Work & Labour Studies Core Courses

An asterisk (*) beside a course number in the list below means permission or a prerequisite is required. Not all course times were available at the time of printing. Not all of the courses listed below will necessarily be offered in any given year.

The following are the Work and Labour Studies courses offered by the Department of Social Science:

AP/SOSC 1510 6.0 The Future of Work

In the past twenty years Canadian patterns of work and employment have been transformed profoundly, putting an end to the employment security that characterised the post- World War II era. But in an era of rapid global warming and chaotic shifts arising from globalisation, the outlines of Canada’s next world of work remain troublingly unclear. Are we looking at a brave new world of widespread prosperity, good jobs and constant career mobility, or a polarised world, divided between a shrinking number of good jobs in which security is traded off against personal fulfilment, and a growing number of bad jobs—precarious, dead-end, exploited and vulnerable? Worse still, are we looking at ‘the end of employment’? Will we ‘buy’ our good jobs at the expense of workers in Latin America, Asia and Africa? What new forms of worker representation and action are emerging and need to emerge? What social forces struggle over the contours of Canada’s labour market today? Will massive investment by the governments of formerly poor countries, in the corporations of the Global North shift the balance of power away from the ‘First World’? Whatever happened to leisure? What is ahead for today’s students? Does education still matter? This course looks at the future of work in Canada from these perspectives. The course also surveys ‘the work of others’: the future of employment and work in other countries of the Global North and the Global South.

SOSC 1510 is a General Education course usually taken in the first year, with an additional time devoted to the development of analytical skills pertinent to the social sciences. For students majoring or minoring in Work and Labour Studies, this is a required course, but it will not satisfy their General Education requirement.

Format: Two-hour lecture and one-hour tutorial
Projected enrolment: 400
Course Director: TBA
Meeting Time: Wednesdays 4:30-6:30

AP/SOSC 2210 6.0 Labour Relations in Canada: An Introduction

This is a required course for all students majoring or minoring in Work and Labour Studies. This course analyzes labour relations in Canada. It reviews the historical development of the labour movement and the formation of the industrial relations system. In the historical process of collective struggle, workers gained significant legislated labour rights (including the right to organize, negotiate a collective agreement and resolve workplace conflicts through dispute resolution mechanisms) that form Canada's contemporary industrial relations system. Workers also won major social rights in the form of universal public services like universal healthcare, unemployment insurance, public education, health and safety, employment standards, and human rights legislation. The course also explores the rise of neoliberal globalization from the 1970s onward, and examines its impact on labour markets, workers’ legislated labour rights and worker protections, work time, health and safety, social programmes and other public services. The course concludes by analyzing labour movement responses to these transformations, including labour-management partnership, new organizing strategies, international solidarity, social unionism, and community-based organizing.

Format: Two-hour lecture and one-hour tutorial.
Projected enrolment: 150
Course Director: Kelly Pike
Meeting Time: Mondays 4:30-6:30

AP/SOSC 2211 6.0 Diversity in the Canadian Workplace

This course examines diversity and marginalization in Canadian workplaces and labour markets and the strategies adopted by equity-seeking, community and labour organizations to achieve social and economic justice.

Format: Two-hour lecture and one-hour tutorial.
Projected enrolment: 100
Course Director: TBA
Meeting Time: Wednesdays 10:30-12:30

AP/SOSC 3130 6.0 Women and Work: Production and Reproduction (cross-listed as AP/GWST 3510 6.0 and GL/GWST 3610 6.0)

This course investigates the formation of the gender division of labour at work in the home and in the paid workplace. Women’s entry into the paid labour force as low-wage, flexible workers in manufacturing and service occupations, their role in the caring professions, and their changing status and participation in household work, is examined in historical perspective in the first term. The second term expands upon some of the theoretical insights from the history of women’s work illustrating continuities with the past in relation to the contemporary position of women in the global economy. Topics include: the role of women in global manufacture (garment, electronics), the migration of women reproductive workers worldwide (domestics, sex workers), and the implications of sex discrimination in restructured industries and labour markets. The course ends with a discussion concerning how to promote gender equality at work through formal regulation and the global women’s movement response in organized resistance to female inequality.

Format: Two-hour lecture followed by one-hour seminar
Projected Enrolment: 75
Course Director: Jan Kainer
Meeting Time: Wednesdays 2:30-4:30

AP/SOSC 3210 6.0 The Working Class in Canadian Society (cross-listed as AP/HIST 3531 6.0)

This course considers the emergence and reconstitution of a working class in Canada over the past 200 years. This process involved both the capitalist restructuring that brought a large class of wage earners into existence and the struggles of Canadian workers to assert their needs and concerns. The course, therefore, examines three spheres of working-class life. First, it looks at the conditions that gave rise to permanent wage-labour in industry and the various ways in which that experience has been transformed by recruiting from new pools of labour, re-organizing the labour process, and introducing new technology. Particular attention will be paid to the range of responses from wage earners to the evolving world of paid work, depending on skill, gender, and ethnicity, especially the structures and ideologies of various workers' movements. Second, the course is concerned with the changing nature of the working-class household - the gender ideologies that shaped its composition, the standards of living within it, the labour carried out within it, and the forces of social reform and state intervention intended to reconstruct working-class home life. And, third, the course considers the social and cultural dimensions of working-class communities and the challenges posed by moral reformers and mass commercial culture. The course attempts to determine the extent of working-class identity that has emerged in Canada and how it has changed.

Format: Two-hour lecture and one-hour tutorial.
Projected Enrolment: 150
Course Director: Jennifer Stephen
Meeting Time: Wednesdays 2:30-4:30

AP/SOSC 3211 6.0 Work For A Change: Strategic Research, Organizing and Communications

This course equips students to engage with workplace, community and society-wide issues by developing strategic research, advocacy, communications and organizational skills. Participants work individually and in small groups to address typical issues confronting unions and other social movement organizations. The course provides opportunities for experiential education in researching strategic questions and designing campaigns for change.

Format: Three-hour lecture
Projected Enrolment: 35
Course Director: TBA
Meeting Time: Thursdays 2:30-5:30

AP/SOSC 3240 3.0 Labour and Globalization I: North American Perspectives

This course explores the changing world of North American work, community and trade unionism in the context of globalization. It begins by asking: what is globalization and is it new? What are the features of economic globalization and how do they affect labour? But today more than ever before, the world of work and the ability of unions to defend workers is a mobile world: both workers and companies cross borders as a way of life, shaking up the industrial relations structures and laws meant to regulate work and workers’ lives, undermining the traditional ability of unions to protect and defend. In response, Canadian, American and Mexican unions have developed cross-border solidarities. Long, partial international union cooperation in the NAFTA zone, however, has not translated into widely effective defense against twenty-five years of the erosion of workers’ rights. In the first decade of the 21st century, four developments are changing the power relations around work in the NAFTA zone: the increased vulnerability of ‘irregular’ workers in each country; the emergence of truly international ‘global unionism’; the emergence of aggressive investment by the Global South in Canadian and American corporations; and the strategic paralysis of Canadian, American and Mexican governments and union in relation to global warming and its impact on employment. This course focuses on the emerging issues that expand the ways trade unions in the NAFTA zone work to defend workers’ rights, while posing new and volatile problems.

Format: Three-hour seminar
Projected Enrolment: 35
Course Director: Kelly Pike
Meeting Time: Tuesdays 11:30-2:30

AP/SOSC 3241 3.0 Labour and Globalization II: Comparative Perspectives

In the past two decades, both nations of the Global North and the Global South have become unequally integrated into the global marketplace. As a result, the roles of labour, as a movement, as a bargaining agent, and as a political constituency, are being challenged. In the face of this, labour is also developing new forms of transnational citizenship, transnational union action, and new forms of organizing and voice. The course uses a comparative analysis to trace the impact of globalization and to examine how labour movements in these countries have been transformed and how they have responded to specific challenges.

Format: Three-hour seminar
Projected enrolment: 35
Course Director: Kelly Pike
Meeting Time: Tuesdays 11:30-2:30pm

AP/SOSC 3242 3.0 Sex Work/Sexual Labour*

This course explores the organization and experience of sexual labour. Sex work (such as exotic dance, escorting and street sex work), and sex tourism, transactional sex and other sexual-economic-affective arrangements are examined in the context of heteropatriarchal, racial, and global relations of power. Attention is also given to struggles against social and economic injustice by women, migrant and sex workers.

Format: Three-hour seminar
Projected enrolment: 35
Course Director: Kamala Kempadoo
Meeting Time: Mondays 2:30-5:30pm

AP/SOSC 3380 6.0 Law, Labour and the State

Every human society has had to ensure that work gets done. The mobilization, discipline and reproduction of labour have been special concerns of many legal systems. This course begins with an overview of some historically significant legal regimes, including slavery, master and servant, and collective bargaining. We then examine the three pillars of contemporary Canadian labour law: the common law of employment; statutory regulation of the employment relationship; and the collective agreement. Course materials include primary documents, statutes, decisions of courts and tribunals and scholarly writing.

Format: Two-hour lecture and one-hour tutorial
Projected Enrolment: 100
Reserved Spaces: Most spaces are reserved for students in Work and Labour Studies, Law and Society, and Business and Society
Course Director: Kelly Pike
Meeting Time: Wednesdays 12:30-2:30

AP/SOSC 3815 3.0 Jobs, Unemployment and Canadian Labour Market Policy

Whether or not labour markets function efficiently and advance the goals of social justice has important ramifications for economic growth and social stability. Over the past two decades, policy makers have redesigned labour-market policy in order to increase flexibility in the operation of labour markets. In this course, we will assess the dynamics and impact of this new paradigm of labour-market policy. The course begins with an examination of theoretical approaches to understanding labour markets and labour-market policy, before turning to historical and contemporary developments in labour-market policy in Canada. Finally, working in groups, students will prepare and engage in a series of class debates on policy issues including training, welfare-to-work polices, mandatory retirement, labour-market policy towards new immigrants, and school-to-work transitions for young people.

Format: Three-hour lecture
Projected Enrolment: 35
Course Director: Norene Pupo
Meeting Time: Thursdays 11:30-2:30

AP/SOSC 3980 3.0 Workers’ Organizations

This course investigates the various ways workers in capitalist societies have organized themselves to defend their collective interests. It considers the way that workers' organizations have varied according to different perspectives on workers' relationship to capitalism, the boundaries of the community of workers to be mobilized, the goals to be pursued and strategies to be used, and the internal organizational dynamics, including questions of democracy and leadership.

The course will examine both the theoretical underpinnings of different workers' organizations and specific case studies, which may include unions (craft, industrial, public sector, white-collar and general), union federations (regional, national and international), political parties (social democratic and radical), workers' co-operatives, anti-poverty and other community-based social justice organizations, coalitions with social movements, labour heritage and cultural institutions, and internal union bodies which mobilize women and minority workers around equity issues. The course will focus on Canadian experiences, but will also draw on examples from both industrialized and developing countries.

AP/SOSC 3981 3.0 Diversity Issues at the Workplace

This course explores the types of discrimination that operates in the workplace and assesses the effectiveness of public policy and workplace programs to promote greater equality. The course will focus on discrimination based on race, gender, sexual orientation, age and disability.

Specific public policies to be studied include pay and employment equity, human rights legislation and the equality provision of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. As well, the course will examine the initiatives by trade unions, and other social action groups, to promote equality in employment.

AP/SOSC 3982 3.0 Work-Life Balance in Canada

In recent decades, work-life balance (WLB) has emerged as a new area of Canadian labour policy. WLB policies aim to reconcile a misfit between the organization of paid and unpaid work in an effort to improve the collective health and well-being of working Canadians. However, no consensus exists among policymakers as to whether and how the institutions of the state and market should be involved in the delivery of programs and services to promote WLB. Policy choices and legislative changes hold different implications for individuals and their families.

This course gives students the opportunity to understand the historical context in which WLB emerged in Canada and critically evaluate various approaches to managing WLB. These approaches include: voluntary employer-sponsored initiatives (worker wellness programs; 'cafeteria-style' benefits packages; on-site services); modifications to the spatial and temporal nature of paid work (e.g. homework, telework, part-time work, compressed workweeks); legislative changes (employment standards regulating working time and overtime; parental leaves, long-term care leaves; childcare).

Students will consider the strengths and weaknesses of market-based and state-led approaches to WLB, particularly as they relate to the income security to workers, the promotion of decent working time, the transformation of traditional gender divisions of unpaid work and childrearing, and the promotion of gender equity in the workforce. In doing so, students will reflect upon broader questions about the changing relationship between states and markets in regulating the organization of paid and unpaid work and the role of the labour movement in advocating for policy changes.

AP/SOSC 3993 3.0 Strategies of Social Science Research

This is a course in critical social science methodology, designed to improve students' abilities to read and evaluate social research. The major research methods will be studied in the course using exemplary texts and hands-on assignments. Among the methods considered and compared are: quasi-experiments, surveys, ethnography, historical method, case studies, text analysis, and action research. The course is not primarily about how to conduct a research project (although the skills developed in the course are essential for researchers as well as for those who rely on social science knowledge in support of public policy and social action). Instead, the emphasis is on acquiring the ability to understand and evaluate research findings and reports. This ability is essential in any career or undertaking that relies on empirical evidence and analysis as the basis for rational decisions.

This course is jointly mounted by the Work and Labour Studies, Law and Society, and Health and Society programs in the Department of Social Science.

Reserved Spaces: Spaces are reserved for Work and Labour Studies, Health and Society and Law and Society Honours Majors
Course Director: TBA
Meeting Time: Various Sections and Times

AP/SOSC 4210 6.0 Labour Relations Simulation*

The course provides students who have academic or experiential background in industrial relations with the opportunity to increase their knowledge of collective bargaining, labour-management relationships and internal union and management decision-making processes through a year-long simulation. As a member of the union or management team, each student is involved in researching, planning, negotiating and administering a collective agreement. During the first term members of the course prepare for and negotiate a new collective agreement. During the second term, they administer their agreement through the grievance/arbitration process. This is a structured simulation whose chief purpose is to provide an interesting and engaging opportunity to develop research, analytic and communications skills and to learn more about the policy, practice and substance of labour relations in Canada today.

The grading scheme is designed to recognize a combination of individual and group work. Students must be prepared to devote significant time to group work outside of class. There are no examinations.

Format: Three-hour seminar
Projected Enrolment: 25
Reserved Spaces: Work and Labour Studies students in their final year have priority for spaces. Business and Society students also have access to the course, where space permits. All other enrolment is by permission of the course director.
Course Director: Stephanie Ross
Meeting Time: Fridays 2:30-5:30

AP/SOSC 4240 6.0 Labour Studies Work Placement*

This course offers students in Work and Labour Studies and Business and Society (Labour Stream) the opportunity to work, before graduating, for and with a union or a community-based labour-friendly organization whose mandate is to advocate on behalf of workers and/or organized labour. The purpose of such an internship is three-fold. First, it acquaints students with the nature of employment by a union or worker organization. Second, it teaches students, through on-site field research, about the particular labour organization they are working with: its history and structures, how strategy and policy are formulated, how its internal bureaucracy works, etc. Third, the course brings students in internships together with the instructor in order to subject their new, first-hand knowledge of their placement organization to a structured intellectual analysis in a seminar situation. Students finishing the placement will have gained first-hand knowledge of how an institutional actor in the field of labour relations identifies its priorities, attempts to realize its goals, and deals with other institutional actors in the field.

In order to realize these objectives, the placement course operates on three levels. First, each
student is expected to work one day a week, or its equivalent, at a labour organization of interest to the student, and which is acceptable to the employer, the placement supervisor and the instructor. Second, all placement students will be expected to spend six hours a month in seminars, in which they will discuss and exchange in a structured fashion about their work. Each student will be responsible for presenting discussion on their placement experience in relationship to specific work and labour studies topics. Finally, each placement student will submit a take-home exam at the end of the course. Students who wish to enrol in this course must prepare a résumé and attend an interview with the course director during the spring advising period (April-June).

Format: Three-hour seminar every two weeks; eight hours per week in the placement with employer
Projected Enrolment: 25
Reserved Spaces: Most spaces are reserved for Work and Labour Studies Students. Securing a placement is not automatic for students in the Labour Studies Minor.
Course Director: Carla Lipsig-Mummé
Meeting Time: Fridays 11:30-2:30

AP/SOSC 4250 6.0/3.0 Special Topics in Work and Labour Studies

This course examines the legal regulation of transnational migrant workers in Canada, with a particular emphasis on the experience of low-wage migrant workers from the global south. Drawing on international human rights law, federal immigration law, provincial immigration policies, and provincial law on social and economic rights, the course aims to provide a solid understanding of how this complex web of laws intersects to construct insecurity for migrant workers throughout their labour migration cycle. The course aims to provide a firm foundation from which to analyze current issues and policy debates regarding migrant workers in Canada. It explores the history of temporary labour migration in Canada and the growth of Canada’s current temporary foreign worker programs. It examines the experience of migrant workers in a transnational context including issues such as globalization, labour export policies, transnational worker recruitment, social impacts arising from the global separation of productive and reproductive spheres, the gendered and racialized impacts on temporary labour migration programs, and migrant workers’ experience of an erosion of their social and economic rights in Canada. The course also examines issues relating to worker resistance through domestic and transnational worker organizing.

Format: Three-hour seminar
Projected Enrolment: 25
Course Director: Fay Faraday
Meeting Time: Wednesdays 2:30-5:30

AP/SOSC 4251 6.0 Mobile Worlds: Work, Labour and Power in the Global Era

The social, economic and cultural world in which trade unionism operates has become much, much more complex. This year- long course offers a critical, in-depth and rigorous examination of that new social world and its trade unions: some of the globally important issues which are transforming the context of work and of trade union action worldwide, while challenging the trade unions to transform themselves. It places each of these issues within their historical, theoretical and cultural contexts.

This course is for Work and Labour Studies students, and will be of particular interest to those going on to graduate studies in politics, sociology, social and political thought, anthropology, environmental studies; and graduate professional studies in law, industrial relations, public administration, global business, and human resource management. It will also be of particular interest to those seeking employment with trade unions, which increasingly value advanced, university-based knowledge.