Since 1894, Labour Day has been celebrated in Canada as a national holiday recognizing the achievements of workers.
The labour movement of the late nineteenth century had a great influence on changing federal legislation that affected workers across the country, and today, unions continue to organize for workers' rights.
Last year in this province alone, 4,600 people joined a union, according to the B.C. Federation of Labour website.
The largest union in Canada and B.C. is the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE), which has about 85,000 workers in more than 170 local unions in this province.
CUPE B.C. represents workers in municipalities, education, libraries, universities, colleges, social services, health care, public utilities, transportation, emergency services and airlines.
Unlike the private sector, where union numbers have decreased over the past few decades - mining and lumber being two examples - the public sector continues to grow as new employees are hired in these industries.
In the last seven years, CUPE B.C. has grown by about 15,000 members, according to Mark Hancock, secretary treasurer for the union.
"As the communities grow, we're continuing to grow," he said. "We continue to grow across Canada and across B.C."
Besides representing members for arbitration and negotiating collective agreements, the union also works in communities to promote public services.
The union's latest campaign is called The Ten Percent Shift, which encourages people to spend at least 10 per cent of their money locally to support B.C. businesses.
The idea is to strengthen the provincial economy, said Hancock.
"Rather than spending our earnings as workers on goods made in other countries, (it's about) looking locally first. And it's been very well received."
People can sign up to take a pledge on the union's website to spend more of their money on local products and learn more about supporting the local economy.
CUPE B.C. president Barry O'Neill has been on tour throughout the province this year, stopping at various business and community organizations to give presentations about the campaign.
Though it is difficult to buy all products locally, Hancock said CUPE B.C. wants to encourage shopping for those products that are made or grown here.
"Let's support the B.C. farmers and the B.C. producers," he said. "It's not just about food, but that's an easy example."
As well as The Ten Percent Shift, the union has organized other communitybased support campaigns over the years, such as The Strong Communities Campaign started in 2002, in response to program cuts by the provincial government.
Another example is City Watch, a program designed to prevent and reduce crime by having civilians act as support for police, watching out for suspicious activity in various communities.
To mark Labour Day this coming Monday, Sept. 3, CUPE B.C., along with the Steelworkers Union will sponsor a family picnic hosted by the Hospital Employee's Union from 11: 30 a.m. to 4 p.m. at John Hendry Park at Trout Lake in Vancouver.
There will be hot dogs and face painting and games for kids, as well as entertainment by rock group Chilliwack.