For Immediate Release: Contact: Larry Goldbetter: 212-254-0279 or Katti Gray 917-757-4397
Freelance Writers Organize, Fight Back and Win $125,000 Settlement
New York City, April 2, 2013 –The National Writers Union (NWU) and representatives of Heart and Soul magazine have signed an agreement that will see a dozen freelance writers and editors collect over $125,000 in unpaid fees. Heart and Soul has already made two required payments under this agreement.
NWU President Larry Goldbetter said, “This settlement goes far beyond a national magazine making the long overdue payment to our members for work they performed. It sends a signal to the growing number of freelance writers and the publishers that profit from our work, that—in this new economy of independent workers—we can effectively organize into unions. We can fight to protect our interests.”
The NWU first got involved with Heart and Soul in October 2011, after three union members rallied their colleagues to file a group grievance for articles that had been published but for which they had not been paid. The initial group grievance was settled relatively quickly. Then, a group of 12 more stepped forward. Heart and Soul is a health and wellness magazine whose target audience is women of color; all of the NWU members listed in both grievances are black women. The NWU worked diligently and cooperatively with Heart & Soul's new management team to reach a final settlement amount and pay schedule. While NWU and Heart & Soul’s new management team worked on a settlement for the group of 12, NWU won a $360,000 judgment in a New York federal court for 30 freelance writers, translators, editors and graphic artists who had worked for Inkwell Publishing, a textbook “development house.” NWU also won more than $25,000 for a dozen freelancers at Natural Solutions magazine, based in Minnesota’s Twin Cities. All together, our Grievance and Contract Division has won more than $1.5 million for NWU members, a critical victory as the pace of writers not being properly paid seems to be picking up.
“The aggrieved, unpaid women at Heart and Soul, backed by the union’s organizing and legal help, have set an example for all freelance writers. I know, firsthand, of folks who aren’t getting paid and who are saying absolutely nothing about it. We’ve got to demand that publishers pay for what we’ve delivered. There’s power in that,” said Katti Gray, a New York-based freelancer and one of the three NWU members who helped organize the Heart and Soul contractors.
The National Writers Union (United Auto Workers Local 1981, AFL-CIO) is a national labor union and advocacy organization for freelance and contract writers in all genres, media, and formats. The NWU works to defend the rights and improve the economic and working conditions of all writers. The NWU's members include journalists, book authors, business and technical writers, web site, print and email newsletter content providers, bloggers, academic writers, editors, poets, playwrights, screen writers and other writers.
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