The New Union Development Program (UDP)

The PSAC’s Union Development Program (UDP) has been one of the most comprehensive union leadership training programs in Canada for more than 35 years. 

Building on our rich history, the New UDP will provide an advanced learning opportunity for emerging leaders to develop the necessary analysis and skills to identify and support union priorities, and to expand our pool of skilled activists who can inspire others.

  • Are you passionate about standing up for unions and workers’ rights?
  • Do you believe in fairness, social justice and human rights?
  • Are you active in your union and interested in deepening your activist knowledge and skills?

The New Union Development Program (UDP) is an opportunity for you to prepare yourself to assume leadership roles in your union and in the broader labour and social justice movements.

What’s the New UDP?

The New Union Development Program (UDP) is an intensive education program designed to develop the leadership skills of emerging union activists over ten months.  Each year the PSAC will host three UDPs:

  • an English West/North UDP (for members from the North, BC and the Prairies). The host region for the 2015 West/North UDP is the Prairies.
  • an English East UDP (for members from Ontario, the NCR, Quebec and the Atlantic). The host region for the 2015 East UDP is Ontario.
  • a French UDP (for Francophone members from the NCR, Quebec and the Atlantic). The host region for the 2015 French UDP is the NCR.

The UDP has six mandatory steps which includes three face-to-face gatherings and a variety of other learning methods including a mentorship program, on-line events and individual action projects.  The three UDPs (West/North, East and French) will run simultaneously, every year.  The complete six-step program takes place over a ten month period and includes:

  1. January – February, 2015 – Welcome to your UDP Journey will introduce participants to the UDP and prepare them for subsequent steps.  We will use on-line technology, individual study and research, and mentor support.  Participants will learn more about issues facing PSAC members, review the various aspects of the PSAC structure and the Canadian labour movement.  We’ll explore activism, leadership, community unionism, and how to plan for and carry out research required for the other UDP steps. The estimated time commitment for this step is 8 hours.
  2. March 19-22, 2015 Winnipeg, MB – The Workplace, Unions and Transformationis a four-day regional gathering where participants build relationships with one another and get to know regional union leaders from the PSAC and the broader labour movement.  Participants will learn more about the challenges of the workplace, facilitating change and transformation, the impact of power and oppression, the role of allies in supporting equity, and sustainable activism. The time commitment for this step is four days plus travel (where applicable) and may include some evening work during the four-day gathering.
  3. April – May, 2015 – Building a Workers Agenda will encourage participants to start working with a labour or community group, supported by their UDP mentors and other activists and leaders in the region.  Using on-line technologies, participants will learn more about how governments in Canada work, and the impact of our current political and economic systems on workers and their families.  The estimated time commitment for this step is 7 hours.
  4. May 29-31, 2015 Ottawa, ON – Coast to Coast to Coast Connectionsis a three-day national gathering in Ottawa for all UDP participants from coast to coast to coast.   Participants will meet the PSAC National President, listen to inspiring speakers, learn more about PSAC decision-making, share activist stories, and build relationships with participants from across the country. The time commitment for this step is three days plus travel (where applicable) and will include some evening work during the three-day gathering.
  5. July – August, 2015 – Strategies for Positive Changewill further participants’ understanding of the PSAC’s democratic processes.  Working with on-line technologies, mentors and UDP peers, participants will develop and implement strategies to support worker and union issues identified in previous steps of the UDP.  The estimated time commitment for this step is 6 hours.
  6. September 17-20, 2015 Edmonton, AB – Union Leadership Moving Forwardwill bring participants together for another four-day regional gathering to develop interpersonal skills, build strategic alliances, debate important issues, and create a personal growth leadership plan.  The time commitment for this step is four days plus travel (where applicable) and may include some evening work during the four-day gathering.

Is the UDP right for me?

Criteria for participation in the Union Development Program

The potential UDP participant is a member who:

  • has demonstrated a commitment to activist work within the PSAC,
  • is looking for tools to furthering their work in support of the labour or social justice movements;
  • is committed to building a strong and inclusive movement for equality and social justice;
  • has experience with, and commitment to, dynamic, creative and effective collective action;
  • has demonstrated initiative in furthering her or his own leadership development;
  • has demonstrated a willingness to assume leadership responsibilities as a union/social justice activist;
  • will commit to fulfilling all of the obligations of the UDP, including completion of all six steps of the program;
  • has the will, ability and commitment to use her or his UDP experience to assume a leadership role in the union;
  • has completed the PSAC Talking Union Basics (TUB) course or gained equivalent experience through union activism in the PSAC;

The PSAC is committed to ensuring that participants in the UDP program are representative of the diversity of our union membership.  Our 2014 UDP recruiting strategy includes encouraging applications from active union stewards and PSAC members under the age of 31.

Apply for the New Union Development Program. The deadline date for applications is October 3, 2014.


For more information on the UDP, please contact Judy Shannon, Prairies Regional Education officer or call 780-423-1290.