2011 DELEGATE ASSEMBLY

DA OPENING REMARKS

Welcome to all the Delegates, chapter chairs, national officers, and special guests to our 2011 Delegate Assembly. To me it’s both exciting and significant to be meeting in Detroit. On a persona l note, its where I lived for over 20 years, where I met my wife Cora and we still have an apartment,  where two of my kids were born, and where I really came of age working at the Ford Rouge plant, for the MI Dept. of Mental Health, and as a City of Detroit sanitation worker, among other jobs.

But much more significantly, Detroit is hallowed ground in the struggle for economic and social justice. It was a main stop on the Underground Railroad and it was here that John Brown met with Fredrick Douglas to plan the raid on Harpers Ferry, the real first shot of the Civil War to end slavery. It’s the home of the UAW and the center of where the auto industry was organized, which led to the organization of millions of industrial workers in the US. Its where in 1963 Martin Luther King first told the world “I have a Dream,” months before the famous march in Washington.  And in 1967 it’s where the Detroit Rebellion against police brutality and racist unemployment shook the world, and directly led to the hiring of 10,000 black workers into the auto industry.

Just as Detroit and the UAW and the struggle in the auto industry led the whole working class to a better life, the demise of the “Big 3” auto companies has turned Detroit into a city with an unemployment rate of about 50% (70% among young black males), leading the country in foreclosures and school closings, and over 250,000 economic refugees having fled the city in the past 20 years. This is our ground zero. This is where the bankers and billionaires have done more damage with their economic terrorism than Al Qeida ever dreamed of.

Freelance writers don’t live in a milk bottle. We live in a world defined by unending and growing wars abroad, economic crises and austerity budgets being imposed on workers across Europe and the US, unemployed youth fueling massive changes across the Middle East and more. (NYTimes)

We live in a country where unions have faced decades of attacks that dropped union membership to its lowest point since before the Great Depression, under 10%. Certainly our union has felt that pain.

Now the bankers and billionaires are passing out bonus checks while more than 30 million workers remain unemployed and underemployed and every benefit fought for over the past 70 or 80 years is being stripped away, while immigrants and the poor are scapegoated for these crimes with mass deportations and racist budget cuts. As UAW President Bob King said recently at our Joint Conference in Hartford, in many ways these times mirror the developments in Hitler’s Germany. They say tough times produce tough people. We’re about to find out what we’re made of.

While there is no single or simple answer, one thing is sure. Workers have to fight back, and unions have to organize. Our union like every other has financial concerns, which you will hear in detail. And we have to take it seriously. But the bottom line is, we don’t have a financial crisis, we have a membership crisis. The solution is organize, organize, organize!

For the coming period, we have set our sites on the Huffington Post. There has been a boycott against HuffPo since last March, led by the Huffington Post Union of Bloggers and Writers (HPUB), the National Writers Union (NWU) and the Newspaper Guild (TNG). In addition, the boycott has the support of AFL-CIO President Rich Trumka, USW President Leo Gerard, CWA President Larry Cohen, and Jobs with Justice, who ran the NWU boycott flier on their blog and sent it to their affiliates.

We are asking writers and bloggers to honor the electronic picket line; don’t post or share articles on the Huffington Post until we win a settlement for the hundreds of journalists who contributed their work for free in order to bring more traffic to this “progressive” blog. These were journalists who worked on assignment, many of them, our members. After establishing a progressive brand and following based on this free professional journalism, Arianna Huffington sold HuffPo to AOL for $315 million, and landed a $4 million/year job as content director for AOL. Arianna Huffington says that writers should be glad to write for free in exchange for free exposure. But it is the Huffington Post that reaped and profited from free exposure brought by these writers.

We want a settlement for these writers. In order to get one, we have to organize hundreds of them into the NWU. If we represent few writers our chances are slim to none. If we represent hundreds, we have a much better shot.

As we said at the Journalism Division yesterday, this is a complicated fight.  The vast majority of HP bloggers want to write for free, but they account for a very small amount of HP traffic. They are not the target of our organizing campaign.

The vast majority of HP traffic, the traffic that got her a $315 million sale price is journalism, news produced by people who are professional writers, staffers or respected political figures. We don't know the exact numbers yet, but a NY Times article last February estimated that it is upwards of 80 percent. Those writers are our target. We want pay for all journalists writing for HP.

One of our members writes, “I wrote a piece for HP in 2008 about John McCain having a secret meeting with Chilean dictator Augusto Pinochet during a visit in which he declined to meet with dissident pro-democracy folks. The piece had 300,000 hits, and was blogged extensively. I got paid nothing, although I asked for pay, because I write for a living. They told me please file this piece under the current unpaid policy (i.e. we only pay a small number of staff writers), but we are working on a policy to start paying real journalists who write for us. That was 2008. I'm still waiting for word they will start paying.”

“Our challenge is difficult. We want to organize HP writers and involve them in the process of thinking this through. That's why we are asking writers to join us now, so they will provide the real-life information about the new world of writing for internet/digital publications.”

In April a class action suit was filed against AOL/Huffington for $105 million by one of our members and former President JTasini. We are not a part of that suit. It has become more of a distraction than a help. This is not about whether or not HP writers have a legal claim. There was a time when workers had no legal claim to an 8 hour day, to overtime, to weekends. There was a time when black people had no legal claim to vote, to sit at a lunch counter to sit where they wanted on a bus. This is mainly a fight to shape the future and win justice.

We will organize writers around two demands: 1) End free writing for the politics and news sections (and others to be determined) and demand payment for journalism. Free, contributed writing should be labeled as unpaid.
2) We want to negotiate a payment out of the $315 million HP sales price. As our member says, “When writers like me wrote for her as unpaid journalistic contributors it was in the good faith understanding that she was building a publication that would eventually support top-class journalism. That moment arrived when she got the windfall…The form of that payment and how to divide it among which writers is not a simple problem, but it has a solution that can be negotiated. The important thing is that we organize the writers first and get their views and ideas before we make a negotiating demand in meeting HP/Arianna.”

Beyond Huffington, we want to set a living wage for all online writers. We need a massive organizing drive at content farms like Demand Media, worth $1.5 billion that pays its 9,000 freelancers a penny-a-word. Again, in order to win a living wage, we need to build a bigger and more powerful NWU.

Recently the NEC agreed to commit $30k over the next three months to launch this drive that can involve every chapter and Division. After three months we will review the results and the potential, and I trust we will move forward.

The International UAW has thrown its full support into this effort, helping us to hire a full-time organizer and adding the major contributions of the legal and research departments. We can shape the future of digital journalism. We can build a more powerful NWU that represents all freelance writers. That’s why we’re here this week. Good luck to us all!

 


 

DA CLOSING REMARKS

After a week like this, it makes me feel that my job is similar to the President of the Players Association. I get to represent pros, all-stars and some super stars without ever having made it to the Big Leagues myself. With this DA, we are more unified, we have a clearer direction, the union is more open, the leadership is in more hands, and with the support of the UAW we are undertaking major organizing and civil rights social justice initiatives.

First-time delegates made a big impact on these proceedings and hold leadership positions in the Divisions and standing committees. Despite some reports to the contrary, the National Writers Union is alive and well, but that doesn’t mean we are out of danger.

We are better equipped to address our own internal weaknesses and crises, to fight for and organize freelance writers and to make a significant contribution in rebuilding a social justice movement.


I am very proud to serve you. Let’s try to hit the ground running when we get home.

 

 


 

NWU Delegates Assembly, June 2011

RESOLUTION PASSED TO AMEND THE NWU BYLAWS REGARDING
DELEGATE ASSEMBLY RULES AND RESOLUTIONS

WHEREAS, the rules for the Delegate Assembly in the current NWU Bylaws inhibit grassroots activism;

WHEREAS, there is currently little communication  among delegates between the delegate elections and the Delegate Assembly:

WHEREAS, in its present crisis of declining membership, our union needs more, not less, initiative from the rank and file, and the rules in the current NWU Bylaws have made it difficult for proposals arising from the rank-and-file of our union to be considered by the DA;

WHEREAS, some of the decline in membership of the NWU is due to prior members' perception of excessive central control and lack of openness to grassroots initiative, and it is important for the NWU to demonstrate a commitment to union democracy and rank-and-file empowerment not just because it is the right thing to do, but in order to persuade alienated former members to rejoin us; and

Now, therefore, it is RESOLVED by the June 2011 NWU Delegate Assembly:

  •   That the Bylaws of the NWU be amended as follows:
    •     Article VIII, Section C, Subsection 14, clause 1, is amended by replacing the words "six weeks" with "eight weeks" in the first sentence.
    •     Article VIII, Section C, Subsection 14, clause 3, is amended by inserting before the present text the words, "Except as provided in Rule 4 below,..."
    •     Article VIII, Section C, Subsection 14, clause 4 is amended to read as follows: "After the resolution due date, resolutions may be submitted only (a) by official action of duly constituted NWU Divisions or Committees,  (b) by the National Executive Board or National Executive Committee, (c) in accordance with rules adopted by the Resolutions Committee for the consideration of resolutions introduced by Delegates after the cutoff date for advance resolutions, or (d) by two-thirds vote of the Delegate Assembly to suspend the rules.  The Resolutions Committee shall set deadlines for submissions by standing committeees, divisions, the NEC, and the NEB, and shall establish procedures under which last-minute resolutions can be considered by the Delegate Assembly. 
  •   That the NEC should promptly communicate with delegates and chapters concerning  (a) the role of delegates before, during, and after the DA, (b) the available means and points of contact for proposing formal resolutions, proposing topics for the agenda, or proposing sessions or caucuses or other forums for those delegates with a particular common interest or concern, and (c) the planned agenda for the DA, including the agenda for plenary sessions and any resolutions or other proposals intended to be made by the NEC to the DA or topics intended to be discussed at the DA, as soon as reasonably practical after such proposals or agenda are formulated by the NEC or its members.

PDF VERSION HERE

 


 

NWU Delegates Assembly, June 2011

RESOLUTION PASSED ON E-BOOK ROYALTIES

WHEREAS, e-books are a growing percentage of sales, revenues, and potential royalties for authors;

WHEREAS, e-book self-publication (including self-publication of e-book versions of books that are out of print in hardcopy, and for which the electronic rights were never assigned to the print publisher or have reverted to the author) has become a viable way for some authors to make a living, which is threatened by print publishers' attempts to grab a larger share of e-book revenues;

WHEREAS, most book publication contracts have -- quite properly and fairly -- provided that authors are entitled to at least 50% of any revenues from licensing of subsidiary rights;

WHEREAS, there is an epidemic of "buyer's remorse" by print publishers who typically agreed to a 50/50 split with authors of revenues from licenses of subsidiary rights, but who are now ignoring those contracts or seeking to renegotiate them now that e-book rights are becoming more valuable;

WHEREAS, the NWU Grievance and Contract Division (GCD) and Book Division have received reports from NWU members who have had e-book editions of their books "licensed" by their print publishers without their knowledge or consent, who have been paid only the "book sale" royalty percentage for e-book licensing rather than the higher "subsidiary rights" percentage applicable to e-books under their existing contracts, or who have been asked to sign amendments to their contracts and/or new contracts reducing their share of e-book revenues from 50% or more to 25% or less;

WHEREAS, opaque, confusing, delayed, and incomplete reporting by publishers to authors of sales and revenues -- for example, royalty statements that do not separate e-book revenues from sales of hardcopy books -- makes it difficult or impossible for many authors to know that they have been paid less than they are entitled under their contracts;

WHEREAS, an "e-book" is not a book, end-user license agreements for e-books make clear that an e-book license is not a sale of a book, and neither authors nor print publishers intended that  provisions for "book sales" in existing contracts would authorize or apply to e-book licensing;

WHEREAS, the similarity among the contract interpretations, proposed contract amendments, and proposed terms of new book publication contracts for a remarkable variety of print publishers raises substantial question of possible publisher collusion against authors; and

WHEREAS, these improper actions and demands by publishers have continued and grown even more common in spite of the NWU's analysis and advice offered to NWU members and other authors in ""E-Book Contract Amendments: An Overview from the National Writers Union" (2010),  available at http://www.nwubook.org/ebook-contract-amendment.pdf;

Now, therefore, be it RESOLVED by the June  2011 NWU Delegate Assembly:

  •   That the NWU Book Division and the GCD, in conjunction with national officers and chapters, will undertake activities: to make NWU members aware of their electronic rights; to educate all writers, policy-makers, enforcement bodies, and the reading and e-book buying public  about these attacks on authors' rights; and to advocate to enable authors to defend their rights under existing contracts and their moral right to a fair share under future contracts of the revenues for licensing of their writing in e-book format.
  •   An official position of the NWU on e-book rights and royalties will be developed by a joint committee of the Book Division and the GCD within six months from the time of the Delegates Assembly or by the end of 2011 and presented to the Delegates for adoption.

PDF VERSION HERE

 


 

Passed Resolution of the Civil Rights Committee in support of ethnic studies and in opposition to the assault of the Arizona Legislature on the Ethnic Studies Program of Tucson Unified School District

WHEREAS, the Arizona law created by House Bill 2281, which was designed to eliminate the Mexican-American Studies Program in Tucson Unified School District and other Ethnic Studies programs in that district, and to prevent the creation of ethnic studies programs elsewhere in Arizona, discriminates against ethnic groups, inhibits free speech and academic freedom, and threatens the viability of works that National Writers Union members have published or could publish in the future, and
WHEREAS, the terms of this law violate provisions of the United States Constitution and in so doing inhibit the ability of Mexican-Americans, and by implication members of other ethnic groups, to enjoy the full benefits of a public education and to learn about the significant contributions that ethnic groups have made to the economic, social and cultural mosaic that constitutes this unique nation, and
WHEREAS, the National Writers Union, Local 1981 of the United Auto Workers, stands in opposition to ethnic discrimination, curbs on freedom of speech and academic inquiry, and threats to the ability of writers to earn a living at  their chosen trade, and
WHEREAS, the National Writers Union is in agreement with a federal lawsuit that the Tucson-based organization Save Ethnic Studies  has filed on behalf  of 11 Ethnic Studies teachers to have this law overturned because of its constitutional violations,
NOW THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED that the National Writers Union:

  • Contributes $500 to the Save Ethnic Studies legal battle,
  • Asks the legal division of the UAW to file an amicus brief in support of the Save Ethnic Studies position in its pending lawsuit,
  • Pledges to conduct a vigorous national educational campaign in support of the public-opinion and legal battles against the HB2281 law,
  • Asks the Communication Division of the UAW to join us in this broad national education campaign.

PDF VERSION HERE

 


 

NWU Delegates Assembly, June 2011

RESOLUTION PASSED: NATUAL SOLUTIONS MAGAZINE

WHEREAS, between September 2010 and February 2011, InnoVision Health Media published 13 articles by nine members of the National Writers Union in Natural Solutions magazine;

WHEREAS, while Natural Solutions magazine commissioned, accepted and published the articles, its publisher, Dick Benson, has refused to pay most of these writers for their work;

WHEREAS, Dick Benson owes eight NWU members a collective total of $11,510.12;

WHEREAS, the NWU has used a variety of tactics to get Dick Benson to pay these members without success; and

WHEREAS, Dick Benson’s continued refusal to pay NWU members for their work is an unacceptable breach of contract.

Therefore, be it RESOLVED by the June 2011 NWU Delegate Assembly that:

  •  If all known NWU members who are owed money are not paid in full by a date to be determined by the Assistant National Contract Advisor/External Organizing Vice President, the EOVP is authorized to call for a boycott of Natural Solutions magazine. This boycott may include any or all of the following:
    • A campaign asking that consumers refuse to purchase Natural Solutions magazine until a satisfactory resolution has been reached with the aforementioned NWU members.
    • A campaign asking that distributors and stores refuse to carry Natural Solutions magazine until a satisfactory resolution has been reached with the aforementioned NWU members.
    • A campaign asking that advertisers cease advertising in Natural Solutions magazine until a satisfactory resolution has been reached with the aforementioned NWU members.
    • A request that all members of the Natural Solutions Editorial Board resign in protest.
    • Other activities as deemed appropriate by the Assistant National Contract Advisor/External Organizing Vice President.
  • These actions listed above shall be subject to review by UAW counsel and may be modified/eliminated based on the recommendations of said counsel.

PDF VERSION HERE

 


 

RESOLUTION ON FINANCES
PROPOSED BY THE NATIONAL EXECUTIVE COMMITTEE

 

            The National Executive Committee has determined that problems have arisen with the NWU’s existing financial policies and procedures.  Under the By-Laws as amended at the 2009 Delegate Assembly, the Financial Secretary/Treasurer, subject to the approval of the President, is designated to establish preapproval and disbursement policies, procedures and forms.  The National Executive Committee believes it should establish
financial policies and procedures, with input from Chapters.  In order to do this, the By-Laws must be amended.

            THEREFORE be it resolved:
1.  That the first sentence of Article XII, Section 9 of the By-Laws be deleted and replaced with the following:
            “The National Executive Committee shall establish financial policies
 and procedures for the Union.”

PDF VERSION HERE

 


 

RESOLUTION PASSED IN SUPPORT OF LOCAL 10, ILWU


Whereas, International Longshore & Warehouse Union (ILWU) Local 10 and its president are being sued in court by maritime employers of the Pacific Maritime Association (PMA) for a voluntary rank-and-file action on April 4, 2011 that resulted in a 24-hour shutdown of the ports of Oakland and San Francisco; and

Whereas, the dock workers' action, in solidarity with the besieged public workers in Wisconsin and 15 other states, was in response to the AFL-CIO call 
for a National Day of Action on April 4, and in line with the ILWU international president's March 8 call for mobilizing in solidarity with the workers in Wisconsin; and

Whereas, each rank-and-file member of ILWU Local 10 made this selfless choice to stand up for the workers in Wisconsin and for all workers in the best tradition of the longshore union, as they have done since the Big Strike of 1934 and the historic San Francisco General Strike which built the foundation for the trade union movement in this city and on the West Coast; and
 
Whereas, ILWU Local 10, the heart and soul of the San Francisco labor movement, is now under attack for implementing the principled labor slogan, "An Injury to One is an Injury to All"; and 

Whereas, the San Francisco Labor Council has formed a broad-based defense committee, in collaboration with ILWU Local 10, to mobilize labor and community in defense of that union. 
 
Therefore be it resolved, that the National Writers Union commend the rank-and-file dock workers of ILWU Local 10 for their April 4, 2011 action in solidarity with the besieged public workers of Wisconsin and 15 other states;
 
And be it further resolved, that we endorse the campaign to defend ILWU Local 10 and its two demands: 

1) That Pacific Maritime Association drop the lawsuit and all charges against ILWU Local 10 and its officers; and 

2) That labor and community must come together to defend ILWU Local 10 against the attacks of the employers;

And be it finally resolved, that we urge other UAW locals, regional and national affiliates to support efforts to defend ILWU Local 10.

 

PDF VERSION HERE

 


 

PASSED RESOLUTION TO SUPPORT AND JOIN U.S. Labor Against the War (USLAW)

 

WHEREAS the combined costs of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan have been at least $1.3 trillion in the last 10 years with $120 billion spent this year in Afghanistan alone; and

WHEREAS the U.S. bombing of Libya has been going on since March 2011 at a cost of $10 million a day; and

WHEREAS the cost of these wars has contributed to a ballooning budget deficit and a soaring national debt at a time when the economy is still struggling to get back on its feet; and

BE IT RESOLVED that the National Writers Union, UAW 1981, show support of the anti-war movement in the labor community by affiliating with the organization US Labor Against the War at the appropriate dues level.

 

PDF VERSION HERE

 


 

Resolution Passed in Solidarity with the Public Workers of Wisconsin
submitted by the Resolutions Committee

 

WHEREAS, Working people in the state of Wisconsin are standing up to Governor Scott Walker’s recent attempts to strip public employee unions of collective bargaining rights; and
WHEREAS, Governor Walker has moved to cut taxes for the richest citizens and largest corporations of Wisconsin while cutting funding for the services all Wisconsinites depend on, such as public education and public safety, a plan estimated to remove hundreds of millions dollars from the state’s budget in a vain attempt to balance the state budget on the backs of the working class; and
WHEREAS, Governor Walker has admitted that the proposal to eliminate collective bargaining rights for public workers is not a budget issue at all, but is instead simply the initial step in a much broader attack on unions and workers’ rights that threatens to spread; and
WHEREAS, The dire situation faced by working people of the state of Wisconsin –unionized or not – is part of a general assault in the United States and throughout the world against public education, against the public sector more generally, and particularly against working people; and
WHEREAS, if the bill in Wisconsin attacking the right of public workers to collectively bargain succeeds, this portends a much broader attack on the union rights of public workers in other states, including Ohio, Michigan, and California among others; and
WHEREAS, public sector employees are disproportionately women and people of color; and
WHEREAS, Governor Walker’s attacks on organized labor will disproportionately negatively impact poor and working people; and
WHEREAS, We are proud to be Union Workers, and Proud of our Sisters and Brothers standing up to this attack in Wisconsin; and
WHEREAS, We are strongest when we stand and fight together,
WHEREAS, the people of Wisconsin have a long history of bravely standing up for their rights as workers, a courage exemplified today by the Wisconsin Federation of Teachers, the Teaching Assistant Association, the Service Workers’ International Union, and AFCSME, to name but a few; and
WHEREAS, Wisconsin has always been a paragon of working-class, labor, and union values including a rank-and-file militancy exemplified in bold actions taken in recent months such as a 4 day teacher sick-out in Madison, the 3-week Capitol occupation and the Wisconsin South Central Federation of Labor’s endorsement of a possible general strike;
Be it RESOLVED: The United Auto Workers Union Local 1981, the National Writers Union representing freelance writers, does hereby support and call on its members and all workers throughout the United States to stand in solidarity with Wisconsin’s public workers, and to oppose the efforts of Governor Walker of Wisconsin to roll back over 50 years of progress fought for by organized labor in the United States of America.

PDF VERSION HERE

 


 

Dear Book Folk,

This is a brief reportback about the Book Division's doings at the DA. A total of 17 people attended one or two meetings of the BD during the DA. Edward Hasbrouck and Susan E. Davis were reelected co-chairs. We had a very productive discussion about the following topics:

1. Google Book Settlement: The co-chairs are continuing to monitor the GBS and will take action when and if a final settlement is reached. 

2. Meeting with President Obama's Intellectual Property czar in D.C. the week before the DA. Because Edward submitted a brief on behalf of the NWU last year at the request of Obama's IP czar, he was able to set up a meeting with her when he was in D.C. before the DA. First VP Ann Hoffman accompanied him. Edward will post a report here on that meeting in the near future. What's really important to note: the NWU was the only writers' organization to submit a brief on behalf of writers' rights and therefore our views were taken seriously and respectfully. Way to go, Edward! 

3. Searchable listserv: When one attendee requested information about how to find an agent, the ever-resourceful Sarah Forth suggested that he review the archives of this listserv and volunteered to research how to do that. Sarah promised to post a report sharing that all-important information on this listserv. 

4. E-book royalty resolution: included below and soon to be posted on nwubook.org. Please read the resolution, which was made jointly by the BD and the Grievance and Contract Division, to establish an official NWU position on e-book royalties. If anyone would like to volunteer to be on the committee that will implement this resolution, please contact the co-chairs whose e-addresses are below.

5. Legislative wish list: We realize that new legislation is needed to defend and protect all creatives' copyrights, so we tossed around several ideas, including a copyright small claims court. In the process we learned that there are patent and tax courts that only handle such issues. One attendee, a lawyer, volunteered to research how they are structured and another attendee volunteered to identify Senators and Representatives who are on committees that deal with copyright issues. 

In summary, the BD had a very productive time at the DA, and we're looking forward to pursuing these and other projects over the next two years. 

 

In solidarity,

Susan E. Davis, sednyc@earthlink.net

Edward Hasbrouck, edward@hasbrouck.org

 

 RESOLUTION ON E-BOOK ROYALTIES

WHEREAS, e-books are a growing percentage of sales, revenues, and potential royalties for authors;

WHEREAS, e-book self-publication (including self-publication of e-book versions of books that are out of print in hardcopy, and for which the electronic rights were never assigned to the print publisher or have reverted to the author) has become a viable way for some authors to make a living, which is threatened by print publishers' attempts to grab a larger share of e-book revenues;

WHEREAS, most book publication contracts have -- quite properly and fairly -- provided that authors are entitled to at least 50% of any revenues from licensing of subsidiary rights;

WHEREAS, there is an epidemic of "buyer's remorse" by print publishers who typically agreed to a 50/50 split with authors of revenues from licenses of subsidiary rights, but who are now ignoring those contracts or seeking to renegotiate them now that e-book rights are becoming more valuable;

WHEREAS, the NWU Grievance and Contract Division (GCD) and Book Division have received reports from NWU members who have had e-book editions of their books "licensed" by their print publishers without their knowledge or consent, who have been paid only the "book sale" royalty percentage for e-book licensing rather than the higher "subsidiary rights" percentage applicable to e-books under their existing contracts, or who have been asked to sign amendments to their contracts and/or new contracts reducing their share of e-book revenues from 50% or more to 25% or less;

WHEREAS, opaque, confusing, delayed, and incomplete reporting by publishers to authors  of sales and revenues -- for example, royalty statements that do not separate e-book revenues from sales of hardcopy books -- makes it difficult or impossible for many authors to know that they have been paid less than they are entitled under their contracts;

WHEREAS, an "e-book" is not a book; end-user license agreements for e-books make clear that an e-book license is not a sale of a book; and neither authors nor print publishers intended that  provisions for "book sales" in existing contracts would authorize or apply to e-book licensing;

WHEREAS, the similarity among the contract interpretations, proposed contract amendments, and proposed terms of new book publication contracts for a remarkable variety of print publishers raises substantial question of possible publisher collusion against authors; and

WHEREAS, these improper actions and demands by publishers have continued and grown even more common in spite of the NWU's analysis and advice offered to NWU members and other authors in ""E-Book Contract Amendments: An Overview from the National Writers Union" (2010),  available at http://www.nwubook.org/ebook-contract-amendment.pdf;

Now, therefore, be it RESOLVED by the June 2011 NWU Delegate Assembly:

 1.  That the NWU Book Division and GCD, in conjunction with national officers and chapters, will undertake activities to make NWU members aware of their electronic rights; to educate  writers, policy-makers, enforcement bodies, and the reading and e-book buying public about attacks on authors' rights; and to advocate to enable authors to defend their rights under existing contracts and their moral right to a fair share under future contracts of the revenues for licensing of their writing in e-book format.

 2.  An official position of the NWU on e-book rights and royalties will be developed by a joint committee of the Book Division and the GCD within six months from the time of the Delegates Assembly or by the end of 2011 and presented to the Delegates for adoption.

FISCAL IMPACT: Research is needed of (1) NWU members and (2) a variety of publishers, which would  require the services of the GCD Coordinator up to $2,500.

RESPONSIBLE PARTIES: NWU Book Division and GCD.

RESOURCES NEEDED: A portion of the GCD budget which has already been allocated.

CONTACT PEOPLE FOR THIS PROPOSED RESOLUTION: Susan E. Davis (sednyc@earthlink.net), Book Division Co-Chair and Natl. Contract Advisor; Edward Hasbrouck (edward@hasbrouck.org, 415-824-0214), Book Division Co-Chair; and Paul MacArthur (nwujwriter@yahoo.com), Asst.Natl. Contract Advisor and V.P., External Organizing.

SPONSORS OF THIS PROPOSED RESOLUTION: NWU Book Division and GCD

 


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