Email sent to all members from Vicky Blake, 1 August 2019
I am writing to say thank you for having me!
Thank you for electing me as president of Leeds UCU for the past two years, and thank you for your incredible commitment, energy, ideas, skills, and dedication to making this university a better place to work, and a site of real community. It has been challenging, inspiring, and exciting to undertake this role, and such an enormous privilege to represent Leeds members. I have really valued the constructive honesty in feedback members have offered throughout my time in the role, and am so proud of how much we have achieved together as a branch. We have so much more to fight for still.
Please keep an eye out for announcements about a general meeting connected to the 2 hugely important UK-wide ballots we are running over USS pensions, and over the JNCHES pay and equality claim in September and October. A confirmed date for your diaries is 2 October, 1-2pm, when our new General Secretary Jo Grady is coming to speak to members (see [here]) and to meet with our anti-casualisation working group.
UCU was a lifeline for me when I joined as a casualised postgraduate in 2009. I was recruited by a fellow hourly-paid member at Durham, who had been fighting for secure contracts her whole working life. When I joined the committee at Leeds, it was as a casualised worker across two universities, and I was very nervous about what I would be able to contribute to a big branch at Leeds. The welcome and the support I received and continue to experience from Leeds members is something I hope every union member — and potential union member as we continue to recruit them! — is able to experience. This is what I am working hard to take forward in my role as UCU vice president. You will also not be able to get rid of me quite yet, as I will be Leeds UCU “Immediate Past President” alongside my UK officer role for the next year.
There are so many ways to be involved in our union, whether that’s by standing for election (noting that elections for our UK-wide equality standing committees are coming up in Autumn, and nominations for NEC seats will open around the same time!) or by being involved in working groups (of which Leeds has several great ones, and we’d love even more of you to be involved!), contributing ideas and insights at meetings or by email. Please get involved however you are able, and — special plea — don’t ever be put off by concerns about being “ready” if there is a role or a group you’d like to get involved with — or to start!
Today I pass the baton to Ben Plumpton who takes office as Leeds UCU’s new president, and I am certain she will do the most fantastic job. As our outgoing membership secretary, Ben has been the engine behind making sure we keep recruiting and looking after new members, and has played such a huge role in keeping everyone motivated and with their sights set firmly on how we will continue to grow and support each other. She is going to be an amazing president!
In solidarity (*humming*: forever!),