Kevin Partridge

Kevin Partridge, PhD Candidate

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Political Activism

CUPE 4600 supporting CUPE 2424 picket line

My academic work and my politics are inextricably linked. Research is always shaped by intentions and intentions are shaped by our choices and our circumstances. I have spent much of life living under various neo-liberal austerity projects and fought when I could and acquiesced when I had to.

I have put considerable effort into supporting unions and have taken on leadership roles and responsibilities at both SFU and Carleton University. I worked as both secretary and chair of the Teaching Support Staff Union (TSSU) at SFU as well being an active member of the bargaining team as we headed towards our first ever strike action. At Carleton University, I worked as the Chief Steward for three years and led the grievance and arbitration that resulted in the teaching assistants in CUPE 4600 receiving hundreds of thousands of dollars of pay that had been wrongfully deducted. I was then elected President and led the local through a round of bargaining that achieved an increase well above the rate of inflation for contract instructors after a brief but significant strike action by the local. We also used our successful mobilization to provide support for Carleton staff (CUPE 2424) when they went on strike and helped them protect their pensions and working conditions. All of this also involved engagement with CUPE National and the Canadian Labour Congress as well as specific projects such as international solidarity work with teachers in the Philippines and academics in Turkey.

Universities are large, diverse and complex institutions and my active engagement and support of unions has given me a knowledge of the many people and relationships that connect different disciplines, departments and academics on a global scale. We live in a time of profound globalization and unions are an example of a way that we can organize people to connect and respect the enormous diversity of this planet.