Boycott Leicester

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Bruce E. Baker (Newcastle University)

Election address

I am standing for the North East HE seat on National Executive Committee.  I am a Reader in American History at Newcastle University, with expertise in labour history in the American South.

I joined UCU as soon as I moved to the United Kingdom from the United States in 2004 and have held a number of posts at branch and national level:

Royal Holloway UCU

  • membership secretary, 2007-2010
  • president, 2010
  • committee, 2010-2013

Newcastle University UCU

  • vice-president, 2015-2017
  • president, 2017-2019

UCU (national)

  • National Dispute Committee co-chair
  • National Executive Committee, North East HE (Education Committee; ROC Committee), Mar. 2019

I am a member of UCU Left because I generally agree with their positions on strategy and tactics in industrial relations and the best way to build a union that serves its members.  I try to publish my voting record periodically to members, so they can see the positions I have taken.

To me, a union is only as good as its capacity to stand up and fight for its members, and I have considerable experience in mobilising members successfully in local and national disputes.  While I was president of the Royal Holloway branch, management announced a plan to close four departments and make two dozen academic staff redundant.  We fought that off with no closures and no job losses.  As vice president at Newcastle in 2015-2016, I led the efforts to oppose the research performance management regime known as "Raising the Bar".  Management's plans, with minimum grant capture, publication, and PGR supervision targets would have threatened the employment of all academics, and the dispute was labelled a local dispute of national significance.  Two days into a marking boycott, management folded completely.  I was also branch president at Newcastle during the 2018 USS strike.  In all these cases, we relied on old-fashioned tactics and hard work: lots of meetings, going around offices to talk to members, meetings with students, and always challenging management when we know we have the strength of the members behind us. 

While I have been finding my feet on NEC in the past few months, I have consistently pushed for a strong line on the USS dispute in my role as co-chair of the National Dispute Committee.  I also want to strengthen structures, such as the National Dispute Committee, that facilitate the communication of members with the central structures of the union.  We also need more to build equality into our universities and our union, with more emphasis on pay gaps and taking strong action against discrimination by employers.


Last updated: 30 January 2020