CLC Winter School

Each winter, the Canadian Labour Congress (CLC) provides week-long labour education for union members at Harrison Hot Springs. The PEA will send two PEA members and two PEA members who are young workers (30 years old and younger). (HESU Chapter members, if selected, will require Chapter Executive pre-approval to attend). The PEA will also send two PEA Executive members. Registrants attend a week-long session on one focused topic. Without exception, feedback has been very positive from PEA members attending Winter School in the past.

The course schedule and course descriptions are posted on the CLC website. Winter School runs in January and February 2020. The PEA will pay for course costs, travel, accommodation, food and union leave. Final attendees will be interviewed for The Professional. The deadline to apply was November 15. The call for expressions of interests is now closed.

Member Stories from Winter School

New Learnings, Fresh Perspectives

Building Skills for Work and Life

BCFED affiliation is an antidote to the daily grind

Words Jackie Wong

We’ve all been there: when work feels like a grind, the days struggle along and we begin to feel stuck. In those moments, it’s easy to forget that our workplace challenges are not burdens we must shoulder on our own. Every day, PEA members are working alongside a vast community of workers across the province who face similar questions and tensions. We are not alone in our struggle, and kindling connections of support across worker communities is a powerful way to transcend the daily grind.  

The PEA is connected to thousands of people in the labour movement as a member union of the BC Federation of Labour (BCFED), an affiliation the PEA has had since 2013. The BCFED represents over 500,000 members from unions across BC, and is connected to workers across Canada through its membership in the Canadian Labour Congress (CLC). 

Among other benefits, the PEA’s affiliation with the BCFED provides a powerful connection to community through learning opportunities offered through two popular programs, the CLC Pacific Region Winter School and the BCFED’s Young Workers’ School at Camp Jubilee. 

“I watched the power of the union at work”

The CLC Pacific Region Winter School takes place every January and February at Harrison Hot Springs Resort in BC’s Fraser Valley. The school offers week-long courses that focus on building skills in areas such as workshop facilitation, mental health first aid and collective bargaining. Others explore solutions to challenges that can arise when advocating for psychologically healthy workplaces or against gender-based violence.

Sam Davis, a planning forester with BC Timber Sales in Williams Lake, was a Winter School participant in a February 2019 course called “The Basics of Organizing,” offered through the BCFED Organizing Institute. The experience of taking the course alongside hundreds of other members of the labour movement and learning about the process of organizing into a union, he says, was an inspiring reflection of why working in solidarity across unions matters so much. 

“I watched the power of the union at work,” he says. “It’s about sharing that control. It helps us shape our future. And in the end, societally, we’ll end up in a better place.”

Another course, called “Facing Management Effectively,” struck a chord with Elizabeth Hunt, a local rep in Dawson Creek, where she works as a stewardship officer with the Peace Natural Resource District. 

The course walked participants through the process of preparing for meetings in which the people involved may not see eye to eye. It’s a situation that can be an ongoing source of anxiety in working life, but which many of us rarely have an opportunity to explore productively in community with other workers. 

“It blew me away, the number of different unions and associations that were there,” Hunt says. “It made me realize that, you know, I’m not the only one out there.” 

The course, she says, proved widely applicable to all aspects of her professional life, from her work negotiating forest stewardship plans with a range of stakeholders to her role as local rep. 

Winter School, she says, equips participants with new skills they can apply “not only for work, but for your life. It gives you really good skills all around.”

Concrete steps forward

The immersive nature of Winter School offers a welcome departure from the daily routine of work, but the courses are designed specifically for participants to carry the lessons forward into their everyday professional lives. 


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 August-September 2020 issue includes a look into Animal Care Services at UVic.

Read the September-Ocotober 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.

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