The Final Push for the #Grady4GS Campaign!

This is an email sent to subscribers of the #Grady4GS mailing list on Tuesday 14 May 2019 (some subscribers may have received this later). To subscribe to our GDPR-compliant list, please fill out your details here!

Thank you so much for what you have been doing on the ground to support Jo Grady’s campaign. Jo and the rest of the team are truly humbled by how colleagues have mobilised in all sorts of amazing ways to try to secure what could be a momentous win for our union and our sector. At all the hustings Jo has been greeted with people wearing badges and posters on walls. You are all doing an excellent job, and helping us run a completely different election campaign from the ones we have previously seen in UCU.

Don’t be complacent!

When speaking to people on the ground, many of us have encountered the view that Grady has already won, because her campaign communications have been so visible, on Twitter andthanks to all your wondrous workas posters, postcards, flyers and manifestos spread around campuses all around the UK. But this election is still far from being won and we need you to keep mobilised to fight against any complacency of this kind.

Negative campaigning against Grady

We also need to be aware that the other candidates’ supporters have vigorous campaigning tactics of their own, even if they are less publicly visible than ours. Sadly, over the course of the campaign we have been forwarded emails containing false assertions and insinuations about Jo Grady: in particular that she is, or has been, a member of the SWP. This despite Grady’s repeated explanations since the start of the campaign that the only political party she has ever been a member of is the UK Labour Party. Where possible, we have contacted the authors of such emails directly, and received an apology and retractionbut only after threatening to take very serious action.

We are saying this to make you aware that this election is a long way from over. We know that most voters will not care about or pay attention to smears like this; they will be convinced by Grady and by the strength of her manifesto and the transparency of her campaign. But if any misinformation does come up in conversations you have with people while campaigning for Grady on the ground, please correct it, and then, if you can, let us know about it. We would also encourage you to do the same if you are aware that this is happening to the other candidates. The election of our General Secretary is too important to allow negative campaigning and lies to be influential.

Staying positive

Overall, please just keep doing what you are doing. At every husting Jo has spoken to dozens of people who are inspired by our positive campaign and hopeful we can make positive changes. So please do continue to speak to people about what inspires you in Jo Grady’s vision and manifesto. This is what people want to hear.

The final push

The next few days are crucial: it is our last chance to Get The Vote Out. Ballot papers need to be posted by Monday 20 May in order to be sure to arrive by Thursday 23 May (the postage on the return envelopes is second class!). If, for some reason, you still do not have your ballot–you need to get a replacement now from this page on UCU’s website! One of the most helpful things you can do now is to go knocking on office doors to have a chat with any colleagues who are willing to speak to you, using whatever time you can spare. Even just 15 minutes would be great. If each of you could spare one hour this week to do this, the effect on overall turnout could be phenomenal. If you have not done this before, it can feel very awkward at first, but feedback from our ground game teams suggests it can become enjoyable, and it is certainly effective. This is how we find the people who still have their ballot papers on their desk or kitchen table and convince them that they should vote. You do not need to do a hard sell for Grady: just ask colleagues if they have received their ballot paper, and if so whether they have posted it back yet. If they have not, try to convince them it is very important to do so. If they ask about the candidates, you can tell them why you are supporting Grady. If/when you are not on campus, you can focus on sending out personal emails.

Thank you so much for your support. If we win this, it will be thanks to the hard work on the ground of people like you! You are making a real difference!

The #Grady4GS campaign team

Getting the Vote Out for Jo Grady!

This is an email sent to subscribers of the #Grady4GS mailing list on Wednesday 8 May 2019 (some subscribers may have received this later). To subscribe to our GDPR-compliant list, please fill out your details here!

Thank you to so many of you on this list for the amazing work you’re already doing on the ground to Get The Vote Out (GTVO) for Jo Grady. We are building our campaign from the ground up. We need any level of support you can give in these next two weeks. We have an historic opportunity in this election to vote in an extraordinary candidate: we are relying on you to help us get out the vote for Grady all across the country.

There is a huge energy to this campaign. Endorsements for Grady from across all parts of the membership have flooded in. Our crowdfunder has exceeded its target of £3,000 (many thanks if you have donated). We need now to convert all the support and enthusiasm for Grady4GS into votes.

Ground Game

If you’re not yet part of our ground game (i.e. working ‘on the ground’ at your own institution), we’d love you to join it. Whether you have 15 minutes or a couple of hours, you can help! To be put in touch with other colleagues at your institution to help with GTVO, email Claire Marris.

Winning a Campaign

We’ve heard so much enthusiasm for Grady and her campaign. But none of us should take anything for granted: huge numbers of UCU members still know little to nothing about this ballot. The remainder of this email focuses on additional ways in which you can help the Grady GTVO campaign. In short, to get the vote out, we need to get the word out.

GTVO Infosheet

We have prepared a short 2-page infosheet – to give you some of  the nuts and bolts of Grady’s campaign, and to assist you in GTVO conversations with colleagues.

Keep on Talking

You might know from other GTVO experiences that support for a candidate doesn’t magically turn into votes. Don’t assume that your colleagues know about the Gen Sec election. Don’t assume they know when it closes (ballots should be posted by Monday 20 May to be sure they arrive). Don’t assume they know anything about the three candidates. Don’t assume that someone’s support for a candidate means that they have put their envelope in the postbox. Keep on going – initiating conversations; reminding people of the ballot; checking that they have actually voted.

Using Different Media

We can see how much excitement there has been about Grady and her campaign on Twitter. We want to be sure that we are reaching those using other media. We would love it if you could (i) like and share materials from Grady’s campaign Facebook page; and/or (ii) email colleagues from your institution and discipline/professional community about Grady (using material from the GTVO infosheet and/or the template we’ve prepared). And if you are on Twitter, do keep tweeting about Grady’s campaign under #Grady4GS.

Campaign Materials

A reminder that the website contains everything you might need – Grady’s manifesto; copies of her all-member emails; Grady’s blog posts about particular issues (Brexit, climate change, etc.); posters and gifs, etc. Do use these yourself, and distribute to others.

Ballot papers and Election FAQs

If you or a colleague have not received a ballot paper, you can order a replacement. Also note our FAQs about the election.

Subscriber email list

Finally, please urge any Grady supporters you know to subscribe to our email list if they haven’t already. This list is a crucial tool for our campaign: we cannot stress this enough. We will be sending out information on ways in which people can help out, apart from putting up posters and distributing flyers/postcards. The campaign team takes privacy issues seriously and we are determined to be GDPR compliant. We promise we will not flood subscribers with emails. We are able to build our campaign only if people actively subscribe to our list: the Grady4GS campaign HQ does not email anyone who has not subscribed.

Any questions about any of the above, or the campaign, do email us.

We are enormously excited about the transformations that Grady will bring to our union if elected.

There’s only two weeks of campaigning to go! We are counting on you.

The #Grady4GS campaign team

Endorsement: Finn Mackay, University of the West of England

Endorsement from Dr Finn Mackay, University of the West of England

I am pleased to endorse Jo Grady for UCU GS. Jo Grady seems the strongest candidate on tackling measurement by metrics, the marketization of HE and the hostile environment policy that affects us as workers, our students and our fields of teaching and research.

I left a job in local government to pursue a PhD in the Centre for Gender & Violence Research at the University of Bristol. While completing my PhD and in the years that followed, I undertook several hourly paid and short term contract teaching roles, at different Universities. Sadly, as we all know, precarious work and a high turnover of temporary staff are now the norm in our settings. All of this means that in academia we are often fragmented, and it is difficult to build solidarity amongst department teams, let alone throughout whole institutions. There is an observable reticence to join our Union because colleagues often don’t feel they belong as a worker in any one place and this reduces workplace and industry identity. Added to this, being measured by arbitrary metrics that none of us would get through a research ethics panel has served its purpose of putting people off and putting people down. Currently, research, graduate opportunities for our students and recruitment are all under threat by the hostile environment policy; valued colleagues are uncertain about their jobs and residency. This is why it is so important that Jo Grady recognises this situation as a state of emergency and a priority for our Union.

We need a leadership in our Union that is transparent and which can build up a strong and motivated membership who feel they have something collective to fight for into the future, and not just to defend what we have now. We know that critical thinking skills are needed in our young graduates now more than ever. What we, the workers in our sector offer, is nothing less than the future itself. We should be proud of what we do, and I believe that Jo Grady can bring that freshness, collective identity and sense of pride into our Union. I believe that Jo Grady can revitalise the UCU, build a strong and engaged membership and facilitate us to be the powerful collective that we can and should be.

Endorsement: Alice Evans, King’s College London

Endorsement from Dr Alice Evans, King’s College London

For a long time, we were frustrated, yet despondent. We complained bitterly about neoliberal precarity, casualisation, and top-down metrics, but doubted change was possible, so sighed and went with the inevitable flow.

The 2018 industrial action changed all that. By striking together, in unity and solidarity, sharing photos of picket lines up and down the country, we realised our collective strength. And we won, we secured concessions. This emboldened our movement.

So the strikes were fundamentally a collective act of resistance.

Dr Jo Grady played a key rolebeing incredibly perceptive, analytical, articulate, and downright inspirational. She established USSbriefsto harness our collective expertise, counter disinformation, enabling us to realise we were right to resist, and thus legitimising our struggle for pensions. Thanks to comrades like her, more people came out. She strengthened our strike.

We all want a stronger, more effective union, which no longer meekly kowtows, but actually demands and expects better. Dr Jo Grady helped us realise that we were absolutely right to resist, and have the collective power to do so. She has my full support and gratitude.

Endorsement: Tom Bennett, City, University of London

Endorsement from Dr Tom Bennett, City, University of London

I’m not usually much enthused by union politics. But Jo Grady’s candidacy for UCU General Secretary has gotten me excited. She has the experience of teaching and researching to know exactly what issues face us and what we are struggling with. She has particular expertise in employment relations and the issues surrounding the pensions dispute that put her in a fantastic position to represent us in respect of those matters. And she proposes policies that fit coherently within the broader political framework. She gets the problems we face and has the imagination to envisage and articulate solutions. I’ve listened to her carefully and decidedin the light of all thisthat she speaks for me. She’s the General Secretary we need. Vote Jo Grady!

Endorsement: Matilda Fitzmaurice, Durham University

Endorsement from Ms Matilda Fitzmaurice, Durham University

In 2018, like many precarious and hourly-paid staff, I spent many hours freezing on the picket line with my securely employed colleagues to help them defend their USS pensions. So, like many other Graduate Teaching Assistants and ECRs, I was bitterly disappointed when the most recent strike ballot on HE pay and equality returned a below 50% turnout.

I am endorsing Dr Jo Grady as UCU General Secretary because the normalisation of precarious HE and FE employment has to stop. Spending years eking out a living on casual contracts post-PhD should not be normalised as an unavoidable ‘rite of passage’. The teaching, committee duties and other services we postgraduate researchers provide to universities, while significant, are often woefully underpaid. Precarious contracts and employment practices, which affect professional services staff as much as academic staff (if not more so), are making HE an intolerable sector to work in for so many colleagues, and making an academic or HE career achievable only for the most fortunate few. This is a gross injustice not only to those forced to leave the sector, but also in terms of the wasted research talent and the well-being of our students, who deserve to be taught by securely employed staff who can afford to plan ahead.

I am backing Jo because her manifesto recognises that insecure work marginalises colleagues who are already under-represented in HE; inequalities which are themselves exacerbated by the Hostile Environment. All postgraduate researchers and ECRs deserve to be able to consider a career in the sector to which we have dedicated so much of our time, money, skills, and care. We deserve a union that is prepared to fight for us.

All-Member Email 3

Below is the text of the third of four emails which I am entitled to send to all members of UCU as one of the candidates in the General Secretary election. It was sent on Sunday 12 May. To read the first and second emails, click here and here.

Dear colleague

In my last email I talked about campaigning for sector-wide agreements, starting with job security. Sector-wide agreements are vital. Without them, our employers keep undercutting each other, playing one part of each sector off against another in a race to the bottom.

I want UCU’s campaigns to be inclusive. Pay and pensions are not the only things we need to have fulfilling lives, and our demands to employers should reflect that. I also want those demands to be backed by real leverage, in the form of a plan for industrial action our members can get behind.

Inclusive campaigns, inclusive subscription rates

In Further and Higher Education, I will push for wide-ranging agreements that cover:

To mount inclusive campaigns, we need an inclusive union. That means reforming UCU’s regressive subscription rates. Currently, members earning £60,000 pay a lower proportion of their salary than those earning £20,000. The pace at which rates are being made fairer is glacial. But making membership affordable for those on lower pay is not enough, especially in the Further Education sector, where membership has plateaued. I have proposed elsewhere to consider rebuilding the union in that sector through special initiatives to make membership affordable for all FE staff, just as we’ve done for PhD students and sections of the FE workforce.

We need to redeploy our resources to encourage low-paid and casualised staff to join UCU and take action, and we need to do it sooner rather than later.

Effective industrial action

To make our workplaces fairer, we need to be able to take effective action. In the past, we have under-utilised the leverage at our disposal. For example, if we include our professional services colleagues in our demands, we can increase the pressure on our employers by withdrawing crucial administrative labour.

Members need to be confident that action will benefit, rather than hurt them. The available options, including strikes, have to be resourced and supported properly. That is why I propose to make the UCU strike fund transparent, easy to access, and less conservative in the support it provides.

UCU has accumulated large reserves without passing enough of them on to members who take action. I have heard from members who felt short-changed after suffering docked pay, applying to the Fighting Fund, and receiving less than they needed or expected. It does not have to be this way. We can do better, especially in Further Education, where members have faced massive pay cuts thanks to austerity, and sometimes have trouble taking action for more than a few days at a time.

Some trade unionists complain about the 50% turnout threshold imposed by Trade Union legislation. But while the law is in place, we can see it as an opportunity to organise and build support for new forms of collective action. When members take sustained action, we win. Winning is our best recruiting tool, and a larger membership galvanises all our campaigns. UCU should provide the resources to make this happen.

Accessible support for members

Some problems require personalised as well as collective solutions. I want UCU to develop versatile ways of addressing problems our members face every day. UCU has been spending more of your subscriptions on professional development courses which members struggle to find time to attend. I want to shift our focus to issues which our employers can’t or won’t deal with themselves, including:

We can use new technology and overhaul UCU’s online services to make these things easier than they are at present. Other unions are already doing it. So can we.

My campaign has revealed the appetite for change in UCU and started an unprecedented conversation about our future. Over 12,000 people have visited my website, and I’ve received endorsements from members across the union, from Prison Education to Higher Education.

My fourth and final email will say more about my long-term vision for UCU. Until then, please continue to contact me via emailTwitter, or Facebook, and subscribe to my mailing list. But above all, use your vote.

Dr Jo Grady

Endorsement: Grace Krause and Josh Robinson, Cardiff University

Endorsement from Ms Grace Krause and Dr Josh Robinson, Cardiff University

Grace Krause is a postgraduate student at Cardiff University, a research assistant on a fixed-term contract at University of Bath, and an anti-casualisation officer for Cardiff UCU. Josh Robinson is a senior lecturer in the School of English, Communications and Philosophy at Cardiff University, and the lead negotiator on the UCU committee at Cardiff. Here is their endorsement video for the #Grady4GS campaign! Thank you for your support, Grace and Josh!

You can see it on Twitter or on YouTube (below). The transcript is at the bottom.


JOSH ROBINSON: Grace and I’ve been working together over the last year or so, and negotiating improvements to the ways in which the university engages with postgraduate students carrying out teaching, and we’ve just had major success which is that management here has agreed to set up a working group to look at the status of postgraduate students who teach, and we’re very hopeful that this working group will move toward contracted employee status for those students who also teach, which will be a huge, huge improvement of conditions under which our postgraduate students carrying out teaching here. So quite excited about that.

GRACE KRAUSE: These negotiations built on about 4 years of organising that has happened here among postgraduate students. And through being involved in those activities, and through the wider anti-precarity work that is done here at Cardiff UCU, I’ve become very aware that a lot of the time, especially the most precariously employed workers here, have in the past not felt that Cardiff UCU represented them properly, and for some people that feeling still persists.

GRACE KRAUSE: And this among everything else is one of the reasons that I endorse Jo Grady for General Secretary of UCU, because her manifesto inspires proper hope among some of the most precariously employed workers at universities that things might change for the better. In particular, the high importance she gives to casualisation speaks to us, as does her proposal to have more progressive subscription rates which will benefit lower-paid employees and to establish a coordinating position for anti-casualisation work across the UK.

JOSH ROBINSON: This is really the first time in 12 years of UCU membership that I’ve been excited to vote for a General Secretary. I’m really excited by Jo’s manifesto, in particular because it sets out not just a wishlist of what education should look like, or you know some policy changes that we’d quite like a government to make, but she’s got a real vision that’s expressed in the manifesto that comes forward from the research and the activism that she’s been involved in. A real vision of how our union needs to change in order to build the power that we need to create the changes that we want.

Endorsement: Ghazal Vahidi, Steff Farley, Steven Parfitt, Thomas Swann

Endorsement from Ms Ghazal Vahidi, Steff Farley, Dr Steven Parfitt and Dr Thomas Swann, Loughborough University

From left to right: Ghazal Vahidi (doctoral researcher in Human Resource Management and Organisational Behaviour), Steff Farley (doctoral researcher in Mathematics), Steven Parfitt (Teaching Fellow in History), Thomas Swann (Early Career Fellow in Politics). All of us at Loughborough University.


Casualisation defines British universities and further education colleges today. As early career academics we all face the pressures and stresses caused by the low pay and insecurity that comes with casual work, and we all want to do something about it. Local branches are doing what they can to combat casualisation in their own workplaces, but we need a General Secretary who can more closely coordinate their work and make sure that all the good work they do is magnified and widely shared, not limited to isolated action at individual institutions. Jo has a proven commitment to playing that role. We believe she is the best candidate to make casualisation a central issue across UCU.


Equality is a crucial issue across HE and FE. Whether we consider equality in terms of the gender pay gap, a proper focus on the needs of BAME staff, or bringing LGBT+ issues to the fore, so much work remains to be done. As with campaigns against casualisation, the hard work of local branches needs more coordination and better support from the centre. Jo’s manifesto makes it clear that she puts equality in all forms at the heart of her vision for the union. We believe that as General Secretary, she can put that vision into action.

Not business as usual

Our union is changing. Since the 2018 USS strike, not to mention the other recent strikes and campaigns to defend staff across HE and FE, UCU is larger and stronger. These strike and campaigns energised a new layer of younger and not-so-younger activists who are eager to push back against decades of flatlining pay, casual labour and attacks on our pensions and jobs. Jo was in the forefront of these activists during the pensions dispute. She helped create USSbriefs, an invaluable source of information on the strike and on wider problems across HE and FE today.

Yet the dispute also raised concerns about the way our union is run. Jo is committed to implementing the recommendations of the Democracy Commission, which came out of those concerns, and to making sure that the hard work of activists and local branches is always reflected at a national level. We think that with Jo as General Secretary it will not be business as usualbecause it is business as usual that has meant worsening pay, conditions and pensions.

Endorsement: Helen Eborall and Rebecca Linnett, University of Leicester

Endorsement from Dr Helen Eborall and Ms Rebecca Linnett, University of Leicester

Helen is Lecturer in Social Science applied to Health, University of Leicester, and Equalities Officer for Leicester UCU. Becky (and her sidekick Reuben, aka @dogwithajob) is a PhD student in the Department of Health Sciences at the University of Leicester and a member of the Disability Staff Forum.

We are endorsing Jo Grady for General Secretary for so many reasons, but given our involvement in equalities work we particularly support her stance on this topic. It’s easy to talk about having a commitment to equality issues, but Jo has consistently demonstrated that she does, from regularly calling out discrimination on Twitter to her tireless campaigning within numerous branch positions.

Jo’s manifesto is a breath of fresh air for the future of Higher and Further Education. She is matter-of-fact and realistic about the current and future challenges to the sector, and as General Secretary of UCU will bring new ideas and approaches to the work ahead and to the ethos of the union. In particular, we welcome the more coordinated approach she proposes to fighting discriminationwhich will be a godsend to branch equality officersand her ideas around collective negotiation and bargaining with employers on issues relating to intersectional inequalities.

Jo Grady as General Secretary of UCU gives us hope for the future of HE and FE, and confidence that UCU canand willbe pivotal in transforming the sector for the good of us all.