Report from the National Executive Board – December 7, 2019

The NWU National Executive Board met on Saturday, December 7 via web conference. We were glad to welcome to new At Large members to the Board, Sandra Campbell (TX) and Susan Smith (NC) plus a revived Twin Cities chapter (Rob Orr) and a new chapter in Pittsburgh (Stephen Fisher).

  • Financial Secretary/Treasurer Mitzi Timan reported that dues income was at an 8-year high and that we will finish the year slightly on the plus side.
  • We discussed a report on the Freelance Solidarity Project (FSP) from VP David Hill and Co-Chair Stella Becerril. FSP is an organizing campaign that has seen almost 200 digital media workers join the union since October.
  • The Board voted unanimously to extend our partnership with the National Association of Science Writers (NASW), the largest organization of science writers in the US. Roughly 30 NASW members joined NWU in 2019 and we currently have a group grievance of six writers, owed $7,000 by EARTH magazine.
  • National Grievance and Contract Officer Susan Davis reported on a training of 10 new Grievance and Contract officers last May, and is seeking funding to upgrade our Guide to Book Contracts and other materials.
  • We discussed and passed a resolution calling for a Special Convention of the UAW, in the wake of the multiple corruption scandals and ongoing investigations into the International leadership. The special convention would be to debate electing International officers through direct elections of all members, as opposed to being elected by delegates as is the current practice.
  • NWU Book Co-Chair Edward Hasbrouck reported on his three-year term on the Board of IFRRO, representing all writers, as well as our participation in IFJ and the International Authors Forum (IAF). He pointed out that our campaign to stop the Controlled Digital Lending (CDL) of the Internet Archive had been endorsed by IFRRO and IFJ and proposed that we remain in IFRRO and that he would attend the Annual General Meeting. The resolution passed unanimously.
  • President Larry Goldbetter reported on the November Executive Committee of IFJ and the World Congress last June. We want to have a more aggressive campaign to sell more IFJ press cards as well as advertising the new insurance that is being offered for journalists traveling to dangerous locations. He also reported on our continuing efforts to address the humanitarian refugee crisis at the US-Mexico border and our work with the New Sanctuary Coalition.
  • Women’s Committee Chair Brigid O’Farrell (NoCal) reported on a survey being developed regarding sexual harassment and violence against women journalists. She reported on the IFJ recently adopting an internal policy to combat sexual harassment. This March we will again participate in the UN Commission on the Status of Women (UNCSW).
  • We discussed gig-economy legislation recently passed in CA (AB5) and currently being introduced in New York State. While the ABC test is an effective tool in combating misclassification of employees, the CA law did not do a thorough job of taking into account the work of freelance journalists, photographers, videographers, graphic artists and other creative professionals. We intend to do much better in the NY law and then improve the CA statute.
  • We then heard chapter reports from Boston, New York, Philadelphia, SoCal, NoCal, Oregon and Seattle. We will begin a series of all-member webinars in the New Year on issues we are concerned with, like the CDL campaign, FSP, gig-economy legislation, sexual harassment and others. If more members are familiar with the issues we are involved with, there is a better chance that more will become active and help to strengthen the local chapters.