Stuart Jamieson was the author of the first book in English on the subject of Canadian industrial relations, Industrial Relations in Canada, published in 1957. An updated edition appeared sixteen years later. This classic work was concise, clearly written and notable for its analysis of Canadian industrial relations in the broader North American context.
These two books were only part of Jamieson’s contributions to industrial relations. His dissertation documented the struggle of American (and Canadian) farm workers to achieve representation. Although unionism still is weak in North American agriculture, the topic remains current. In 2001, the Supreme Court of Canada ruled that the Ontario government could not exclude farm workers from general labour legislation.
After his dissertation, Jamieson studied the B.C. fishing industry, describing the unique labour relations system there for the first time. He used this work to persuade the Anti-Combines Commission to abandon an attempt to outlaw collective bargaining in the fishing industry on the grounds that it was an illegal combine. Again, Jamieson was on the right side of history, as federal policy ultimately followed his recommendations.
Later, Jamieson contributed to the Woods Task Force on Industrial Relations. His volume, Times of Trouble: Labour Unrest and Industrial Conflict in Canada, 1900-1960, was an authoritative analysis of industrial conflict in Canada. Industrial conflict in Canada (and the United States) is unusual in the world for the bitterness of disputes. Jamieson identified cycles of strikes, providing perspective to the strikes of 1965-1966 that gave rise to the Task Force.
Shortly before retirement, Jamieson produced an extension of Times of Trouble, focusing on violence, illegality and sanctions surrounding strikes in Canada. He found that violence and similar activity were consequences of inequities in the law governing employment in Canada. Reversing his earlier views, he concluded that incidents of violence were more frequent in Canadian strikes than in U.S. strikes, though violence grew less common over time.
Stuart Jamieson taught economics and sociology at UBC from 1945 until his retirement in 1980. Personally, he was a kind and gentle man. He was the quintessential “absent-minded professor”, carrying files of papers, but forgetting a pen or pencil to make notes. His passion for social justice was deep but not intrusive. After an early appointment as research director for the Cooperative Commonwealth Federation, he spent his life in the university, relying on others to read and appreciate the meaning of his work.