The 2021 Delegate Assembly – A Change Is Gonna Come!

Stella Becerril and Dave Turner photo Gary Schoichet

The 2021 NWU Delegate Assembly will take place online, September 23-25. All members are invited to attend all or part of the DA. It could be a watershed event as everything is on the table. We are not bound by the constitution of an international union, and we can propose and discuss changes that better reflect our industry and our union. We will evaluate the service agreement with the Graphic Communications Conference of the IBT, hear from international guests Naseer Abu Baker, the President of the Palestinian Journalists Syndicate, and Adriana Hurtado, President of Federacion Colombiana de Periodistas.

As the US economy struggles to reopen, millions of workers face increased racist, sexist and wealth inequality, having survived the pandemic to face possible evictions and lower incomes. Millions of women have been forced from the workforce due to the high cost of childcare.

Workers are fighting back, starting with last summer’s uprising against racist police murders and an increased number of strikes and a wave of organizing, especially among media workers. NWU is a part of that fightback.  In addition to the above, the DA will also review the following:

  • The Freelance Solidarity Project organizing campaign to raise rates and standards for digital media workers is growing. We are targeting “union-friendly” publications with staff unions and collective bargaining agreements and taking a sharper focus on both IP rights and indemnification clauses protecting freelancers. More than 100 freelancers at signed an FSP letter to management to open our discussions at The Nation. There was also a very successful solidarity campaign with union editors and fact-checkers at The New Yorker to help them win a new contract.
  • Group Non-Payment Grievances are re-emerging. During the lockdown, we finally succeeded in getting a final judgment against Consumers Digest owner Randy Weber for 17 freelancers worth more than $65,000. We are now talking to a collection attorney in IL and will soon meet to discuss whether and how to move forward. In another group grievance against L’Officiel, the NYC Dept. of Consumer and Worker Protection (DCWP) is referring the case to the City’s Legal Department to consider filing a civil case against the company for violating the Freelancer Isn’t Free law (FIF). You may remember that before Covid, NWU and the DCWP were working to bring a case for 27 freelancers under FIF. DCWP sent a demand letter to L’Officiel for $100,000. When the lockdown came, everything was put on hold as many other issues took priority for the law department. Now, we are hopeful the case will again be picked up. If for some reason the City law department decides against filing a case, NWU is prepared to proceed with our own attorney.
  • We have some long-awaited good news. We expect NWU to be granted Direct Affiliated Local Union(DALU) status with the AFL-CIO before Labor Day. DALU is a provisional charter granted for 2-3 years, designed to give smaller unions access to the structure and resources of the labor federation while seeking a new home in a larger, affiliated international union. This will allow us to resume membership on State Feds and Central Labor Councils across the country. We first applied for DALU status more than a year ago, after leaving the UAW. The 2020 Presidential elections and the introduction of the PRO Act took up all the air at AFL headquarters, but NWU’s DALU is finally on tap.
  • We are making plans to spread the Freelance Isn’t Free law statewide in New York State and to Los Angeles, CA. (A similar ordinance was just passed in Seattle). On July 22, I met with IBT Graphic Communications Conference President Kurt Freeman, IBT Legislative Director John Mataya, Alex Moore, the Communications Director for IBT Joint Council 16 (NYC), IBT Political Director Tyler Longpine, and Joint Council 16 Political Director Heather Beaudoin. Everyone offered their strong support in assisting NWU in this campaign. At the same time, we are working with the Freelancers Union and the office of Council Member Blumenfield who is requesting that the Los Angeles City Council draft Freelance Isn’t Free legislation. Other legislation we are working on is support for the PRO Act, to give freelancers the right to collective bargaining, and the 21st Century Federal Writers Project Act that would create a $60 million grant program administered by the Department of Labor to employ unemployed and underemployed journalists and writers.

NWU is on the move. Join us at the 2021 Delegate Assembly. Make your voice heard. Get involved. Your union needs you.