President’s December 2108 Column

New Sanctuary Coalition
I’m working on building a labor delegation to the New Sanctuary Coalition effort to bring thousands of people to the US/Mexico border to greet the Central American refugee exodus. The NSC Call to Organized Labor is here. Please sign on and share widely. So far about 100 union activists and unions have signed on.

NSC is a faith-based group, providing sanctuary and aid to immigrants seeking asylum in the US, and they have a bold plan to apply that to the thousands making their way to the border.

Unions are being asked to send delegations to the border to both raise consciousness and provide material/financial support to the project. At our last meeting, the NY-area CAP Council voted to give $500 to send three people to the NSC fundraising gala.

I’ve gotten a very good response from other UAW local leaders and the PSC/AFT (CUNY faculty union), NYSNA (NY Nurses), IBT Joint Council 16 (a sanctuary local), 1199 and we’re talking to the NY Central Labor Council.

People will be going to the border from mid-December to the end of January to assist the refugees with their asylum applications and to escort them into the US. There will be other support activity. If you are interested in going to the border or assisting this effort, please let me know.

NASW-NWU Partnership Established
NWU and the National Association of Science Writers have agreed to a partnership that will bring NASW members into NWU and extend NWU Grievance and Contract services to a limited number of NASW members. While the agreement has not yet been signed, it has been approved by the national leadership of both organizations.

Under the experimental plan, NASW members can join at a special “partnership” rate, while as many as 25 others (whose cases have been vetted by the NASW Freelance Committee) will be eligible for NWU grievance or contract assistance without joining.

NASW board member and Freelance Committee co-chair Kendall Powell said that NWU’s work is, “as close as it gets to collective bargaining for freelancers.” The seeds of this new partnership were planted after Nautilus, an award-winning online magazine, refused to pay its freelancers, and they sought help from the NWU. Having heard of NWU’s campaign to get freelancers paid at Ebony, NYU faculty and NASW/NWU member Jessica Siegel organized 27 freelancers who were owed about $73,000. Almost all were members of NASW.

NWU was able to reach an agreement with the publisher for 100 percent of the money owed. To date, more than 60 percent of it has been paid. While the final installment is overdue, we hope to resolve this before the end of the year. That success sparked the idea for the partnership.

The trial partnership will run for one year, beginning January 1, 2019, and can be amended as we go. It could also set a pattern for partnerships with many other groups such as NABJ, ASJA, SFWA and more.

Non-Payment Grievances (NPG)
We are adding another NPG at Genome Magazine, another group of science writers who are members of the Association of Health Care Journalists (AHCJ).  The online magazine was owned by Texas millionaire Mike Banigan, who shut it down and left a lot of people hanging. We have gathered initial contracts and invoices for about 10 writers, and there will be a few more coming. As the closed publication and the owner are based in Texas, this will not be easy. But we will do what we can.

In other NPGs, Ebony paid all the Q3 writers after we filed in court to enforce the agreement. They were about three weeks late and not responding to calls and emails. They responded to the court filing. The final payment is due December 31.

In other cases:


  • Uptown: A hearing for a default judgment is scheduled for mid-December;
  • Consumers Digest: Recently filed in Cook County. Owner Randy Weber has 30 days to respond, which is sometime in December;
  • Nautilus: While this is now running two months behind schedule, the good news is that first seven payments have been concluded for about 63 percent of the total owed. We are hopeful that the final payment for the remaining 37 percent will be made before the end of the year.