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

10/30/2014 - 9:28am

 

Workers Tell Their Stories

The non-profit arm of the National Writers Union is collecting stories, especially those of low-wage workers. Members Esther Cohen, Terry Schwadron, Ed Murphy, and Chris Rhomberg, who is also a Fordham University professor, work with interns from the school, who conduct the interviews in New York City. 
 
Above: Interns Emma Kilroy, foreground, Andrew O'Grady, center.
 

UREL BERNARD BAPTISTE

Security Guard 
 
“I just came to the United States exploring, you know, vacationing,” he said, “and then I forgot to go home.”  Like many immigrants, Urel Bernard Baptiste finds himself away from home for work. He has the 10 p.m.-to-6 a.m. shift at a Fordham University residence. Bernard, as he is called, stumbled upon the job before the students that he safeguards were even born, and has since remained at his post by chance.
 
Born in Dominica, he grew up on the island of Antigua, which he considers to be home. “Technically I was looking for a job when I came, but not here in New York. I never planned to leave home.” Then he got an offer to work at Fordham from an Antiguan friend who was head of security. Bernard’s wife still lived back home, but encouraged him to give it a try. 
 
After two years in New York however, he was homesick; he missed his wife and four children. One night, he packed his things and went to the airport, ready to return home for good. That’s when he hit a speed bump: “I forgot my passport. I took a yellow cab all the way back to the Bronx and searched the house where I stayed, but couldn’t find it.” He was encouraged to stay one more night until he could get his things together. “And then I thought, what if I wasn’t supposed to go home after all?” Soon, he found himself welcoming his wife and children to New York City, where they’ve lived since. “I will keep working here until my son is done with his education,” Bernard said, “which won’t be long. Then I’m leaving New York, and leaving this country. I’m going home.” He’s not happy with management decisions to use a third party contractor to supply some of the security guards at the university… “They go to the security office, pick up their radio, pick up their guest log, and they are told ‘Go to Alumni Court South.’ These people don’t know where the hell that is. They don’t know the students’ faces. They don’t know the RAs, the RDs, the supervisors. They don’t know what goes on here, and it is bad for the school.”
 
After a recent situation involving a resident requesting to retrieve a bag from his room without signing in as a guest, Bernard’s higher-ups scolded him for making a judgment call. They told him that after 22 years on the job, he was “not qualified to make that sort of a decision without calling a supervisor first.” He was angered, but swallowed his emotions. “I have never felt so degraded at a job. All my children have good jobs except me; I’m here working this shit.” He says his pension won’t cover all the costs for his family, so he keeps working. “But I’m leaving soon. And when I do, I might write a letter to Fordham. A long letter. But right now…I try to make the best of it. I call it survival,” he said.  As told to Elaina Weber.
 
GINA EFFAH
Restaurant Manager, Cashier
 
She has been a manager and cashier at Popeye’s on West 14th Street since 2006. Although she lit up when talking about the friendships she’s made there, this one-day-a-week job is not something Gina intends to do for the rest of her career. Her plan to go straight into the sciences after high school was sidetracked when she had the first of her three children while studying to earn her associate’s degree. Then her father passed away, and she had to pay for her education on her own.
 
Now 30, Gina studies radiology part time, works at Popeye’s, and cares for her family. Her husband works as a nurse, but they live paycheck to paycheck. Her job at Popeye’s is a way to make a little extra money, and push herself through the remainder of school.
Gina says that her coworkers are like family, yet the majority of them are teenagers, so the faces are always changing… The perks of the job include free food, some of which she can take home to her family. But once she finishes earning her associate’s degree, she says she’ll leave to work as an X-Ray Technician, and then go on to pursue a bachelor’s of science.  As told to Sara Gillooly.
 
ALEX MOLD
EMT, Researcher
 
I have two jobs that I love. One of them is for Fordham University, where I am an Emergency Medical Technician (EMS) and a crew chief. I have had some amazing experiences, like the time I helped deliver a baby. As a collegiate EMS organization, pregnancy and delivery are something that I have not experienced much, so this day stood out. I have also been responsible for saving a life. The scariest moment happened when a person received massive cranial trauma and did not realize it. Later he thanked me for taking care of him. It felt good.
 
My other job at Fordham is as a research assistant for Dr. Qize Wei. He’s studying the role of MyoGEF (cell invasion) on breast cancer. Since I have worked on this project, I have been published twice and been responsible for teaching three undergrads how to work in the lab. When they ask questions, I see a part of me in them. They experience the same eagerness towards learning the procedures as I had when I first started in the lab. 
Alex Mold, student intern, Workers Stories project.
 
 
 

ABOUT THE STORIES: NWU began offering free classes for Fast Food Workers at our headquarters, and this year partnered with Fordham University’s Dorothy Day Center. They gave us six interns to gather the stories of New York City’s low-wage workers, which we post on the NWU site. The Workforce Development Institute in Albany sponsors the website, and recently Riverside Church joined us in our efforts to tell more of these stories.

 
Read more at http://workerstories.org

 

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10/29/2014 - 3:44pm

From 1933 to 1945, labor supporter Eleanor Roosevelt was First Lady of the United States. A recent book by NWU Member, Brigid O’Farrell, and an upcoming play hosted by SoCal NWU members explore the longest-serving First Lady’s passions. 
 
On the Stage: On Saturday, Nov. 22, SoCal NWU and & SoCal Arbeter Ring present the one-woman show, Hick: A Love Story, starring Terry Baum, and written by Baum and Pat Bond. The production explores Lorena Hickok’s life and romance with the First Lady. The venue is SoCal Arbeter Ring at 1525 S. Robertson Boulevard, Los Angeles, CA 90035. Tickets are $10 at the door, first come first seated.
 
The Backstory: To get the scoop on the patrician First Lady and the charming butch reporter, Baum traveled to Hyde Park, NY, to study original documents, including Roosevelt’s letters, which are in the “Lorena Hickok” files at the FDR Library. Of the letters the First Lady wrote to Hick, more than 2000 survive; they date from 1933 to 1962—the year Roosevelt died—says the play’s star. The missives were discovered in 1978, when aresearcher opened 18 boxes willed to the FDR Library by Hickok. Baum also interviewed people who knew Hick, a prominent journalist of her time whose stories were published on the front page of the New York Times.
 
The two women met during FDR’s first Presidential campaign in 1932, when Hick convinced her editor that the candidate’s wife was worth her own reporter. The love affair went on for several years, but the friendship lasted a lifetime. Hick helped Roosevelt become an outspoken, media-savvy activist for democracy and human rights, and one of the most powerful women of the 20th century. See a promo for the play on YouTube.
 
On the Page: In October, Bay Area member and author Brigid O’Farrell gave a talk celebrating the 50th Anniversary of Wider Opportunities for Women at the AFL-CIO headquarters in Washington, DC, and discussed her most recent book, She Was One of Us: Eleanor Roosevelt and the American Worker, (Cornell University Press, 2010). The volume explores the First Lady’s life long activism on behalf of working women and theirunions, including her role as chair of President Kennedy’s Commission on the Status of Women. A journalist and author, Roosevelt held membership in The Newspaper Guild for more than 25 years. O’Farrell’s book has taken her across the country to facilitate the workshop: “Using Our Past to Change our Future: Leading with Eleanor Roosevelt.” 
 
Photos courtesy: progressinvolvment.com and the authors.
 
Read more...
10/29/2014 - 3:20pm
By Barbara Mende
 
Traditional publishing has become so restrictive that many authors say, “Forget 7 percent royalties and giving up rights to media that haven’t been invented yet! I’ll self-publish.” That can be a great alternative. More accurately, it can be a lot of alternatives, including much higher royalties. But do your homework first, so you’ll know what you’re getting into. In 2010 the Grievance and Contract Division (GCD) had six inquiries about PublishAmerica (now America Star), one of the more notorious subsidy presses. The year before, we had two inquiries. There have been none since. 
 
Inquiries about the more substantial firms that became part of Author Solutions (including AuthorHouse, iUniverse, and Xlibris) began to decline, as well. Instead, authors were taking the do-it-yourself route: producing their books through Amazon’s CreateSpace or Ingram’s Lightning Source. They also pursued their own contracts with editors, illustrators, and packagers.

 
Subsidy presses are still out there. Now their projects are trending upmarket. We still hear frequently about Tate Publishing, which turns out decent products for which authors pay a few thousand in “marketing” fees. Author Solutions is now “a Penguin Random House Company,” and has alsoteamed up with Simon & Schuster to create Archway Publishing. Other niche imprints are beginning to emerge. How can an author resist? While mainstream publishers don’t exactly promise to monitor self-published books in the hope of finding another Fifty Shades of Grey, one can hope. 
 
So choices abound. A good place to start your self-publishing research is the NWU-Book Discussion Group. (Find directions on how to join at www.nwu.org/writer-discussion-listservs). And be sure to send your self-publishing agreements of any type to advice@nwu.org for review before you sign them.
Mende is NWU’s Grievance and Contract Division Coordinator.
 

 

Read more...
10/09/2014 - 9:59am

"Ruth and the Green Book", by member Calvin Ramsey, was recently named one of the 10 Books That All Georgians Should Read 2014 and Books All Young Georgians Should Read for 2014. [Read our NWU feature story about "Ruth And The Green Book".] " The “Books All Georgians Should Read” programs are a celebration of Georgia's rich literary heritage, and the lists are compiled annually by the Advisory Council for the Georgia Center for the Book. Recommendations come from individuals and groups around the state; the intention is to promote reading and discussion across genres while, at the same time, cultivating appreciation of the literary arts.

The "Green Book", the actual title of which was "The Negro Motorist Green Book", was published for 3 decades, starting in  1936, to advise African-Americans traveling in the U.S. of hotels, beauty shops, gas stations and other places at which they would not be excluded because of their race. Read more...

Follow the Georgia Center for the Book on Twitter.

 


 

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10/06/2014 - 7:02pm

PUBLISHING NEWS

OPPORTUNITY FOR AUTHORS

Richard Flanagan, an Australian , won the 2014 Man Booker Prize for fiction for his sixth novel: The Narrow Road to the Deep North.  The book tells the story of a surgeon in a Japanese POW camp on the Thailand-Burma railway. The Prize was anounced on October 14. American writers were eligible for the prize for the first time this year. Two were among the final six contenders:  Karen Joy Fowler for "We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves" and Joshua Ferris for "To Rise Again at a Decent Hour."

For more on the story, see themanbookerprize.com


PANEL BRINGS PUBLISHERS, WRITERS TOGETHER

The Boston Chapter’s September Publishing Alternatives panel drew 30 writers and four publishers: Candlewick Press (Somerville, MA, UK and Australia); Gemma Media (Boston); Hobblebush Books (Brookline, NH); and Cognoscenti, National Public Radio/WBUR’s online commentary page (Boston). During the Q&A, our business-savvy members focused on what matters most: What’s in the contract; turnaround times; advances; and openness to issues that mainstream publishers may consider too controversial (e.g. abortion). Biggest takeaway: Editors are impressed by queries that show a writer has thoroughly perused—and even better bought and read—the books on a publisher’s website. That way, potential authors have a sense of the kinds of material a publisher is likely to want. Thanks to event organizers and steering committee members Jim Kates and John Hodge.   

 — Barbara Beckwith


ILHAM TOHTI SENTENCED TO LIFE

Ilham Tohti, who won the 2014 PEN/Barbara Goldsmith ‘Freedom to Write’ award, was sentenced to life in prison by a court in China. PEN's denunciation of the verdict was cited in the NY Times. A writer, scholar, and leader in Uyghur PEN, Tohti founded Uyghur Online, a forum for dialogue between China’s Muslim Uyghur minority and its majority Han populations. The author was arrested in a violent raid on his home back in January, and charged with “separatism”—an allegation that his writings firmly reject.

As he was dragged out of court that morning, he spoke the last words we may hear from him in a long time: “This is not just! I won’t give in.” PEN is working with its partners to provide material support to Tohti's family, whose assets have been seized as a result of his conviction. —PEN AMERICA


‘NOT NO, BUT HELL NO!’

As we move into October and National Disability Employment Awareness Month, I’m reminded of a couple of things: (1) In Washington, DC, the No. 1 Management Rule is: “Don’t do anything you don’t want to read in the New York Times.” (2) I got involved in disability politics in the mid-1980s because Justin W. Dart Jr. and others inspired me in my fight against associational discrimination within the US Department of State. But in 1993, after the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) had become law, and after I had passed my exams for the Foreign Service, I was still denied an appointment to travel abroad, owing to my daughter’s cardiac disability. 

Government officials tried to waive my medical clearance, but the ADA had abolished "waivers" on medical clearances for health conditions and disabilities.  That is called associational discrimination based on disability, and was now prohibited. So when the bureaucrat asked me, “Don’t you want a waiver?” I responded,  “Not no, but hell no!” I insisted that they enforce the ADA. Then, in early 1995, after the government spent millions of dollars to discriminate against my daughter and me, I was appointed to the Foreign Service. The NY Times covered it: http://www.nytimes.com/1995/01/22/business/at-work-promotions-and-family-matters.html.

Alex Baker Patterson lived to be 17. She enjoyed looking at photographs of eagles in flight. So do I. My favorite eagle is Alex.   

—Jim Patterson


INTERNATIONAL DAY TO END IMPUNITY

The International Federation of Journalists has launched an End Impunity campaign and is asking the NWU, as its sister union, to help increase awareness about this issue in the US on November 2.

Vicious attacks against journalists over the last month continue to attract media attention. Yet, more than 1000 journalists and media staff have been killed around the world over the last two decades—more in peace time than during wars and conflicts. Credible statistics estimate that out of 10 killings, only one gets investigated. The UN General Assembly recently passed the strongest resolution supporting journalists and marked November 2 as the International Day to End Impunity for Crimes against Journalists.

NWU chapters can ...

● Download the campaign banner at IFJ.org and publicize it on your website and pubilcations.

● Post protests, slogans and demands on Twitter with the hashtag #EI_IFJ.

● Hold press conferences or meetings dedicated to End Impunity against Journalists and publicize the problem.

● Hold a minute of silence or another special event, such as a film screening.

Find out more: daytoendimpunity.org

 


 

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10/06/2014 - 9:56am

New York NWU Hosts Book Reading (All NY Photos by Tim Sheard)

New York NWU Tables at the Brooklyn Book Fair

Wisconsin NWU Gets New Banner

 

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10/06/2014 - 9:51am

KUDOS!

  • Eric A. Gordon (SOCAL):

—reports on a talk by "Forward" journalist J.J. Goldberg:

http://www.peoplesworld.org/j-j-goldberg-speaks-on-israel-and-palestine-is-there-a-way-out/

— says, "Why go all the way to Newfoundland and not get a story out of it?"

http://www.peoplesworld.org/echoes-of-valour-in-newfoundland-a-story-of-racism-defeated/

— takes on the subject of marriage in a particularly personal way: 

http://www.peoplesworld.org/impressions-of-marriage/

 


 

Read more...
10/06/2014 - 8:27am

The International Federation of Journalists has launched an End Impunity campaign and is asking the NWU, as its sister union, to help increase awareness about this issue in the US on November 2.

Vicious attacks against journalists over the last month continue to attract media attention. Yet, more than 1000 journalists and media staff have been killed around the world over the last two decades—more in peace time than during wars and conflicts. Credible statistics estimate that out of 10 killings, only one gets investigated. The UN General Assembly recently passed the strongest resolution supporting journalists and marked November 2 as the International Day to End Impunity for Crimes against Journalists.

NWU chapters can ...

● Download the campaign banner at IFJ.org and publicize it on your website and pubilcations.

● Post protests, slogans and demands on Twitter with the hashtag #EI_IFJ.

● Hold press conferences or meetings dedicated to End Impunity against Journalists and publicize the problem.

● Hold a minute of silence or another special event, such as a film screening.

Find out more: daytoendimpunity.org

 


 

Read more...
10/06/2014 - 8:24am

‘NOT NO, BUT HELL NO!’ - NWU Member Submission

As we move into October and National Disability Employment Awareness Month, I’m reminded of a couple of things: (1) In Washington, DC, the No. 1 Management Rule is: “Don’t do anything you don’t want to read in the New York Times.” (2) I got involved in disability politics in the mid-1980s because Justin W. Dart Jr. and others inspired me in my fight against associational discrimination within the US Department of State. But in 1993, after the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) had become law, and after I had passed my exams for the Foreign Service, I was still denied an appointment to travel abroad, owing to my daughter’s cardiac disability.

Government officials tried to waive my medical clearance, but the ADA had abolished "waivers" on medical clearances for health conditions and disabilities.  That is called associational discrimination based on disability, and was now prohibited. So when the bureaucrat asked me, “Don’t you want a waiver?” I responded,  “Not no, but hell no!” I insisted that they enforce the ADA. Then, in early 1995, after the government spent millions of dollars to discriminate against my daughter and me, I was appointed to the Foreign Service. The NY Times covered it: http://www.nytimes.com/1995/01/22/business/at-work-promotions-and-family-matters.html.

Alex Baker Patterson lived to be 17. She enjoyed looking at photographs of eagles in flight. So do I. My favorite eagle is Alex.  

—Jim Patterson

 


 

Read more...
10/06/2014 - 8:23am

Ilham Tohti, who won the 2014 PEN/Barbara Goldsmith ‘Freedom to Write’ award, was sentenced to life in prison by a court in China. PEN's denunciation of the verdict was cited in the NY Times. A writer, scholar, and leader in Uyghur PEN, Tohti founded Uyghur Online, a forum for dialogue between China’s Muslim Uyghur minority and its majority Han populations. The author was arrested in a violent raid on his home back in January, and charged with “separatism”—an allegation that his writings firmly reject.

As he was dragged out of court that morning, he spoke the last words we may hear from him in a long time: “This is not just! I won’t give in.” PEN is working with its partners to provide material support to Tohti's family, whose assets have been seized as a result of his conviction.

—PEN AMERICA

PEN has launched a letter-writing campaign to urge the Chinese authorities to release Ilham Tohti.

 

 


 

Read more...

Union News

11/12/2010 - 1:22am

The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) today backed a strike by journalists at the Croatian daily newspaper Voice of Istria in a crucial battle over workers’ rights and independent journalism in the country.

The IFJ affiliate the Croatian Journalists’ Union, which organises 117 workers at the Glas Istre Novine company, has called a strike tomorrow after nine months of turmoil at the paper which has seen a company buy-out, plans for massive wage cuts, job losses and internal interference in the work of journalists.

“This strike is a result of management ‘slash and burn’ tactics and a refusal to negotiate with the union,” said Aidan White, IFJ General Secretary. “The workforce refuses to see their rights wiped away by a company that has lost all sense of decency in its treatment of staff.”

11/12/2010 - 1:17am

The European Federation of Journalists today called on journalists across Europe to support journalists at the BBC who have launched a strike campaign to defend pension rights. At the weekend journalists staged a successful 48-hour stoppage across the network, forcing a number of flagship programmes off the air. Now fresh actions are planned as the network seeks to impose a "pay-more, get-less" retirement plan on thousands of its staff.

"The BBC journalists are showing the way to tackle head-on the media agenda of cuts and down-grading of staff rights," said Aidan White, EFJ General Secretary. "It's a strike campaign that will resonate in all European media houses where journalists and media staff are being targeted to shoulder the burden of the financial crisis."

The EFJ says that European journalists are facing savage budget cuts, declining social rights and a lack of social dialogue not just in the broadcasting sector, but across the whole of the media landscape.

10/18/2010 - 5:03pm

The NWU National Executive Board voted to oppose an Arizona law, House Bill 2281, which threatens ethnic studies classes in the state. The vote took place at the September 25-26 meeting in New York City.

Outgoing Arizona Schools Superintendent Tom Horne drafted the measure after launching vicious public attacks on the ethnic studies program, particularly Mexican-American Studies class of the Tucson Unified School District. Horne, a Republican, is running for Arizona Attorney General...

10/04/2010 - 4:45pm

With the folding of daily newspapers and an overwhelming number of other commercial print publications, the bulk of paid published writing has shifted to the Internet. In the world of Internet publishing, we have seen the rise of Content Farms claiming to offer desirable writing assignments. These companies, owned by AOL, Yahoo and Demand Media among others, pay writers very little—such as $50 dollars for ten or more 500 word articles, pay by amount of web site page clicks—and other nonspecific methods with no guaranteed amount or very low payment. Demand Media, which has contracts with the San Francisco Chronicle, the National Football League, The Houston Chronicle and more, boasts of having 10,000 freelance writers that they pay a penny-a-word!

10/04/2010 - 4:09pm

Despite long hours of travel to get to Washington, UAW members showed up in the thousands to support the march's goals. Photo by Susan Kramer.Despite long hours of travel to get to Washington, UAW members showed up in the thousands to support the march's goals. Photo by Susan Kramer.


“The voices of division will try to divide us by race, gender, age and other ways. Those rallying here today are leading us on a path of community, of compassion and common humanity.” That’s what UAW President Bob King told almost 200,000 marchers from more than 300 unions and progressive organizations at the “One Nation Working Together” rally.


10/04/2010 - 4:03pm

On September 24, the FBI raided the homes of anti-war activists in Chicago and Minneapolis, removing computers, cell phones, boxes of papers, posters, children’s art and more. They claim they were investigating “material support for terrorism.” More than a dozen federal warrants were served in four states calling people to testify at a Grand Jury this week. On September 27, NWU President Larry Goldbetter issued the following statement which was read by NWU members at a rally protesting the raids in front of FBI headquarters in Chicago. He and other NWU members joined a similar rally in NY on September 28.

 

10/01/2010 - 11:46am

In its press release, the European Federation of Journalists demands that journalists currently in jail in Turkey must be set free immediately if the movement towards key changes in the country’s constitution is to deliver promises of democracy and freedom.

The EFJ has joined its affiliate, the Turkish Journalists Union (TGS), in a call for the immediate and unconditional release of more than 40 journalists jailed in Turkey who they say are in prison for nothing more than doing their job.

09/12/2010 - 3:49pm

Crain’s new york business.com reported that freelance workers in NY state are owed more than $4.7 billion in lost wages. The article (http://www.crainsnewyork.com/article/20100829/SMALLBIZ/308299994) sited a study by a Rutgers University economist that “shows that 42% of nearly 900,000 independent workers in New York State reported having trouble collecting payment for their labors last year.”

08/23/2010 - 8:18pm

Lee Lockwood (1932-2010), a photojournalist who made his name with influential 1960s articles about Fidel Castro and an American prisoner of war in North Vietnam, was a member of the National Writers Union from 1989 until he retired in 2006. He died on July 31 of complications from diabetes.

Lee Lockwood (1932-2010), a photojournalist who made his name with influential 1960s articles about Fidel Castro and an American prisoner of war in North Vietnam, was a member of the National Writers Union from 1989 until he retired in 2006. He died on July 31 of complications from diabetes.

According to an obituary in the August 7 New York Times, Lockwood viewed his work as a photojournalist as an instrument of social change. A freelancer, he was associated for many years with the Black Star Agency, which sent his work to newspapers and magazines around the world.

Lockwood also wrote books. His most famous, Castro’s Cuba, Cuba’s Castro: An American Journalist’s Inside Look at Today’s Cuba in Text and Pictures (Macmillian, 1967), was based on a week-long, smoke-filled interview for Playboy in 1965. The book covered a wide range of topics, from Marxism, the Cuban missile crisis, and American race relations to sex and prostitution. Lockwood explained in the introduction why he wrote the book: “We don’t like Castro, so we close our eyes and hold our ears, Yet if he is really our enemy, as dangerous to us as we are told he is, then we ought to know as much about him as possible.”

While in Cuba, Lockwood obtained a visa to North Vietnam, the scene of another famous article. That made him the first outside photographer allowed there in more than a decade. Lockwood’s 28-day visit was chronicled in a long, heavily illustrated cover article for the April 7, 1967, issue of Life magazine. As the Times notes, “In words and pictures, Mr. Lockwood portrayed the life of a country then under heavy bombardment by United States forces: bare, ruined villages; deserted factories; a boy with a missing leg, lost to a bomb,” as well as scenes of everyday life.

 

One of Lockwood’s subjects was American Navy pilot Lt. Cmdr. Richard A. Stratton, who had been shot down and captured in January 1967. Clad in striped prison pajamas, Stratton read a “confession” denouncing U.S. bombing over a loudspeaker and then bowed on orders from a prison official. Lockwood’s photo of Stratton bowing, given a full page in Life, was reproduced around the world. Coupled with Lockwood’s description of Stratton – “His eyes were empty.… His expression never changed.” – the State Department soon after charged the Vietnamese with brainwashing. However, in a Times interview in 2008, Stratton called his actions merely common sense: “You are being tortured, and all you have to do to get them to stop is say the same thing that Bobby Kennedy is saying.”

Lockwood joined the Boston Chapter of the NWU in 1989, inspired by the opportunity to belong to a fighting union. The 1954 graduate of Boston University with a degree in comparative literature showed an avid interest in computers in the early 1990s when other writers were pooh-poohing the emerging technology. Members remember that he gave an informative workshop on that topic for the Western New England Chapter. A review of Boston Chapter doings yielded this from 1993: “Lee Lockwood wanted more on-line exchange of information and ideas, so he pressed the NWU to make our bulletin board an active networking service.”

The major arena where Lockwood contributed his many skills to the NWU was the Grievance and Contract Division where from 1992 to 2005 he spent about 90 percent of his time as a contract advisor. Phil Mattera, the long-standing National Book Grievance Officer, remembers: “Lee was also the member who brought the NWU's first grievance (in 1994) involving an electronic book. Playboy Enterprises was putting together a CD-ROM compilation of interviews from the magazine and planned to include Lee's Castro piece – without asking permission and without more than token compensation. Unlike other contributors to the magazine, Lee had never signed over all rights. After getting publicity for the case in Publishers Weekly, The Wall Street Journal   and other publications, we got Playboy to pay Lee a $1,000 fee.”

Having members of Lee Lockwood’s reputation certainly enhanced the NWU’s stature and encouraged similar writers to join. We salute Lockwood’s many professional achievements and contributions to the NWU as we continue to advocate for freelance writers’ rights which greatly concerned him.

Note: If you wish to send a few words of remembrance to the Lockwood family, you may do so via the online guest book.  It’s interesting to note that Richard Stratton posted the following message there: “Lee's 1967 Life Magazine "Bowing Picture" ensured my release from Hanoi in 1973. For this my family is forever grateful. Deepest sympathy from our family to yours.” One hopes Lockwood knew that. 

Susan E. Davis
National Contract Advisor
Book Division Co-Chair
New York Chapter Co-Chair

07/10/2010 - 11:09pm

The National Writers Union joins with the Pakistan Federal Union of Journalists (PFUJ) in condemning the brutal murder of Faiz Mohammad Khan Sasolion June 27.