Reflecting on the Roots of Labour Day

Publish date: Tuesday, August 27, 2019

Dear PEA Members,

For many of us, the first Monday in September signifies the end of summer. Families are busy preparing for back to school or taking in the last summer rays on a lake, mountain, river or even the back yard barbeque with friends. During this time with family and friends, the PEA encourages you to take the time to reflect on the roots of Labour Day and how it came to be. 

The foundation of this holiday dates back to the late 1700s when working-class people fought against the employer’s expectation that they were to work 12 or more hours per day. In April of 1872 thousands of workers and supporters paraded the streets of Toronto in solidarity. The risk and efforts of these people and their unions took to fight for the establishment of the nine-hour workday (now improved to an eight hour day). These efforts planted the seed for the work-life balance we strive for today. 

Many of these organizers and activists suffered from financial hardship, ostracization and even jail. Nonetheless, their actions were the catalyst for thousands of other working-class people to organize and rally for the same improvements in working conditions. The movement was so powerful that in 1894 their efforts were recognized and commemorated by the creation of a National Holiday—Labour Day. 

This year on the 147th anniversary, consider taking the time to attend a Labour Day event, picnic or parade in your community to celebrate the ongoing efforts of the labour movement which continues to advocate for improved working rights and conditions for everyone. 

Visit the Canadian Labour Congress website to find an event near you.

All the best to you over the coming long weekend.​

Thank you, 

Shawna LaRade
PEA President

In this section

The PEA was formed in 1974, by a group of professionals working in the public sector. The story goes that the founders of the union mortgaged their houses to fund negotiations of the union’s first collective agreement. 

Now, the PEA is BC’s union for professionals. We represent a wide range of professionals including lawyers, foresters, engineers, agrologists, teachers, veterinarians, fundraisers, physiotherapists, pharmacists, psychologists program managers, librarians and more.

Our union is led by the PEA Executive. They represent members from across the chapters of the PEA and set the overall vision and direction for our union.

Resources for our members

Navigating a union can sometime be a challenging process. Under this section of the website you will find resources to help you navigate the PEA. In the members section you'll find expense claim reimbursements, information on the PEA's scholarship and bursary program and our grants and donations program.

Collective bargaining and job action resources explain the process of collective bargaining and what to do in the unlikely event of job action. 

Local reps can also find resources to help them complete their job more effectively. This includes ways to welcome new members, how to take notes in investigation disciplinary meetings and more.

The heart of our union

The PEA is made up of nine chapters, or groups of members who either work for the same employer or are in the same field of work. Each chapter has an elected executive tasked with running the affairs of the chapter. Each chapter is entitled to representation at the PEA Executive, the governing body of the union. 

Our members work for a range of employers: the Province of BC, the University of Victoria, St. Margaret's School, the Family Maintenance Enforcement Program, the Oil and Gas Commission, the Law Society of BC, Legal Services Society, the Okangan Regional Library and health authorities across BC.

Professionals need unions now more then ever

Since the 1970’s, when the PEA was formed, our mission has been to ensure our members can work in safe, productive environments and receive fair and reasonable wages and benefits for the valuable work they do. We help individuals and groups of professional workers to understand the challenges they face in their workplaces and some of the solutions available to them. 

We work with potential members to become certified as a union and achieve the wages, benefits and respect they deserve. 

The Professional | Volume 46 Issue 1

The Professional is the PEA's award-winning, quarterly magazine for members.

The January-February 2020 issue includes a Vancouver Sun op/ed piece from PEA Executive Director Scott McCannell on the Legal Services Society strike.

Read the January-February 2020 issue



The PEA was formed in 1974 to represent licensed professionals in the BC Public Service. Since then the organization has grown to include a wide range of professionals from across BC. Find our more about our governance, staff and strategic direction.

Members Login

This question is for testing whether or not you are a human visitor and to prevent automated spam submissions.
2 + 5 =
Solve this simple math problem and enter the result. E.g. for 1+3, enter 4.