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

04/04/2014 - 4:19pm

The European Federation of Journalists today condemned the killing of an Associated Press (AP) photographer from Germany who was killed while working in Afghanistan ahead of elections Saturday. The photographer was killed and another was wounded when, the AP reported, an Afghan police commander approached the convoy the photojournalists were traveling with - a convoy of elections workers delivering ballots - and opened fire on the journalists.

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03/31/2014 - 9:49am

Event: Copyright in the Digital Age: Creators in a landscape of Google Books and orphan works
Hosts: National Writers Union, DC Chapter and the Special Libraries Association, Social Science Division
When: April 24th, 2014, 12:30 pm - 2:00 pm EDT - Click to add this event to your iCalendar.
Where: AFL-CIO, 815 16th St NW, Washington, DC 20005, President's Room

US copyright is in flux. How can our copyright system continue to strike the right balance between social good and the need for benefits and incentives to diverse creators? What can we learn from listening to creators themselves about how they are negotiating a new landscape? Join us for a panel session focusing on how writers are making a living in the digital age, the state of fair use, and authors' perspectives on book scanning services such as Scribd, Google Books, and Amazon's Look Inside The Book program.

Speakers include Edward Hasbrouck, activist, journalist, author, consumer advocate and NWU Book Division co-chair; Michael Capobianco, author, Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers Association of America (SFWA), President 1996-1998 and 2007-2008; and Kurt Wimmer, an expert in privacy and digital media law and general counsel for the Newspaper Association of America. Larry Guthrie of the Special Libraries Association, Social Science Division's Labor Section will moderate.

Bring a brown bag lunch. The event will be webcast. For more information visit:
http://www.nwu-dc.org/content/copyright-digital-age

Contact: nwudc.news@gmail.com

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03/17/2014 - 6:11pm

Three major journalists' unions in Ukraine and Russia have agreed to work together to support safety for journalists covering events in Ukraine and Crimea, according to the International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) and the European Federation of Journalists (EFJ). The Independent Media Trade Union of Ukraine (IMTUU), the National Union of the Journalists of Ukraine (NUJU) and Russian affiliates the Russian Union of Journalists (RUJ) came together for a meeting in Brussels, Belgium where they vowed to support transparency of information and committed to upholding reporting principles outlined in the IFJ Declaration of Principles on the Conduct of Journalists.

Read more on the IFJ site:

 


 

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02/24/2014 - 7:09pm

Frequently Asked Questions about Revised Settlement of Electronic Databases Copyright Litigation
(post-Tasini case class action)


What is the settlement about?
A class action lawsuit was initiated in 2001 by the National Writers Union and two other writers’ organizations to compensate writers for uncompensated electronic uses of their work prior to the Supreme Court decision in Tasini v. New York Times. After a long and contentious legal process, a revised settlement was negotiated by all parties and was given preliminary approval by a federal court in New York on January 22, 2014. A hearing on final approval has been scheduled for June 10, 2014, but that date could change.

How is this different from the settlement proposed in 2005?  
Most writers who filed claims will get slightly more money under this revised settlement than under the original proposal, including those writers who had not registered their copyrights.

Who can file for payment?
Only those people who filed a valid claim before September 30, 2005, are eligible to receive payment. No new claims will be accepted for the revised settlement, and no additional works can be added to previously filed claims.

If I didn’t file a claim, will this settlement affect me?
Yes. You can do nothing, opt out, or object. If you do nothing, you will give up some rights if freelance articles you wrote were reproduced in publications that participated in the settlement.

What should I do if I didn't file a claim in 2005?
If you find out that any works you wrote are covered by the settlement, you should probably opt out now. There is no benefit to anyone who didn’t file a claim, but there are potential costs. If you didn't file a claim and you do nothing, you will give up some rights to all your affected works, in perpetuity, but you will get no money. If you opt out, you won't give up any rights. Opting out is simple and free. You don’t have to try to list all your works.

What should I do if I filed a claim in 2005?
If the settlement is approved, the publications that published the work for which you made claims choose to participate in the settlement, and your claim is deemed valid by the claims administrator, and you will eventually get a payment. If you feel it’s a bad deal, you can opt out now.
If you are fairly confident you are never going to do anything to generate any revenue from the works covered by the settlement, you will probably want to stay in and get paid. If you are generating other revenue from these works or think you might, you need to decide whether the compensation you will get from the settlement is enough to be worth the rights you will give up.

What rights do I give up if I stay in the settlement?  
Non-exclusive rights in perpetuity to any and all forms of digital distribution of all affected works, which are infinitely sublicensable.
Are the license and rights granted by the proposed settlement limited to the works for which I made claims?
No. The license covers all your freelance contributions to participating publications, even if you didn't make claims for them and even if you didn't make a claim at all.

What do you recommend I should do?
That’s up to you. We can’t make a decision for you. Only you know your work and what revenue you may expect from it, if any, in the future.

How long before we are paid?
That depends on the court, over which we have no control. It will be at least several more months. But we will alert members and other writers when the settlement has finally been approved and when payment is likely.

Which publications are included in the settlement?
A list of publishers can be found in Exhibit F, but the list contains only the names of corporations and not the names of individual journals or magazines. The final list of which publications choose to participate in the
settlement won't be known until after the settlement is finally approved.
I filled out a claim for the Google Book Settlement in 2010. Are the two settlements related?
No. These are two entirely separate, very different cases.

Can I object to the settlement?
Yes. Anyone who files the proper paperwork will have a chance to speak to the court before the court decides whether to give final approval to the settlement.

What if I still have questions? How do I get more info?
The full Notice of Revised Class Action Settlement is posted at www.copyrightclassaction.com. If you still need help, you may contact us at nwu@nwu.org. It may take us time to answer your question.
 


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02/15/2014 - 9:24pm

Friday, February 21, 2014

The United Auto Workers today, February 21, 2014, filed an appeal with the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) alleging outside interference in a historic Southern auto plant vote last week. A win for the UAW would have represented a major victory for the labor movement in the South.  The vote one week ago saw Volkswagen auto plant workers vote narrowly against union representation that would have led to the establishment of a works council - the first such proposed model of labor-management relations in the United States.

The UAW alleges that a firestorm of interference and threats from special interest groups influenced how workers voted over three days last week. (WATCH: Workers’ React to Outside Interference).

According to a UAW Release: Of the anti-union messaging: “It’s essentially saying, ‘If you unionize, it’s going to hurt your economy. Why? Because I’m going to make sure it does,’” said Volkswagen worker Lauren Feinauer. “I hope people see it for the underhanded threat that it is.”

The campaign also included threats by U.S. Sen. Bob Corker related to promises of a new product line awarded to the plant if workers voted against UAW representation.

The objections state, “Senator Corker’s conduct was shameful and undertaken with utter disregard for the rights of the citizens of Tennessee and surrounding states that work at Volkswagen. … The clear message of the campaign was that voting for the union would result in stagnation for the Chattanooga plant, with no new product, no job security, and withholding of state support for its expansion.”

The UAW announced after the vote:

“While we certainly would have liked a victory for workers here, we deeply respect the Volkswagen Global Group Works Council, Volkswagen management and IG Metall for doing their best to create a free and open atmosphere for workers to exercise their basic human right to form a union,” said UAW President Bob King.

Read the full announcement here.  Volkswagen Chattanooga workers were brave and stood up to the tremendous pressure from outside. Send them a message of support on Facebook and Twitter using the hashtag #UAWVW to remind them they have allies, brothers and sisters standing with them in solidarity.


 

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02/14/2014 - 6:57pm

IFJ Release: "The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) has today published its full report on the number of journalists and media staff killed across the globe in 2013.  Titled In Mortal Danger: Journalist & Media Staff Killed in 2013', the report provides information on the 105 journalists and media staff who lost their lives in targeted attacks, bomb attacks and other cross fire incidents during the year, while also raising awareness of the continued safety crisis around the globe.

There are also updates on 15 accidental deaths recorded last year.  Documenting the precarious and often brutal situation for journalists reporting in areas of conflict, war and political unrest, the IFJ report shows that the deadliest regions for journalists in 2013 were Asia Pacific, with 29% of the killings, and the Middle East and Arab World with 27%, while the most dangerous countries for media staff were Syria, the Philippines, Pakistan, Iraq and India."

Read more on the IFJ site...


 

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02/09/2014 - 10:36pm

Maxine Kumin of New Hampshire was one of the Boston NWU chapter's longest-term members. She also served on the NWU advisory board. She passed away on February 6th, 2014 at the age of 88. Her obituary was published the next day in the New York Times. ABC also reported her health had been in decline for a year.

An NWU "Datebook" with photos and quotes on each page published in 1988 included the following quote from Maxine Kumin: "Butchers & bakers and wordmakers all deserve the umbrella of a good union."

Maxine Kumin's essay "Letter to a Young Writer" was originally published in Teachers & Writers, 33, no. 4 (March/Aprils 2002), and was reprinted in The Roots of Things: Essays, by Maxine Kumin (Northwestern University Press, 2010). It has been posted on the NWU Boston Chapter website with permission of the author.


 

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02/06/2014 - 3:10pm

Leaders and members of the National Writers Union joined the United Auto Workers (UAW) Community Action Program (CAP) Legislative Conference Feb. 2-5. The CAP Conference is the annual political and legislative gathering of the entire UAW. Together with some 1,500 delegates from across the United States, attendees lobbied Congress on issues on the UAW's list, including raising the minimum wage and stopping Fast Track trade authority. During the 4-day conference, delegates lobbied their members of Congress.

High-profile speakers at the conference including U.S. Vice President Joe Biden, who told union delegates they "built the middle class," and U.S. Secretary of Labor Thomas Perez, also addressed the gathering. Delegates also heard from House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi, Democratic labor stalwart Rep. George Miller of California, Congressional Black Caucus co-chair Rep. Marcia Fudge and others.

National Writers Union (UAW Local 1981) President Larry Goldbetter, First Vice President Ann Hoffman, CAP Committee Chair  Keith Bagwell and New Hampshire CAP Committee Member Gail Kinney represented the NWU at the conference. Hoffman lobbied most Members of Congress from Virginia with two other members of the UAW.

During the conference, President Bob King announced that workers at the Volkswagen factory in Chattanooga, TN will vote whether to join the UAW between February 12 and 14.  If the vote is successful, VW and the UAW will form a works council, similar to those in existence in Germany and other countries where VW manufactures.  A works council would be a new form of union representation in the U.S., but is well established and highly successful in Europe. King discussed the upcoming election on the "Ed Show" on MSNBC.

“Volkswagen is known globally for its system of cooperation with unions and works councils,” said UAW President Bob King. “The UAW seeks to partner with [Volkswagen Group of America (VWGOA)] and a works council to set a new standard in the U.S. for innovative labor–management relations that benefits the company, the entire workforce, shareholders and the community. The historic success of the works council model is in line with the UAW’s successful partnerships with the domestic automakers and its vision of the 21st century union.”

The works council model has been successful for Volkswagen elsewhere. The company is recognized around the world as being a leader in respecting the rights of workers to organize and collectively bargain, with standards that go beyond labor standards, according to a UAW press release.

 

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01/28/2014 - 12:39pm

 

The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) today announced the launch of a campaign to advocate for the safety of Ukranian journalists in the wake of an estimated 150 journalist injuries since protests began in Kiev. The IFJ has posted videos and other documented evidence of journalists' injuries and intimidation in Ukraine, including a link to this video of a December attack on journalist Tatyana Chornovol. The campaign includes safety tips for journalists as well as a suggested draft letter to the Ukrainian government (direct link to file download) urging the government to protect journalists. The IFJ urged its affiliates to fill out the letter and send it to communications@ifj.org.  

IFJ has also launched a social media campaign under the Twitter hashtag #SOS_Kiev. Find IFJ on Twitter @IFJGlobal. IFJ is asking journalists covering the protests in Ukraine to submit photos and messages to help the IFJ document the protests on the ground. Journalists can send post their photos and messages to IFJ on Facebook or to European Federation of Journalists on Facebook and use the hashtag #SOS_Kiev on Twitter.

 


 

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01/24/2014 - 12:34pm

 

On January 22, Judge George B. Daniels in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York granted a “Preliminary Approval of the Revised Class Action Settlement” in the legal case called "In Re Literary Works in Electronic Databases Copyright Litigation."
 
This settlement grew out of class action lawsuits initiated in 2001 by the National Writers Union and two other writers’ organizations to compensate freelance writers for electronic uses of their work in print periodicals prior to the Supreme Court’s 2001 decision in Tasini v. New York Times.
 
The lead plaintiff in that case, Jonathan Tasini, was President of the NWU when the suit originated in 1995. The NWU brought this lawsuit because we believed that freelance writers, who were only paid for print publication, should be paid for electronic uses of their work. With the legal and financial backing of the United Auto Workers union (UAW), we were able to continue the fight to the Supreme Court, who ruled in our favor and established that work published in electronic media constitutes a separate use of the work, which publishers must pay for.
 
Because only the plaintiffs to the original Tasini lawsuit were compensated after that decision, follow-up class action laws suits were initiated to pay other freelance writers. After a long and contentious legal process, a revised settlement was negotiated and has received preliminary approval from the court. A fairness hearing on the settlement is scheduled for June 10.
Formal notice of the proposed settlement will be posted on our website for our members shortly. This will give Class members the opportunity to opt out of the settlement or to present objections to the settlement. The deadline for filing a request to opt out of the settlement or for filing objections is May 9, 2014.
 
The National Writers Union is pleased that under the proposed settlement the publishers that used our work without our permission or payment have agreed to pay more than what was stipulated in the first proposed settlement. We are also pleased that each author of an article or work that did not have a registered copyright will receive more compensation than originally proposed. Mostly, we are pleased that once the settlement is finally accepted by the court, money will eventually be in writers’ pockets where it rightfully belongs. We will provide detailed advice to our members about the proposed settlement.
 

For more information contact the National Writers Union: 212-254-0279

 


 

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Union News

05/22/2008 - 1:37am

NEW YORK—Barbara Kingsolver is pleased to announce the 2008 winner of the Bellwether Prize for Fiction. Heidi W. Durrow of Los Angeles will receive the $25,000 award for her unpublished novel, and the opportunity to work with an editor at this prize cycle’s participating publisher, Algonquin Books of Chapel Hill. The Bellwether Prize is awarded biennially to a promising first-time novelist working in the tradition of socially engaged literature.

04/16/2008 - 1:30am

Recently, Amazon announced that it is requiring on-demand publishers and authors to use its print-on-demand (POD) division, BookSurge, if they want to sell their titles as print-on-demand on Amazon.com.

04/07/2008 - 1:26am

On October 29 a majority of a three-judge panel of the Second Circuit Court of Appeal rejected the $18 million settlement reached in March 2005 after two years of heated negotiations between freelance writers and publishers over electronic copyright infringements involving unauthorized sales over the Internet of writers’ copyrighted works.
 

03/24/2008 - 1:22am
Every worker has the right to a job at a living wage. That right must be respected by the bosses, who, driven by corporate greed, want to cut your wages nearly in half as well as decimate your current benefits.
02/07/2008 - 1:15am

 The National Writers Union, UAW Local 1981, the nation’s only trade union dedicated to advocating for the rights and economic betterment of freelance writers, stands in solidarity with our brother and sister writers of the Writers Guild of America

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