Spring 2015 - LBST 310 E100

The Politics of Labour in Canada (3)

Class Number: 4051

Delivery Method: In Person


  • Course Times + Location:

    Jan 6 – Apr 13, 2015: Thu, 5:30–8:20 p.m.

  • Exam Times + Location:

    Apr 23, 2015
    Thu, 7:00–10:00 p.m.

  • Prerequisites:

    Strongly recommended: Labour Studies 101 and 30 credit hours.



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.


So far, the 21st century has been a time of crisis in BC's public sector labour relations. The BC government's neoliberal approach is partly responsible for manufacturing this conflict.   

But what is this neoliberalism? Where has it come from ideologically and how does it work in practice? How has it affected BC's public services, particularly its healthcare and education systems and the public sector labour structure? And how can the labour movement be a part of a progressive social movement to push back against neoliberalism?   

In Labour Studies 310, we will trace the roots of BC's neoliberalism by examining some simple economic history, how globalization amplifies neoliberalism, the 2001 and 2008 economic crises, and BC's economic history since World War II. Then we will explore healthcare and education in BC in particular, examining how neoliberalism has aggravated class issues, especially support workers in those sectors.  Finally we will focus on how the labour movement can evolve into a constructive part of a progressive social movement that can address the damage of neoliberalism.


You will learn about the BC government's neoliberalism, as well as its roots, effects on public services, attacks on working people including health and education support workers, and how it has aggravated the effects of the economic crises of this short century.  

You will also learn about the state of public sector labour relations in BC, how unions have contended with the government's neoliberalism, and how unions can be an effective participant in progressive social change.


  • Midterm Exams (two exams X 15% each) 30%
  • Class Presentation 5%
  • Term Paper 25%
  • Open Book Final Exam 25%
  • Participation/Engagement 15%


Requirements include attendance and participation in weekly classes, two mid-term exams, an open book final exam during the exam period, an in-class presentation and a term paper.


All students are expected to read SFU’s policies concerning academic honesty and student conduct (S 10.01 - S10.04). The policies can be read at this website: www.sfu.ca/policies/gazette/student.html .



Stephanie Ross and Larry Savage, Public Sector Unions in the Age of Austerity, Black Point, NS: Fernwood, 2013. 

Additional required and recommended readings are available free of charge in SFU's Canvas Learning Management System at Canvas.sfu.ca.

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