A Time to Organize
The Nautilus and Ebony campaigns have led to more requests for non-payment grievances (NPGs) and opened up more possibilities for building our union. These are more than grievances for us, they are also organizing campaigns. Based on Nautilus, we are discussing some ideas with National Association of Science Writers (NASW) and other member organizations of the Authors Coalition of America (ACA) on how our organizations can work more closely together. This reflects the widespread nature of late payment and non-payment throughout the industry. It is also a sign that people may be more open to fighting back and see the union as a vehicle.
After Ebony, NABJ wrote a great press release, and we are beginning to have a similar discussion with them. We’d like to play some role at their convention and open up NWU to more of their members. You may remember that they played a big role in the Ebony effort, inviting us to last year’s convention and giving Ebony the Thumbs Down award.
We are in the early stages of another non-payment grievance at Consumers Digest, involving a dozen writers. Six members at Uptown magazine have had a first consultation with the Volunteer Lawyers for the Arts (VLA). We are waiting for a pro bono attorney to accept the case.
Hopefully, this is the beginning of a beautiful friendship. With our institutional membership, our members will have access to VLA services, including representation and trainings. We are swapping logos and links on our websites so that our members are aware of VLA and VLA clients are aware of NWU. We will be added to their resources page and this can develop into another source of new members. They have just referred someone to us for help with a non-payment issue.
As you know, the UAW has thousands of members who are Graduate Student Teaching and Research Assistants. We are beginning a trial campaign, asking those grad students who are leaving campus but want to stay active in the UAW to join NWU. With the assistance of those campus local union leaders and UAW organizing staff, we will try one or more campuses.
While none of these points on their own add up to big numbers, all of them together could add up to more serious growth for NWU. Add to that the two recent contracts signed at The Nation and In These Times (see Dave’s report) and we are modestly increasing our potential. It will require a lot of work and more resources than we can now offer. But we are making a strong case to the International UAW for organizing funds.
The UN Commission on the Status of Women recently concluded in NY. Mindy Ran, the Chair of the IFJ Gender Council, and Zuliana Lainex, the General Secretary of the Union of Journalists in Peru, and the head of the IFJ Latin America Division, both attended on the part of IFJ.
On March 15, they led an IFJ-sponsored parallel event titled, “Challenging Impunity and Gender Based Violence (GBV) against Women Journalists and Media Workers.” I attended along with VP Mauricio Niebla, who gets a special shout out for also serving as Ziluiana’s translator for the event. NWU was more involved in the past two years, but this year, with Women’s Committee Chair Brigid O’Farrell unable to attend, and the focus being more on rural women, we came up a little short. We will continue to support the IFJ campaign against GBV.
The collection of ACA data is done for this year. We won’t know our final numbers until Alex is done compiling and submitting the affidavits later this week. We should be in relatively good shape since we’ve added it the ACA survey to the membership application. But a special shout-out goes to Zigi Lowenberg (NY) for making a week’s worth of phone calls from the office to members and lapsed members who had not yet filled out the survey. She got many people to do so. She was great.
The DA is set for August 10-12 in New York City. We’ve booked the Holiday Inn New York City-Times Square, which is just around the corner from the office and conference room where the DA will be held. So far, we have a commitment from Amy Lehman, executive director of VLA and Ginger Otis, the labor reporter for the NY Daily News to speak to the delegates. We also expect to have someone from NABJ and other writers’ groups.