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

Unifor Education Centre Courses

Paid Education Leave (PEL) and 50/50 Programs

Frequently Asked Questions by Members


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.  At our founding convention, delegates passed a resolution making bargaining PEL a priority.

What courses are offered at the Unifor Education Centre in Port Elgin?

Over 40 courses are offered at the Unifor Education Centre 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 at:  These courses are in addition to the courses offered in the areas.

Why would I go to the Unifor Education Centre?

This is an incredible facility on the shores of Lake Huron - comfortable classrooms, beautiful bedrooms, a fitness centre, bar, alcohol-free cafe, superb dining, and gorgeous surroundings. Members from across the country come together at the Unifor Education Centre to discuss, debate and learn about issues that matter to workers, and to build skills for taking on employers and changing society.

Our Childcare Centre is open during the summer and periodically during the school year. Childcare subsidies are available (form must be approved by Local) for those participants who have additional childcare costs over and above what they would normally be paying while working.  

How do I apply to attend courses?

Applications are made through your Local.  Locals develop their own selection process for PEL programs. A sample process and application form can be found on our website.  Remember that the deadline for application to your local will be earlier than the deadline in our schedule.

Where your local has not yet bargained Paid Education Leave, there is a 50/50 pilot program.  The National Union will split the costs of a participant with a local.  Ask your local for more information.

Where can I find out more information on courses offered?

There is information on Unifor courses on our website at  A schedule for courses offered at the Unifor Education Centre will be published twice a year. 

For more information, please contact us at

To download a printable version of this FAQ, click here. (PDF)