Skip to main content

UNW Courses

Education provides the foundation for becoming an effective and informed Union member. 

In order to help members grow in their understanding of the Union and the issues it faces, courses have been developed by both the Public Service Alliance of Canada, and the Union of Northern Workers.

Members are encouraged to review these courses and contact the Service Department at UNW headquarters to explore possible options for taking Union courses.

All UNW Courses are listed below.

To learn more about training opportunities, please contact:

Union of Northern Workers
Service Department - Education
Suite 400, 4910 - 53rd Street, Yellowknife NT. X1A 1V3

Tel: (867) 873-5668 (in Yellowknife)
Toll free: 1 (877) 906-4447 
Fax: (867) 920-4448

If you are approved to attend a course, review the Check Sheet. If you have attended a course, please complete the Lesson Evaluation Form and file it with your instructor.

UNW Training Courses

This is an introduction to the UNW. The module forms the cornerstone of all UNW courses. It aims at increasing members’ understanding of their Union, what the Union does for them and their rights and obligations as workers and UNW members. 

Please note: it is NOT advisable to apply for other UNW courses if you have not attended this module or taken the PSAC's Talking Union Basics course.  

Target: General Membership  
Duration: 1 Day 

  1. What is a union?
  2. History of the UNW
  3. Structure of the UNW
  4. What services does the UNW provide?
  5. Where do members’ dues go?
  6. How to join the UNW
  7. Benefits of UNW membership

Do you feel harassed at work? Do you know how to cope with this type of behaviour? Do you know your rights when faced with harassment at work? These are some of the topics that are discussed in this module. The overall aim of this module is to contribute towards a work place which values and respects all workers.

Target: General Membership 
Duration: 5 Hours (1 Day)

  1. What is workplace harassment?
  2. UNW anti-harassment policy
  3. Issues on harassment (legal, human rights, productivity, self-esteem, etc)
  4. Achieving workplace respect/preventing workplace harassment
  5. Filing harassment complaints

The collective agreement is a contract that defines your relationship with the employer. Do you know what yours says? Do you understand it? This module will help you interpret your collective agreement. Don’t wait until you get into trouble before reading your employment contract. It is your duty to know what it contains. It is your right to enforce it.

Target:  General Membership
Duration: Varies between 1 and 2 days, depending on the collective agreement involved and level of depth and intensity required

  1. What is a Collective Agreement?
  2. Ten things to look out for in a Collective Agreement
  3. Finding information in a Collective Agreement
  4. Interpreting the Collective Agreement
  5. Applying the Collective Agreement

Shop Stewards are the eyes and ears of the Union at each workplace. To play this role effectively, Stewards need to be thoroughly prepared for the challenges and opportunities that lie ahead. This module examines the very important role of a Steward and offers an excellent opportunity to meet, share and network with others.

Target: Shop Stewards 
Duration: 5 – 10 hours (1 to 2 days)

  1. The Shop Steward
  2. Steward’s role in providing information
  3. Steward’s role in handling first level grievances
  4. Steward’s role in helping GNWT members with staffing appeals
  5. Steward’s role in helping GNWT members with job evaluation
  6. Steward's role during collective bargaining
  7. How to keep up with union business
  8. Time off for union business
  9. 15 things every Steward should know
  10. Pitfalls to avoid as a Steward 

A tree cannot be stronger than its roots! Similarly, strong Locals make the UNW stronger and responsive in turn. Numerical strength has always been the advantage of the labour movement. But a dedicated, committed, visionary leadership at the Local level is equally important. Grassroots leadership needs to be nurtured, supported and strengthened for the Union to succeed. This module helps Local executive officers to lead, guide and manage efficient Locals that can better service their members’ needs and impact positively on their lives, families and communities.

Target: Local Executive Officers
Duration: 2 days

  1. A new agenda for Unions: how do our Locals fit in?
  2. UNW mentorship and PSAC leadership development programs
  3. UNW By Laws, Regulations and PSAC Constitution
  4. What is a Local?
  5. Roles of Local Executive officers
  6. All about Local meetings
  7. Managing the Local’s money and other assets
  8. Public relations, communication, correspondence and filing
  9. Locals and the UNW Convention

The NWT continues to suffer from occupational health and safety related issues, including workplace fatalities. A few tragic reminders: 3 plane crashes during 2011; 2 Yellowknife firefighters killed in March 2005; a parole officer killed in the course of doing her work. 

Therefore, as we mourn for the dead, we must also fight for the living by making OHS a core value for our union.  Because one injury, or one death, of a worker is one too many! Everybody loses in the end.

In this module, UNW members will examine health and safety policies, procedures and practices at their workplaces. 

Target: General Membership, OHS Committee Members, Stewards 
Duration: 2 days

  1. What is occupational health and safety?
  2. Due diligence: do the right thing, go beyond the legal requirements
  3. What do the NWT Safety Act and Regulations say about health and safety?
  4. The 3 employee rights
  5. How to work in a safe manner
  6. Health and safety and your collective agreement
  7. Joint union - management OHS committees

There are three formats used to file grievances:

  1. Write a letter to the employer;
  2. Use UNW grievance forms which are handed to an employer;
  3. Send email to an employer using LabourWare.

LabourWare is the most commonly used method. It is a database system that enables union representatives and Locals to file grievances using the internet and email as the primary means of communications.

In this module, Locals learn how to file 1st level grievances and how to keep track of the process on Labour Ware up to when grievances are referred for arbitration.

Target:  Local Officers, Chief Shop Stewards; other Union representatives responsible for filing grievances
Duration: 2 days
Prerequisites:  Basic typing, computer literacy and internet skills are required for this course. You must be nominated by your Local to attend.  

The Mentorship Program prepares members to take on leadership roles in the UNW. It expands the knowledge base of the locals and provides an opportunity for members to work at the UNW headquarters.

All Local Officers (LOs) are eligible to take the four week training course. Candidates must have taken UNW or PSAC Shop Steward or Grievance Handling course, and they must be officially nominated by resolution of the local.

Two weeks of training is provided “in house” at UNW headquarters and/or at one of the regional offices. Following the in‐house training, the trainee will spend some time handling 1st level grievances and investigative duties.

For information on joining the Mentorship Program, see the program brochure or contact Director of Mentorship Services by email at

UNW offers financial assistance to union activists to develop their advanced leadership skills.

This training is intended for UNW members who have aspirations of high-level union leadership, such President or Vice President of the UNW, REVP of PSAC North, Alternate REVP of PSAC North, or NTFL President.

Individuals who are interested in UNW RVP positions may be considered.

If you are interested in this bursary:

  • please review the UNW Leadership Bursary Criteria and Application form carefully
  • Submit your application
  • If your application is approved, you will be notified by the UNW

Some examples of advanced programs that the UNW will consider for the Leadership Bursary include:

Applications can be submitted to the Director of Finance and Administration by email ( or fax 867-920-4448 or mail to the UNW.