges. This course replaces Labour History
Parts One and Two.
LEC Leadership & Team Development: A Course for Local Executive Committees to Take Together
Have you ever returned from a union course with great ideas for
improving your local and been met with, at best, blank stares? This course is
based on the assumption that LEC teams can benefit from training and planning
together to build inclusive, effective locals. It emerges from the experience of
OPSEU’s Building Local Capacity Project.
4-6 people from an LEC register together and participate in this
course with 4 or 5 other LEC groupings. The course is a working session for LECs
to clarify their individual and collective roles as local leaders, to develop a
comprehensive picture of their units and workplaces, and to assess the
functioning of their Local. Based on that assessment, LEC’s will begin to
develop action plans, which include using a range of OPSEU resources. The final
session on “Practising Shared Leadership” provides tools for improving the ways
the LEC works together to address common Local problems. December 2009
Let’s Start Meeting Like This! Running Meetings that Build the Union
Have you ever been confused at meetings about when you can speak
and when you can’t? Perhaps you have tried to run a meeting where there was no
quorum, or where people kept interrupting each other and getting off track.
Maybe you’re discouraged because you’re not sure how to make meetings a good use
of anyone’s time. This course examines the potential of meetings to tap into
diverse members’ energy and interest, and to build union capacity. Practical,
hands-on activities will help you a) develop an interesting agenda and get
members to the meeting; b) understand how to write and put forward a motion and
use basic rules of parliamentary procedure effectively; c) facilitate an
effective meeting discussion; d) deal with meeting “nightmares” who often look
like members who won’t stop talking, or who can’t agree. Materials include
templates for committee reports and meeting minutes, as well as step by step
guidelines on running different kinds of meetings.
Liquor Board Employees Division (LBED)
This course is open only to members working for the LCBO. This
course will assist members from the NEW Liquor Board Employees Division to find
their way around OPSEU. While the emphasis of the course is on grievance
handling, it will help members and stewards to understand the role of the Labour
Management Committee, the Health and Safety Committee and other roles within
your NEW local.
“A local with a NEWsletter is a local with a heart. It cares
about its members.” This is a hands-on course providing he basic skills needed
to put out a good local NEWsletter. Participants will have a chance to learn
and practice writing NEWs reports and headlines, finding and using graphics and
cartoons, use of layout and design tools and equipment.
Local Treasurers/Trustees Course
This course is aimed at Local Treasurers and Trustees who are
either NEW to the role or experienced members who are seeking a “refresher
course”. The goal is to give the necessary tools and education to Local
Treasurers and Trustees in order for them to fulfill their roles in the Local.
It will also draw on members’ experiences to solve problems occurring with the
administration of Local funds.
Mental Health: Challenging the Stigma in the Workplace
As workers and labour activists, we are faced with economic,
social, and political changes in our workplaces that impact our mental wellbeing
on a daily basis. We all respond differently to situations that impact our lives
and subsequently, our mental health.
This introductory course explores mental health, mental health
concerns, and stigma in the workplace. Some of the topics covered in this course
include: demystifying mental health; individual, union, and employer
responsibilities; member-to-member issues; and some strategies to challenge
stigma and build inclusion. December 2009
Organize! The Nitty-Gritty of an Organizing Campaign
Organizing is the life-blood of the union. Organizing brings NEW
members into our union. Organizing builds our collective strength and assists
OPSEU members when; bargaining for improvements, enforcing our contracts, and
lobbying politicians for changes to public policy to benefit our members and
click here for more
Politics of Pensions: Pension Basics and Beyond
This course seeks to demystify the world of pensions, educate
members about labour’s role in the development of pensions in Canada, increase
members’ ability to influence public policy around pensions and increase member
awareness of how bargaining can be used to improve pensions.
Speak Up and Organize: Challenging Bullying and Non-Code-Based Harassment in the Workplace
Is bullying and psychological harassment an issue in your
workplace? This course will help you recognize the signs of bullying and a toxic
workplace. We’ll look at case law and other tools helpful in understanding the
impact of workplace bullying. And we’ll strengthen individual and collective
capacity to respond to co-workers, and pressure employers to tackle this issue.
Stewards 1: Making a Difference in the Workplace
This is an updated version of Stewards 1, full of NEW tools and
practical activities. The key aims are to strengthen steward skills to orient a
NEW employee to the union, have effective one-on-one conversations with a
cross-section of members, develop a communications strategy to enlist diverse
member involvement, and develop approaches to everyday workplace problems.
Throughout the course, participants are supported to develop a profile of their
members, clarify the tasks of the steward, find resources and information in
OPSEU, and understand the grievance process and their role in it. Participants
must have completed Part 1 before registering in Part 2. Participants should
bring their collective agreements.
Stewards 2: Facing the Employer, Building Member Involvement
Prerequisite: Part One
This revised follow-up to Stewards 1 focuses on investigating
and writing a grievance, facing management, and involving members in worksite
action. Participants will use their own collective agreements to identify
grievances. They will become immersed in an evolving case study in order to
interview a grievor, write up a grievance, face the employer at a step 1 and
make a presentation on safety issues to the union side of the Joint Health and
Safety Committee. They will examine the elements of effective mobilization and
develop a campaign strategy for a local. Participants should bring their
Union Skills for Workplace Investigations
Have you ever been called, at the last minute, to the
employer’s office to “represent” a member who is being accused of
serious wrong-doings? Have you wondered what to do and how best to
represent this person, particularly if you suspect that they may have
broken a rule or two? This hands-on course takes you step by step,
through a workplace investigations process. It starts with the first
contact with the member through to the response to the investigation
findings, with lots of practice in between. Through case studies and a
variety of active exercises, you’ll practise interviewing the member,
anticipating the investigator’s questions, preparing the member for
meeting the investigator, taking good notes at the meeting, and working
with the member to respond to the findings. The Resource Toolkit has
additional information about investigations in different sectors, use of
surveillance and other issues.
Union Strategies for Attendance Management Programs
Are the employees in your workplace under assault from the employer’s
attendance management program? Do you find yourself responding to issues
such as medical notes being denied, requests for independent medical
exams, last chance agreements being offered, and members being
threatened with non-disciplinary dismissal?
This course examines why Attendance Management Programs exist, how
these programs are supposed to be run, employer motivations, and
strategies to challenge the employer. By examining their own workplace
situations, participants will be able to identify inconsistencies
between workplace policies and program implementation, as well as become
skilled at recognizing unfair attendance management practices. Through a
series of interactive exercises participants will develop strategies to
defend members and build the locals capacity to challenge unfair and
poorly implemented Attendance Management Programs. Participants should
bring their Collective Agreements to the course.
Women in Unions: Strengthening Leadership
This course offers seasoned women activists a chance to analyse
the advances and barriers to diverse women’s leadership in the union. Through
case studies of common problems women face in the workplace and union, the
course explores issues of power, privilege, equity and effective action. It
offers the chance to develop practical strategies for strengthening diverse
women’s leadership and building an inclusive union. It will also focus on ways
to strengthen women’s committees and gatherings in our locals and regions.
Women in Unions: Getting Involved
This course is for diverse women who are just getting involved
in OPSEU, who want to know how things work and how they can make a difference in
the union. Participants will bring their own experience of the workplace,
community and union to develop an analysis of what's needed in their locals, and
how they can contribute to building an inclusive union. Through hands-on
activities, women will practise making their voices heard, and will develop
strategies for supporting the involvement of other diverse women in the union.
Workplace Safety and Insurance Board (WSIB) – Level One
The first level is designed to provide an overview of the
Workplace Safety and Insurance system. Participants will review the statutory
obligations of both workers and employers mandated by the Workplace Safety and
Insurance Act. Workers and employers will also learn their rights as provided
by the legislation. The course content includes other basic knowledge of the
Workplace Safety and Insurance system.
Workplace Safety and Insurance Board (WSIB) – Level Two
The second level is designed to provide participants with the
knowledge of the benefits and service available. This level is designed to
build on the knowledge attained in Level One. Benefits and services will be
detailed, including changes as a result of legislation/bills. The course will
take an indepth look at services and benefits available under the Act.