Fall 2018 - LBST 310 D100

The Politics of Labour in Canada (3)

Class Number: 2057

Delivery Method: In Person


  • Course Times + Location:

    Fr 9:30 AM – 12:20 PM
    AQ 2104, Burnaby

  • Instructor:

    John Irwin
    Office: AQ 6128
    Office Hours: FR 13:00-14:00
  • Prerequisites:

    30 units. Strongly Recommended: LBST 101.



The politics of the working class and union movement in the context of neoliberal economic and public policy, recurring economic crises, the changing nature of work, and declining membership. Central to the course will be the question of electoral politics and organized labour's relationship to political parties. Community unionism and social movements are also examined. Breadth-Social Sciences.


This is a seminar course devoted to an in-depth and national scale examination of the politics of labour in the context of global capitalism. After introducing the politics of labour studies in general, the course sets out by covering some key approaches and laying out a ‘toolkit’ of concepts to analyze the politics of labour. In today’s rapidly changing, yet troublingly familiar, global context (technological change coupled with vast social and economic inequalities, and workers’ struggles against these realities) it is imperative to come to an understanding of the politics of labour in the national, and global, capitalist economy; and the global environment. The main focus in this course will be on the politics of labour in Canada.

The seminar will focus on the political issues faced by workers; and labour and other movements in the current political economic context in Canada, including: work, wages, and living standards; education, training, and lifelong learning; health and safety in the Canadian workplace; the gendered nature of workplaces, work, and social reproduction; racialization, and racism at work; the inaccessible Canadian workplace; the unions’ impact; and workers’ movements in the new millennium.


Critical evaluation of texts and sources, strategies for articulating and validating your findings, the application of quantitative and qualitative reasoning, the use of various research tools, a grounding in the politics of labour, and the strengthening of written, oral, and process communication skills.

You will have the tools to analyze the emerging political issues in labour studies, with a Canadian focus. You will attain substantive knowledge of labour movements, markets, and class dynamics.

You will come away with an ability to apply radical and critical political economics to analyze current politics of labour issues and the impact of new social movements on labour in Canada.


  • Seminar 25%
  • Term project 30%
  • Midterm exam 20%
  • Final exam 25%


All assignments in this course must be completed for a final grade to be assigned.  The Morgan Centre for Labour Studies follows SFU policy in relation to grading practices, grade appeals (Policy T 20.01) and academic honesty and misconducted procedures (S10.01-S10.04).  It is the responsibility of the students to inform themselves of the content of these policies available on the SFU website: http://www.sfu.ca/policies/gazette/teaching.html.



Jackson, A., & Thomas, M. P. (2017). Work and Labour in Canada: Critical Issues, 3rd ed. Toronto: Canadian Scholars Press.
ISBN: 978-1-551309576

There will be numerous on-line readings from peer reviewed academic literature, government, non-government, business, and international organization reports.

Registrar Notes:

SFU’s Academic Integrity web site http://students.sfu.ca/academicintegrity.html is filled with information on what is meant by academic dishonesty, where you can find resources to help with your studies and the consequences of cheating.  Check out the site for more information and videos that help explain the issues in plain English.

Each student is responsible for his or her conduct as it affects the University community.  Academic dishonesty, in whatever form, is ultimately destructive of the values of the University. Furthermore, it is unfair and discouraging to the majority of students who pursue their studies honestly. Scholarly integrity is required of all members of the University. http://www.sfu.ca/policies/gazette/student/s10-01.html