Vote Gareth Brown for UCU Vice-President!

Email sent by Dr Claire Marris (City, University of London), Friday 31 July 2020

Dear Colleague,

We are writing to urge you to vote for Gareth Brown in the elections for the next UCU Vice President that opened this week. This is a very important election and Gareth is in our opinion by far the best candidate for the job. He has a wealth of experience in activist movements outside of academia and has led successful negotiations with university leadership at his local branch at Leicester University. You can find out more about Gareth Brown and what he stands for here:

Please circulate this information to colleagues whom 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.

Information about the election, including the list of all the candidates and their election addresses, is on the UCU website here. Postal ballots were sent out on 28 July and the election will close on 15 September. The papers will normally be sent to your home address. If you don’t receive them you will be able to request a duplicate after 6 August 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. Vote #1 for Gareth – don’t use a cross!

Grady4GS: An update on the story so far

The election of Jo Grady as General Secretary in May 2019 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, 14 members who are broadly supportive of Jo Grady’s GS election manifesto stood for election to the National Executive Committee in 2020 and 8 of these were elected. All 8 are from the HE sector so they automatically also sit on the HEC. Thank you so much to those of you who voted and helped campaign for us! 

The election of these 8 candidates means that neither of the established factions (IBL and UCUL) have an outright majority on the NEC or HEC anymore. The new members only took their seats in June but we have already seen some shift in the dynamics of these committees. However, without a strong and competent Chair, these meetings will fail to represent members as well as they could. See here for one of our team’s first-hand accounts of his experiences of NEC and HEC meetings:

An important reason to support Gareth is that he will, along with these newly elected candidates, campaign for more transparency at the NEC so that members can see for themselves what their representatives are up to. See here for a report about NEC transparency produced by some of the new NEC candidates (there was not enough time for this to be discussed at the NEC meeting in June but it is on the agenda for the next meeting in October):

Why—you may ask—do UCU members elect a Vice-President (VP) each year, but never a President?

In fact, when you vote for a VP, you’re voting for the person who will become our union’s President. UCU has a 4-strong presidential team, including Vice-President, President-Elect, President, and Immediate Past President. Each person elected as VP subsequently moves through these roles. This election is slightly different as it’s a by-election caused by the tragic death of Nita Sanghera. Whoever is elected will become President in 2023–24, having spent two years as Vice-President and one as President-Elect, but there will be no final year as Immediate Past President. As President, the elected officer will chair UCU’s National Executive Committee (NEC) and its Congress, which is the supreme sovereign body of the union.

The presidential team between them undertake several crucial roles in the union. These include: taking part in negotiations with employers; chairing UCU’s committees and conferences; and briefing members on current issues. Whoever becomes Vice-President after this election will thus sit alongside our elected negotiators attempting to broker a better deal with employers in our present USS and ‘Four Fights’ disputes, and any future disputes.

The person who wins this election will immediately become the Chair of UCU’s Higher Education Committee (HEC), which decides strategy in industrial disputes for the HE sector, and of our union’s annual Higher Education Sector Conference (HESC), which has a sovereign role in agreeing policy. An HESC will take place in the autumn to decide on a plan of action following the results on the consultation ballot on the Four Fights dispute announced on 29 July, that was to reject the UCEA offer (61% reject on a 30% turnout).

Please share this information widely!

We need your help to publicise this VP election and encourage people to vote, because low election turnouts benefit the established factions. Voter turnout for UCU’s annual NEC and Officer elections has been between 9-13% in the past few years. For the GS election, your campaigning increased the turnout from 13.7% in 2017 to 20.5% in 2019! Social media played an important role, but what really made a difference 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, putting posters up, distributing leaflets, and wearing the Grady4GS badge. 

If each member of this email list can get 15 members to vote who would not have voted otherwise, this will make a huge difference. In these socially-distanced times, the most effective way to do this will probably be to forward this email to colleagues with a personal note. If you use social media, please share the message there too and let your followers know if you are endorsing Gareth (@Gareth_S_Brown on Twitter), using the hashtag #Gareth4VP. Photos of animals usually get a lot of traction so if you are able we suggest you post a photo of your pet with your completed ballot paper showing you voted Gareth number 1.

Let’s continue to build a better union together!

The Gareth4VP campaign team
(Jo Edge, Chris Grocott, David Harvie, Claire Marris, Leon Rocha)

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)

Just 48 hours left to elect Jo Grady!

This is an email sent to subscribers of the #Grady4GS mailing list on Sunday 19 May 2019 (some subscribers may have received this later). To subscribe to our GDPR-compliant list, please fill out your details here!

Dear Colleagues

48 hours of this campaign to go

We’re in the last, crucial 48 hours of getting ballots in the mail. This coming Friday, when the results are announced, we want to hear that Jo Grady is elected our union’s next General Secretary. If she wins, she will be the first UCU Gen Sec who has worked in tertiary education.

Round up those ballot papers

If previous Gen Sec elections are anything to go by, there are still many more unused ballot papers around than have been returned. We’re asking you today and tomorrow to contact your colleagues and friends who are UCU members. Check that they’ve voted. If they haven’t, tell them why Jo Grady should become the next Gen Sec.

Very last chance to order a replacement ballot

Order a replacement ballot here. That option closes, we understand, later this afternoon (ie this Sunday, 19 May).

Speed those ballot papers on their way

Say to colleagues you’ll post the ballot paper for them – and will add a first class stamp – on Monday morning. (If so, make sure you or they cross out the pre-paid envelope’s ‘2’ and the barcode with a pen.) Make sure ballot papers go directly in a Royal Mail post box – and are not left in an institution’s ‘out box’ or mail room.

Another future

#Grady4GS has inspired members up and down the country and across all parts of our sector. The endorsements list goes on and on – from the most precariously employed staff to those with senior jobs. If Grady wins, we can transform our union and make another future for tertiary education.

The polls close on Thursday 23 May at noon.

High Noon – for our campaign, and maybe for the future of tertiary education in the UK.

We’re relying on you. One more push.

The Grady4GS campaign team

All-Member Email 4

Below is the text of the fourth 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 will be sent on Sunday 19 May. To read the first, second, and third emails, click here, here, and here.

Dear colleague,

Further and Higher Education are part of a social context which we cannot ignore. Both sectors have been shaped in the last decade by a series of crises: from the financial crisis, to the human and macroeconomic crisis of austerity, to the ongoing crisis of Brexit. Governments have cut some costs, and shifted others to us and to our students.

Managers of universities and colleges have, at best, failed to protect us from politicians and the private sector. At worst, they have actively conspired to undermine public education. Universities and colleges could be part of the solution, but they are becoming part of the problem. It is up to us to turn things round.

You have a few days left to vote. The pre-paid envelopes in your ballot papers are Second Class, so you need to post them by Monday to be sure that they will arrive in time. Today is the last day you can order a First-Class replacement ballot.

The USS crisis: what we have learnt

Last year’s USS dispute showed how far managers’ priorities have diverged from our own. It brought out the worst in them. But it brought out the best in us. Our students supported us. We gained thousands of members. Our collective expertise and experience overturned more than a decade of conventional wisdom about the supposed decline of good, guaranteed pensions. We taught each other what is possible when we take collective action.

Building an open, democratic, proactive union

The fight for USS is not over. As I point out in my manifesto, we still need to secure our pensions for the longer term. But we also need to turn UCU into a union that can confront all the challenges I have mentioned above, and bring about sector-defining change.

We need a plan for Further Education. We can convert local action into a return to meaningful national bargaining, and rebuild the union’s FE membership in the same way we have for HE. But we also need plans to protect our international staff and students; combat climate change; repair the damage done by the Brexit Referendum; eradicate sexual harassment from our workplaces; and replace irresponsible and harmful metrics with meaningful standards for evaluating what we do.

There are no shortcuts. Nobody will do these things for us. I stood up from the ranks of university staff to stand for General Secretary because I know that we are the answer. We can turn UCU into a union that reflects the full diversity of our workforce and represents the very best of tertiary education.

We can reach out to casually employed staff; take action to support our colleagues in professional services; and advance the cause of equality in our annual bargaining.

We can make negotiations more transparent, so that our members can make informed decisions and hold their representatives to account.

We can form member ‘task groups’ to develop new campaigns, and convert our understanding of what is going wrong in each sector into meaningful action against it.

Use your vote, give me a mandate for change

My website now contains an extensive list of my responses to questions from members on a range of issues, and I continue to welcome your inquiries via email, Twitter, or Facebook.

For all our efforts over the past decade, UCU has struggled to find a way forward. This election gives us an unprecedented opportunity to do so.

If I win this election, I will have the honour of being the first General Secretary to come from the membership. I hope to see a record turnout, and a strong mandate for change.

Dr Jo Grady

Image from Scott Hurrell

Find 10 UCU members who haven’t yet voted!

This is an email sent to subscribers of the #Grady4GS mailing list on Thursday 16 May 2019 (some subscribers may have received this later). To subscribe to our GDPR-compliant list, please fill out your details here!

We need your help if we are to pull off a Grady4GS victory

We could be on the point of pulling off an historic Grady4GS win in the Gen Sec ballot. Grady is the underdog in this election – up against the incumbent in UCU head office and a substantial political machine. Even as there is huge enthusiasm for Grady and for her campaign across the sector and the country, our biggest opponent is apathy. Last time under 14% of members voted. We can beat this – if we all pull together.

Find 10 UCU members who have not yet voted

If each of you on this subscriber list persuades 10 more UCU members to vote, we could secure thousands more votes for Grady. In the last Gen Sec election, only 8000 votes were cast for the winning candidate (Sally Hunt).

Ballots need to be in the mail by next Monday (20 May)

You might need to remind people several times to put their ballot in the mail. People can add a first-class stamp if posting on or after Monday to ensure it is received by the deadline (23 May). Help people to order replacement ballots – preferably delivered to their home address. (The very last day to order is Sunday 19 May). All election FAQs are here.

Don’t be deceived by Twitter coverage

Grady4GS is everywhere on Twitter, but most UCU members are not on Twitter. The campaign team has come across multiple instances in which UCU members still know little to nothing about any of the candidates. Don’t just use Twitter: use other media and face-to-face discussion. Bcc’ing your colleagues in your department, as well as in your discipline and/or domain of expertise, is particularly effective.

Campaigning materials

Everything that you might need is gathered at, including our template email that you can adapt yourself when emailing colleagues.

We truly believe this election is crucial – not just for the future of our union, but for the future of Further and Higher Education in this country.

Vote #Grady4GS – and get at least 10 others to vote #Grady4GS too!

The Grady4GS campaign team

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

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

Jo Grady for UCU General Secretary—Let’s spread the word!

This is an email sent to subscribers of the #Grady4GS mailing list on Friday 3 May 2019 (some subscribers may have received this later). To subscribe to our GDPR-compliant list, please fill out your details here!

On Thursday 23 May 2019, the General Secretary (GS) ballot will have closed (see our FAQs). That isn’t much time for all those supporting Jo Grady get their ballot papers into the mailbox with her listed #1. We really need your help.

Members who are engaged with UCU will probably vote quickly and have probably already decided who to vote for. Our Grady4GS campaign is also focusing on increasing the vote among UCU members who wouldn’t usually vote in a GS election. We estimate that a high percentage of UCU members still don’t know the election is going on and how important it is, despite the all-member emails they should have received this week.

So to ‘get the vote out’ we need to ‘get the word out’!

Here’s what you can do:

Joinor carry on working ina ground team: Huge thanks to many of you who are already part of a ground team at your institution. It’s been fantastic to see Grady4GS initiatives sprouting all over the country. We’d love more of you to help. Email Claire Marris: she’ll put you in touch with others getting the vote out for Grady at your institution, or help you to get your institution off the ground. (The #Grady4GS campaign team will be sharing basic contact details with Claire Marris to coordinate the ground game.)

Carry on talking to and emailing colleagues: Putting up posters and distributing postcards is very important, but it’s also crucial to speak to people face to face and email them (see our template here). Most members don’t know the election is happening and/or how important it is to cast their vote. Do not assume that an expression of support for Grady automatically turns into a vote for Grady. Remind all colleagues to post their ballot.

Help other members receive GS emails, and change their membership info: We’ve encountered lots of members who haven’t been receiving the candidate emails that are supposed to go to the entire membership. We can’t even be sure that our so-called ‘all-member emails’ are actually reaching all of UCU’s members. We can’t take members’ awareness for granted.

Some UCU members (e.g. PhD students who are paid for teaching) might need to change their membership category to receive ballot papers.

For a full set of solutions to these issues, see our ‘Election FAQs’.

Read and share new blogs and other writing from Jo Grady: In the last day, Jo has published blog posts on Academic-Related and Professional Services staff, university finances, climate change, and Brexit. She has also now published the text of her second all-member email, which focuses on casualisation and is scheduled to go out to the membership on Sunday morning.

Attend hustings: The timetable of remaining hustings is here. You can watch the recording of the one held at the University of Cambridge, which went very well and showcased Jo’s unique strengths as a candidate.

Use – and encourage others to use – #Grady4GS campaigning materials: All resources are gathered here. In particular:

You can download the I voted for Jo Grady! animated graphic and post on Twitter or Facebook.

You can print out posters in black and white and photocopy on coloured paper.

Subscriber list: Ask people to join our subscriber list. This is the only GDPR-compliant way we have to contact people.

Crowd funder: Printing and posting out campaign materials to ground teams is expensive. We have raised an amazing £2,911 so far: please help us reach our £3,000 target to cover these costs.

We can get Jo Grady elected as the next Gen Sec and transform our union. We’re counting on you!

Jo Grady and the #Grady4GS Team

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