All-Member Email 2

Below is the text of the second 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 is scheduled to be sent on Sunday 5 May. To read the first email, click here.

Dear Colleague,

If I am elected General Secretary, my first priority will be to achieve a binding national agreement on job security in Higher Education. As staff in HE, we know intuitively why job security matters. A steady income and guarantee of long-term employment frees us to develop our skills and focus on our work and our students. The high level of job security we used to enjoy in UK universities was what made them, pound-for-pound, the best in the world. But that security will soon be a thing of the past. Even our wealthiest and most prestigious institutions have been building their business models on casual labour.

Precarity is not a transitional state or a rite of passage. Well over 50% of university staff are now on casual contracts. Under UCU’s watch, our profession has become a casualised one. Life is qualitatively different for precarious workers today, at a time when house prices have skyrocketed and even permanently employed staff, including me, are forced to rent. We cannot forget that we are currently training the first generation of PhD students and Post-Graduate Teaching Assistants who are already laden with the debt arising from £9000 tuition fees.

This is a national problem and it needs national solutions, but UCU has not been taking the issue seriously enough on a national level. As I have said in my manifesto, our casualised members cannot be blamed for doubting whether they really are a priority for the union. The formal anti-casualisation demands which UCU makes in its annual negotiations with employers are limited and uninspiring. They contain no special provisions for women, BME, and academic-related/professional services staff, who suffer disproportionately from job insecurity. Worse still, the union has given up hope of achieving them. But I have not. Other tertiary education unions (for instance, in the Netherlands) have won national agreements on job security. So can we.

The first thing we need to do is formulate strong, credible demands which will inspire our members and promise immediate improvements to their conditions. No more waiting for employers to give us vague expressions of commitment, ‘strategies’, ‘timescales’, ‘reviews’ or ‘action plans’ to reduce casual labour: it’s time to demand that employers reduce casual labour. My manifesto promises to create a new post for a national branch coordinator who will help to convert our branches’ local efforts into the meaningful national claims we need.

The same principles apply to equality. At present, UCU asks for little and expects even less of employers in this area. This year, the union is not even asking employers for a national agreement on paid parental leave. Again, I have called for branches to have a coordinated input into our national claims.

At the same time, we need to give a real voice to those affected by casualisation and inequality, by empowering UCU’s national equalities committees and the committees for casualised and academic-related/professional services members. At present, these bodies have limited access to data about the members they are supposed to represent, and they are denied opportunities to communicate directly with them. I will allow these committees to talk regularly to their constituencies. You won’t just hear from your General Secretary: UCU will become an open, vibrant democracy where a range of voices can be heard.

It’s time for UCU to develop a serious agenda for dealing with casualisation now. It’s time for UCU to communicate openly about that agenda with the whole membership. If you vote for me, you will only be asked to take industrial action for something that matters, and you will be able to make an informed decision about it.

Finally, and most importantly, you will be able to take action as a casualised member without making overwhelming financial sacrifices. In my next email, I will talk more about my proposals to build the union around casualised members, through comprehensive subscription reform and a dramatic overhaul of the UCU strike fund.

In the meantime, please email me, visit my website, and come to one of the hustings events. For a list of important FAQs about the election, click here. Thousands of people visited my website on the first day of this ballot, and my campaign video has been viewed 45000 times. Please get involved, vote, and help me build the union we deserve.

Dr Jo Grady

We have 3 weeks to get Jo Grady elected as UCU Gen Sec!

This is an email sent to subscribers of the #Grady4GS mailing list on Sunday 28 April 2019 (some subscribers may have received this later). To subscribe to our GDPR-compliant list, please fill out your details here!

Thanks so much for your support for and interest in the Jo Grady Gen Sec campaign. The UCU General Secretary ballot opened on Monday 29 April and is open for just 24 daysuntil 23 May 2019. All the evidence suggests that if people are going to vote, they tend to do so within the first week or ten days of the ballot. So your efforts in this first week will be particularly appreciated and particularly effective.

We really need your help to Get Out the Vote. There is so much support for Jo, but now we need to convert it into actual votes. We need you to do the following:

Talk to and/or email at least 10 colleagues who are UCU members. Most people know little or nothing about the UCU election. Only 14% voted last time. Give them #Grady4GS materials – and point people particularly to Jo’s manifesto. If you are able, print out a few pdfs and hand them out.

Other things you can do:

Spread the word on social media. Tweet your endorsements using #Grady4GS. Invite your friends to like the #Grady4GS Facebook page

Share Jo’s blogs. For example, see the one on “Time’s up academia”, and on combating the “hostile environment”.

Go to hustings. They start tomorrow (29 April 2019). The next is in Cambridge on Wednesday 1st May  (Friends Meeting House (6-7.30pm).

Join one of the “ground teams” coordinating “Get Out the Vote” in your own institution. Whether you have 15 minutes or a couple of hours, we really need your help. Email Claire Marris for information, and to be put in touch with other supporters.

Write a 100-200 word endorsement to convey to others why you’re voting for Grady. Email it to us directly.

Email professional and/or discipline-specific lists where appropriate.

Be on the look-out for the first UCU all-member email from Jo Grady which arrived via email on Monday 29 April 2019. You could also read it here!

Get other people to sign up to our email list.

We cannot emphasise enough the need to speak to as many of your colleagues as you can. Our priority is to increase the turnout for this election. Only 14% voted last time. Don’t assume people are aware of the election—let alone currently know that much about any of the candidates or their positions. Explain why you’re on board with #Grady4GS, and ask them if they will vote—and help campaign where you work or via email.

We can do this – but we’ve only got just over three weeks. We’re counting on you!

Jo Grady and the #Grady4GS Team

All-Member Email 1

Below is the text of the first 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 is scheduled to be sent on Monday 29 April. It is identical to the email which will appear in members’ inboxes, except that full-text links to websites have been replaced with embedded ones.

Dear colleague,

My name is Jo Grady and I’m running to be UCU General Secretary. This election is a historic opportunity to transform UCU into a force for positive change in education, and I am the candidate to do this. You can find my election address here, and my manifesto here. But before I discuss my platform, I want to explain why this election matters.

The General Secretary is an important figure in the union. They are the only officer who is elected by members and works for the union full-time. They shape the union’s strategy by implementing policies passed by UCU Congress. But to me, the role is more than that. I don’t want to be a name you only recognise from emails. You’ll see from my manifesto that I want to establish regular ways to meet and listen to members.

Turnout is usually low in GS elections. We need to ensure that’s not the case this time. Voting is probably the most important thing you can do as a UCU member in the next five years. This is a crucial moment for our union, with the sector under a lot of pressure. You have a rare opportunity to vote for someone who works in the sector, understands what that pressure is like, and is an industrial relations expert.

If elected, I will be UCU’s first General Secretary with first-hand experience both of the world of trade unions and of the tertiary education sector. I am a Senior Lecturer in Employment Relations at the University of Sheffield, where I teach and research pensions; employment regulation; trade union organising and industrial action; and causes of labour market inequalities. In UCU, I have served for years as a branch rep and committee member. On a national level, I have served on the USS National Dispute Committee, and was recently elected to the National Executive Committee. I have over a decade of experience of UCU, of trade unions in general, and, most importantly, of what it is like to work in teaching, research, and administration in this sector.

Since I announced my candidacy I’ve had messages of support from across the UCU membership. I was nominated by hundreds of ordinary members like you. As an independent candidate not supported by any faction, my expenses are funded by individual donations. In my previous two elections to national posts, I stood as the only non-aligned candidate and was elected above other candidates with widespread support.

I want to open up spaces for all members, not just activists, to participate in and shape the unionhowever much or how little of their time they are able to commit to it. I am particularly keen to find ways to increase membership and participation among FE members, low paid, migrant, BME and disabled staff, and those without secure employment. My manifesto shows how we can do this, from comprehensive reform of UCU’s subscription rates, to the creation of special ‘task groups’ that make the most of members’ expertise and experience.

I am determined to rebuild the union so that we can launch effective campaigns on the issues that shape the day-to-day experience of staff in Higher and Further Educationnot just press releases, reports, and web pages. These issues include the fight against the Hostile Environment and Brexit-related immigration controls; the imposition of irresponsible metrics such as the TEF; and the lack of job security for staff in all sectors.

I’ll be sending more emails during the ballot period, sharing my ideas about how to do this. If you have questions, email me at, contact me via Twitter or Facebook, or subscribe to my mailing list. But the most important thing you can do in this election is vote.

The ballot runs from 29 April to 23 May. You will receive your ballot papers by post and you need to return them by post: you cannot vote online. Because there are three candidates running, rather than two (as in the last two GS elections), the ballot will operate on a Single Transferable Vote basis: you can indicate an order of preference, rather than picking one candidate.

A career in education is more than just a job, and education is not a commodity. Use your vote in this election so we can become a union that shapes policy, rather than reacting to it, and fights for public education. Vote for me.

Dr Jo Grady

Please help Jo Grady be elected as the next UCU General Secretary!

This is an email sent to subscribers of the #Grady4GS mailing list on Wednesday 24 April 2019. To subscribe to our GDPR-compliant list, please fill out your details here!

Whether you have 5 minutes or 5 hours to spare, we need your help. The General Secretary (GS) ballot opens on 29 April 2019. This is a crucial election for the future of UCU.

What you can do right now:

1. Encourage sign-ups to the #Grady4GS mailing list: That list is our sole GDPR-compliant means of communicating with people—and our best means of reaching people beyond social media. We can’t contact people about the campaign if they don’t provide their explicit consent.

2. Speak face to face with colleagues to ‘get the vote out’ (GTVO): This is the most important thing that you can do. Our biggest challenge is that large numbers of UCU members are disengaged from their union and currently have little or no knowledge about this election. Turnout for the last GS election in 2017 was under 14%! We want turnout to be a lot higher this time. This conversation does not have to be about ‘vote for Grady’: the aim is to raise awareness of the election and get people to use their vote. We are confident that if members know about the election, and read materials from the three candidates, they will want to vote for Jo Grady.

3. Email colleagues about the election: Emails to colleagues and friends are very effective in reaching beyond social media. We have produced a template that you can adapt for this purpose.

4. Twitter: Jo Grady’s campaign has received extensive and positive coverage on Twitter. Follow her at @DrJoGrady. Re-tweet and/or like her tweets and tweet your own supportive messages under #Grady4GS. You can add a ‘Twibbon’ to your Twitter or Facebook avatar by using this app (an image of Grady’s campaign badge will then appear in your profile picture).

5. Facebook: You can like the campaign site, encourage others to visit the site, and share contents with your Facebook friends.

6. Put up a few posters: If you can, download and print a poster, and put it on your door. You can also put up a few posters in public approved spaces around your department/building. There are a choice of colours, as well as black-and-white.

7. Attend your local GS election hustings: The hustings events are available here. If there is one near you, try to attend and show your support for Jo Grady!

8. Attend your local UCU branch meetings: Demonstrate your support for Jo Grady. If your Branch is sympathetic to—or able to endorse—Jo Grady, you might be able to enrol their help with putting up posters, handing out postcards and generally spreading the word, including through the branch email list.

What you can do with the help of the #Grady4GS Campaign Team:

The person to email in relation to all items in this section is Claire Marris. Remember to include your postal address where necessary!

9. Wear a #Grady4GS badge: We can send you a pack of 6 beautiful badges (one for you and the rest to share with supportive colleagues) to help raise awareness and prompt conversations with colleagues.

10. Put up lots of posters: We need people on campuses all around the country to put up posters. We can post you a batch.

11. Distribute postcards: We can provide you with A6 postcards, to be posted in pigeonholes, left in common areas, or handed out.

12. Be part of a team of local supporters: There are likely to be a few people at your institution who are, or could become, actively supportive of Grady. We might be able to put you in touch with each other.

What to do if you want to join the #Grady4GS Campaign Team:

Please email us if you want to be in the thick of campaigning for Grady!

Finally, thank you so much again for your support. Let’s fight for change!

All the best
The #Grady4GS campaigning team

Email your colleagues about the UCU General Secretary election!

Template email to send to your friends and colleagues about the UCU General Secretary Election 2019

Adapt as necessary to make it more personal!

* * *

Dear [X; if you are sending to multiple people, put the addressees in bcc]

If you are a UCU member, you are able to vote for our next General Secretary (GS).

Ballots will be posted out on 29 April and voting ends on 23 May: the only way to vote is to post back your ballot. This is the most important position in our trade union and we are lucky to be given a chance to vote for it. Turnout has been very low in previous GS elections: we need to do better!

There are three candidates (in alphabetical surname order): Jo Grady, Jo McNeill, and Matt Waddup.

I am writing to urge you to vote for Jo Grady. I am supporting Jo Grady because [add your own reason(s)].

You can:
– read Jo’s manifesto and explore her website:
– watch her campaign video:
– keep up to date with her campaign by joining her mailing list:

The UCU GS election system is a Single Transferable Vote (STV) election system. Voters put their favourite as number 1 and, if they wish to, put their second favourite as number 2. After the first round of counting, the candidate with the smallest number of first-preference votes will be eliminated, and the second-preference votes of the eliminated candidate will be ‘transferred’ to the two remaining candidates.

Please use your voteand encourage your colleagues to do so too! Turn out for the last GS election in 2017 was only 14%.

[closing words]

* * *