An Introduction to PSAC in the Academic Sector

PSAC is a large national union formed in 1966 that represents workers in every sector across Canada. We have over 200,000 members and we are the 5th largest union in Canada. 

PSAC has worked tirelessly organizing workers in the post-secondary sector and we now have over 27,000 members in over 25 post-secondary institutions in 61 bargaining units. This accounts for 13.5% of PSAC’s overall membership!

To learn more about the benefits of unionizing with PSAC, watch the webinarAn Introduction to PSAC in the Academic Sector. Webinar slides are attached below.

If you are in the academic sector and are thinking about unionizing, contact Nina Babcook, Prairies Regional Organiser,

Advantages of unionizing with PSAC

Bargaining – PSAC helps the members negotiate first collective agreements or improvements on existing collective agreements that govern the terms and conditions of your work. This collective agreement is a legally binding document with the employer and the union.

Education and Training – PSAC offers a myriad of education opportunities. Pre-Pandemic in-person education sessions, to online self-directed learning, to informal learning through conferences and conventions.

Improving employment equity – We have been at the forefront of challenging employers and ensuring that members of historically disadvantaged groups are not discriminated against due to artificial barriers in the workplace (i.e. racism, discrimination, bias, stereotypes, assumptions, systems [Indigenous Peoples, Women, Racialized Peoples, Persons with Disabilities])

Grievance and Arbitration – We have a legal right to grieve and those rights are set out in our collective agreement. Sometimes management doesn’t act on their best behaviour and they take advantage of workers. The grievance process gives us a formalized process to resolve conflict.

Health and Safety Work- It is the employer’s responsibility to provide a healthy and safe workplace…but union activists and leaders have to ensure their employer fulfills their health and safety obligations set out in legislation and our collective agreements. Members sit on health and safety committees in their workplace and we provide support and guidance when members need to challenge the employer when they aren’t providing a safe workplace.

Political Action / Lobbying / Mobilization – Members have an opportunity to get involved in political action, lobbying and mobilization through their locals, through Area Councils, through campaigns and actions. PSAC listens to members concerns and have been at the forefront of many campaigns:

  • sending members to participate in CLC lobby days
  • letter writing campaigns to MPs 
  • PSAC forefront of Pay equity issues
  • PSAC poised to launch campaign at U of S in face of large tuition increase
  • PSAC joined with MB Org Faculty Assoc & Cdn Fed Students MB re Campaign Against Education Cuts where the Pallister govt wanted to roll back funding to universities by 30%. This was just after the pandemic started in early April.
  • EDUCATION FOR ALL – 2021 Campaign for a more affordable, accessible, high quality, publicly funded PSE system in Canada.

Working to Improve Women’s Rights and Human Rights – PSAC has used grievances, human rights complaints and referrals to courts including the Supreme Court of Canada  in order to ensure that employers are living up to their obligations. In particular, PSAC has lobbied and mobilized wrt employment equity, pay equity, national child care system. We push for clauses in collective agreements that further human rights goals as well as continuing to lobby to strengthen human rights acts.

All of this PSAC offers and as well if you sign your Union Membership Card, you get access to free education, can apply on scholarships, can attend conferences, and conventions and can run in elections in your local, committees, regionally or nationally.  

To learn more about unionization with PSAC, contact Nina Babcook, Prairies Regional Organiser,