Why we need your help in the UCU NEC 2020 Election

Email sent by Dr Claire Marris (City, University of London), Monday 3 February

Dear Colleague,

I am writing on behalf of the Grady4GS campaign team to urge you to become involved in campaigning for the forthcoming elections for UCU’s National Executive Committee (NEC), that opened on 31 January and will close on 4 March. The NEC is one of the most important decision-making bodies in the union and its members are elected by UCU members, yet turnout in the NEC election is notoriously low. We need your help to publicise the election, explain why it is vital to vote, and support candidates who have a vision that goes beyond the polarised factions that currently dominate the NEC (see list below).

Grady4GS: The story so far

The election of Jo Grady as General Secretary energised many UCU members and shifted their expectations of how the union could be run in ways that represented them better. In the wake of that election, it is heartening to see that an unprecedented number of candidates are standing for election to the NEC in 2020. We hope you will help campaign for 15 of these candidates, who are broadly supportive of Jo Grady’s GS election manifesto.

Publicising the election

We also want your help to publicise this NEC election widely and encourage people to vote, because low election turnouts benefit the established factions. In the 2019 NEC election, turnout was 14% for national seats, 16% for HE seats, and 8% for FE seats. For the GS election, your campaigning increased the turnout from 13.7% in 2017 to 20.5% in 2019. We now need to do the same for this NEC election. Social media will again play an important role, but what made the difference in the GS election was the actions of hundreds of members like you all around the nation speaking to colleagues about the importance of voting and what is at stake for our union. If each member of this list can get 15 members to vote who have not voted before in NEC elections, this will make a huge difference.

What is the NEC, and why is it important?

The NEC includes representatives from Higher Education and Further Education, some of whom are elected regionally, some on a UK-wide basis, plus equality seats, the presidential team, and other officers of the union. The NEC is composed of about 60 members. Members serve a term of two years, and elections take place every year for half the seats. The current list of members is here.

The NEC is responsible for conducting the union’s business between Congress meetings. There are sub-committees for HE (HEC) and FE (FEC). At this point in time, the HEC is particularly important because it is the body making decisions about the conduct of the current USS and Four Fights industrial disputes.

There is further information about the NEC and other UCU structures in these two USSbriefs:

UCU’s national democratic structures: a case for reform #USSbriefs23 by Rachel Cohen

What are UCU’s National Executive Committee (NEC) and Higher Education Committee (HEC)? #USSbriefs74 by Kirsten Forkert and Nick Hardy

As explained in these USSbriefs, there are two organised groups in UCU, UCU Left and the Independent Broad Left (IBL, a.k.a. “Independent Progressive Left”), and “what tends to happen is that most NEC/HEC seats are filled by self-identifying members of the two organised factions inside UCU” (#USSbriefs74). UCU Left currently hold a majority of the seats on the HEC.

The 2020 NEC election

The ballot period is 31 January-4 March. It is a postal vote. UCU has posted information about the election, including the list of all the candidates and their election addresses here.

This election uses a single transferable voting system. You should rank candidates in order of preference and you can vote for as many candidates as you wish. If there are candidates who you do not want elected, you should not list them at all. None of your votes are wasted. If your first-ranked candidate already has enough votes to win, or has no chance of winning, your vote is transferred to your second-ranked choice.

In some instances, the same candidate is standing for more than one seat. You can vote for these candidates several times (once for each seat they are standing for) and, again, no vote is wasted: if they are elected to one seat, your vote for them in the other seat will automatically be reallocated to your next-ranked candidate.

For the Regional Seats, your ballot papers will only list the candidates for your own region.

Candidates with a new vision for the HEC

We are circulating a list of 15 candidates (below) who we recommend you vote and campaign for if you supported the Grady4GS manifesto. Each of these candidates is standing on their own merits, with their own political convictions, and they will not be expected to toe any particular ‘party line’ if they are elected. They come from the grassroots and have experienced the sharp end of HE marketisation. Several are in precarious contracts. These are people who can bring forth a new vision for a revitalised union.

Please circulate this information to colleagues that you believe want to see Jo Grady’s General Secretary election manifesto realised. Feel free to forward this email or adapt it for your own use. It has also been posted on the Grady4GS website here.

Let’s do this (again)!


* * *

North East Region HE (3 seats to be filled)

Ms Matilda Fitzmaurice (Durham)
Professor Ruth Holliday (Leeds)
Dr Edward Yates (Sheffield)

London and the East HE (4 seats to be filled)

Dr Annie Goh (UAL Central St Martin’s)
Dr Claire Marris (City)
Dr Stan Papoulias (KCL)

Midlands HE (casual vacancy, 1 seat to be filled)

Dr David Harvie (Leicester)

UK-Elected Members HE (5 seats to be filled; to include at least one post-92, and one academic related)

Ms Sarah King (IDS/Sussex, academic related)
Dr Chris O’Donnell (UWS), post-92)
Dr Mark Pendleton (Sheffield)
Dr Leon Rocha (Lincoln, post-92)
Dr Chloé Vitry (Lancaster)

UK-Elected Members HE (casual vacancy, 1 seat to be filled)

Dr Mark Pendleton (Sheffield)
Dr Chloé Vitry (Lancaster)

Representatives of Women Members (3 seats to be filled)

Dr Joanne Edge (Manchester)
Professor Madhu Krishnan (Bristol)