Endorsement from Dr Tyler Denmead, University of Cambridge
I am excited to write this letter of endorsement for Jo Grady for the General Secretary of UCU.
I came to the UK as a university lecturer in 2017, after leaving a tenure-track post at a public university in US during the previous academic year. Although I was naïve to think otherwise, I was startled after relocating to discover the pace and degree that UK public universities are becoming ‘Americanised’: offloading the cost of Higher Education onto students and their families through unmanageable debt; the rising salary gap between university staff and university leadership; dysfunctional academic labour markets produced through casualisation and race gender injustice. I have been struck by the sector’s lack of independence from state audit, as well as the specific dilemmas facing international staff. I am worried, for example, by the debt financing of international staff’s work visa applications, which strikes me as a modern form of indentured labour. But what has kept me from despair throughout this brief education on the UK higher education sector is the University and College Union, which I joined prior to the USS pension strike. I had been part of a failed unionisation drive at my previous university in the US, which worried me about the future for myself and for my colleagues. So, my brief tenure as an academic in the UK is the first time that I have experienced labour solidarity—both online and offline, both in the workplace and on the picket line.
Throughout that time, Jo Grady has been one of the most influential figures in engendering this sense of solidarity for me. I turned to USSBriefs and her Twitter feed for expert in-depth analysis during and after the pension strike. I am inspired by the vision outlined in her campaign manifesto and I become a more educated union member through learning from her expertise. With Jo Grady as the General Secretary of the UCU, I have full confidence that our union will become more knowledgeable about the challenges we face, while, at the same time, more able to recognise that expertise alone neither wins labour struggles nor will transform university conditions for the betterment of staff and students. She understands what it will take to mobilise our membership in support of a more vibrant public university sector. For that reason, she has received a campaign donation from me, as well as my time in helping her get out the vote. Join me in voting for Jo Grady.