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

08/20/2014 - 10:03pm

 

We grieve the loss of James Foley and send our condolences to his friends, colleagues and family. At 40 years old, James Foley was still in the early stages of what would surely be a long and successful career as a journalist, yet already he had accomplished far more than most journalists do in a lifetime. His work had taken him into the heart of conflicts around the world. He was no stranger to hostile and dangerous environments.

In fact, his capture in 2012 wasn't even his first. He had already spent 44 days in a Libyan jail in 2011 while covering the civil war there. During his capture he witnessed another journalist, South African Anton Hammerl, killed in the firefight. Despite the risks, Foley still traveled to Syria in 2012 to cover the conflict there. His commitment to bearing witness and reporting what he saw to the world was admirable.

Every journalist should look to his example and the example of others who risk their very lives to bring the world the truth. It is worth noting that James Foley was, like many of the journalists currently covering the conflict in Syria, a freelance journalist. He was not a staffer with the backup of a large well-funded media company. And other freelancers covering Syria have faced similar dangers since most of the media pulled their staffers out in 2012. Austin Tice went missing in August of 2012 after sneaking into Syria with the intention of finding work as a freelance reporter to cover the conflict. He tweeted from Syria "If someone wanted to hire me that'd be great. Student loans don't pay themselves."

At least 20 journalists have gone missing in Syria since the civil war began in 2011. At least 39 journalists are missing worldwide. This is a moment for us to celebrate the life and work of James Foley, but also a moment to reflect on the risks that brave and admirable men and women just like him take around the world for very little money and often very little recognition. Without their bravery in the face of war, despotism and chaos, history would truly be written by the victors. May those who have not been found come home safely, and may those yet to go into the scene of the battle be protected, cared for, and celebrated.

 


 

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08/11/2014 - 10:03am

Plans are proceeding for a massive People’s Climate March at the UN on Sunday, September 21. NWU is one of dozens of unions that have endorsed the march, and organizers are planning a Labor Weekend here to help turn out 20,000 union members. Our point person is NY member Abby Scher, and we are asking our members to get on PCM busses and join us from Boston to Washington, DC. For more info, contact Abby at abbyscher@mindspring.com

 

(Photo: NWU members and the UAW contingent at the PCM Labor Press Conference held in Times Square on July 30.)

 


 

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08/11/2014 - 9:44am


On July 22, NWU joined the Science Fiction Fantasy Writers of America (SFWA), the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators (SCBWI) and the Graphic Artists Guild (GAG) in signing onto an amicus brief on behalf of the families of Superman’s co-creators, Siegel and Shuster, and the children of artist Jack Kirby, who are petitioning to have their appeals of two Circuit Court decisions heard by the US Supreme Court. 

In the first case, Siegel and Shuster signed away all rights to Superman for $130 in 1938. In 1997 and 2002, respectively, their heirs attempted to exercise their right to recover the original copyrights by serving statutory notices of terminations on DC Comics and its parent, Warner Bros.

In DC Comics v. Pacific Pictures Corp., the Ninth Circuit stripped the Shuster estate of its termination rights, making it much easier for large media companies to eliminate, settle or completely circumvent termination rights. This ignores the Supreme Court’s opinion in NY Times v Tasini, (2001) that the termination right is “inalienable.” This decision essentially guts the termination right and hurts authors and artists everywhere. 

In the other case, the children of Jack Kirby sent notices of termination to Marvel to regain ownership of Kirby's share of the copyrights, in accordance with their rights under the Copyright Act. Marvel claimed that Kirby was an independent contractor and that his work fell under the "work for hire" exception. 

The case went before the 2nd Circuit, which has a 40-year record of erroneously determining the work of independent contractors to be "for hire," disenfranchising hardworking authors and their families of valuable property that is rightfully theirs.

According to attorney Hilary Hodson, “On May 14, 2014, the Supreme Court asked Marvel to file a response to our cert petition, meaning they are considering granting cert. If cert is granted, our chances of prevailing are high. A win would have broad implications -- all pre-1978 works by an independent contractor, or non-traditional employee, would no longer be ‘work for hire.’"

 


 

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08/03/2014 - 9:45pm

President
NWU/UAW Local 1981
256 W. 38th St. Suite 703 New York, NY 10018
3 August 2014
 
Dear Larry,
 
I write on behalf of the International Federation of Journalists to thank you and your union for standing up with the global community of journalists in solidarity with our Palestinian colleagues in Gaza. This morning, I have just been notified by our Palestinian union, the PJS, of the latest grim toll of journalists killed yesterday which now brings the total of journalists killed in the last three weeks to 12 and over 35 injured. As you know, the IFJ deals almost on a daily basis with cases of journalists attacked all over the world just for doing their job. The tragedy of Gazan journalists is that they are not just caught in crossfire or indiscriminate shelling but they are also wilfully targeted.
 
According to the PJS, media offices have been regularly targeted by the Israeli army, in particular Al Aqsa TV and radio whose studios have been repeatedly hit. Also hit were Al Jawharah Tower which houses several media, the offices of Media 1 TV, and even Al Jazeera office in Al Shorooq Tower was shot at, hours after Israel’s foreign minister Avigdor Lieberman called for the broadcaster to be banned from Israel.
 
The IFJ has no doubt that, according to the Geneva Convention’s Article 79 Protocol Additional I, any targeting of journalist is a serious breach of international humanitarian law and Article 85 of the convention considers this to be a war crime. Materials and facilities used by journalists are civilian objects according to Article 52 and, consequently, the bombing of a TV or radio station, even if it is partly used for propaganda, is not reconcilable with international humanitarian law.
 
We take these breaches of international conventions very seriously and, whenever they happen, we make representations to the Israeli authorities reminding them of their responsibility under international laws. At a time when every attempt at a ceasefire has floundered, we are extremely concerned that the security situation of journalists in Gaza will worsen without a concerted and unified voice to denounce the violations of journalists’ rights in Gaza and mobilise world opinion for change on the ground.
 
We will therefore continue to call on all our affiliates worldwide, including the National Writers’ Union in the US, to provide humanitarian support to their Palestinian colleagues and, most importantly, solidarity from journalist to journalist.
I can assure you that journalists from all the over the world will continue to stand up with our colleagues and help them in their greatest hour of need.
 
Yours in solidarity,
 
 
Jim Boumelha IFJ President
International Federation of Journalists,
 
International Press Centre
Résidence Palace, Block C,
155 Rue de la Loi, B1040
Brussels
Tel: +32 2 235 2200 Fax: +32 2 235 2219
E-mail: ifj@ifj.org
 
 

 

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07/29/2014 - 9:53pm

Photo couresty Workers WorldFollowing the killing of a Palestinian journalist and his daughter, the International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) today issued a renewed call for the safety and freedom of journalists in Gaza.  The IFJ announced in a press release: "According to IFJ affiliate, the Palestinian Journalists’ Syndicate (PJS), Baha Edeen Gharib, 55, who worked as Israeli affairs editor for Palestinian TV, and his 16-year-old daughter Ola, were killed by an Israeli rocket attack this morning in Rafah, in the southern Gaza strip region, while they were travelling home."

There’s an old saying, “The first casualty of war is the truth.” Nowhere is that more true than in the US corporate media’s coverage of Israel’s assault on Gaza.   As of this writing, more than 700 Palestinians have been killed, almost all civilians. Mosques, schools, and medical centers have been destroyed. Thirty-two Israelis have been killed, almost all soldiers.

NWU has posted on our social media channels about the murder of a Palestinian journalist by Israeli troops,  and how NBC pulled a reporter from Gaza after he reported that four Palestinian children were killed by an Israeli airstrike while playing soccer on the beach. A social media campaign convinced NBC to return Mohyeldin to Gaza.

But more significant than how the war is being covered is the war itself and the US complicity in it. Israel has carried out a brutal occupation of Gaza and the West Bank for 47 years. The occupation is underwritten by $3.1 billion annually in US aid, 25% of Israel’s military budget. And according to If Americans Knew, the US will provide an additional $3 billion per year, every year thru 2018!

Israel’s cries of “self-defense,” amplified uncritically by the US mainstream media, ring hollow; like the “self defense” of the US against Native Americans, or the “self-defense” of the Apartheid regime against the black South African population. 

On July 23, the UN Human Rights Council voted to investigate alleged war crimes in Gaza. The US was the only “No” vote.

I urge every member and chapter to join local actions and coalitions to end this brutal occupation now!

NWU President Larry Goldbetter

Photo: Chicago Gaza solidarity march. Image courtesy: Workers World


 

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07/23/2014 - 12:25pm

The Niger Delta. This image is licensed under Creative Commons.

By: Abby Scher, NYC

The NWU and 37 other labor organizations have endorsed the People’s Climate March (PCM) scheduled for Sunday September 21, in NYC (http://peoplesclimate.org/march/). United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki Moon has called world leaders to New York that week to discuss climate change before a new round of negotiations in 2015. A mass PCM can help create pressure for a progressive global agreement.

Billion dollar oil, natural gas and coal companies, focused only on their bottom line, are using ever more destructive techniques to extract resources from deep beneath the sea and earth. Harmful emissions are growing creating a more endangered planet. Climate change demands that we create an economy that works for all people and the planet, based on green jobs and sustainable resources. Unions need to help create that strategy.

Working people and the poor are worse hit by climate change – not only in Bangladesh and other impoverished countries but in the U.S. as well, as those living on the edges of NYC discovered during Hurricane Sandy.

We hope to have 20,000 union members on the PCM, with an international labor gathering the evening before. For more info contact me at abbyscher@mindspring.com.

 

 


 

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07/22/2014 - 4:32pm
As Detroit's Water Department continued to cut off water to many poor residents delinquent on their water bills, about 3,000 delegates gathered in the Motor City for the annual Netroots Nation conference. The conference was originally launched by writers and readers of the political blog Daily Kos. It has since grown into or one of the largest civil society conferences in the US. Prominent conference speakers included Vice President Joe Biden, Reverend William Barber, leader behind North Carolina's Moral Mondays movement, and Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren.
 
The highlight of the conference came when out-of-towners from Netroots joined Detroit locals for a rally downtown Detroit on July 18th to urge the city to turn on the taps to thirsty families and recognize water as a human right. The city's Water Department has said it has given people enough time to pay their bills and that it must balance its books. Critics counter the city has not cut off water to some corporate debtors with the largest delinquent water bills totaling $30 million, and that the city's poor delinquent residents — many of them jobless or living paycheck-to-paycheck — have not gotten the same accommodations or extra time to pay up.
 
The NWU was there, alongside social justice advocates, labor and grassroots organizers, technologists from across the country. We chatted with bloggers, authors and other conference-goers about the NWU's work to advocate for writers' rights and foster a social and professional community for freelance, business and technical, and self-published bloggers, writers and book authors. NWU members from the Southeast Michigan Chapter backed up the effort at the NWU table, signing up new members and sharing information about issues we care about. Also in attendance was a well-known commentator and podcast host, NWU member Monica RW, owner of Independent Underground News & Talk (IU News & Talk), a top political podcast in Michigan. Listen to her radio roundup of the conference on Soundcloud and catch the podcast every Tuesday and Thursday at 11:00 a.m ET. Follow IU News & Talk on Twitter here.
 
Many people we spoke with were surprised to learn that NWU's only requirement for membership is that writers have published three works in their entire lives or have a work they would like to publish someday. We also talked with them about a major issue in the future of online publishing and digital information mining: the open question of what will happen to so-called “orphan works” when original authors can't be identified for one reason or another (possibly by the very party interested in profiting from the work).

Southeast Michigan Chapter Chair Alecia Goodlow-Young was a driving force behind NWU's success at Netroots Nation. She organized local NWU members to sit at the table. She actively promoted the value of writers both at the conference and off-site, sharing information about NWU with the valet at the hotel (who knew a writer) and tourists at the Motown Museum. She also befriended NWU's conference table neighbors: cutting-edge technologists whose start-up Action Network ended up sweeping top prizes for best overall technology and best start-up technology in a vote by attendees. The interface enables organizing, mass mailing, and fundraising and is free to individuals and groups.
 
Resoundingly, writers who visited the NWU at Netroots want better conditions for freelance writers and bloggers. They realize bloggers and writers are creating economic value. Writers should be paid. NWU will continue to work to grow our membership with the goal of building a world where writers and other creators are compensated for their creative work, which contributes so much to a flourishing and vibrant culture.

 

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07/18/2014 - 2:51pm

 

Tiziana Rinaldi, a New York based member of the National Writers Union, shared a video presentation of Finding Success In A New World, the panel that she moderated at this year's Writing Across Borders. The featured panelists are Dr. Fiona Citkin, a diversiculturalist and author, and acclaimed Mexican-American writer Sergio Troncoso. The writing conference was held in New York on May 18th, 2014, by the the local chapter of the National Writers Union. 

Tiziana Rinaldi lives in New York where she writes and produces Life In A New World, a cable show for America's foreign-born audiences, from which this video is from. Her work is published at www.lifeinanewworld.com


 

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07/14/2014 - 12:32pm

 

We are pleased to report that the time for appealing the Court’s final approval of the class settlement has expired and no appeal of that order was filed with the court. Therefore pursuant to Section 1(q) of the Revised Settlement Agreement, the Effective Date of the settlement has occurred. We are hopeful that payments for works covered by the settlement agreement will happen by early 2015.

If you have any questions or need advice see our FAQ, or write NWU@nwu.org. Congratulations to all those who will at long last receive some compensation for their work.

 


 

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07/10/2014 - 5:40pm

The United Auto Workers today announced the formation of a Local 42 union to provide representation for auto workers at Volkswagen's plant in Chattanooga. No workers will be required to join.

The announcement comes just months after the UAW lost a bid to unionize the plant in February shadowed by widespread claims of outside interference in the vote. UAW president Dennis Williams emphasized the union was inspired by the many workers who did vote in favor of organizing.

“Earlier this year, the UAW was gratified to earn the confidence and support of many Volkswagen team members,” said Williams. “At that time, we said we would not give up on these committed and hard-working employees. We’re keeping our promise.”

 


 

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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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