HeadStart is a three month training program open to all union activists, stewards and members. The program provides participants with an opportunity to learn and develop skills that can potentially transition them into in temporary or permanent positions with the union through structured coaching and mentoring.

HeadStart also equips participants to be more knowledgeable about the role and functions of the union. This enables successful participants to contribute more positively to their workplaces after the completion of the program.


“My expectation was that I would come into the program, learn all the information I could and then bring it back to my store, so I could be an amazing steward and provide a better support system to my co-workers. Now as a union representative I still get to do that, but on a larger scale!”

Brittany Roche

HeadStart 2016 graduate and temporary union representative







HeadStart participants will gain indepth knowledge of the union’s inner workings and the day-to-day work of a union representative. Every cohort has the chance to participate in special projects of the union, which in the past have included political campaigning and bargaining outreach. Some of the common learning themes of the program include:

  • Organizing: Participants may assist in any current organizing drives to bring the benefits of unionization to non-unionized workers.
  • Grievance handling: Participants will learn how to file and investigate grievances. They will observe grievance and Troubleshooter meetings and may attend arbitration hearings.
  • Collective bargaining: Where possible, participates may attend bargaining sessions and assist with proposal and ratification meetings.
  • Member representation: Participants will engage directly with members, assisting with member engagement campaigns and servicing stores with their mentors. They will also learn the basics of contract interpretation and retail store schedule audits.
  • Occupational health & safety: Participants will gain a comprehensive understanding of health and safety concerns in the various sectors.


“I think this program is a two-way street. UFCW 1518 is helping me and they are teaching me, but they are also listening to me. I think it’s beneficial for the union to get a fresh set of eyes but also this experience is going to makes us better shop stewards, so better representatives of the union when we go back to our workplace”

Kelly Malcolmsom

HeadStart 2017 participant



Applicants must meet the following requirements:

  • Be an active member, shop steward or union activist
  • Possess strong communication skills
  • Valid class 5 driver’s license
  • Open to travel within BC
  • High school diploma

“This program is a way to discover a new generation of leaders in this organization. It also brings members closer to their union and increases their level of knowledge, which benefits everyone. Once these members go back to their workplaces they will be better representatives of the union.”

Adam Matran

HeadStart 2016 graduate and temporary union representative



Applications are now closed.

Members will be notified by email about upcoming HeadStart sessions.