President’s April 2019 Report

Non-Payment Grievances

In our first major non-payment grievance of 2019, payments are going out to six freelancers at Out Magazine/Pride Media worth about $9,500. Overall, 30 freelancers will be collecting more than $40,000 for work that was contracted, produced and published by Out Magazine/Pride Media. Some of the invoices are more than a year old. Another 12 freelancers have collected $22,000 since early February, when we began working on this grievance.

This issue was complicated by the fact that Pride Media made a decision to sub-contract out the freelance and other work to Grand Publishing, LLC and McCarthy, LLC. Pride claims to have paid those two companies over $800,000 that should have gone to the freelancers. Pride CEO Nathan Coyle has filed four complaints in California against Grand, McCarthy and their officers and with the hopes of collecting the money they paid.

In the grievance against GENOME, a dozen science writers who are members of the Association of Health Care Journalists (AHCJ) had been waiting for a long time. The UAW Legal Department issued a demand letter to Texas millionaire Michael Banigan, who shut down GENOME and Big Science Media and lied about filing bankruptcy and offering 25% kill fees for the unpublished articles.  The science writers knew this was a longshot as it rested on our ability to sue Banigan personally under Texas law. After careful review, the UAW Legal found that our chances were slim at best, and the cost in time and money would far outweigh whatever we might win a Texas courtroom.

One of the freelancers who joined NWU during this grievance said, “I didn’t expect this to go very far once I had a sense of Banigan’s history, never mind Texas law. I am not of the mind…to pursue this any further. But want to very much thank…NWU for pursuing it this far. We’re small potatoes, but at least we made our point with Banigan. And I’ll be sure to let other writers know that NWU advocated on our behalf.”

Legal Action Fund Raiser

As Genome and Pride indicate, we need to be moving ahead with our Legal Action Fund to help cover legal expenses for group NPGs that the UAW can’t handle.  We are moving ahead with our first fundraiser which will be held on June 20, 2019 at the offices of Levy Ratner, the firm we will be working with. We are setting up a Board to oversee the fund and to make the recommendations on when the money will be used.

The fund held by NWUSO, our 501c3, and all contributions will be tax deductible. The NWUSO Board, which includes leading members of other non-profits, from the Puffin Society, Labor Arts, The Triangle Memorial Committee and others, will also serve on the host committee.  Our target is to get 100 people to bring $100 so we can launch the fund with $10,000. We will also be going live with our GoFundMe page where people can contribute at any time.

GCC Training

About a dozen members have volunteered for the new GCC training that will be held the weekend of May 17-19. The training starts Friday evening, goes for a full day on Saturday and half a day on Sunday.  Those in the New York area will meet together and those outside of NY will participate via online web-conference. Some of the volunteers are stepping up for a first time to get active in the union, while others are activists on the Chapter or Division level. We welcome them all. And we are going to need every one of them.