Welcome to the National Writers Union

The National Writers Union UAW Local 1981 is the only labor union that represents freelance writers.

Now, more than ever, with the consolidation of power into the hands of ever-larger corporate entities and with the advent of technologies that facilitate the exploitation of a writer’s work, writers need an organization with the clout and know-how to protect our interests. One that will forge new rules for a new era.

Combining the strength of more than 1,200 members in our 13 chapters with the support of the United Automobile Workers, the NWU works to advance the economic and working conditions of all writers.  Our members also directly benefit from the many valuable services the Union offers—including grievance assistance, contract advice, and much more—while actively contributing to a growing movement of professional freelancers who have banded together to assert their collective power.

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Special Announcements

12/20/2011 - 2:02pm

National Writers Union Joins NY Press Club Coalition for the First Amendment

We have joined a dozen other NY press organizations in a coalition to monitor NYPD/Press Relations stemming from the arrests and mistreatment of journalists covering Occupy Wall Street. For more information about the New York Press Club Coalition for the First Amendment click here.

 

 

National Writers Union Urges Children's Book Authors to Honor Hyatt Boycott

The National Writers Union has been asked by UNITEHERE! Local 11 President Tom Walsh to help encourage children’s book writers and illustrators to honor the union’s boycotts at Hyatt hotels.  In particular, we urge the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators (SCBWI) to move their 2012 Summer Conference, scheduled for August 6-8, out of the Hyatt Regency Century Plaza in Los Angeles.

Workers at the Hyatt Regency Century Plaza have called for a boycott of all business since August 2010 for a safe and fair contract.  They join workers at 16 other Hyatt hotels throughout North America in demanding that Hyatt change its safety record and allow workers to take on the company’s practices, wherever it is abusing workers.  SCBWI continues to plan its conference in the Hyatt, in the face of repeated outreach to their board and staff.  The Hyatt boycotts have been endorsed by the Executive Council of the AFL-CIO, the LA County Federation of Labor, and Writers Guild of America-West (WGA-West).

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12/16/2011 - 10:10am

National Writers Union “Pay the Writer” Campaign Backing Freelancers Bid to Get Paid


FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE — About 60 writers and other editorial contributors are owed more than $200,000 for their published work in Heart & Soul magazine, the only national magazine focused primarily on black women’s health issues. A group representing the writers has conferred with attorneys about a possible lawsuit.
 
Its representatives are also meeting week with leaders of the National Writers Union/UAW Local 1981. NWU represented 30 out of 60 freelancers who were bilked out of $360,000 in 2009 by a New York City publisher and recently won a judgment for the full amount owed. The union is also suing Natural Solutions in Minneapolis on behalf of 13 unpaid freelancers.
 
Heart & Soul is in the process of being sold and current owner, Edwin Avent, plans on spending $10 million setting up his “Soul of the South” TV network, which launches in 2012, targeting African Americans in 50 cities, according to the Hollywood Reporter. (Yet, as of today, he has not told the writers, photographers and other editorial contributors when they will be paid.
 

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12/07/2011 - 12:59pm

1981

The “Why a Union?” workshop at the Nation Institute’s Writers’ Congress draws an overflow crowd. The plenary of 3,000 writers endorses the proposal to create a union for writers in all genres to actively press for better pay and treatment and to vigorously oppose Reagan-era threats to free expression. "We need no more heroic individual writers," said keynote speaker Toni Morrison. She called for "an accessible organization that is truly representative of the diverse interests of all writers."

Barbara Raskin is elected head of an organizing committee and writers return home to organize chapters, starting with the San Francisco/Bay Area, New Jersey, New York, Washington DC, Baltimore/Maryland, North Carolina, Oklahoma, and Westchester/Fairfield, followed by  Boston, Santa Cruz/Monterey,  Chicago, Los Angeles,  Twin Cities,  Northwest (Seattle/Oregon),  Western MA, and more recently At Large, Tucson, Philadelphia,  Seattle and Vermont.

The Washington DC local spearheads the first NWU agreement with Black Film Review on freelance terms. An agreement with Musician magazine soon follows.
 

1982

Under direction of journalist John Dinges, the NWU writes a national constitution that focuses on decentralized democracy.


1983

The National Writers Union is officially chartered. Members ratify a national constitution that  insures that chapters around the country have autonomy in local affairs. District 65/UAW provides free office space.

One of the NWU's first campaigns is to support poet Dennis Brutus when the U.S. Immigration Service threatens to deport him back to South Africa where he would face certain persecution. NWU members write letters and work vigorously to win him asylum, which he is granted.

NWU and Mother Jones make agreements on minimum standards for freelance contributors. Pacific Guest Life agrees to similar terms.

New York Chapter forms a softball team that plays against a combined Nation, Nuclear Times and Village Voice team. Two years later, the union’s ”Mighty WU” team has a winning season and competes in the publishers’ softball league.

 

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11/03/2011 - 1:23pm

Brussels,   November 3, 2011

 

Dear IFJ Members,

We are writing to inform you that the International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) is taking part in the International Day against Impunity for crime targeting journalists which will be held on 23 November 2011. This initiative was adopted by the last IFEX General Meeting in Beirut on the proposition of our regional group in Asia Pacific, the IFJ Asia Pacific.

The date was chosen to mark the second anniversary of the Maguindano massacre in the Philippine which claimed 32 lives of journalists and many more innocent civilians in November 2009.

The IFJ is committed to making this anniversary a day to remember all journalists killed because they believed in the purpose and mission of journalism, to raise awareness about the scandal of impunity and the failure of governments to bring the killers to justice and to pledge to do more to find ways of making journalism safer.

This global event provides us with an opportunity to denounce the prevailing culture of impunity for crime committed against journalists in many countries of the world and call for its end.

We appeal to all affiliates to consider organising at least one activity on the day, highlighting the pressing issues to do with impunity in their own countries. This can be issuing a press release on the subject, writing a letter to Presidents or Prime Minister about unresolved cases of journalists’ murders in their countries, or a publishing an article or comment in the newspaper.

Other useful methods of marking the day would be to send letters to embassies of the most dangerous countries for journalists, including The Philippines, Somalia, Mexico and Pakistan urging the authorities of these countries to show real determination to prevent and punish violence against journalists.

The Secretariat in Brussels is preparing a web page to showcase these activities and we request that you kindly send us information about the activities you plan for the Day, including written material and images.

The IFJ will be able to help affiliates who need support with costs for printing material or hiring a room for the event. Please send your request to the IFJ General Secretary as early as possible.

 

Sincerely Yours,

Jim Boumelha, IFJ President                                                                   

Beth Costa, IFJ General secretary

 

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10/20/2011 - 8:00pm

 

Today, the National Writers Union/UAW Local 1981 is withdrawing from the boycott of the Huffington Post, which began after it was acquired by AOL for $315 million last February. NWU and The Newspaper Guild-CWA have been electronic picket captains with the support of many, many progressive writers, bloggers and organizations. For now, the boycott has run its course.

But the NWU is continuing and intensifying our Pay The Writer! campaign to establish fair pay rates for freelance journalists working for the Huffington Post and other online publications. On October 11, we held our first national event, a live-streamed panel discussing the future of online freelance journalism (video of the event is available here). We will continue to organize around these principles:

  • Freelance journalists working for for-profit, multi-million dollar online publications should get paid.
  • If you cover the news for anybody, you should get paid;
  • If you take on assignments, with an editor, you should get paid.
  • Occassional contributions by writers, educators or activists who are promoting a book or a cause could be unpaid and that fact should be acknowledged at the end of the article.
  • Frequent and regular contributors should be paid.

Writers create more than content. We create value and wealth. Just ask Arianna Huffington. Working without pay should not be the expectation of online publications – or online writers.  Quality journalism must be justly compensated.

Today we are in touch with hundreds more writers than we were when we started, and some are joining NWU. Over the coming months our organizing drive will become more active and visible, as hundreds and then thousands of freelance writers add their collective knowledge and wisdom to this campaign. We are confident we are gathering the forces that will make Pay The Writer! a reality. Sign up for campaign updates at www.PayTheWriter.org and follow us on Twitter @PayTheWriter.

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10/10/2011 - 5:33pm

Working without pay should not be the expectation of online publications or online writers. Journalists should get paid for their work. The Huffington Post would have never become the country’s most popular online news source without the thousands of contributors who put in their own time and energy writing for the site. The Huffington Post cashed in when it sold itself to AOL for $315 million, however it didn’t compensate those who built it and continues to recruit unpaid writers Writers create more than content. We create value and wealth and deserve to get paid for the work that we do. Join the Pay the Writer! campaign and help establish a living wage for online freelance journalists and writers!

On Tuesday October 11, the Pay the Writer! campaign hosted a panel of online journalists, entrepeneurs and academics who explored the economic future of online freelance writing. The panel brainstormed about the stakes for journalists trying to make a living in a world in which more and more of the publishing outlets are exclusively digital. The panel included:

John DingesColumbia University School of Journalism Professor and National Writers Union Member

Katti GrayPrize-winning veteran freelance journalist appeared in ABCNews.com, TheRoot.com and others. A member of the National Association of Black Journalists

Samuel Apple, Founder and Editor-in-Chief of TheFasterTimes.com

Sharon Lerner, Fellow at DEMOS, journalist, author and activist

For more campaign updates and news sign up at www.PayTheWriter.org. You can also follow us on Twitter @PayTheWriter.

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10/05/2011 - 1:40pm

 

                                   

Photos courtesy of jackomo

Today, the International Union, United Automobile, Aerospace and Agricultural Implement Workers of America (UAW) announced their official endorsement of the Occupy Wall Street movement for economic and political justice.  Citing the long overdue need to reorder America’s economic priorities, the UAW will commit resources and activate its membership nationally in support of reclaiming the American economy on behalf of working men and women, the poor, the elderly, the unemployed and our nation’s youth.

 “America is not broke,” said UAW President Bob King, “We have the resources to turn our economy around.  The courage and determination of the Occupy Wall Street movement has galvanized generations of Americans fed up with corporate greed and feeling powerless. They have a vision toward a more just, equal, and fair society- demanding real democracy.”

UAW members throughout the New York area have been participating in Occupy Wall Street, including the demonstration against police brutality, the march across the Brooklyn Bridge, and participating in the occupation of Zucotti Park on the doorstep of Wall Street. Members in Massachusetts have been participating in the New York demonstrations as well as protests in Boston.

“We recognize the need to work together and learn from each other,” said Julie Kushner, UAW Region 9A Director. “The vitality, energy and dialogue growing from the Occupy Wall Street movement show the potential to organize, build power and win justice for the middle class.”

 “Our members in New York and throughout the region are activists and deeply committed to building a coalition-based movement. Fighting for jobs and economic justice and demanding that millionaires pay their fair share is something we are proud to be a part of in the Occupy Wall Street movement,” Kushner added.

Occupy Wall Street has also been endorsed by UAW Region 9A, which encompasses Eastern New York including New York City, the New England States, and Puerto Rico; the UAW New York Area CAP Council; and the UAW Massachusetts CAP Council. 

 

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09/12/2011 - 7:37pm

Late Friday afternoon, The Huffington Post announced its latest way to get free content from writers. According to Forbes, "The Huffington Post’s best response to those critics who accuse it of exploiting writers by not paying them has always been the libertarian one: Within the boundaries of the law, consenting adults are free to enter into whatever sorts of arrangements they choose, even one that involves donating their labor to a for-profit corporation. But what about when those writers aren’t adults?" Yes, that's right, kids as young as 13 are being invited to provide content for Patch, which is run by the Huffington Post Media Group.

Today on Advertising Age, "Patch 'is churning out one piece of content every 9 seconds.' That's what this is about, folks: churn. Page views. And getting unpaid children to help AOL shovel content -- digital coal -- into its page-view oven. Quite simply, AOL/HuffPo intends to monetize the work of minors earning $0/hour. On Patch and HuffPost High School, it will sell ads against content created by minors -- but it will not share advertising revenue with those minors."

The National Writers Union is committed to establishing a living wage for all freelance writers. For more campaign updates, sign up at www.PayTheWriter.org

 

 

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09/12/2011 - 4:00pm

On Saturday September 10, 2011, several members joined with hundreds of other UAW members marched in the NYC Labor Parade

 

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09/02/2011 - 3:32pm

Several NWU members are owed money by Natural Solutions magazine and need your help.

Between September 2010 and February 2011, InnoVision Health Media published 13 articles by nine members of the National Writers Union in Natural Solutions magazine. While Natural Solutions magazine commissioned, accepted and published the articles, its publisher, Dick Benson, has yet to pay most of these writers for their work. He currently owes eight NWU members a collective total of $11,510.12.

The NWU is continuing to work on this situation, but we need your help. Please sign your name to the petition.

In addition to signing the petition, you can also help by emailing this petition to friends, posting it on your Facebook page, posting it on your website, Tweeting it to your followers, posting it on writing listservs and so on. If we collect enough signatures, Dick Benson may be encouraged to do the right thing and pay his writers.

Please show your support for the writers who did the work and deserved to be paid by signing and sharing this petition today!

 

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Union News

07/27/2011 - 6:24pm

By Wendy Werris
Jul 27, 2011

In a move as significant for its breadth as its implications for the future of book coverage, the Los Angeles Times book review laid off all of its freelance book reviewers and columnists on July 21.

Susan Salter Reynolds was with the Times for 23 years as both a staffer and freelancer and wrote the “Discoveries” column that appeared each week in the Sunday book review. She was told that her column was cancelled and will not be replaced by another writer. “I don’t know where these layoffs fit into the long-storied failure at the Times,” she said yesterday, “but these are not smart business decisions. This is shabby treatment.”

Jon Thurber, editor of the book review, explained to Reynolds last Thursday that all books-related stories will now be done in-house, and that the decision to cease eliminate non-staffers was based on his freelance budget being cut. Richard Raynard’s popular “Paperback Writers” has also been eliminated. As children’s books editor at the Times for the last several years Sonja Bolle, who most recently wrote the monthly “WordPlay” column, said, “This indicates an even deeper contraction of the business, a continuation of a process at the Times that doesn’t stop here.” Bolle is most concerned about the shrinking coverage of children’s books. “This is a great loss for readers,” she said of the elimination of her column.

Four staffers remain in the book review section: David Ulin, Carolyn Kellogg, Nick Owchar, and Thurber. In December 2009 the Times laid off 40 features writers, including Reynolds and Bolle, but brought many of them back to work part-time. “We were paid about one-third of what we had been making, and lost our health insurance,” Reynolds says. "Then two months ago we were shifted to freelance status, which meant none of us were allowed to enter the Times building.” Thurber did make an exception for Reynolds so she could come to the office to pick up the multiple review copies she received daily in order to produce her column.

When contacted, Thurber deferred to Nancy Sullivan, the Times’s v-p of communications. “This was a cost-saving move,” she said, “strictly related to our budget.” Sullivan would not provide details on the number of freelancers who were eliminated last week. “Staff writers from outside the book department will take over for those who left. We have not changed our commitment to book coverage or the amount of space the Times will devote to it.”

07/22/2011 - 4:39pm

There was a "status conference" July 19th in New York in the ongoing Federal copyright infringement lawsuit against Google for scanning millions of books without the permission of the copyright holders.

The parties to the lawsuit asked for more time to try to negotiate a new settlement proposal. Judge Chin scheduled another hearing for September 15th, but suggested that if the parties had not reached at least an agreement in principle by then, he would set a schedule for the case to move forward toward discovery, briefing, argument, and decision of the legal issues without an agreed-upon settlement.

Law Prof. James Grimmelmann, who spoke at the NWU's forum on the case last year, has more about the hearing in his blog:
http://laboratorium.net/archive/2011/07/19/gbs_status_conference_opt-in_settlement_in_the_wor

Earlier this year, Judge Chin agreed with the NWU and numerous other writers' organizations from around the world that the previous settlement proposal was not "fair and adequate".  But Google, the Association of American Publishers, and the Authors Guild (whose membership is limited to authors of books published by major publishers with substantial advances, unlike the NWU which is open to all writers) have continued to exclude the NWU and all other interested parties from their ongoing negotiations.

The NWU is continuing to monitor the case, and will advise our members on future developments.  Backgorund information incluidng the NWU's submissions to the court is available from the NWU Book Division at: http://www.nwubook.org

07/15/2011 - 5:07pm

BBC journalists in one-day strike

BBC Television Centre The BBC has apologised to viewers and listeners
for any disruption
Continue reading the main story
<http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/entertainment-arts-14152795?print=true#story_continues_1>

Journalists at the BBC have begun a 24-hour strike in a row over
compulsory redundancies.

Members of the National Union of Journalists (NUJ) voted in favour of
industrial action last month because a number of World Service
journalists are facing compulsory redundancy.

The NUJ has warned that the strike will cause "widespread disruption" to
radio and TV programmes.

A BBC spokesman said the corporation was "disappointed" by the action.

Viewers and listeners saw some changes to BBC output on Friday morning
as a result of the strike.


BBC journalists in one-day strike
BBC          Television CentreThe BBC has apologised to viewers and listeners for any disruption
Continue reading the main story
Journalists at the BBC have begun a 24-hour strike in a row over compulsory redundancies.
Members of the National Union of Journalists (NUJ) voted in favour of industrial action last month because a number of World Service journalists are facing compulsory redundancy.
The NUJ has warned that the strike will cause "widespread disruption" to radio and TV programmes.
A BBC spokesman said the corporation was "disappointed" by the action.
Viewers and listeners saw some changes to BBC output on Friday morning as a result of the strike.

07/14/2011 - 4:09pm

Forty years after it was first published, the book Occupied America: The History of Chicanos has been banned, and its author, Rudolfo Acuña, widely published professor and prominent immigrant-rights activist thinks he knows why.

To Acuña, a member of the National Writers Union, UAW Local 1981, it boils down to two things: numbers and control. He says that banning his book and shutting down an ethnic studies program that has been widely successful in Arizona are part of an effort to undermine social inclusion and financial uplift for Chicanos, or people of Mexican descent. Not only has his work come under fire, but Acuña has received numerous death threats from unidentifiable individuals who are at odds with his commitment to improving the system of education and living conditions for Chicanos. 

This work is very much tied to the immigration issue, which Acuña, who was born in Los Angeles to Mexican immigrants, says, "puts panic in people [and makes them think] 'We're losing our country.'"

This might be why so many politicians have rallied against his groundbreaking work in Chicano Studies - an academic program he helped develop in the late 1960s at California State University, Northridge. While this initiative remains the longest running and largest such program, many others have since been established at universities across the country, and even some middle and high schools. 

Not everyone is so keen on seeing Chicano studies expand. Among the program's most vocal critics is Arizona's attorney general, Tom Horne, who has called it a sort of "ethnic chauvinism." He has also claimed that the program is "an officially recognized, resentment-based program," even though the National Education Association has shown that such curriculum instead increases interracial understanding and significantly enhances students' interest in academic pursuits. 

07/14/2011 - 4:01pm

On June 21, 2011, just before heading on to the Delegate Assembly in Detroit, 1st V.P. Ann Hoffman and I met at the Executive Office Building in Washington, next door to the White House, with President Obama's lead advisor on intellectual property enforcement and policy issues.

This meeting was a follow-up to comments on writers' difficulties enforcing our rights that we submitted in 2010, shortly after the creation of the office of the Intellectual Property Enforcement Coordinator: http://www.nwubook.org/NWU-ip-enforcement.pdf

The office of the IPEC doesn't carry out enforcement actions itself, but exists to coordinate the Administration's executive actions -- including copyright and other IP-related law enforcement -- and legislative recommendations such as those on future copyright "reforms": http://www.whitehouse.gov/omb/intellectualproperty/

We received no response to our initial written submission, and writers' interests (especially vis-a-vis publishers and distributors) were not reflected in IPEC reports and strategic recommendations.

Accordingly, we requested a face-to-face meeting with the IPEC office. Somewhat to our surprise, we found the door wide open. (Not literally, of course -- admission to the building required not only an appointment and "screening" at the entrance to the White House compound but detailed submissions of personal information, in advance, to the Secret Service.)

We met for the better part of an hour with the head of the office, the "IP Enforcement Czar" herself, Ms. Victoria Espinel, along with four of her staff advisors she had invited to provide expertise on specific aspects of IP enforcement ranging from copyrights to international law. All had read our comments in preparation for the meeting, although they still seemed to be surprised when we began our presentation by identifying publishers and distributors as the most significant infringers of writers' copyrights.

06/03/2011 - 5:49pm

New York City June 1 - At a brief status conference this afternoon, Google, the Authors Guild and the American Association of Publishers asked
Judge Denny Chin for additional time to explore settlement possibilities. Judge Chin scheduled the next status conference for July 19.

There's more on the google Books hearing from Publishers Weekly:
http://www.publishersweekly.com/pw/by-topic/digital/copyright/article/47490-no-progress-on-google-book-settlement-talks-tone-changing-.html

05/26/2011 - 11:08am

The Executive Committee of the Union of Cyprus Journalists is greatly concerned and expresses its abhorrence over incidents of violence against Turkish Cypriot journalists by the so-called “police” in the occupied part of Cyprus.

Following a second bomb attack against the car and the life of a Turkish Cypriot colleague and the shooting attack against the offices of a newspaper, an assault against journalists by “policemen” of the occupation regime comes to clearly confirm that freedom of the press is under undisguised persecution in the occupied part of Cyprus.

The latest incidents of violence against journalists came about when Turkish Cypriots colleagues, covering a protest march by employees of the so-called “Turkish Cypriot Airlines” made redundant by its closure, were beaten and had their cameras damaged by “policemen” trying to prevent them from carrying out their work.

The Union of Cyprus Journalists strongly deplores raw violence and stresses that it will report on the above mentioned actions against freedom of the press to all European and world journalists organizations.



The Executive Committee
of the Union of Cyprus Journalists

05/16/2011 - 5:19pm

When:  Sunday, May 29, 2011

What:  The first  "Net Needs News Day." 

Who:  Association of American Editorial Cartoonists. Has invited members to simultaneously publish a cartoon about how the web is mostly useless without original reporting generated by newspapers.  (Note: Cartoonists are participating on their own.)  Society of Professional Journalists President  Hagit Limor will blog on this topic at www.spj.org.

Why:  Increase public's awareness and appreciation of journalism and its vital role to information on the worldwide web (95% of all original content online.)   

2nd reason: SPJ recently favorited a motion graphics video on the same topic for its new channel for journalists. ("The Fat Lady Has Not Sung: Why the Internet Needs the News" is also airing at Stanford University graduate classes) : http://www.youtube.com/user/spjournalists#p/a/f/0/PRdUTWn-Zvo     

Where:  As many newspapers as possible.

Contact:  Sharon Geltner, Froogle PR, geltner@netneedsnews.net.  

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/reqs.php#!/pages/The-Fat-Lady-Has-Not-Sung/168436819844750

05/06/2011 - 12:09pm

Situation of NWU member highlights benefit of Union Plus disaster help program

The case of At-large co-chair James Sandefur, whose family suffered losses in the recent tornadoes, highlights the benefits available to NWU members through Union Plus, a wide-ranging program for members of the UAW and AFL-CIO.

One program offers a $500 grant to any member suffering a documented financial loss as the result of a FEMA-certified natural disaster or emergency.  That program is available only to members who have participated for 12 months or more in the Union Plus credit card, mortgage or insurance program.

For more information on the disaster relief program, go to http://www.unionplus.org/money-credit/natural-disaster-relief-fund.

Remember too that Union Plus has a free prescription drug discount card for NWU members and their family members.  Go to unionplus.org and log in as a member of the UAW, then go to health benefits and download your cards.