D6 Education Course Descriptions

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You and Your Union

The theme of this course is: "What You Should Know about Your Union". Members will have an opportunity to learn more about the Steelworkers. Regardless of whether you're new to the union or you're a long-time member, this course will help you find out what the union is all about. The course looks at the structure of the union, why we pay dues and what services the United Steelworkers provides. The participants will meet the people who work on their behalf. There will be discussion about the different union committees, and how to get involved.

The course provides a comfortable atmosphere so that each person can walk away with a better understanding of the union.

For local unions that contribute to the Family Education Fund, there is a weekend version of this program for members and their families.

This is a one-day course.

Steelworker Stewards in Action I

This course is designed for new stewards. It will help participants better understand the role stewards play in not only grievance handling, but also in "building solidarity" in the unit, local and the community.

The course covers:

  • Where steward fits in the union structure
  • How to do effective grievance investigation and use the Fact sheet
  • Different types of grievances and wording or grievances
  • Getting to know the collective agreement
  • Timelines for grievance handling
  • Communicating in the union and with management
  • Mobilizing in the workplace

This is a  three day course.

Steelworker Stewards in Action II

This newly revised course builds upon the key concepts of Stewards in Action I with an emphasis on engaging and mobilizing members. Participants will learn practical techniques to build a union presence in the workplace and to get things done inside the local union’s structure and with management. They will also apply good communication, investigation, and judgment skills to complex grievance situations. Other activities will address the steward’s role in dealing with harassment and in meeting the test of the duty of fair representation.

This is a three day course.

Steelworker Stewards in Action III - Grievances at Final Step and Beyond

This course helps build skills in defining issues to research, in how to actually do research on line, and in how to find and read relevant arbitration decisions to apply their legal principles to a current grievance file. Participants need to be prepared to do a considerable amount of research on a laptop in order to complete the course.

The course provides a framework for making sound decisions about advancing a grievance to arbitration or for choosing another path. These skills and tools are certainly useful when the grievance procedure (pre-arbitration) is exhausted, at the point where the steward or grievance committee or Local Union needs to decide "to go or not to go". The skills can also be used earlier in the grievance procedure in order to weigh the merits of a case and, where possible, present stronger arguments to the employer in support of the union's position.

Participants should bring a laptop to class if at all possible.

This course is best suited to stewards and grievance committee members.

PREREQUISITE: Participants must have completed Stewards in Action I & II

Bargaining To Win

This course will assist members who serve on Bargaining Committees to understand the collective bargaining process. This course will prepare participants to work as part of the negotiating team. Participants will be better prepared for events in getting both themselves and the membership "ready and engaged" in the bargaining process. It will ensure participants are aware of the challenges they will face both within and outside of the committee while carrying out their responsibilities. Communication with the membership will be a key part of this training.

Sessions will include:

  • Determining issues
  • Communicating with the membership
  • Negotiating skills
  • Contract language
  • How to cost a package

This is a three or five-day course.

* Dates for this course must be pre-approved by the education coordinator.

The Public Retirement System

A one-day course offered by the USW research department, covering the first two tiers that comprise the public portion of Canada’s Retirement System: the Canada Pension Plan and Old Age Security, the course will cover the importance of the public retirement system at securing adequate retirement income and reducing seniors’ poverty rates. We will help the participant understand the CPP/OAS design, main features, and estimated wage replacement rates.

Subjects Covered:

  • The Canada Pension Plan, Old Age Security and the Guaranteed Income Supplement
  • Replacement rates and how much to expect from the public pension system
  • CPP expansion
  • Role of labour in creating the public pension system

This is a one day course.

Understanding Pensions

This course covers the third tier of Canada’s retirement system: workplace pension plans and private savings. Public pensions in Canada are designed to replace only 25% of worker’s pre-retirement income—where does the rest have to come from to make sure we have enough to maintain a decent lifestyle in retirement? This course will help the participants understand the pension system and various types of plans, including defined benefit, defined contribution, target benefits plans, as well as the advantages and disadvantages of various private savings mechanisms, including RRSPs and TFSAs. With an aim of educating participants on the role of the union, the individual and policy in ensuring retirement security, this course covers the major legislation and the interplay of the various types of retirement vehicles in Canada.

 Subjects Covered:

  • Registered pension plans, workplace plans, personal savings
  • Replacement rates and retirement planning
  • Overview of the public pension system (CPP, OAS, GIS)
  • Single and multi-employer defined benefit and defined contribution plans (SEPPs, MEPPs, JSPPs, CAPs, Group RRSPs)
  • Private savings: RRSPs, TFSAs; management fees
  • Provincial pension legislation and the federal Income Tax Act
  • Actuarial reports

This is a three day course.

Occupational Health and Safety Training - Level I

This program intends to empower workers and their representatives with a general understanding of occupational health and safety including hazard awareness, principles for controlling exposure along with occupational health and safety law.

The Level I program consists of seven required modules each three hours in length. The core modules include:

  • Staying Alive While Earning a Living
  • The Body and the Workplace
  • Cancer
  • Toxic Substances
  • Principles of Control
  • Legislation (Ontario & Federal)
  • The Myth of Worker Carelessness

This is a five-day course.

Health & Safety - Level II: Committee (Ontario & Federal)

Participants explore and gain a better understanding of their legal rights and responsibilities as workers and joint committee members. Important to this discussion are the techniques and knowledge needed to perform workplace inspections along with incident and disease investigations. Essential research skills are also reviewed helping committee members to lead proactive initiatives aimed at eliminating or controlling worker exposure to toxins and other workplace hazards.

PREREQUISITE: Participants must have completed Health & Safety I.

NOTE: It would be beneficial for participants to have completed this course prior to taking Health & Safety - Level II: Law.

This is a five-day course.

Health and Safety - Level II: Law (Ontario and Federal)

Building upon their existing base of legal knowledge, participants look closer at how occupational health and safety laws and regulations can be used to help safeguard worker health. Also important is a review of the inadequacies of the actual legislation and enforcement. Participants will formulate strategies to overcome these inadequacies and to lobby for legislative and other solutions.

PREREQUISITE: Participants must have completed Health & Safety Level I.

NOTE: It would be beneficial for participants to have completed Health & Safety - Level II: Committees prior to taking this course.

This is a five-day course.

WSIB - Level I: Rights and Obligations

This course provides an overview of the WSIB system. Participants will review the statutory obligations of both workers and employers mandated by the Workplace Safety & Insurance Act. They will also learn what rights are provided by the legislation, areview of Early & Safe Return to Work, the re-employment obligation and insight into the operations of the WSIB.

This is a twelve-hour course.

WSIB - Level II: Benefits and Services

This Level 2 course provides participants with the knowledge of the benefits and services available.

Benefits and services will be detailed, including changes as a result of Bills 162, 165, 15 and 99 and what is available under the Act. Participants will learn how to examine claim files and master the art of communications with physicians and Board staff.

PREREQUISITE: Participants must have completed WSIB - Level I.

This is a twelve-hour course.

WSIB - Level III: Appeals and Dispute Resolution

This level is designed to build on the knowledge of the previous two levels and provide the necessary skills necessary to enable you to represent workers in various dispute resolution schemes.

Participants will be provided with an in-depth analysis of different dispute resolution strategies including Mediation, the Appeals Resolution model and at the Workplace Safety and Insurance Appeals Tribunal (WSIAT) level.

PREREQUISITE: Participants must have completes WSIB - Level I and WSIB - Level II.

This is a six-day course on site.

WSIB - Level IV: Return to Work

This course is for those that wish to become Return to Work Specialists.

Topics are: essential duties, suitable work, accommodations and job restructuring, the short and long term effect of the return-to-work, rehabilitation assistance, and employers' obligation under the Act, Labour's role including contract language, committees, Human Rights, Labour Market Re-entry and mediation.

PREREQUISITE: Participants must have completed WSIB - Level I and WSIB - Level II.

This is a six-day course.

WSIB - Level V: Medical Orientation

The WSIB Medical Orientation Course is a comprehensive program designed to break down the barrier of communicating in "medicalese".

It will enable you to understand the contents of medical reports and apply them to resolve entitlement issues for injured workers.

This is a five-day course.

WSIB - Occupational Disease

This course is designed for experienced compensation representatives. It will provide participants with a detailed knowledge of how to argue occupational disease claims. The course explores a wide range of specific diseases explaining the pathology, diagnostic tests and provides details on what criteria must be satisfied to have the specific issue allowed at the Workplace Safety and Insurance Board (WSIB) or the Workplace Safety and Insurance Appeals Tribunal (WSIAT).

The course also provides a detailed explanation of epidemiology, legal principles, examining expert witnesses and survivor benefits. This course is an advanced level training that builds on the skills of participants who have completed both the Appeals & Dispute Resolution and Medical Orientation Courses.

PREREQUISITE: Participants must have completed WSIB - Level III (Appeals and Dispute Resolution) and WSIB - Level V (Medical Orientation).

This is a six-day course on site.

Leadership for Action

Effective leadership in our locals/units is essential for our union to continue to achieve our goals. Today's union leader must be able to inform and involve our members and our communities. They must be able to give our members a sense of their own power by building resistance.

This course will:

  • Help participants develop personal leadership skills
  • Help participants assess personal strengths and challenges as leaders
  • Improve communications with our membership
  • Build leadership and activism inside and outside of the workplace
  • Help participants understand how campaigns build involvement
  • Apply strategic planning and problem solving to our locals/units
  • Develop ways to support and sustain leadership in the locals/units

This is a five-day course.

Building Steelworker Power - Officers in Action

This course is designed for all current and potential Local and Amalgamated Local executive officers and unit chairpersons, and will focus on:

  • Union, local and unit structure
  • Committees and responsibilitiesDuties and roles of officers
  • Parliamentary procedure
  • Consensus building
  • Building solidarity and activism

This is a three or five-day course.

Financial Officers

This is a workshop for local financial officers, trustees and other members interested in the financial operations of the union. Participants will practise the skills they need as a financial officer. This includes keeping a monthly ledger, allocating funds, cheque-writing and the proper notations on the cheque stub, per capita tax reporting, and the actual auditing of the books.

Trustees will gain an understanding of what a complete set of books should look like by actually doing the books themselves. They'll look at how to budget in a way that helps their local achieve its objectives to serve the needs of the membership.

Session will include:

  • Duties of the financial officers
  • Financial officers guidance information
  • Completing expense vouchers
  • Financial secretaries cash book
  • Calculate income tax, CPP/QPP and EI
  • How financial officers work with Executive Members and others to build the Local Union

This is a five-day course.

Confidence with Conflict - Dealing With Workplace and Union Disputes

Confidence with Conflict focuses on building strategies and skills useful for creating positive outcomes in the workplace and in the union. This course deals with most conflict as normal, natural and sometimes even necessary for growth and development for individuals and the union. Conflicts left unresolved can lead to not only personal difficulties but also difficulties for the union when trying to build support for a workplace or community campaign. Conflict can divide a workplace. However, conflict can also unite a workplace.

Through this course, participants should be able to:

  • Identify sources of conflict
  • Identify and understand union policies in dealing with conflict
  • Understand conflict management methods
  • Improve their own communication skills
  • Map out and implement an action plan for your local
  • Understand and deal with harassment and discrimination

This is a three or five-day course.

Human Rights Are Workers' Rights

All union activists by definition are human rights activists. When we combat racism or sexism, accommodate an injured worker or speak out against homophobia, we are helping to build understanding and respect in the union. We are helping to build the solidarity we need to take on the struggles in the workplace, at the bargaining table and in our legislatures.

Through this course, activists should be able to engage in the following areas:

  • Action plan: map out and implement a human rights action plan for your local
  • Collective bargaining: write human rights proposals, develop a human rights checklist and strategies for collective action
  • Committees: apply specific leadership skills to create, maintain and participate in their local human rights committee
  • Law and policies: use human rights law and union policies to prevent and deal with harassment and discrimination in their workplace and their local
  • Global solidarity: understand the implications of globalization and respond to it by connecting their local to social and political alliances with local and global partners

This is a three or five-day course.

Building Respectful Workplaces - Joint Workplace Committees

This course is designed to give joint workplace committees the skills to informally and effectively deal with complaints and conflicts, particularly those of harassment and discrimination. Through this course, participants should be able to effectively intervene in complaints and conflicts in the workplace.

Materials will cover:

  • A survey of conflict and its sources, particularly discrimination and harassment issues for joint committees
  • The role of joint committees in a unionized workplace
  • Identification and development of interview skills, protocols and guidelines
  • Simple and effective assessment and resolution tools
  • Relevant legislation and policies dealing specifically with discrimination and harassment

NOTE: This joint course is negotiated with employers. For more information, please contact your Staff Representative or your District Education Coordinator.

This is a two-day course.

Duty to Accommodate

This is an essential course in applying human rights to support individual members and build solidarity in the union.

A key feature for participants is the creation of an action plan for their individual workplaces by the end of the course. In addition, participants will learn the most important aspects of accommodation.

Topics include:

  • Understanding equality and diversity
  • Implications of specific human rights legislation
  • The duty of the employer to accommodate, and the rights of an individual and union to request accommodation
  • Disability rights and other common areas of accommodation
  • Role of the Human Rights Committee in assisting the individual and the local executive/membership
  • Barrier Reviews
  • Collective agreement language on accommodation

This is a five-day course.

Preventing and Dealing with Harassment in the Workplace

Over 50,000 workers and front-line managers have participated in the USW workplace training sessions.

This session will help participants:

  • Define harassment;
  • Understand the effects of harassment on the company and the union;
  • Understand union and company policies;
  • Understand relevant laws, particularly the prohibited grounds of discrimination and harassment.

NOTE: This course is negotiated with employers. For more information, please contact your Staff Representative or your District Education Coordinator.

This is a two-hour course.

Preventing and Dealing with Harassment and Violence in the Workplace - Basic Bill 168 Introduction

Preventing and Dealing with Harassment in the Workplace is a three hour workshop that delivers training to eliminate the effects of harassment and violence between individuals in a toxic work environment.

The three-hour workshop is highly interactive, combining an overview of Bill 168 and the prohibited grounds of harassment and discrimination under the Ontario Human Rights Code (OHRC), specific union policy, and specific company policies and procedures.  There will be facilitated group discussions on violence and harassment, and a quiz to integrate knowledge of the law, policies and procedures, and information for further enquiry into violence and harassment.

NOTE: This course is negotiated with employers in Ontario. For more information, please contact your Staff Representative or your District Education Coordinator.

This is a three-hour course.

Dealing with Cultural Diversity in the Workplace

As the workforce becomes increasingly diverse, the union is facing opportunities and challenges to build respect for different cultural traditions and practices. 

This session will allow participants to:

  • Discuss how we can raise awareness of different traditions and cultures
  • Identify how diversity in the workforce can affect relationships in the workplace
  • Develop skills to build respectful communication
  • Identify how workers can prevent and deal with racism and other barriers to building mutual respect

NOTE: This course is negotiated with employers. For more information, please contact your Staff Representative or your District Education Coordinator.

This is a two-hour course.

Women of Steel: Developing Leadership

This course is for women interested in getting more active in the union. Sessions will include:

  • Communication skills
  • Assertiveness and confidence-building techniques
  • Understanding how the union works
  • Leadership and public speaking skills
  • Strategic planning

This is a five-day course.

USW Women's Committees: Leading Together

This course is designed to prepare women to start or strengthen local and regional women's committees. The course includes:

  • Defining the role and mandate of women's committees
  • How to involve women and build solidarity in the workplace
  • Discussion of challenges facing women inside and outside of the workplace
  • Action planning

This is a three-day course.

Bargaining in a Borderless World

Steelworkers are dealing day-in and day-out with the consequences of globalization. From forestry to manufacturing to telecommunications, our members are negotiating with large multinationals for which Canadian workplaces are but a small part of their global operations, reeling from job losses brought on by free trade agreements, facing environmental degradation as the legacy of reckless resource extraction, and seeing long standing regulations that protect workers and their communities eliminated.

This course will look at the ideas sustaining this model of globalization, the tools utilized by employers and governments to gain support from workers and communities, the response from unions at the bargaining table and in politics, and the alternatives at hand for a model of development rooted in global justice.

This course can be adapted to be 3 or 5 days in length.  Before sending out registration notification dates MUST be approved through the education coordinator as Humanity Fund staff instruct this course.

** length could be adjusted if needed