National Writers Union 2015 DA Resolutions


  • Self-Publishing, Book Contracts
  • State of the Publishing Industry
  • To Develop NWU Member’s Guide to Self-Publishing
  • In Support of Mumia Abu-Jamal
  • In Support of Black Lives Matter
  • In Support of Injured Colombian GM Workers

Whereas, self-publishing by NWU members and by authors in general has become an increasingly common, respectable, and potentially profitable form of publication;

Whereas, the self-publishing industry is complicated and constantly evolving, with many possible business models and formats;

Whereas, written work can be self-published in a wide variety of printed and/or digital formats (paper books, print-on-demand books, e-books, digital “offprints” of stories or articles, e-mail newsletters, Web content, blogs~’smartphone or tablet apps, etc.) and revenue models (sales of print copies, per-copy licensing of e-books or apps or other digital downloads, annual or monthly subscriptions for newsletters or website access, advertising, etc.);

Whereas, these self-publishing formats and business and revenue models may be unfamiliar to many writers and may require choices and raise contract issues different from those involved in contracts with third-party publishers;

Whereas, the process of self-publishing requires mastery of or familiarity with the nontext aspects of publication, including cover design, book design, formats, price, distribution, marketing and public relations, with which NWU authors may have little or no expertise;

Whereas, it is the union’s goal to empower and educate members and to support them in their business relationships;

Therefore, be it resolved, that the NWU develop a member’s guide to the self-publishing industry. The project involves three stages:

  1. 1. Research: During this stage, the “responsible parties” will conduct online and/or library research into the history and nature of the self-publishing industry in order to identify the critical topics to be included in the guide. This research will include a call to NWU members who have self-published to share their knowledge and experiences with us. The outcome of the research will be a summary of what we learn and an outline of the proposed guide.
  2. Guide development: One paid writer will develop the guide, with a paid editor and volunteer researchers, reviewers, and commentators. The development will include a review of the guide by selected NWU members.
  3. Publication: The final and approved guide will be published online and made available for no charge to NWU members.

Resolution to Update NWU Guide to Book Contracts

Whereas the Grievance and Contract Division requests that all members seeking contract advice read the NWU Guide to Book Contracts, which contains the sum total of the union’s accumulated knowledge about book contracts since the union’s founding;

Whereas during the course of developing the joint GCD-Book Division webinar on e-books, it has become obvious that the text on e-books in the current Guide, as well as other topics, is terribly out of date and must be revised. A thorough review and update of the Guide, which has not been revised since 2007, is required. Fortunately, one of the many benefits of creating the e-book webinar is that the material can be easily recycled into an addendum to the Guide until funds can be     allocated for a thoroughgoing revision.

Therefore, be it resolved, that the GCD wants to break the revision process into three phases:

  1. 1. Create a special e-book addendum to the Guide;
  2. Do a thorough review of the Guide to assess the extent of the revision; and
  3. 3. Write a thorough-going revision of the

Susan E. Davis will create the addendum for a small fee, in consultation with other members of the webinar committee and a final review by National Book Grievance Officer Phil Mattera and Senior Advisor Mike Bradley.


Whereas We are a union of writers and we make our livelihood from the publishing industry;

Whereas The corporate publishing industry, is a for-profit industry that by its nature will exploit the work product of writers;

Whereas The publishing industry is more diverse than just the corporate part of that industry and writers are able to earn income in ways that are non-exploitive;

Whereas The publishing industry and the welfare of writers can be impacted by a broad range of political issues and our union must be positioned to apply leverage that favors writers;

Whereas As a union dedicated to improving the living and working conditions of all workers, especially writers, it is imperative that we have a comprehensive social, political and economic analysis of the international publishing industry.

Whereas The analysis of the publishing industry is essential to create a strategic organizing plan;

Whereas The analysis of the publishing industry is essential for developing a comprehensive membership education program.

Whereas We have members that work and understand different aspects of the publishing industry;

Whereas We have members who are skilled academic researchers and educators;

Whereas We have access to research resources of the United Auto Workers union; and

Whereas the National Writers Union, UAW 1981 does not have a current comprehensive analysis of the publishing industry;

Be it resolved that the National Writers Union, UAW 1981 shall:

  1. a) Direct the President to appoint a chair and a committee to prepare a research plan for approval at the next NEB/NEC meeting. That the research include a description of the various ways that writers earn money from the publishing industry and recommendations for changing the industry in a manner that improves working conditions and earnings of writers.

That the same committee shall prepare a draft analysis for review at the next D.A.

That once the analysis is completed the means of distribution and publication will be determined by the NWU.

That if and when resources are needed for the completion of the research of the publishing industry that requests be submitted on a case by case basis for consideration to the NEC

Resolution to Save the Life of Mumia Abu-Jamal from “Medical Neglect”

Whereas Mumia Abu-Jamal, an African-American journalist and former member of the Black Panther Party for Self-Defense, who was president of the Philadelphia Chapter of the National Association of Black Journalists, was sentenced to the death penalty in 1982 for allegedly killing a white policeman. The judgment was based on fraudulent court proceedings, including an incompetent lawyer who neglected evidence showing Abu-Jamal’s innocence, a nearly all-white jury (which studies show often produces the same result as an all-white jury with a Black defendant), self-serving witnesses, and a biased judge, which show that Abu-Jamal is an innocent man who should never have been in jail in the first place and who is a political prisoner in Pennsylvania;

Whereas the National Writers Union passed a resolution inviting the world-renowned Black author to accept an honorary membership in 1995. The resolution was passed when Abu-Jamal had received a date of execution;

Whereas the NWU has continued to support Abu-Jamal ever since, especially in 2011 when his death sentence was overturned and he was moved to general population;

Whereas the NWU became aware that Abu-Jamal suffered a medical emergency in March 2015 when he was on the verge of slipping into a diabetic coma and was suffering from a severe, debilitating, painful skin disease, which went undiagnosed and untreated for months by the State Correctional Institution of Mahanoy;

Whereas the NWU, like others who similarly support Abu-Jamal, believes that the Pennsylvania prison system is negligent and has not used reasonable care, reflecting “medical neglect” and violating his human and civil rights. The NWU supports all efforts in the ongoing struggle to secure specialists, a diagnosis, and a treatment regimen needed to restore Abu-Jamal to full health;

Whereas the Pennsylvania prison system must be required to use all due diligence and every option deemed appropriate in the treatment of and timely diagnosis of Abu-Jamal in order to avoid further medical neglect that might lead to his death;

Therefore, be it resolved, that the National Writers Union will write letters to (1) SCI Mahanoy, (2) the Pennsylvania Department of Corrections, and (3) Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf demanding that these authorities comply with the highest standards of health care recommended by the World Health Organization, the American Medical Association, and the Department of Justice and stop the medical neglect that threatens the life of Abu-Jamal. The National Writers Union calls for Abu-Jamal’s release to the care of doctors and medical facilities of his choice so that he can get the treatment he is entitled to;

Be it further resolved that, given the extensive evidence of Abu-Jamal’s innocence, wrongful incarceration, extreme undiagnosed illness after five months and the prison medical system’s failure to diagnose or treat him properly, we add our voices to the international call for the immediate release of Mumia Abu-Jamal;

Be it further resolved that the National Writers Union will set up a Mumia Abu-Jamal Watch Committee to monitor his health situation and suggest further support actions that may become necessary, which will be authorized by a vote of the delegates.

Resolution from the Civil Rights Committee

WHEREAS the NWU has a rich history with many civil rights organizations and

WHEREAS the union should embrace contemporary movements for civil rights

BE IT RESOLVED that the NWU will commit to the following:

  1. Sponsor a Day Against Racism; issue a press release and coordinate social media activity to motivate writers to show their opposition to racism
  2. Issue a statement of solidarity and support for the Black Lives Matters movement; seek out and write stories of members of the Black Lives Matter movement and the black community, offer assistance to the Black Lives Matters movement, use the union’s political power to fight in solidarity with issues supported by the Black Lives Matter movement.
  3. Develop a campaign to educate members about the needs of disabled individuals and support disabled individuals; adopt the motto “You Can’t Tell By Looking.”
  4. Draft a letter from the Civil Rights Committee in support of the resolution to save the life of Mumia Abu Jamal.

Resolution to Support Injured Colombian GM Workers (ASOTRECOL)

Whereas – a group of valiant injured and fired GM autoworkers will, on August 1, 2015, mark the 4th anniversary of a tent encampment at the US Embassy In Bogota, Colombia;

Whereas – the former GM workers – members of ASOTRECOL – have been urging the US government to compel General Motors to abide by international labor conventions, the mandates of the US-Colombia Labor Action Plan (negotiated in tandem with the US-Colombia Free Trade Agreement), and Colombian laws – to no avail;

Whereas – the encampment is a response to GM-Colombia’s illegal and immoral labor practices, whereby workers who suffer disabling injuries due to hazardous working conditions are discharged and denied alternative work or disability pensions;

Whereas – General Motors acknowledged responsibility for the injustices they committed against its own employees, but refuses to make ASOTRECOL members “whole” – on the contrary – far from it;

Whereas – these depraved labor practices have won the Colombian assembly plant the distinction as the most profitable GM operation in South America and stands as a model of labor relations which GM is exporting throughout its global operations;

Whereas – Colombian President Santos has announced plans to encode into law and make legal the practices referenced herein for ALL employers, including GM, whereby companies can legal discharge disabled workers and pay a maximum six months’ severance pay;

Whereas – SINTRAIME, the union representing workers at the GM Colombia plant, credits ASOTRECOL for stopping GM’s practice of discharging injured workers, and getting GM to instead place them on jobs they can do;

Whereas – support for ASOTRECOL has grown in Colombia, the U.S. and globally which has helped sustain and broaden their struggle which is now allied with injured workers from other industrial sectors; and

Whereas ASOTRECOL welcomes solidarity actions to commemorate the 4th anniversary of their tent encampment to increase the pressure for a just solution,

Whereas UAW 1981 at the 2014 NEB/NEC meeting has previously voted to support the struggle of ASOTRECOL,

Be it resolved that UAW Local 1981 shall:

  1. a) Urge that the UAW make the resolution of the demands of ASOTRECOL a condition for the settlement of a collective bargaining agreement during the current negotiations with General Motors.
  2. b) Go on record in support of this resolution, to be sent to GM CEO Mary Barra, US Labor Deputy Under Secretary for International Affairs Carol Pier, the U.S. Congressional Monitoring Group, Colombia Minister of Labor Rafael Pardo Rueda, and the UAW International Executive Board;
  3. c) Publicize this resolution to UAW 1981 members, and to mass and alternative media outlets wherever possible;
  4. d) Provide material support in the sum of $250.00 to help sustain the courageous struggle by the injured and fired GM workers and their families.

Donations can be made online at!support! or check made out to “Wellspring UCC (United Church of Christ) with “Colombia relief’ on the memo line. Checks should be mailed to: Wellspring UCC, Box 508, Centreville, VA 20122

By-Law Changes Approved at the 2015 Delegate Assembly

Moving the Delegate Assembly to Every Three Years

Whereas, the Delegate Assembly went from an annual to two-year schedule in 2003, and

Whereas, our membership numbers continued to fall over the next several years, and

Whereas, our dues income decreased accordingly, and

Whereas, the Delegate Assembly is our most expensive single event, and

Whereas, it is also our most important single event, and

Whereas, approximately 40% of the DA is made up of the NEB which meets annually, and

Whereas, much more debate, discussion and resolution can be done online, and

Whereas, many unions, including the UAW have changed the schedule for their conventions from three to four years,

Be it resolved that the Delegate Assembly be held every three years.

Further, be it resolved that delegates be elected for three-year terms.

Further, be it resolved we leverage technology, e.g., conference calls, Skype and Go To Meeting to include the delegates in more of the deliberations of the union.

Reducing the Number of National Vice Presidents

Whereas, the current NEC structure has been in place for over twenty years, and

Whereas, in that time union membership has decreased from over 7,000 to about 1,235, and

Whereas, some of the duties assigned by the by-laws to the Second VP concerning bargaining campaigns, the Advisory Committee on Bargaining and an annual report on bargaining, including general bargaining regulations and guidelines no longer apply, and

Whereas, the other duties as spelled out in the by-laws, including assisting the President, chair programs to recruit new members and organize new chapters, to coordinate the national grievance structure and develop leadership training programs and others can be consolidated and shared, and

Whereas, all the Executive Committee positions other than three Vice Presidents are required for local unions by the UAW Constitution,

Be it resolved, that beginning with the 2018 election of national officers, the Executive Committee will have two Vice Presidents, and

Be it further resolved that should a current Vice President resign, die or for some reason be otherwise unable to serve, there will be no Special Election to fill the vacancy.