The “Why a Union?” workshop at the Nation Institute’s Writers’ Congress draws an overflow crowd. The plenary of 3,000 writers endorses the proposal to create a union for writers in all genres to actively press for better pay and treatment and to vigorously oppose Reagan-era threats to free expression. "We need no more heroic individual writers," said keynote speaker Toni Morrison. She called for "an accessible organization that is truly representative of the diverse interests of all writers."
Barbara Raskin is elected head of an organizing committee and writers return home to organize chapters, starting with the San Francisco/Bay Area, New Jersey, New York, Washington DC, Baltimore/Maryland, North Carolina, Oklahoma, and Westchester/Fairfield, followed by Boston, Santa Cruz/Monterey, Chicago, Los Angeles, Twin Cities, Northwest (Seattle/Oregon), Western MA, and more recently At Large, Tucson, Philadelphia, Seattle and Vermont.
The Washington DC local spearheads the first NWU agreement with Black Film Review on freelance terms. An agreement with Musician magazine soon follows.
Under direction of journalist John Dinges, the NWU writes a national constitution that focuses on decentralized democracy.
The National Writers Union is officially chartered. Members ratify a national constitution that insures that chapters around the country have autonomy in local affairs. District 65/UAW provides free office space.
One of the NWU's first campaigns is to support poet Dennis Brutus when the U.S. Immigration Service threatens to deport him back to South Africa where he would face certain persecution. NWU members write letters and work vigorously to win him asylum, which he is granted.
NWU and Mother Jones make agreements on minimum standards for freelance contributors. Pacific Guest Life agrees to similar terms.
New York Chapter forms a softball team that plays against a combined Nation, Nuclear Times and Village Voice team. Two years later, the union’s ”Mighty WU” team has a winning season and competes in the publishers’ softball league.