Business and Technology Division

Who Are We?

The BizTech Division of the NWU represents writers who work as freelance contractors or temps on a work-for-hire basis. For example, business, technical, instructional, non-profit, government, and similar writers.

BizTech writers create software documentation, corporate communications, marketing materials, textbooks, industrial training programs, policies and procedures, grant requests, research reports, and so on. Typically, BizTech writers do not hold the copyright to our work and often have no byline. On the other hand, we are sometimes better paid for our work than those in other writing genres.

What Is Our Mission?

The BizTech Division works to improve working conditions, contract terms, and payment rates for NWU members who create intellectual property on a contract or project basis, typically referred to as work-for-hire. BizTech is concerned with contractors, whether we work independently on a 1099 basis or as W-2 employees, and whether we are hired through agencies or directly by employers.

The BizTech Division studies issues affecting professional self-employed writers, deliberates on them, and takes action in the interest of our members. Primary areas of concern include laws and public policy, employer relations, and contract terms and negotiation.

What Do We Want and What Have We Accomplished?

Laws and public policy:

As small business people, we want fair and equitable status before the IRS and related law. We lobbied to raise the deductible for self-employed health insurance costs to 60 percent. During 2000, we are meeting with legislators to get it raised to 100 percent.

As temporary or contract employees, we want the same legal protections that full-time staffers have. We mobilized activists to oppose a permatemp legalization law that would have constrained our members from practicing their professions freely.

We also want the freedom to choose the terms of our employment, whether as employee or freelancer, W-2 or 1099. We seek to repeal a section of the tax code that threatens the right of professionals to work as freelancers.

Employer relations:

We want to escape the abuses of hiring agencies which take a third or more of what an employer pays for our labor. When we are compelled to work through a third-party agency, we want to choose the agency that hires us, and we want our choices to include firms which meet our standards. The NWU recently signed an agreement with a labor consortium and a private staffing firm to provide a union-friendly payrolling service to employers and NWU members.

We want our members who work on-site at an employer’s location to have safe and healthy working conditions. We are lobbying for the adoption of the Ergonomics Standard within the language of OSHA (Occupational Safety and Health Act).

Contract terms and negotiation:

We want our members to negotiate and sign clear, complete, and fair contracts. We offer a contract review service by experts in the NWU Grievance and Contracts Division free of charge to our members.

We want our members to be well informed about acceptable standards and terms for contract work. We provide on-line resources at the NWU website. BizTech documents include “Tips for Getting a Better Work-For-Hire Contract,” “BizTech Contracts Glossary,” “Technical Writers Code of Practice,” and “Fair Standards: Third-Party Employment Agreements (Technical Writing).”

We want our members to find good work at good rates of pay.

You Can Help Us Help You

We need your help and participation in the following areas:

  • Legislative action: We call upon local BizTech writers to contact their legislators by phone, email, letter, or in person on key issues affecting our members
  • Winning better contracts: We collect samples of our members’ contracts for our growing knowledge pool about contractual terms and conditions in various genres and in various parts of the country. The information helps us to develop codes of practice in BizTech genres and to offer better contract advice in particular cases.
  • Recruitment and organizing: We are always looking for help expanding our membership by local action through phone calls, gatherings, and print and online communications. One key objective is to increase diversity within the BizTech professions and the BizTech Division membership
  • Outreach and education: We need help building our network of local BizTech activists and in developing and facilitating training seminars in BizTech genres nationally.

Latest Division News

What Shall We Call Ourselves?

The BizTech Division was formed to represent those who write for the business community, as well as what once was the burgeoning Silicon Valley tech world. BizTech writing assignments were works for hire, where copyrights belonged to the employers— rather than individual writers—for such items as user manuals and PR releases. BizTech was a catchy […]

Tax Tips for Writers

NWU member and tax accountant Therese Francis spoke at a recent NorCal event. These are points she covered in her talk on taxes for writers: Think like a business, look like a business, be seen as a business and, most of all, take advantage of tax laws for businesses. The IRS recognizes two types of […]

“Freelance Isn’t Free” Advances in the NY City Council

New York City – February 29: “The company closed, the owners took the furniture and equipment out of the office and disappeared. There was no bankruptcy, no one was notified—they simply closed…Freelancers got nothing! The total loss to 40 workers exceeds $300,000. I was owed more than $20,000.” That was a part of NWU VP […]