Born in Liverpool, Stanley grew up in Salford. He worked in a foundry and joined the United Society of Boilermakers and Iron and Steel Shipbuilders. In 1922, he transferred to the British Iron, Steel and Kindred Trades Association (BISAKTA), and was elected as secretary of its Manchester branch the following year.
Within BISAKTA, steel erectors felt that they should have a distinct section. Stanley worked with George House to form this, the Constructional Engineering Union, and became its full-time Northern organiser. The union grew rapidly, and became independent in 1930. Stanley succeeded House as its general secretary in 1939.
Stanley was known as a left-wing activist. He was a member of the board of the Labour Publishing Society, which launched the Socialist Fellowship in 1949, and published Socialist Outlook, a newspaper associated with Gerry Healy. Under his leadership, the union affiliated to the Movement for Colonial Freedom,
Stanley announced that he would retire in May 1957, but he died before he was able to do so.
- Labour Party, "Obituary: Jack Stanley", Report of the 56th Annual Conference, p.43
- Trades Union Congress, "Obituary: Jack Stanley", Report of the 1957 Annual Trades Union Congress
- Eaton, Jack; Gill, Colin (1981). The Trade Union Directory. London: Pluto Press. p. 92-95.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
- Eric Shaw, Discipline and Discord in the Labour Party, pp.116-117, 331
- Bill Hunter, Lifelong Apprenticeship, pp.255-258
- Partha Sarathi Gupta, Imperialism and the British Labour Movement, 1914-1964
- "Obituary: Mr Jack Stanley", Manchester Guardian, 4 April 1957
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|Secretary of the Constructional Engineering Union