The Freelance Solidarity Project will be electing their first organizing committee this month. All members of FSP can vote for two co-chairs in each role. They’ll be responsible for communication between chairs and members, guiding conversations and facilitating open discussions, while also managing key areas of the project, such as strategy, research, and events, among others.
If you have not yet signed up for your membership, click here—all members will receive an email with a link to vote before October 28, 2019.
The candidates are listed below, and once elected will be holding their positions for a one-year term. Guidelines for their roles can be reviewed here.
I have been a member of the Freelance Solidarity Project since November 2018 and am not only deeply invested in our project but in the project of building power across the most precarious sectors of the working class which today are contract workers like ourselves and other “gig economy” workers. I think the work that we do as FSP within the NWU will not only improve our working conditions now but will help lead the way to building the robust and militant labor movement we need. One that not only fights for better contracts, rates, and protections in the now, but which also fights for systemic change to ensure living wages, healthcare, housing, and education for all.
Bio: My name is Stella Becerril and I am a cultural critic, independent journalist, and media worker working at the intersection of Xicana feminism, class struggle, and the politics of cultural production and exchange. I was formerly the community organizer for Study Hall and have organized around issues of public education, the Black Lives Matter movement and other labor issues over the last 8 years. I have been a member of the Freelance Solidarity Project since November 2018.
Last spring, I started talking to everyone I knew about freelancing in digital media. Many of us had been at shops unionized with the Writers Guild before layoffs and buyouts; all of us had seen the impact collective bargaining could have on our working conditions. We wanted to find a way to apply those same standards and protections to freelance media workers, especially because the distinctions between staff, contract, permalance and freelance are increasingly porous—most of us will move through those categories many times in our careers. Unrealistic and unstable expectations for growth in terms of both revenue and circulation has destabilized and devalued the manner our work happens, and has further isolated freelance workers from the communities that can support them.
I know it’s a chaotic time. But to wait for a more stable industry is to miss the moment when we can affect the most change; to wait for a more secure world is to miss the chance to take care of each other now. The history of the National Writers Union has proven that writers of all kinds can make a real difference in their work and the work of their peers. As co-chair, I hope to continue doing the work I’ve done so far to facilitate meetings, build relationships across digital media and throughout the labor movement, and to represent the rights of every member.
Bio: Haley Mlotek is a writer and editor based in New York. Her writing has appeared in The New York Times Magazine, T Magazine, The New Yorker, ELLE, SSENSE, Hazlitt, The Nation, and The Ringer, among others. Previously, Haley was the style editor of MTV News, the editor of The Hairpin, and the publisher of WORN Fashion Journal. Her first book, about romance and divorce, will be published by Viking Books and McClelland & Stewart.
The Freelance Solidarity Project is one of the most exciting things I’ve seen come about in the arts and labor space, and I’m thrilled to finally become a dues-paying member. It’s the kind of thing I immediately want to tell my friends about, so that, if they’re freelancers, they’ll want to join and if they’re not, they’ll learn more about the precarity of the media industry as it exists today, and what the workers (us!) can do about it.
I would love to spread that message as far and wide as possible as a Communication Chair, whether that’s through words on a website, a dedicated Twitter or Instagram, flyers, email blasts, buttons, STICKERS, or (probably) some combination of all of the above. I think it’s also important to keep reiterating our goals to existing and new FSP members, because as we grow, our goals will surely change, and communicating what the FSP is all about will help members continue to feel invested and hopefully empowered. There’s a lot we can do for one another, and the more we talk about that, loudly and clearly and in public, the stronger we can make this union and our industry.
Bio: Frida is a freelance writer based in Brooklyn. She was previously a senior staff writer at Jezebel, and before that, a writer and editor for the music website TrackRecord. She was also previously a member of the Gizmodo Media Group union who served on both the bargaining committee and the diversity committee.
I’m running to co-chair Communications because I frankly miss my union organizing committee days back at Gothamist, and the camaraderie they afforded. Organizing also meant that when Gothamist and DNAInfo were shut down, it wasn’t just the boss’s narrative in the news. We were ready to talk to the press and even host our own press conference. Corny, I know, but it was very moving to stand together wearing our press passes on the other side of the microphone, encouraging other media workers to organize like we did. Now, as a freelancer, I understand how easy it is to feel deeply discouraged about our lack of leverage we have with publications. Through Comms, I’d like to help us punch up gracefully, publicly, and frequently. (I’m also organized and like working on teams and am actively curious about producing press materials, as someone who spends so much time consuming them!)
Bio: Hi guys. I’ve been freelancing since Nov. 2017, when my former Gothamist and DNAInfo colleagues and I were fired for trying to organize a union. (I know, I’m not unique.) Up until that point, I had been on the DNAist Union organizing committee. Since then, I’ve been freelancing all over town with a focus on local stories: affordable housing, criminal justice, courts, elections, etc. I’m 29, live in Crown Heights, and have two gorgeous cats.
I want to strengthen FSP’s bonds to the wider labor movement in NYC and build our own community at the same time. Whether it’s turning out members for other unions’ picket lines, happy hours, or political education events, I believe that showing up for others and continue to develop our members’ consciousness as media *workers* will give us the strength necessary to take the fight to exploitative publishers.
Bio: Freelance journalist. Also a member of WGAE and NYC-DSA.
When I first heard about the Freelance Solidarity Project a few months ago, I was thrilled there was finally a movement to unionize freelancers. As someone who spent years freelancing between staff jobs, and who works almost exclusively with freelance visual journalists, I’m acutely aware of the issues that freelancers face — whether it’s pay, contracts, or representation. I’ve been an active mentor and sometimes-accidental agitator within the photojournalism community for years, helping photographers push back on bad contracts, negotiate for better pay, and advocate for themselves as staff jobs disappeared. As a staff photo editor and art director at several publications, I’ve pushed back internally to change contracts and hiring practices to better accommodate our primarily freelance photographers and illustrators. I’d like to run for a position on the Communication Committee because there’s a lot of energy within the photo community — particularly amongst those who work for media — and I’d like to bring more of them to the table, both as members of this union and as a larger community who can act in solidarity with the FSP. There’s a significant overlap in the needs of workers across both writing and visual journalism, and I hope to play a part in bringing folks together to hold our industry accountable.
Bio: I am the Senior Photo Editor at The Intercept, where I’ve spent most of the last year as a co-chair of our Labor Management Committee. On the side, I’m also a freelance photojournalist who has worked for the New York Times + NYT Magazine, California Sunday Magazine, the Atlantic, and The Fader, among others. Outside of work, I’m a member of Diversify.Photo, and a board member for the Authority Collective, a group that works to empower marginalized artists, and to take action against systemic and individual abuses in the world of lens-based editorial, documentary and commercial visual work.
I am running to be the events co-chair for the Freelance Solidarity to see that our vision of community is one that is inclusive of all media workers. I was formally the co-lead of the outreach working group for the Freelance Solidarity project before it officially joined the National Writer Union. My goal with community is not only providing an outlet for workers in an industry that thrives on alienating and fragmenting its workforce but also to have our members feel a part of a broader labor movement that is bubbling up from both media and cultural workers.
The vision of the group so far to understand the value in bringing together various media workers including writers, photojournalists, illustrators, and audio producers is what’s so exciting about this group.
The reason you should vote for me is that I’ve been a part of this project from its earliest stages and seen how much its grown but know it’ll still take a lot of work to get this industry to a place that makes one excited, not dread, about the prospect of freelancing. The FSP’s event chair should be someone ready to help foster that feeling a offer a vision of what can be next for our union.
Bio: I’m David Turner, a writer whose covered various aspects of music and technology for Music Business Worldwide, Pitchfork, Rolling Stone, and the New Yorker. I was previously a member of the Gizmodo Media Group Union, a part of the Writers Guild of America East, where I was a union representative for the now defunct music site TrackRecord.
I am running for the event chair due to wanting to continue my efforts in making sure events outside of our meetings are accessible and ADA compliant in order to serve our fellow members who are less privileged in being able to access certain spaces. As a person with autism, the Freelance Solidarity Project has made me feel seen as both a fellow peer and media worker. But improvements can be made, and I hope that if voted for, I can set out with my fellow elected Events chair to figure out these problems. I want to do whats best for everyone in the FSP, and that includes our fellow members who are not shown in the spotlight a majority of the time.
Bio: Michael Baginski is a freelance writer, video editor, and audio producer who joined the Freelance Solidarity Project in March 2019. His focus has been on making sure all meetings and events are accessible for people with disabilities, both physical and neurological, and for media workers who make lower income. He covers pop culture, politics, video games, and any mentions of Tim Curry or Malcolm McDowell.
I’m running because I like to be of service, and like even more to have a consuming, worthwhile task that involves an obsessive degree of organization and coordination. I am an authoritarian Libra who enjoys confrontations—yes, we exist—and I have no allegiance to any publication. I’m here to make all the right friends and all the right enemies.
Bio: I am a lifelong member of the gig economy. I have never had a full-time salaried position in any field, and I don’t care to. My career began with editing and writing on a volunteer/unpaid basis for indie publications created by and for underserved communities, and sharing my personal work on free platforms like Tumblr and TinyLetter. My primary relationship to media making involves exploring its capacity to serve both its audience and its creators as opposed to generating profit for investors. I’m cofounder of TigerBee Press, an independent publisher, and most of my recent freelancing is for outlets like Bookforum, Dissent, and The Nation. The majority of my writing energy, allegedly, goes into finishing a book for Simon & Schuster.
I’m running because I want to apply the experience from working within organized shops as well as part of the Freelance Solidarity Project to the position of secretary. By working on both sides of the industry and speaking to people in varying conditions over the past year, I’ve come to better understand the goals and limitations of staffers, permalancers, contract workers, and freelancers and the points of overlap between them. I believe this is imperative for accurately and effectively managing expectations and schedules of FSP members, as well as external efforts in building solidarity across the industry and beyond.
Over the past six months I’ve worked on many administrative FSP duties, from forward-facing projects of organizing a weekend-long summit and general meetings, as well as internal communications between volunteers. I want to ensure that the tenor of the organization accurately reflects its membership and expect to work closely with the rest of the OC and the greater FSP community.
Bio: I’m a journalist covering politics, media, and culture. I’ve been full-time freelancing for the past year for both WGAE and News Guild-organized outlets (as well as non-union shops) like The Intercept, Jezebel, The New Republic, New York Times Magazine, and ELLE. Previously, I was a full-time staffer at Splinter (organized under WGAE), which I left after taking a buyout package won by our union. Before that I was a staffer at The New Republic where I was part of the initial organizing drive under the News Guild. My biggest accomplishment to date is writing a profile of a large dog.
When I was fired from Time Inc in 2016 it was one of the darkest periods of my life. As I plunged into freelancing, I was also released from previous notions of freelancers as misfits and I stopped believing that a full time job in media was a merit badge worth chasing. I was, for lack of a better term, radicalized both personally and politically (to the extent I can differentiate) by the inequality I saw around me and the frequent periods of financial precarity I experienced because of late payments and bad rates. I have been involved in freelance media organizing in one form or another for over a year, first through Study Hall and now FSP. I helped organize Vox freelancers in order to change their exploitative contributor contract and also testified at City Hall in support of a bill that would ban non-compete contracts for freelancers. I have always had a talent for bringing people together and helping them feel supported, and I know this will be to the advantage of the strategy arm of this organization. I have creative ideas for forcing the change this industry so badly needs and am more than comfortable mobilizing peers, politicians, outside partners and even bosses to do so.
Bio: I am a freelance writer and cultural critic. My work has appeared in The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, The Paris Review, TIME, New York Magazine, The New Republic, GQ, Longreads, Los Angeles Review of Books, Curbed, Vox, CityLab and Condé Nast Traveler among other places. I also write poetry, take long walks and tweet.
As strategy chair, I’d ensure that everything we do is for the material benefit of our members. We’re working to better the working conditions for freelancers in digital media, first and last. I’ll pull together detailed escalation plans, coordinate lots with WGA shops, new campaigns, and the beginnings of an industry-wide strategy.
As one of the people working on this project for the last year, I know how the group is already thinking through some of the bigger questions that we’ll face going forward. I’m perfectly comfortable explaining how the Sherman Act works and why it sucks. I can speak to what sorts of benefits have been included in past letters of agreement, and what new sorts of benefits we might be able to provide.
I’ve done that already at The Intercept, where I’ve been working to organize freelancers. They’re drafting of their letter of agreement, and we expect them to be the first shop that we land an agreement with. Seeing that through is a crucial first step for our project and will set the tone of our organizing going forward. To win at The Intercept, there’s more organizing still to do.
But neither The Intercept nor organizing any other publication is the goal of our project. We’re hoping to set standards industry-wide. As we organize shop-by-shop, we’ll need to formulate a mechanism to set standards across all of digital media. That’s a conversation that I want to facilitate among our members, and I hope you’ll give me the chance to do so.
Bio: I’m a digital media worker who’s currently working full-time at VICE News as a reporter. Prior to that, I freelanced, largely by contributing to VICE News while working as the circulation manager at Dissent. I’ve worked in various capacities at In These Times, The Nation, and NYMag.
I’ve been involved in the labor movement since I got my first union job at the age of 18. I’ve been active in labor issues for creative professionals for the past ten years. But more important than my experience, I believe in organizing as the most effective path to power, and I offer my time and energy to FSP to help grow our ranks and elevate new leaders to the forefront of our fight. I also think I’m the best candidate to be treasurer because I already know a lot about how to fill out NWU expense forms, so there’s not going to be any learning curve there.
Bio: I am a full time freelance writer and author. I’ve written for Esquire, GQ, The New York Times Magazine, The New Yorker, and This American Life, among others. My first book will be published by FSG this coming Spring. I’m also a board member of the National Writers Union, where I have served as Vice President since 2015. Prior to becoming a freelance writer, I spent 15 years traveling the U.S. and Canada as a union organizer.