Welcome to the National Writers Union

The National Writers Union UAW Local 1981 is the only labor union that represents freelance writers.

Now, more than ever, with the consolidation of power into the hands of ever-larger corporate entities and with the advent of technologies that facilitate the exploitation of a writer’s work, writers need an organization with the clout and know-how to protect our interests. One that will forge new rules for a new era.

Combining the strength of more than 1,200 members in our 13 chapters with the support of the United Automobile Workers, the NWU works to advance the economic and working conditions of all writers.  Our members also directly benefit from the many valuable services the Union offers—including grievance assistance, contract advice, and much more—while actively contributing to a growing movement of professional freelancers who have banded together to assert their collective power.

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Special Announcements

08/30/2013 - 10:44am

Immediate Release: National Writers Union Joins With Wisconsin Solidarity Sing Along on Friday August 30, 2013

Contact: Jonathan Rosenblum, jdrlabor@aol.com

On March 11, 2011, Scott Walker signed into law Act 10, effectively ending collective bargaining for most Wisconsin public workers. Since that very day, a group of citizens has gathered every weekday to sing civil rights and political protest songs at what has become known as the “Solidarity Sing Along” in the Wisconsin State Capitol Rotunda. This act of solidarity has continued uninterrupted—more than 600 sing alongs, more than 6,000 songs, sung by thousands of participants of all ages.

But for the past month, the Wisconsin State Capitol Police has declared nearly every sing along to be an unlawful assembly without a police-approved permit. The singers have responded that they don’t need a permit from the Walker Administration to exercise their civil rights of protest. On July 24, the police began arresting and handcuffing singers. Each of the approximately 200 people arrested has been assessed a fine of $200.50, plus a $36 jury fee for those requesting jury trials. On August 26, police singled out for a show of force a black supporter of the sing along who was photographing that day’s events.  When he sought to leave—an option the police had offered others for weeks— they wrestled him to the ground and later charged him with felony battery.

Taking a cue from one of the sing along’s spirituals, “Keep Your Eyes on the Prize,” the National Writers Union declares that it “ain’t gonna let nobody turn” the Solidarity Sing Along around. National Writers Union/UAW Local 1981 stands with Wisconsin public workers in the fight for collective bargaining, and with the Solidarity Sing Along.  Our members have been there with you, on the line and in the Rotunda.

On August 10, our Delegate Assembly in Chicago unanimously passed a resolution of support. This Friday, August 30, we will come to the State Capitol and meet you on the State Street side at the old oak tree—the Solidari-tree—to present a check to the First Amendment Protection Fund of Wisconsin.

We invite everyone in singing distance or who can make the trip to join us!

View and “Like” the Wisconsin Solidarity Sing Along on the PBS “This Land Is Your Land Project” honoring Woody Guthrie here

 

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08/28/2013 - 3:15pm

NWU STATEMENT OPPOSING GOVERNMENT INTIMIDATION

The recent 9-hour detention of David Miranda at Heathrow Airport on August 18, marks another step in journalists, and journalism, becoming targets in the US sponsored, global War on Terror. Miranda is the partner of Glenn Greenwald, the Guardian journalist who has written about, and released some of the thousands of documents obtained by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden.  He had gone to Berlin to meet with US film-maker Laura Poitras, who has worked with Snowden and Greenwald, and was returning home to Rio de Janeiro.

After the 9-hour interrogation, without a lawyer, Miranda was released, but his cell phone, laptop, camera and other electronic equipment were taken. This arrogant abuse of power is a serious escalation in government intimidation, and threatens journalists everywhere.

Schedule 7 of the U.K.'s Terrorism Act gives police the power to stop and search individuals without a warrant or even probable cause. Those stopped have no right to a lawyer, and it is a crime to not cooperate. 

David Miranda's detention is part of a growing web of intimidation. Recently the AP phone lines were secretly and illegally tapped in their NY, CT, and Washington DC bureaus, including the House of Representatives press gallery. More than 100 lines were tapped for two months, including the home and cell phones of individual reporters, essentially exposing all the confidential sources they had. A New York Times reporter faces jail in yet another Obama Administration attempt to stop leaks. And of course, there is the brutal treatment of Chelsea (Bradley) Manning followed by a 35-year sentence, for exposing war crimes, including the indiscriminate killing of civilians and journalists.

The National Writers Union stands firmly on the side of a free press and the public's right to know. We stand with all those who seek to report the truth and will not be intimidated. 

On August 11, our 2013 Delegate Assembly unanimously passed a resolution which reads:

[We] support the "Whistleblower Protection Enhancement Act of 2012," and the extension of similar whistleblower protections to all government employees as well as employees in the private sector; and

[We] call for the United States to cease and desist from efforts to detain, arrest or prosecute any and all whistleblowers, institutional, corporate or government, for attempting to provide the public with information necessary to the operation of an informed democracy; and

That the United States take whatever steps necessary to affirmatively protect, defend and further the First Amendment freedoms of the press and of expression, and those freedoms which have, by treaty, become the law of the land, and are recognized as essential to a free and informed society.

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08/16/2013 - 6:01pm
Former National Writers Union member Nancy Schiffer has been confirmed as a Member of the National Labor Relations Board.  Schiffer, former AFL-CIO Associate General Counsel and a former attorney for the United Auto Workers, was one of five members of the NLRB confirmed recently by the U.S. Senate.  This is the first time in a decade that the Board has had five confirmed members, as required by law.
 
The other members of the NLRB, which oversees union representation elections and hears labor disputes involving private sector workers, are:  current NLRB Chairman Mark Pearce; NLRB attorney Kent Hirozawa, currently the chief counsel to Pearce; and former management attorneys Philip Miscimarra and Harry Johnson.
 
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08/14/2013 - 4:54pm

READ ALL ABOUT THE 2013 NWU DELEGATE ASSEMBLY (August 8-11)

The National Writers Union held its biennial convention in Chicago from August 8th to 11th. Here are some congratulatory messages from friends and allies around the country and the globe:

Dear Sisters and Brothers:  We know that the mega-corporations think they own and control publishing.  And we know that organizing writers is like herding cats. So -- let's imagine a huge herd of lean, hungry, highly organized cats coming at those fat-cat corporations, and clawing the stuffing out of them. I can't wait.

In solidarity<

Ursula K. Le Guin

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Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America
Greetings in solidarity from the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America! I want to take this opportunity to thank Larry Goldbetter, Edward Hasbrouck, and Ann Hoffman of the NWU for continuing to work for US copyright owners and making submissions to the Copyright Office and the Judiciary Committee on a Small Claims Copyright Court and Orphan Works Legislation. I hope that the SFWA and NWU can work together on other projects in the future to defend and advocate for writers’ rights.
 
Michael Capobianco
Past President, Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America (SFWA)

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The Newspaper Guild
Dear NWU Delegates:

I send this message of solidarity to you as you meet at your delegate assembly in Chicago.
The Newspaper Guild-CWA has worked closely with NWU in the last couple of years. It’s been a pleasure to work with your President, Larry Goldbetter. The work just seems to get tougher, but the fight is worth it, and we share that fight.
I believe the future of journalism and certainly the future of media, has yet to be written. As writers we need to expand our list of allies, and I know that NWU and Larry are on my list.
Workers of every stripe, whether they be freelance, temporary or full-time are suffering in America. It doesn’t have to be that way and that’s why you work so hard for NWU.
We in the Guild share your mission and your fight for social justice. Good luck with your meeting.
 
In Solidarity,
 
Bernie Lunzer
President, TNG-CWA

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The Association of Taiwan Journalists expresses our solidarity and our best wishes for the National Writers Union`s congress in Chicago this weekend. We were very pleased to see that the NWU has returned to active participation in the International Federation of Journalists and that your president was able to meet and hold productive discussions with our two delegates to the Dublin Congress. Freelance and all journalists in the United States and Taiwan face similar challenges of confronting the impact of increasing media ownership concentration in the hands of tycoons and conglomerates, intensifying pressure on working conditions and even growing threats to freedom of expression and news freedom. We hope that cross-Pacific cooperation and solidarity between our organizations will deepen and expend in the coming year. Best wishes from all of us in the Association of Taiwan Journalists.

ATJ President Ms Chen Siao-yi
August 9, 2013

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National Union of Journalists UK and Ireland

On behalf of the 30,000 members of the NUJ in the UK and Ireland can you please extend our solidarity and best wishes to members of the National Writers' Union. They are challenging times in the industry here and in the US right now, making the work of trade unions more vital than ever, both in defending hard fought for terms and conditions and jobs, as well as standing up for quality and standards.

I hope your delegate meeting goes really well. All best wishes from us in the NUJ,

In solidarity,
 

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07/29/2013 - 9:31pm

"When the news spread through Washington this weekend that the unwavering, pioneering journalist Helen Thomas had died, there must have been a collective sigh of relief throughout the halls of Washington."  continued here.

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07/20/2013 - 9:02pm

UAW statement on the Trayvon Martin tragedy
07/19/13

DETROIT -- UAW President Bob King released this statement today on the Trayvon Martin tragedy: "The UAW is deeply saddened by the Trayvon Martin case and the tragic death of a vibrant young man. The Florida Stand Your Ground law is an inhumane piece of legislation that is leading to horrifying consequences, not just this case, but many others.

"The UAW has a long history of fighting for fairness and equality for everyone in society and will be a strong voice for bringing justice in the Trayvon Martin tragedy. We are committed to work together with our allies in fighting for justice, beginning with the August 24 March on Washington. We encourage all UAW members and citizens of conscience to join us in Washington, D.C., to demand enactment of a new Voting Rights Act and justice in the Trayvon Martin tragedy."

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07/19/2013 - 9:49pm

The Steering Committee of the Chicago Chapter of the National Writers Union endorsed Iraq Veterans Against the War's (IVAW) forthcoming public event, "Twenty-first Century Militarism:  Occupation Abroad and Resistance at Home."  The event will be held at the Chicago Temple, Friday night, August 2, 2013 at 7 pm.  Featured speakers are Christian Parenti and Nick Turse, both internationally-known scholars and activists.  More information can be found here.

This event is part of IVAW's National Convention that will be taking place in Chicago that weekend.
For more information, please visit IVAW here or contact Kim Scipes, Chicago Chapter Chair at 773/615-5019 or kscipes@nwuchicago.org .

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07/08/2013 - 10:27am
DEADLINE EXTENDED:  You can still win a week at a writers' retreat
 
As competition heats up to sign up the most new or lapsed members to the National Writers Union, we have extended the deadline for submissions.  Any new or long-lapsed member who puts your name on his/her application as the person who caused them to join or rejoin the union puts you one step closer to a week at Wellspring House in Massachusetts.  The contest will now cover any member signed up between June 1 and OCTOBER 1, 2013.  Questions:  contact Ann Hoffman, annfromdc@aol.com.
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06/24/2013 - 2:35pm

Newspaper Guild Poll Asks:
Is Edward Snowden a Patriot or Traitor?

A poll posted this morning on The Newspaper Guild website, www.newsguild.org, asks whether former NSA contractor Edward Snowden should be considered a patriot or a traitor. “We have an engaged audience of journalists and a larger community on social media that should make for an interesting survey,” Guild President Bernie Lunzer said. “Although the poll is anonymous, we think it will give us a sense of how people in our profession feel about Snowden’s provocative actions.”

Vote at: http://newsguild.org/snowden-question

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06/11/2013 - 5:31pm

Any Member May Draft Resolutions for Upcoming DA

The National Writers Union Delegate Assembly (DA) will assemble over the second weekend in August to set the union's agenda for the next two years. Delegates have been elected from every chapter. Members who will not be in Chicago for the biennial event can play a role by proposing resolutions.

The DA, the governing body of the NWU, considers resolutions suggesting policy direction for the union as well as amendments to our by-laws.

The call for resolutions, rules for resolutions, the current NWU by-laws and a list of all delegates elected to date along with their chapters and/or union positions and email addresses has been posted in the Members Only section of this web site at a tab called 2013 Delegate Assembly.

Members can access this information by logging in and clicking on the “2013 Delegate Assembly” link in the “Members Only” menu on the left side of the home page.

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Union News

07/27/2011 - 6:24pm

By Wendy Werris
Jul 27, 2011

In a move as significant for its breadth as its implications for the future of book coverage, the Los Angeles Times book review laid off all of its freelance book reviewers and columnists on July 21.

Susan Salter Reynolds was with the Times for 23 years as both a staffer and freelancer and wrote the “Discoveries” column that appeared each week in the Sunday book review. She was told that her column was cancelled and will not be replaced by another writer. “I don’t know where these layoffs fit into the long-storied failure at the Times,” she said yesterday, “but these are not smart business decisions. This is shabby treatment.”

Jon Thurber, editor of the book review, explained to Reynolds last Thursday that all books-related stories will now be done in-house, and that the decision to cease eliminate non-staffers was based on his freelance budget being cut. Richard Raynard’s popular “Paperback Writers” has also been eliminated. As children’s books editor at the Times for the last several years Sonja Bolle, who most recently wrote the monthly “WordPlay” column, said, “This indicates an even deeper contraction of the business, a continuation of a process at the Times that doesn’t stop here.” Bolle is most concerned about the shrinking coverage of children’s books. “This is a great loss for readers,” she said of the elimination of her column.

Four staffers remain in the book review section: David Ulin, Carolyn Kellogg, Nick Owchar, and Thurber. In December 2009 the Times laid off 40 features writers, including Reynolds and Bolle, but brought many of them back to work part-time. “We were paid about one-third of what we had been making, and lost our health insurance,” Reynolds says. "Then two months ago we were shifted to freelance status, which meant none of us were allowed to enter the Times building.” Thurber did make an exception for Reynolds so she could come to the office to pick up the multiple review copies she received daily in order to produce her column.

When contacted, Thurber deferred to Nancy Sullivan, the Times’s v-p of communications. “This was a cost-saving move,” she said, “strictly related to our budget.” Sullivan would not provide details on the number of freelancers who were eliminated last week. “Staff writers from outside the book department will take over for those who left. We have not changed our commitment to book coverage or the amount of space the Times will devote to it.”

07/22/2011 - 4:39pm

There was a "status conference" July 19th in New York in the ongoing Federal copyright infringement lawsuit against Google for scanning millions of books without the permission of the copyright holders.

The parties to the lawsuit asked for more time to try to negotiate a new settlement proposal. Judge Chin scheduled another hearing for September 15th, but suggested that if the parties had not reached at least an agreement in principle by then, he would set a schedule for the case to move forward toward discovery, briefing, argument, and decision of the legal issues without an agreed-upon settlement.

Law Prof. James Grimmelmann, who spoke at the NWU's forum on the case last year, has more about the hearing in his blog:
http://laboratorium.net/archive/2011/07/19/gbs_status_conference_opt-in_settlement_in_the_wor

Earlier this year, Judge Chin agreed with the NWU and numerous other writers' organizations from around the world that the previous settlement proposal was not "fair and adequate".  But Google, the Association of American Publishers, and the Authors Guild (whose membership is limited to authors of books published by major publishers with substantial advances, unlike the NWU which is open to all writers) have continued to exclude the NWU and all other interested parties from their ongoing negotiations.

The NWU is continuing to monitor the case, and will advise our members on future developments.  Backgorund information incluidng the NWU's submissions to the court is available from the NWU Book Division at: http://www.nwubook.org

07/15/2011 - 5:07pm

BBC journalists in one-day strike

BBC Television Centre The BBC has apologised to viewers and listeners
for any disruption
Continue reading the main story
<http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/entertainment-arts-14152795?print=true#story_continues_1>

Journalists at the BBC have begun a 24-hour strike in a row over
compulsory redundancies.

Members of the National Union of Journalists (NUJ) voted in favour of
industrial action last month because a number of World Service
journalists are facing compulsory redundancy.

The NUJ has warned that the strike will cause "widespread disruption" to
radio and TV programmes.

A BBC spokesman said the corporation was "disappointed" by the action.

Viewers and listeners saw some changes to BBC output on Friday morning
as a result of the strike.


BBC journalists in one-day strike
BBC          Television CentreThe BBC has apologised to viewers and listeners for any disruption
Continue reading the main story
Journalists at the BBC have begun a 24-hour strike in a row over compulsory redundancies.
Members of the National Union of Journalists (NUJ) voted in favour of industrial action last month because a number of World Service journalists are facing compulsory redundancy.
The NUJ has warned that the strike will cause "widespread disruption" to radio and TV programmes.
A BBC spokesman said the corporation was "disappointed" by the action.
Viewers and listeners saw some changes to BBC output on Friday morning as a result of the strike.

07/14/2011 - 4:09pm

Forty years after it was first published, the book Occupied America: The History of Chicanos has been banned, and its author, Rudolfo Acuña, widely published professor and prominent immigrant-rights activist thinks he knows why.

To Acuña, a member of the National Writers Union, UAW Local 1981, it boils down to two things: numbers and control. He says that banning his book and shutting down an ethnic studies program that has been widely successful in Arizona are part of an effort to undermine social inclusion and financial uplift for Chicanos, or people of Mexican descent. Not only has his work come under fire, but Acuña has received numerous death threats from unidentifiable individuals who are at odds with his commitment to improving the system of education and living conditions for Chicanos. 

This work is very much tied to the immigration issue, which Acuña, who was born in Los Angeles to Mexican immigrants, says, "puts panic in people [and makes them think] 'We're losing our country.'"

This might be why so many politicians have rallied against his groundbreaking work in Chicano Studies - an academic program he helped develop in the late 1960s at California State University, Northridge. While this initiative remains the longest running and largest such program, many others have since been established at universities across the country, and even some middle and high schools. 

Not everyone is so keen on seeing Chicano studies expand. Among the program's most vocal critics is Arizona's attorney general, Tom Horne, who has called it a sort of "ethnic chauvinism." He has also claimed that the program is "an officially recognized, resentment-based program," even though the National Education Association has shown that such curriculum instead increases interracial understanding and significantly enhances students' interest in academic pursuits. 

07/14/2011 - 4:01pm

On June 21, 2011, just before heading on to the Delegate Assembly in Detroit, 1st V.P. Ann Hoffman and I met at the Executive Office Building in Washington, next door to the White House, with President Obama's lead advisor on intellectual property enforcement and policy issues.

This meeting was a follow-up to comments on writers' difficulties enforcing our rights that we submitted in 2010, shortly after the creation of the office of the Intellectual Property Enforcement Coordinator: http://www.nwubook.org/NWU-ip-enforcement.pdf

The office of the IPEC doesn't carry out enforcement actions itself, but exists to coordinate the Administration's executive actions -- including copyright and other IP-related law enforcement -- and legislative recommendations such as those on future copyright "reforms": http://www.whitehouse.gov/omb/intellectualproperty/

We received no response to our initial written submission, and writers' interests (especially vis-a-vis publishers and distributors) were not reflected in IPEC reports and strategic recommendations.

Accordingly, we requested a face-to-face meeting with the IPEC office. Somewhat to our surprise, we found the door wide open. (Not literally, of course -- admission to the building required not only an appointment and "screening" at the entrance to the White House compound but detailed submissions of personal information, in advance, to the Secret Service.)

We met for the better part of an hour with the head of the office, the "IP Enforcement Czar" herself, Ms. Victoria Espinel, along with four of her staff advisors she had invited to provide expertise on specific aspects of IP enforcement ranging from copyrights to international law. All had read our comments in preparation for the meeting, although they still seemed to be surprised when we began our presentation by identifying publishers and distributors as the most significant infringers of writers' copyrights.

06/03/2011 - 5:49pm

New York City June 1 - At a brief status conference this afternoon, Google, the Authors Guild and the American Association of Publishers asked
Judge Denny Chin for additional time to explore settlement possibilities. Judge Chin scheduled the next status conference for July 19.

There's more on the google Books hearing from Publishers Weekly:
http://www.publishersweekly.com/pw/by-topic/digital/copyright/article/47490-no-progress-on-google-book-settlement-talks-tone-changing-.html

05/26/2011 - 11:08am

The Executive Committee of the Union of Cyprus Journalists is greatly concerned and expresses its abhorrence over incidents of violence against Turkish Cypriot journalists by the so-called “police” in the occupied part of Cyprus.

Following a second bomb attack against the car and the life of a Turkish Cypriot colleague and the shooting attack against the offices of a newspaper, an assault against journalists by “policemen” of the occupation regime comes to clearly confirm that freedom of the press is under undisguised persecution in the occupied part of Cyprus.

The latest incidents of violence against journalists came about when Turkish Cypriots colleagues, covering a protest march by employees of the so-called “Turkish Cypriot Airlines” made redundant by its closure, were beaten and had their cameras damaged by “policemen” trying to prevent them from carrying out their work.

The Union of Cyprus Journalists strongly deplores raw violence and stresses that it will report on the above mentioned actions against freedom of the press to all European and world journalists organizations.



The Executive Committee
of the Union of Cyprus Journalists

05/16/2011 - 5:19pm

When:  Sunday, May 29, 2011

What:  The first  "Net Needs News Day." 

Who:  Association of American Editorial Cartoonists. Has invited members to simultaneously publish a cartoon about how the web is mostly useless without original reporting generated by newspapers.  (Note: Cartoonists are participating on their own.)  Society of Professional Journalists President  Hagit Limor will blog on this topic at www.spj.org.

Why:  Increase public's awareness and appreciation of journalism and its vital role to information on the worldwide web (95% of all original content online.)   

2nd reason: SPJ recently favorited a motion graphics video on the same topic for its new channel for journalists. ("The Fat Lady Has Not Sung: Why the Internet Needs the News" is also airing at Stanford University graduate classes) : http://www.youtube.com/user/spjournalists#p/a/f/0/PRdUTWn-Zvo     

Where:  As many newspapers as possible.

Contact:  Sharon Geltner, Froogle PR, geltner@netneedsnews.net.  

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/reqs.php#!/pages/The-Fat-Lady-Has-Not-Sung/168436819844750

05/06/2011 - 12:09pm

Situation of NWU member highlights benefit of Union Plus disaster help program

The case of At-large co-chair James Sandefur, whose family suffered losses in the recent tornadoes, highlights the benefits available to NWU members through Union Plus, a wide-ranging program for members of the UAW and AFL-CIO.

One program offers a $500 grant to any member suffering a documented financial loss as the result of a FEMA-certified natural disaster or emergency.  That program is available only to members who have participated for 12 months or more in the Union Plus credit card, mortgage or insurance program.

For more information on the disaster relief program, go to http://www.unionplus.org/money-credit/natural-disaster-relief-fund.

Remember too that Union Plus has a free prescription drug discount card for NWU members and their family members.  Go to unionplus.org and log in as a member of the UAW, then go to health benefits and download your cards.

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