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

10/06/2014 - 7:02pm

PUBLISHING NEWS

OPPORTUNITY FOR AUTHORS

Richard Flanagan, an Australian , won the 2014 Man Booker Prize for fiction for his sixth novel: The Narrow Road to the Deep North.  The book tells the story of a surgeon in a Japanese POW camp on the Thailand-Burma railway. The Prize was anounced on October 14. American writers were eligible for the prize for the first time this year. Two were among the final six contenders:  Karen Joy Fowler for "We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves" and Joshua Ferris for "To Rise Again at a Decent Hour."

For more on the story, see themanbookerprize.com


PANEL BRINGS PUBLISHERS, WRITERS TOGETHER

The Boston Chapter’s September Publishing Alternatives panel drew 30 writers and four publishers: Candlewick Press (Somerville, MA, UK and Australia); Gemma Media (Boston); Hobblebush Books (Brookline, NH); and Cognoscenti, National Public Radio/WBUR’s online commentary page (Boston). During the Q&A, our business-savvy members focused on what matters most: What’s in the contract; turnaround times; advances; and openness to issues that mainstream publishers may consider too controversial (e.g. abortion). Biggest takeaway: Editors are impressed by queries that show a writer has thoroughly perused—and even better bought and read—the books on a publisher’s website. That way, potential authors have a sense of the kinds of material a publisher is likely to want. Thanks to event organizers and steering committee members Jim Kates and John Hodge.   

 — Barbara Beckwith


ILHAM TOHTI SENTENCED TO LIFE

Ilham Tohti, who won the 2014 PEN/Barbara Goldsmith ‘Freedom to Write’ award, was sentenced to life in prison by a court in China. PEN's denunciation of the verdict was cited in the NY Times. A writer, scholar, and leader in Uyghur PEN, Tohti founded Uyghur Online, a forum for dialogue between China’s Muslim Uyghur minority and its majority Han populations. The author was arrested in a violent raid on his home back in January, and charged with “separatism”—an allegation that his writings firmly reject.

As he was dragged out of court that morning, he spoke the last words we may hear from him in a long time: “This is not just! I won’t give in.” PEN is working with its partners to provide material support to Tohti's family, whose assets have been seized as a result of his conviction. —PEN AMERICA


‘NOT NO, BUT HELL NO!’

As we move into October and National Disability Employment Awareness Month, I’m reminded of a couple of things: (1) In Washington, DC, the No. 1 Management Rule is: “Don’t do anything you don’t want to read in the New York Times.” (2) I got involved in disability politics in the mid-1980s because Justin W. Dart Jr. and others inspired me in my fight against associational discrimination within the US Department of State. But in 1993, after the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) had become law, and after I had passed my exams for the Foreign Service, I was still denied an appointment to travel abroad, owing to my daughter’s cardiac disability. 

Government officials tried to waive my medical clearance, but the ADA had abolished "waivers" on medical clearances for health conditions and disabilities.  That is called associational discrimination based on disability, and was now prohibited. So when the bureaucrat asked me, “Don’t you want a waiver?” I responded,  “Not no, but hell no!” I insisted that they enforce the ADA. Then, in early 1995, after the government spent millions of dollars to discriminate against my daughter and me, I was appointed to the Foreign Service. The NY Times covered it: http://www.nytimes.com/1995/01/22/business/at-work-promotions-and-family-matters.html.

Alex Baker Patterson lived to be 17. She enjoyed looking at photographs of eagles in flight. So do I. My favorite eagle is Alex.   

—Jim Patterson


INTERNATIONAL DAY TO END IMPUNITY

The International Federation of Journalists has launched an End Impunity campaign and is asking the NWU, as its sister union, to help increase awareness about this issue in the US on November 2.

Vicious attacks against journalists over the last month continue to attract media attention. Yet, more than 1000 journalists and media staff have been killed around the world over the last two decades—more in peace time than during wars and conflicts. Credible statistics estimate that out of 10 killings, only one gets investigated. The UN General Assembly recently passed the strongest resolution supporting journalists and marked November 2 as the International Day to End Impunity for Crimes against Journalists.

NWU chapters can ...

● Download the campaign banner at IFJ.org and publicize it on your website and pubilcations.

● Post protests, slogans and demands on Twitter with the hashtag #EI_IFJ.

● Hold press conferences or meetings dedicated to End Impunity against Journalists and publicize the problem.

● Hold a minute of silence or another special event, such as a film screening.

Find out more: daytoendimpunity.org

 


 

Read more...
10/06/2014 - 9:56am

New York NWU Hosts Book Reading (All NY Photos by Tim Sheard)

New York NWU Tables at the Brooklyn Book Fair

Wisconsin NWU Gets New Banner

 

Read more...
10/06/2014 - 9:51am

KUDOS!

  • Eric A. Gordon (SOCAL):

—reports on a talk by "Forward" journalist J.J. Goldberg:

http://www.peoplesworld.org/j-j-goldberg-speaks-on-israel-and-palestine-is-there-a-way-out/

— says, "Why go all the way to Newfoundland and not get a story out of it?"

http://www.peoplesworld.org/echoes-of-valour-in-newfoundland-a-story-of-racism-defeated/

— takes on the subject of marriage in a particularly personal way: 

http://www.peoplesworld.org/impressions-of-marriage/

 


 

Read more...
10/06/2014 - 8:27am

The International Federation of Journalists has launched an End Impunity campaign and is asking the NWU, as its sister union, to help increase awareness about this issue in the US on November 2.

Vicious attacks against journalists over the last month continue to attract media attention. Yet, more than 1000 journalists and media staff have been killed around the world over the last two decades—more in peace time than during wars and conflicts. Credible statistics estimate that out of 10 killings, only one gets investigated. The UN General Assembly recently passed the strongest resolution supporting journalists and marked November 2 as the International Day to End Impunity for Crimes against Journalists.

NWU chapters can ...

● Download the campaign banner at IFJ.org and publicize it on your website and pubilcations.

● Post protests, slogans and demands on Twitter with the hashtag #EI_IFJ.

● Hold press conferences or meetings dedicated to End Impunity against Journalists and publicize the problem.

● Hold a minute of silence or another special event, such as a film screening.

Find out more: daytoendimpunity.org

 


 

Read more...
10/06/2014 - 8:24am

‘NOT NO, BUT HELL NO!’ - NWU Member Submission

As we move into October and National Disability Employment Awareness Month, I’m reminded of a couple of things: (1) In Washington, DC, the No. 1 Management Rule is: “Don’t do anything you don’t want to read in the New York Times.” (2) I got involved in disability politics in the mid-1980s because Justin W. Dart Jr. and others inspired me in my fight against associational discrimination within the US Department of State. But in 1993, after the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) had become law, and after I had passed my exams for the Foreign Service, I was still denied an appointment to travel abroad, owing to my daughter’s cardiac disability.

Government officials tried to waive my medical clearance, but the ADA had abolished "waivers" on medical clearances for health conditions and disabilities.  That is called associational discrimination based on disability, and was now prohibited. So when the bureaucrat asked me, “Don’t you want a waiver?” I responded,  “Not no, but hell no!” I insisted that they enforce the ADA. Then, in early 1995, after the government spent millions of dollars to discriminate against my daughter and me, I was appointed to the Foreign Service. The NY Times covered it: http://www.nytimes.com/1995/01/22/business/at-work-promotions-and-family-matters.html.

Alex Baker Patterson lived to be 17. She enjoyed looking at photographs of eagles in flight. So do I. My favorite eagle is Alex.  

—Jim Patterson

 


 

Read more...
10/06/2014 - 8:23am

Ilham Tohti, who won the 2014 PEN/Barbara Goldsmith ‘Freedom to Write’ award, was sentenced to life in prison by a court in China. PEN's denunciation of the verdict was cited in the NY Times. A writer, scholar, and leader in Uyghur PEN, Tohti founded Uyghur Online, a forum for dialogue between China’s Muslim Uyghur minority and its majority Han populations. The author was arrested in a violent raid on his home back in January, and charged with “separatism”—an allegation that his writings firmly reject.

As he was dragged out of court that morning, he spoke the last words we may hear from him in a long time: “This is not just! I won’t give in.” PEN is working with its partners to provide material support to Tohti's family, whose assets have been seized as a result of his conviction.

—PEN AMERICA

PEN has launched a letter-writing campaign to urge the Chinese authorities to release Ilham Tohti.

 

 


 

Read more...
10/06/2014 - 8:17am

The Boston Chapter’s September Publishing Alternatives panel drew 30 writers and four publishers: Candlewick Press (Somerville, MA, UK and Australia); Gemma Media (Boston); Hobblebush Books (Brookline, NH); and Cognoscenti, National Public Radio/WBUR’s online commentary page (Boston). During the Q&A, our business-savvy members focused on what matters most: What’s in the contract; turnaround times; advances; and openness to issues that mainstream publishers may consider too controversial (e.g. abortion). Biggest takeaway: Editors are impressed by queries that show a writer has thoroughly perused—and even better bought and read—the books on a publisher’s website. That way, potential authors have a sense of the kinds of material a publisher is likely to want. Thanks to event organizers and steering committee members.   

 — Barbara Beckwith

 


 

Read more...
10/06/2014 - 8:15am

American authors are now eligible for Man Booker prize for first time.

Read more:

http://www.reuters.com/article/2014/09/09/us-britain-booker-idUSKBN0H41UB20140909

 


 

Read more...
10/05/2014 - 5:12pm

Green Was the Old Black

By Calvin Ramsay

Photo courtesy of the author.

The name of Victor Hugo Green, a mailman who started his career in 1913 in Hackensack, NJ, lives on. He created both the Negro Motorist Green Book and the Negro Traveler’s Green Book because, at the time, the country’s racist Jim Crow laws hampered African-Americans. Green’s wife, the former Alma Duke of Richmond, VA, and their family often made the nearly 700-mile round trip to her hometown during their long marriage. Each time, the Greens were reminded that something needed to be done about the mistreatment of blacks on the open road.

By 1918, the Greens had moved from Hackensack to Harlem, NY, and remained there until his retirement in 1952. Throughout those years, Green continued to commute to Jersey to support his branch and his union, the National Association of Letter Carriers, which was largely white but allowed Green to join. The postman used his union connections with fellow carriers to ask for help with addresses and contacts for the Negro traveler. Once he had put together a nationwide team, he launched the Negro Motorist Green Book in 1936, which was published for three decades, until 1966 and annually included more than 80 pages of content.

The Green Book Travel Guide listed Negro hotels, restaurants, homes where travelers could stay, beauty and barbershops, as well as doctors and dentists’ offices. Restrooms and gas stations that catered to the Negro traveler were also included. Green’s dream was that one day the Green Book would not be needed because African-Americans would enjoy full accommodations on the open road. He did not live to see that day, passing away in 1960. But his daughter kept the Green Book going for six more years through the passage of the Civil Rights Bills of the middle and late sixties.

I learned about all of this history in 2001 in Atlanta, when I attended the funeral of two dear friends’ son who died in a traffic accident. The child’s grandfather, who had come down from NYC, was looking for a Green Book. It was his first time traveling to the South, and he thought it was still needed. I asked him what the Green Book was, and I became fascinated.

After that I wrote a play on the subject. It was staged in Washington, D.C. with the legendary civil rights activist Julian Bond playing Victor Green; Bond shared with me that his family always traveled with the Green Book. In the audience that night was Ernie Green of the Little Rock Nine (not sure if he’s any relation), who famously integrated an all white school in 1957 in Little Rock, AR. He told me that his family had used the Green Book, as well. Later I learned that Buck O’Neil, manager of the Kansas City Monarchs, the Negro Baseball league team for which Jackie Robinson had played, had placed a Green Book under glass at the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum in Kansas City, MO. Musician Wynton Marsalis told me that his grandfather ran an Esso gas station in New Orleans, and that he both advertised in and sold the Green Book. My children’s novel, Ruth and the Green Book, tells of an 8-year-old traveling with her mom and dad from Chicago to Selma, AL, in 1952 to see her grandmother. They endure a great number of trials—until they get a copy of the Green Book.

 —NWU member Ramsey is the author of numerous plays, musicals and books.

 


 

Read more...
10/05/2014 - 5:09pm

By Marilyn A. Gelman

In the days following a car crash injury some year ago, I thought I was entitled to certain benefits based on what I thought the auto policy said. But I was wrong. The same goes for a 2007 contract that I was thrilled to sign for the publication of an essay. The editing process was a pleasure, and I felt proud of the anthology in which the work appeared. However, years later I learned that simple words in contracts can have complex meanings.

The cause of my recent education was an invitation to be a Byliner.com backlist author. Suddenly I cared about the rights to that past work. I thought some rights had reverted to me because the contract for the piece specified five years, and seven years had passed. Besides, I thought the book had gone out of print years ago, when the publisher said copies were no longer available. Wrong and wrong.

After emailing back and forth with a NWU contract advisor, I began to look at words in contracts in a new way. I was stunned at my naiveté. There were words and phrases that should have signaled "Warning!" Instead, I overlooked them at the exciting prospect of a sale.

I do not regret signing the 2007 contract, but I do regret not fully understanding what I was signing.

Some words and phrases that will make me slow down and think twice include "exclusive," "X years after final publication," and "future media and technologies." In the future, I will inquire about a publisher’s right to license my story to third parties—especially those who use my story to support an ideology I do not espouse—and explore the possibility that there might be negotiating room.

Are there “warning” words and phrases on your list? Share them with the GCD at advice@nwu.org. And if your contract has terms that you don’t understand, ask the GCD for a review.

Image credit: Clip Art


 

Read more...

Union News

03/11/2011 - 8:45am

NWU member Ted Fiskevold and Mark Froemke from the Twin Cities, are going On the Road Through the Working Family Class Warfare Zones of the Midwest.  This union travelblog will take you to the class war battlefields of Madison, Indianapolis, Columbus and back to Madison, with stories and photos.  If you like what you read and see, pass the link on to your union, activist, and political friends and their blogs, Facebooks and online newsletters.

 

You can join them by clicking: http://midwestuniontravel.wordpress.com/. Also go to  WeAreWisconsin.org for more information.

03/10/2011 - 11:01pm

Kathleen McElroy


National Writers Union/ UAW Local 1981

Folks from outside Wisconsin are contacting me and asking how to help with the battle to save collective bargaining for public employees in Wisconsin.

YOU CAN PROVIDE FINANCIAL SUPPORT

People of generally modest means, including many college students, are continuing the occupation of the Capitol and the daily picketing in resistance to the Governor's plans. Most teachers have had to have chosen to return to their classrooms, but many other union members remain, people from private sector unions and public unions including police and firefighters. There are many private citizens, often seniors. Those remaining in the capitol and on the picket lines need food, water, transportation and housing. The Wisconsin AFL-CIO is coordinating much of that support. No matter how small, financial support is welcome:

ONLINE: The AFL-CIO is accepting donations online through PayPal or any major credit card. Please go
to http://wisaflcio.org for the link.

CHECKS can be made payable to the Wisconsin State AFL-CIO Defense Fund, 6333 W. Blue Mound Rd., Milwaukee, WI 53213 (Please indicate the purpose, e.g. "Capitol protests" or "Madison rally", on your check.)

SEND FOOD AND WATER DIRECTLY TO THE PROTESTERS

These two close-by shops will supply food and water to those in the Capitol or on the picket line:

03/10/2011 - 10:56pm

Originally called International Working Women's Day, March 8 is celebrated the world over. It was established in 1911 (the same year as the Triangle Fire happened) by European and America socialists, and became forever identified with the activism and tragedy of the women garment workers.

Nearly 150 sweatshop workers, mostly Jewish and Italian immigrant women, died 100 years ago in the fire at the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory. Most of the deaths occurred among those working on the crowded 9th floor where the bulk of the sewing machines were located. People on the other floors were told of the fire and escaped outside, but for long crucial minutes, no one let the seamstresses know. By the time they became aware of the smoke, a guard had locked one of the two doors, a routine "anti-theft" action - i.e. act of owner greed - that cost many women their lives.

02/25/2011 - 3:57pm

The Controversial Lahore With Love Now Available on Amazon.com

NEW YORK CITY, Feb. 22, 2011 -- Ten months after Syracuse University Press pulled the critically acclaimed Lahore With Love: Growing Up Girlfriends Pakistani-Style from the shelves, Dr. Fawzia Afzal-Khan has self-published her fictionalized memoir, making it available to the public through Amazon.com.

Originally published in April 2010 by Syracuse University Press, Lahore With Love received glowing reviews in Booklist, FeministReview.org, and Pakistaniaat: A Journal of Pakistan Studies. Harvard University's Henry Louis Gates Jr. called it  "a tale that is marvelously compelling and endlessly entertaining, at once poignantly personal and richly political." Acclaimed Egyptian novelist and women's and human rights activist, Nawal el Saadawi writes, "Afzal-Khan's is a gifted dissident voice and I hope many people will read her beautiful memoir which challenges stereotypes, universal fanatic fundamentalism, and religious, political, and sexual taboos."

02/21/2011 - 1:44pm

 

In Wisconsin, tens of thousands of workers, teachers and students are fighting Gov. Scott Walker's plan to strip 200,000 public employees of their collective bargaining rights. Just as Reagan’s wholesale firing
of striking Air Traffic Controllers in the ‘80’s led to decades of attacks on private sector unions, what we are seeing in Wisconsin is PATCO II: The Public Sector. If Walker wins, the labor movement can look forward to even more setbacks for a long time to come.

02/18/2011 - 2:28pm

Dear Members:

The IFJ will no longer issue paper press passes, but is upgrading to a photo ID card. This upgrade by the IFJ office has resulted in a substantial cost increase to NWU and will result in an increase in our workload and price as well.

As we incorporate the new required changes, we will place all international press pass applications on hold. We will advise you of the new price and any other requirements for the international pass as soon as we have them.

The NWU press pass for use within the United States is still available.

Thank you for your patience. We look forward to issuing the new IFJ press passes as soon as possible.



In solidarity,
NWU

02/17/2011 - 4:37pm

NWU is starting a new service, replacing the old Job Hotline with Hire A Union Writer, a space where members can market themselves for work as a writer with a link to their blog, website or resume.

While we don’t expect it to be an overnight hit as a hiring hall, it can be a place where other unions and progressive organizations can find union writers. Over time, we will try to promote the site to other potential employers. Also, some BizTech writers and others are eligible for unemployment insurance which they may find easier to collect if they are registered as available for work with their union.

On the Members Only section of the website, you will find a short form to fill out, including room for a 50-word description of the kind of writing you do and your experience. That will go to our webmaster who will post it on the public Hire A Union Writer page along with the link of your choice.

We especially want to thank veteran member/activist Bruce Hartford, who helped to establish the original Job Hotline and who suggested this new service for our members. Credit goes as well to the members who have urged us to revive the Job Hotline. When members speak, we listen.

 

02/15/2011 - 6:07pm

Cartoon by Ted Rall - Waiting for the Phone to Ring
Friday, February 11, 2011 - (C) 2011 Ted Rall, Distributed by Universal Uclick - AAEC Ref Num: 95663

The National Writers Union is launching a campaign to raise the pay scale for online content writers. If there was any doubt as to the need for such a campaign, look no further than the recent purchase of the Huffington Post by AOL for a cool $315 million.

In an excellent Op-Ed piece in the LA Times (2/9) Tim Rutten writes, “To grasp [HuffPo’s] business model, though, you need to picture a galley rowed by slaves and commanded by pirates Given the fact that its founder, Huffington, reportedly will walk away from this acquisition with a personal profit of as much as $100 million, it makes all the Post's raging against Wall Street plutocrats, crony capitalism and the Bush and Obama administrations' insensitivities to the middle class and the unemployed a bit much.”

02/04/2011 - 5:26pm

04 February 2011
H.E. Ahmed Shafiq
Prime Minister
Arab Republic of Egypt

Your Excellency,

On behalf of the National Writers Union, I am writing to protest the attacks by supporters of your President on journalists covering the events in Egypt.

According to our affiliate unions and press reports, we know that journalists have been the targets of violent attacks:

  • Ahmed Bajano, an Al-Arabiya correspondent, and his camera crew were attacked in Mustafa Mahmoud Square by security men in plainclothes. He suffered a concussion.
  • Al-Arabiya's Cairo office was attacked and its windows broken
  • Ahmad Abdel Hadi was seized by pro-Mubarak supporters near Tahrir Square, forced in a car, and driven away.
  • The headquarters of Al-Shorouk was attacked by plainclothes police in Cairo. Reporter Mohamed Khayal and photographer Magdi Ibrahim were injured.
  • Belgian journalist Maurice Sarfatti was beaten and arrested in central Cairo.
    • CNN's Anderson Cooper was attacked by pro-Mubarak supporters in Tahrir Square.
    • Two Associated Press correspondents were attacked covering a pro-Mubarak group.
    • Danish senior Middle East Correspondent Steffen Jensen was beaten by pro-Mubarak supporters with clubs while reporting live on the phone to Danish TV2 News from Cairo.
    • BBC’s Rupert Wingfield-Hayes had his car forced off the road in Cairo. He was then handed over to secret police agents who handcuffed, blindfolded and took him to a three hour interrogation.
    • Iceland's RUV national broadcaster, Jon Bjorgvinsson was attacked as he was filming with his crew. He was knocked to the ground, his camera destroyed.
    • Three Al Jazeera journalists were arrested by Egyptian secret police.
    • Swedish TV correspondent Bert Sundström has disappeared, while his colleague Sid Ahmed Hammouche, special envoy of Liberté newspaper was arrested.
    • One Greek photographer was stabbed in the leg by pro-Mubarak demonstrators.
    • Washington Post Cairo bureau chief Leila Fadel and photographer Linda Davidson were among more than 20 journalists arrested yesterday by the Egyptian interior ministry. They are currently in custody.

    These were the first. As the situation sharpens, we fear that many more will follow. These premeditated attacks to intimidate journalists from reporting what is happening must stop. You have apologized for these attacks and have offered to investigate. We hold your government responsible for the safety of these journalists.

    Sincerely

    Larry Goldbetter, President
    National Writers Union/UAW Local 1981
    New York, New York

02/04/2011 - 1:29pm

 

Join the Global Wage Survey,

Get a Salary Check, Strengthen Collective Bargaining

The International Federation of Journalists is partnering with WageIndicator, a global wage survey that measures wages of over 1,500 different occupations and 400 industries in over 48 countries around the world to date.

With the participation of the IFJ and your union this year, journalists’ salaries will, for the first time, be assessed on a global scale...

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