Building Our Union

Our union is a house built of people. It’s strong as long as our members are active, educated and working collectively. The basic building block that defines the union’s strength is the individual member.


Every time the union is certified in a workplace, we take on the responsibility to represent in good faith every individual who is covered by the bargaining unit. Everyone wants to be treated fairly at work and if they see coworkers and colleagues working for dignity and justice as union representatives, even the most sceptical can be won over.

Many of our workplaces operate under the Rand Formula. This means that employees may pay unions dues, but they are not automatically a member of our union, i.e., eligible to vote in elections, attend union courses and events and so on. In order to become members, they have to join the union by signing a membership card. As a Local Officer, it is part of your role to ensure that workers are afforded the opportunity to exercise their right to become a member of the PSAC.

Some workers may have objections to joining the union for religious or political reasons, but member or not, every worker covered by a PSAC collective agreement has the right to representation and to vote on collective agreements and strikes.

Members are organized into Locals, the day to day link between the membership and the larger union structure.

There are two types of PSAC Locals:

1. Locals that are associated with a Component.

2. Directly Chartered Locals that are associated directly to the PSAC.

Most locals are chartered to, or associated with, a Component.

Structural flexibility became an issue in the late 1980s as workers from outside the traditional public service began to join the PSAC. In 1991, the PSAC Constitution was changed to provide for Directly Chartered Locals (DC Locals). These Locals are directly affiliated with the PSAC and do not come under the jurisdiction of any Component.

DC Local members are employed by a diverse range of private and public sector organizations, such as gaming corporations, band councils, transition homes and port authorities. The Locals are directly serviced by the PSAC through PSAC Regional Offices. All DC Locals have the right to services regularly provided by the PSAC Centre. These services include negotiation, adjudication, education, central research and legal advice, public relations, classification etc. and regular services provided by the Regional Offices.

The authority and jurisdiction of DC Locals are spelled out in the PSAC Constitution and ByLaws and most of these are similar to those for Component Locals. For more information on DC Locals, consult the PSAC publication “Directly Chartered Local Handbook”. Locals of the Uniondetermine their general course of action in accordance with the Constitution and ByLaws of the PSAC. Its members elect their own officers at annual general meetings, appoint or elect their own stewards and determine their own portion of the dues structure.

Whether they’re dealing with union education, equity,collective bargaining, organizing, representation, political action, communications, or any of the other myriad activities in which the union is involved, Locals play a critical role in connecting members to their union and the union to its members.


Components are made up of Locals. Originally, Components were organized along departmental/employer lines. Although that logic generally remains, it is not always the case anymore, given ongoing employer reorganization. There are also now three Components defined by geography: the Nunavut Employees’ Union (NEU), the Union of Northern Workers (UNW) and the Yukon Employees’ Union (YEU).

Component responsibilities are set out in the PSAC Constitution and include:

  • processing staffing complaints and grievances (up to but not including adjudication);

  • assuming responsibility at the workplace level for collective agreements signed by the PSAC covering members within the jurisdiction of the Component;and

  • representing its members on matters such as classification problems and working conditions not already covered in collective agreements.

Under the PSAC Constitution, each Component elects its national officers, selects a national staff and holds a convention every three years. These conventions are held six to twelve months prior to the PSAC Triennial Convention. Component delegates elect officers, set Component policies and select the delegates for the PSAC Triennial Convention. Some Components have regional offices as well as a national office.

Local concerns are generally brought to a Component Regional Vice President (or the equivalent officer in the Component), who is also responsible for reporting Component concerns back to the Local. Directly Chartered Locals raise their concerns with their PSAC Regional Executive VicePresident.

Only two Components are certified bargaining agents, namely the Union of Northern Workers (UNW), which is the certified bargaining agent for the Government of Northwest Territories and the Nunavut Employees’ Union (NEU), which is the certified bargaining agent for the Government of Nunavut. Otherwise, the PSAC is the certified bargaining agent for all other PSAC bargaining units.

The following is a current list of Components:

  • Agriculture Union

  • Canada Employment and Immigration Union

  • Customs Immigration Union

  • Union of Environment Workers

  • Government Services Union

  • National Health Union

  • Natural Resources Union

  • Nunavut Employees Union

  • Union of Canadian Transportation Employees

  • Union of National Employees

  • Union of National Defence Employees

  • Union of Northern Workers

  • Union of Postal Communications Employees

  • Union of Solicitor General Employees

  • Union of Taxation Employees

  • Union of Veterans’ Affairs Employees

  • Yukon Employees Union

National Board of Directors (NBoD)

The National Board of Directors consists of the National President, the National Executive VicePresident, the seven Regional Executive VicePresidents and the President of each Component.

Regional Executive VicePresidents represent the interests of Directly Chartered Locals in their respective regions. All of the members of the NBoD are elected at a Component, Regional or the PSAC Triennial Convention, except the Regional VicePresident for Countries Outside Canada. This officer is elected by the NBoD at the first National Board of Directors meeting after Convention.

Generally speaking, the NBoD is responsible for carrying out the policies and giving effect to the decisions made at the PSAC Convention. It must also represent and inform the membership on all matters and issues which directly affect members. The NBoD must also administer itself, make regulations for the implementation of policies and resolutions passed at Convention and prepare resolutions and recommendations for the next Convention.

The Alliance Executive Committee (AEC)

The Alliance Executive Committee (AEC) is responsible for the daytoday management of the affairs of the PSAC. It is also responsible for implementing PSAC Convention and NBoD decisions.

The AEC is composed of the National President, the National Executive VicePresident and the seven Regional Executive VicePresidents.

Each member of the AEC is assigned responsibility by the National President for certain national portfolios, e.g., collective bargaining, grievance and adjudication, political action program, education, women’s and human rights program, health and safety, finance and so on. Regional VicePresidents also have responsibility for matters in their regions, including representing the Directly Chartered Locals in their respective regions.

National Membership

National Human Rights Committee

The National Human Rights Committee is a standing committee of the National Board of Directors (NBoD). Regional Equity and Component Equity Representatives sit on this national committee.

The principle mandate of this committee is to formulate a consolidated PSAC national human rights agenda in line with direction from PSAC Triennial Convention, the NBoD, PSAC National Conferences in light of union priorities and emerging issues. The NHRC also:

  • serves as a conference committee for PSAC National Conferences;

  • fosters networking in support of human rights with PSAC Regional Councils, Components, Locals and members.

National Aboriginal Peoples’ Circle (NAPC)

At the 2003 PSAC Convention, a resolution was adopted that mandated our Unionto create a National Aboriginal, Inuit and Métis (NAIM) Network, which has since been renamed the National Aboriginal Peoples’ Circle (NAPC). The mandate of the NAPC is to provide a unified voice for the diverse community of PSAC’s Aboriginal, Inuit and Métis members, so that together, members of NAPC can increase their involvement at all levels of our Union, empower each other, and advance their rights within and beyond our Union.

The Network has established a central ‘Circle’ of members who meet face-to-face to discuss and identify issues the Unionneeds to take on.

This Circle is composed of the following members:

  • two PSAC members; one man, one woman per PSAC region;

  • the two elected Aboriginal representatives on the Equal Opportunities Committee (EOC);

  • the two Alliance Executive Committee (AEC) officers who have responsibility for NAPC.


In 1994, PSAC regionalized its structure to complement the Component structure and bring our members closer to their union.

Seven PSAC regions (Atlantic, Quebec, National Capital Region, Ontario, Prairies, British Columbia, and the North) elect a Regional Executive VicePresident (REVP) and an alternate. These officers are elected at their respective PSAC Regional Convention.

The REVPs are members of the nineperson Alliance Executive Committee (AEC), which runs the PSAC on a day-to-day basis. The other two positions are filled by the National President and the National Executive VicePresident.

Regional Membership Committees

The more PSAC members work together in their own community, the stronger our union becomes. Locals can participate in a variety of regional committees and forums, working with members from other Components to discuss and take action on common interests and issues.

Regional Councils

Regional Councils are elected within each region based on rules set out by the region. Regional Councils are structured according to the needs of each region, and bring together activists who provide regional leadership and political direction on a wide range of issues. Regional Councils can send resolutions to the PSAC Triennial Convention, develop their own bylaws and charge fees for participation.