Paid Education Leave (PEL) and 50/50 Programs - Questions Frequently Asked by Locals


Paid Education Leave (PEL) and 50/50 Programs - Frequently Asked Questions by Locals

Unifor Education Centre Courses

Paid Education Leave (PEL) and 50/50 Programs

Frequently Asked Questions by Locals


What is the Paid Education Leave program?

The Paid Education Leave program (PEL) is a fund negotiated by the union in collective bargaining with employers.  It was first negotiated by the CAW in 1977 at Rockwell International, an auto parts plant.  From there it spread across the union into every sector and region.  A lump sum or cents-per-hour is negotiated with the employer.  This fund supports union-developed and union-delivered courses at the Unifor Education Centre in Port Elgin, Ontario.

What courses are offered in Port Elgin?

Over 40 courses are offered in Port Elgin.  Most courses are one week in length.  A schedule is published twice a year.  Course descriptions can be found on our website HERE.

Who is part of PEL?

In the former CAW, 80% of the members had PEL coverage in their collective agreements.  This included bargaining units right across the country, in all sectors and across bargaining units of all sizes. A resolution was passed at the Unifor founding convention making PEL a priority at the bargaining table across the Union. 

What are the typical amounts bargained?

PEL is bargained typically two ways: either as a cents-per-hour amount (per employee), or a fixed dollar amount (per year or per contract).  The preferred way is the cents-per-hour.  Among those with a cents-per-hour payment in the former CAW, the average is about 3 cents per member per hour worked. 

How are the funds handled and what are they used for?

The funds are paid to the National Office on a negotiated schedule (monthly to once per contract).  The funds are split between an operating fund (40%) and the unit fund (60%).  The operating fund covers items such as course development, classroom, materials, program staff and support staff, Discussion Leader training, and delivery costs including Discussion Leader accommodation, lost wages, mileage and per diem.

The unit fund is credited to the specific bargaining unit and is used for the students from that bargaining unit.  It covers lost time (up to 40 hours), mileage, per diem, accommodation and meals at Port Elgin in accordance with PEL bylaws and guidelines.  The fund is only used for courses at Port Elgin.

If a participant comes from out of the province or over 400 kilometres away from Port Elgin, their travel is covered through a subsidy fund. Flights are booked by our Port Elgin staff.

What about bargaining units that don’t have enough PEL or don’t have PEL at all?

Locals can still send participants even if they don’t have PEL or have exhausted their PEL funds.

For units that do not have PEL or have used up their PEL, on a pilot basis, the National will split the costs of a participant 50/50 with a local.  This is offered as a transitional solution to former CEP units bargaining PEL. This pilot will be reviewed in 2 years.

If a unit has bargained Paid Education Leave but has insufficient funds to cover student participation, the Local may apply to the Education Department for a subsidy from the subsidy fund (@email).  The subsidy fund cannot be used for units that do not have PEL.

What programs are covered by the 50/50 program?

All Paid Education Leave programs at the Unifor Education Centre in Port Elgin are covered.

What costs are covered?

All costs that would normally be covered under the PEL program:  room and board, lost wages (up to 40 hours), mileage (if the participant drives to the program), per diem, and child care subsidy if applicable.  For those who fly, costs involved in travel are also split (e.g. flights, mileage to/from the airport, taxi to/from the airport, airport parking).  All of these are covered in accordance with the PEL by-laws. Exceptions are the $400.00 operating cost charged for the member attending these courses and if the local opts to have the member in a single room, the additional charge of $375.00 for single accommodation is not 50% reimbursed.

How much does it typically cost the Local to send a participant to the Education Centre?

Where a Local does not have Paid Education Leave (PEL), or has exhausted their PEL, Locals may access the 50/50 program.  The cost to the Local will depend on the wage rate of the participant and the distance to the Centre.  Below are two sample calculations.


Room and Board (double rate)                                                                                            $   925.00  (13% taxes are applicable if room and board costs are paid by someone other than Unifor Local)

Per Diem ($20.00 x 5 nights)                                                                                                __100.00

                                                                                                                Subtotal:                $1,025.00


SAMPLE VARIABLE COSTS for Worker from Winnipeg making $18 per hour:

Lost Time                                                                                                                                 $ 792.00    ($18.00 x maximum 40 hours = $720.00 + employer expense approx. [10%] $72)                                  

Travel (flight from Winnipeg/Port Elgin return)                                                                      620.20

Travel to/from airport and parking:                                                                                 ___120.00

                                                                                Subtotal of variable costs:                   $1,532.10


TOTAL COST (Fixed Costs + Variable Costs)                                                                 $2,557.20


LOCAL’S SHARE (Total Costs ÷ 2 + $400 [Operating Fund Costs])                                $1,628.60

SAMPLE VARIABLE COSTS for Worker from London, ON making $25 per hour:

Lost Time                                                                                                                               $1,100.00   ($25.00 x maximum 40 hours = $1,000 + employer expense approx. [10%] $100)

Travel (387.7 km @ .48 based on London/Port Elgin return)                                             __$186.10

                                                                                Subtotal of variable costs:                   $1,286.10

TOTAL COST (Fixed Costs + Variable Costs)                                                                  $2,311.10

LOCAL’S SHARE (Total Costs ÷ 2 + $400 [Operating Fund Costs])                                $1,555.55


How is the 50/50 administered?

Locals register their participants in a Port Elgin program using the regular student application form.  Application forms can be found on our website by clicking on this LINK.  On the form, circle the 50/50 option at the top of the form.  Locals pay lost wages, mileage, per diem and child care subsidy (if applicable) directly to the participant.  Locals pay room and board costs directly to the Unifor Family Education Centre, Port Elgin.   There is a $400.00 operating cost charged for the member that is non-refundable. Once the participant has completed the course, the Local sends the invoice and appropriate proof of claims to Port Elgin and the Local will be reimbursed for 50% of the allowable costs above except for the $400.00 operating cost and the $375.00 additional R&B cost for a single room.


We look forward to seeing your participants at the Unifor Education Centre! If you need any other information, please contact us at