CHICAGO, IL – The National Writers Union has reached a final settlement agreement with the Ebony Media Organization and CVG Group LLC (which acquired Ebony magazine in 2016), over the magazine’s failure to pay freelance writers, editors and designers for contracted and published work. This settlement covers 45 freelancers who are collectively owed $80,000 by the new owners of the iconic magazine. Six writers who were part of the original group non-payment grievance were paid-out about $8,000 before this settlement.
According to the terms of the agreement, Ebony will pay all of the freelancers 100% of their owed invoices in four quarterly payments, starting with the oldest invoices first. Almost half of the invoices go back to 2016. The payments are guaranteed by Ebony’s ownership group, CVG, who also signed the settlement agreement. Ebony writer and Editor Adrienne Samuels Gibbs said, “This is a great success for the Ebony writers and NWU. That said, settlement agreements are only as good as the cleared checks. I hope that Ebony magazine and its parent company make good on their renewed promise to pay.”
The union filed a lawsuit in Cook County Court in Chicago, Illinois, after an #Ebonyowes social media campaign and trying to reach an agreement for almost a year. This included a personal call to the owners from Congresswoman Maxine Waters on the writers’ behalf.
NWU President Larry Goldbetter said, “The Ebony freelancers have shown what is possible when we stand together as a union. A freelancer can turn to dust making endless calls and emails trying to get paid. But 50 freelancers demanding $100,000 as a union, changes everything.” The Ebony freelancers took a stand and not only did they win, but others have won as well.”
In January, NWU settled a non-payment grievance with Nautilus, the award winning science magazine in New York City. Another six writers are being represented in a case against Uptown magazine. They are owed more than $20,000. Both groups of writers approached NWU after hearing about the Ebony grievance.
Ebony freelancer AJ Springer said, “This is such an important victory. Too often, freelancers are willing to write off late payment and nonpayment as the cost of doing business. That ends today. I hope other publications get the message.”