Starting to Analyse UCU NEC Minutes

I’m running for the UCU National Execuative Committe (NEC) for Higher Education.

I, and many of my union friends in the Dept of Computer Science of the University of Manchester, were surprised, confused, and distresed by the round of strikes in 2020 (second round in 2019-2020). They blindsided us.

We (mostly) showed up because of some residual trust we had in UCU. But then came the levy, which broke me a bit. It made no sense and seemed to be a governance problem. And I couldn’t figure out how and why these things were decided and how my voice, as a member, would be able to influence these decisions.

In addition to running, I’m trying to tease out what’s going on from public records. It’s hard! I have not yet found a page listing the minutes (and people tell me that the minutes strongly undercapture what happens, even in terms of motions). I did find some recent minutes via the search box:

These were all I could find last week. They aren’t super recent (March and May 2020). They aren’t from the critical to my biggest interests period. (One problem is that there are lots of minutes for many different things—congresses, committes, etc. and “NEC” doesn’t filter hard. Alas, I forgot my earlier magic search string.)

In any case, these are recent, and I expect fairly typical.

FIRST BIG THING UCU!!! Can we please have a well organsied subsite that lists all the meetings and their minutes in a nice browseable and appropriately searchable way?
SECOND BIG THING UCU!!! This seems to be a long time to have no even draft minutes.

I did a preliminary extraction of the motion and votes from these two minutes and put them in a Google Spreadsheet:

My structure is rather coarse grained and motions get complex quickly. E.g., a motion might have successful and unsuccessful amendements. It may or may not be seconded. We might not know who the second is. Most of these votes have some sort of consensus but here’s the set of passing statuses:

  • AGREED 53-0 with 1 abstention
  • AGREED nem con.

(The plain “AGREED” perplexes me!)

Let’s consider a motion from Mark Pendelton:

Defending Trans Members and Students
NEC notes:
The government’s announcement of three principles guiding responses to Gender Recognition Act reform – ‘protecting’ single sex spaces; making sure that transgender adults can live lives without fear of persecution; and ‘protecting’ young people from ‘irreversible’ decisions
This union’s longstanding commitment to inclusion, and the extension of trans and nonbinary people’s rights, including revision of the GRA
NEC believes:
That these principles are based on factual inaccuracies and place trans people’s health and wellbeing at risk, particularly young people
That they also pose grave risks to Gillick competence, which allows young people some capacity to consent to medical treatment, including abortion and contraception
NEC resolves:
To publicly oppose further delay to GRA reform;
To publicly condemn the attempted erosion of the rights of children and young people; To provide branches with updated guidance on how to support trans and nonbinary members and students and campaign against these proposals.

I’m not sure the difference between noting and believing, but ok. The resolutions sound like the are actionable…but I’m confused as to who performs them and how they are tracked. It’s hard to see how I, a member, will know whether this motion resulted in any specific action by the union, much less whether than action was effective. I like Mark. I like the motion (a lot!). I agree strongly with the motion. But I don’t know if it was an effective motion.

Now, not all motions need to be “effective”. Sometimes we don’t win. Sometimes we take a symbolic stand. Sometimes we need to show our values and communicate with those we share them with, including our members.

Still, it’d be nice to know what the NEC things should happen in order to understand what sorts of motions we push going forward.

Anyhoo, this was far too much work to find out a set of motions and the information about them doesn’t seem remotely complete. Most people won’t make the effort (I never have!).

Esp when we come to elections, it’d be great to have easy access to candiate track records and clear fodder for competing candiate to discuss. If a candidate wouldn’t support some motion, that’s might be a reason to vote for or against them!

Tracing things through the complex union structure is daunting, but I think some structuring and simple linking could help a lot.

1 thought on “Starting to Analyse UCU NEC Minutes

  1. Pingback: Why I’m Running for the UCU NEC | Mitigated Frenzy

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