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.

Follow us on ... See about Press Passes for NWU Members

Special Announcements

03/09/2012 - 2:18pm
Louis Reyes Rivera .....Presente!
Viewing, Funeral & Repass Information
Viewing will take place on Sunday, March 11th from 12:30 pm to 5:30 pm at Bell Funeral Home, 536 Sterling Place, Brooklyn.

Funeral will be on Monday, March 12th at same place at 10 am.
Burial will be at Cypress Hills Cemetery oat 833 Jamaica Ave, Brooklyn,
which is about 20 minutes from funeral parlor.

The repass will take place at Sista's Place, 456 Nostrand Avenue, Brooklyn, right after the burial at the cemetery. That is Louis' home away from home where he conducted his workshops and also performed with many of his groups over the years.
Read more...
03/04/2012 - 8:11pm

LOUIS REYES RIVERA
May 19, 1945 – March 2, 2012

Louis Reyes Rivera died late Friday night. A powerful voice of jazz and poetry has gone silent. He was clearly one of the favorite sons of Mother Jazz.
To Louis we say, as he often said to us, "Later."

Larry Goldbetter, President
National Writers Union

Here is one example of his powerful work. Bullet Cry

And another: African Voices Nancy Wilson 1.mp4


From the New York Chapter NWU website:

Louis Reyes RiveraIN MEMORIAM

Louis Reyes Rivera
1945-2012

Poet, essayist, editor, teacher, radio host, and union organizer with the National Writer Union, UAW Local 1981, Louis Reyes Rivera died in Brooklyn Hospital on Friday, March 2, following a brief illness. Serving as chair of the New York Chapter since 2004, Rivera was revered and beloved by all NWU members who saw him in action in New York and at Delegate Assemblies, providing leadership on union issues and performing his insightful poetry.

Calling himself the Janitor of History, Rivera is viewed as a living bridge between the African and Latino-American communities. Also called "the dean of Nuyorica Poetica," he is an internationally recognized literary figure, with translations of his work appearing in Russian, Latvian, Spanish, and Italian. Rivera published four books, including Who Pays The Cost (1978), This One For You (1983), In Control of English (1988 and 1992), and Scattered Scripture (1996), for which he received the 1997 poetry award from the Latin American Writers Institute. He had just completed his epic poem, Jazz in Jail, and was in the process of preparing it for publication.

Rivera was the recipient of dozens of awards, including a New York Foundation for the Arts Fellowship (2003), a Lifetime Achievement Award (1995), a Special Congressional Recognition Award (1988), and the CCNY 125th Anniversary Medal (1973) -- each of which was given in recognition of his scholarship and impact on contemporary literature. Since 1996, Rivera appeared at jazz festivals and clubs, working with such bands as The Sun Ra All-Stars Project, Ahmed Abdullah's Diaspora, Ebonic Tones, the James Spaulding Ensemble, and his own band, The Jazzoets. Last spring Rivera was inducted into the Brooklyn Jazz Hall of Fame. At his last public appearance on Feb. 11, Rivera was the featured poet at the American Jazz Museum’s Black History Month Salute to Jazz Poetry in Kansas City, Mo.

Over the past 40 years, Rivera assisted in the publication of well over 200 books, including Adal Maldonado's Portraits of the Puerto Rican Experience (IPRUS, 1984), John Oliver Killens' Great Black Russian (Wayne State, 1989), Bum Rush the Page: A Def Poetry Jam (Crown, 2001), co-edited with Tony Medina, and The Bandana Republic (Soft Skull Press, 2008). Rivera’s essays and poems appeared in numerous publications, including Areyto, Boletin (Center for Puerto Rican Studies at Hunter), The City Sun, African Voices, and in several award-winning book collections, including In Defense of Mumia; ALOUD: Live from the Nuyorican Poets Cafe; and Of Sons and Lovers. He also appeared on the Peabody award-winning HBO show, “Def Poetry Jam.” Rivera completed the translation of Clemente Soto Veléz's Caballo de Palo/Broomstick Stallion and worked on the collected poems of Otto Rene Castillo of Guatemala, Por el Bien de Todos/For the Good of All.

Born in Brooklyn, N.Y., on May 19, 1945, Rivera was raised there and a proud graduate of Boys High. He began studying the craft of writing in1960 and founded the continuing student publication, The Paper, at City College of New York. After graduation in 1969, Rivera started teaching and his influence as a teacher spanned many generations. He distinguished himself as a professor of creative writing, Pan-African literature, African-American culture and history, Caribbean history, Puerto Rican history, and Nuyorican literature at such institutions as State University of New York-Stony Brook, Hunter College, College of New Rochelle, LaGuardia College, Pratt Institute, and Boricua College, among others.

For 15 years beginning in 1996, Rivera hosted a reading series in Brooklyn, 1st & 3rd Sundays Jazzoetry & Open Mic @ Sistas' Place, where he also conducted writing workshops. For many years Rivera hosted the engaging radio talk and interview show, “Perspectives,” on New York radio station WBAI 99.5 FM (streamed at wbai.org/ archives).

A political activist as well as a cultural icon, Rivera was active in the successful struggle for “open enrollment” at City College in1969. Since then he has participated in many progressive movement and activities, including supporting the establishment of the Freedom Party, which ran candidates in the 2010 New York State election. Rivera co-hosted two Writers for Mumia programs dedicated to freeing longtime political prisoner Mumia Abu-Jamal, one in 2007, the other in 2010.

Rivera is survived by his wife, Barbara Killens Rivera; two daughters, Abiba Deceus and Kutisha Booker; son Barra Wyn ; and four grandchildren, James Booker, Akalia Booker, Quamey Venable, and Jean-Oliver Deceus. Funeral arrangements are being made, and will be announced in the near future.

Photo by Thomas Good

Read more...
01/29/2012 - 6:53pm

Donna Gratehouse, who blogs at DemocraticDiva and elsewhere on all things Arizona, sends us this.

Hundreds of high school students walked out of their Tucson, Ariz., schools Monday [1/23/12] in a coordinated protest against the banishment of the district’s acclaimed Mexican American Studies program. [More here from Common Dreams by Jeff Biggers.]

In recent days, administrators and board members have issued a series of conflicting and inaccurate statements and carried out the extreme actions of confiscating books in front of children.

Last week, a recently hired assistant superintendent from Texas told Tucson students to “go to Mexico” to study their history–nevermind that most of their families have been in the United States for decades.

Read more...
01/28/2012 - 8:35pm

Nearly 100 people attended the NWU-Boston Chapter's annual Book party and celebration of NWU's 30th anniversary. The party was at the Cambridge, MA YMCA on January 22, 2012. NWU President Larry Goldbetter and media critic Dan Kennedy were special guest speakers. Photo album on NWU's Facebook page here.

Read more...
01/26/2012 - 6:54pm

From Salon.com (by Jeff Biggers  1/13/12): "As part of the state-mandated termination of its ethnic studies  program, the Tucson Unified School District released an initial list of books to be banned from its schools today. According to district spokeperson Cara Rene, the books 'will be cleared from all classrooms, boxed up and sent to the Textbook Depository for storage.'" One of the books is “Occupied America: A History of Chicanos” by NWU member Rudy Acuña. It has often been "singled out by Arizona state superintendent of public instruction John Huppenthal, who campaigned in 2010 on the promise to 'stop la raza'.  Huppenthal, who once lectured state educators that he based his own school principles for children on corporate management schemes of the Fortune 500, compared Mexican-American studies to Hitler Jugend indoctrination last fall."

Fighting back in Arizona: This video clip describes a caravan of libro-traficantes (book traffickers) that will wind its way from Houston, Texas from March 12-18 across Interstate 10 to smuggle truckloads of contraband books (wet books) back into Arizona.

Read more...
01/25/2012 - 5:57pm

National Writers Union activist Gail Kinney was honored with the Bennie Thornton Civil Rights Achievement Award at the annual UAW Region 9A Martin Luther King Jr. Civil Rights dinner on Jan 13, 2012. Also receiving awards were Albany County (NY) District Attorney David Soares and Halsteen Graham-Days and Kathy Jackson of The Richard "Dik" Days Scholarship Fund. Photo album.

Read more...
01/25/2012 - 10:36am

NWU's National Executive Council has voted to support U.S. Rep. Stephen J. Lynch’s bill, called “U.S. Postal Service Pension Obligation Recalculation and Restoration Act of 2011." This legislation addresses a decades-old accounting error that led to the Postal Service being overcharged by billions of dollars for payments into the Civil Service Retirement System. The bill would allow the USPS to improve its financial future.

The U.S. Postal Service is a success story among U.S. government agencies. The USPS takes no taxpayer money, it delivers mail (including independent publications and local newspapers that ensure free speech) at very low cost to every community and every individual living in the U.S. Its thousands of workers are unionized, and not only is it financially self-supporting, but it has always brought in a surplus.

In the lame duck session of 2006, the Republican majority in Congress passed a law requiring USPS to accumulate, in advance, enough money to pay for the next 75 years-worth of health care benefits for its present and future employees. It is to come up with this money in the next 10 years. No other government agency (and no business) has such a burdensome requirement, which has caused a USPS deficit of billions of dollars that it cannot pay. To close this deficit gap, the USPS is planning to close hundreds of local Post Offices, especially in remote rural areas and small towns; and to lay off 120,000 unionized postal workers.

Please write and call your representative to the U.S. Congress to ask them to co-sponsor the bill. Click here for their contact information.

Read more...
01/18/2012 - 5:14pm

NWU President Larry Goldbetter today released a letter sent to the president and executive director of the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators (SCBWI) urging the Society to move their 2012 Summer Conference, scheduled for August 6-8, out of the Hyatt Regency Century Plaza in Los Angeles. Goldbetter’s letter explained:

Workers at the Hyatt Regency Century Plaza have called for a boycott of all business since August 2010 in support of their goal of a safe and fair contract. They join workers at 16 other Hyatt hotels throughout North America in demanding that Hyatt change its safety record and allow workers to take on the company’s practices, wherever it is abusing workers.

Read more...
01/12/2012 - 4:25pm

The NWU has filed comments with the U.S. Copyright Office in response to that office's public inquiry about "how copyright owners have handled small copyright claims and the obstacles they have encountered, as well as potential alternatives to the current legal system that could better accommodate such claims."

The NWU's comments focus on the real-world experience of NWU members whose copyrights have been infringed, and the patterns and trends in infringement-related grievances which have been brought to the attention of the Grievance and Contract Division. Our comments provide a snapshot of the problem copyright infringement poses for working writers, and a blueprint for what needs to be done about it. The NWU's comments were drafted by Book Division Co-Chair Edward Hasbrouck and reviewed and revised by an ad hoc committee made up of GCD members and Book Division co-chairs, as well as First Vice President Ann Hoffmann.

The deadline for submission of comments, originally Jan. 16, has been extended until 5 p.m. Eastern time on Jan. 17 in light of the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday observance.  Anyone can submit comments.

We encourage individual members who have had copyright issues to submit their own statements. Please identify yourselves as NWU members; you may wish to mention that you also endorse the NWU's comments. A comment form, along with background on the possibility of a special court or special procedures for small copyright claims, is posted on the Copyright Office website at http://www.copyright.gov/docs/smallclaims. If you are considering filing your own comments and would like to coordinate them with the NWU, please contact Book Division Co-Chair Susan E Davis at sednyc@rcn.com.

Read more...

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.