PRESIDENT’S REPORT

OUR DIGITAL OUTREACH PROJECT

In 2013, we identified improving internal and external digital communication as our greatest strategic need, and followed up by launching a 2-year project to upgrade our website and database.

In that spirit, I’m proposing a Digital Outreach Project that will be conducted mainly through Twitter and Facebook, helping us to draw more freelancers to our website, creating a larger forum for discussion, and potentially attracting new members. To be taken seriously and embraced by working writers, the NWU must establish higher social media visibility.

After an initial meeting with 1st VP David Hill, 2nd VP Pamela K. Johnson and Guide Amanda Wilson, we discussed a yearlong project to double our Twitter following from 1,800 to 3,600 (as of this writing, it has increased by about 500), and to increase our Facebook “Likes” from 2,000 to 2,500. Through these efforts, we intend to secure 100 new memberships.

Since our initial discussion, Southeast Michigan chapter chair Aleah Barley and Bay Area steering committee member September Williams have agreed to join the committee, which will:

  • Produce and collect content to post and tweet, including in-house produced infographics and short videos from local chapters and members with positive NWU experiences to share.
  • Check in across all NWU social media platforms to post and share content.
  • Interact with other writers on social media to create online discussions on issues of importance to our members.

Our involvement with the FU Non-payment legislation in NYC could greatly increase our reach. Sara Horowitz claims 10,000 writers as “members” in NY alone. She said that they would be willing to refer writers to us around the issue of non-payment.

We have the ability to increase our value to members by investing in such projects as Wordrates and WhoPaysWriters (WPW), which can give members access to evolving databases that map out the pay landscape in digital publishing. Manjula Martin of WPW is an NWU member. Having our logo and website link on these sites can draw more working writers to us.

There’s a lot of activity on the copyright front, with the Google Book Scanning project likely headed to the Supreme Court, as well as more international copyright activity. As newly organized digital shops, such as Gawker and Vice, begin contract negotiations with the Writers Guild of America East, we will hope to play a role in arriving at a negotiated rate for freelancers, which could help set an industry standard.

So that’s an outline of our plan to increase our presence and membership. It requires the involvement of as many members as we can muster. If you’re interested in playing a role, let me know.

FREELANCE ISN’T FREE (#FIF) CAMPAIGN

There are currently 17 NY City Council members supporting the #FIF legislation that would require all freelancers to have a written contract that includes payment within 30 days. We are working with UAW Region 9A CAP to increase that number to 30.

We also would like to have some of our members publish their stories about non-payment on the Freelancers Union’s site. Here is a link to the FU’s nonpayment stories, which are shared on their blog, advocacy page, and via social media. The pieces have become quite popular, and it would be great if NWU members could contribute some. (We can repost their stories as well.) If it’s OK with you, your piece will identify you as an NWU member, and contain a link to our website. If you have a nonpayment experience that you’re willing to share, contact me.

For those in NYC, there is a strategy meeting with FU on Thurs., Feb. 4. You can RSVP here: Campaign Strategy Meetup. We’ll be eating pizza and brainstorming next-steps, such as planning for the City Council hearings.

FREELANCERS’ BILL OF RIGHTS

Member Greg Evans has drafted a Freelancers Bill of Rights (FBR) that would allow freelancers to be covered for Unemployment Compensation, Workers Comp, health care and other benefits and rights. Contact Greg if you would like a copy of his draft.

The FBR goes beyond the specific issues of contracts and copyrights into areas such as: a) gaining benefits packages and worker protections for freelancers; b) securing the right of freelancers to collectively bargain; and, c) addressing how our industry can be saved in a world that has seen revenue collapse in key areas of publishing, and loss of income from wholesale copyright violations made possible by digital media.

We would like to generate more discussion of these proposals to take advantage of our extensive experience doing “contingent” work, and enter into the growing national discussion. The NYC #FIF campaign is just one example. By 2020, contract and contingent labor will make up 40 percent of the workforce.

Once we’ve had more discussion, our initial goals might include adding a web page at nwu.org with our proposals under the “Writers’ Issues We Care About,” and putting together a FBR brochure for general distribution at events such as Netroots Nation. Going forward, the NWU CAP committee may begin to work on these proposals, and to collaborate with groups working toward similar goals, such as the National Taxi Workers Alliance and Freelancers Union.

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