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

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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07/10/2014 - 11:10am

The Palestinian Journalists' Syndicate, an affiliate of the International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) union in which NWU is also an affiliate, reported that a driver for Media 24 agency was killed by an Israeli rocket while driving in his car in the Gaza Strip on the night of Wednesday, July 9. The IFJ strongly condemned the killing and called for justice for Hamid Shibab.

“We join our affiliate, the Palestinian Journalists Syndicate (PJS) in condemning the appalling killing of Hamid Shihab and we send our condolences to his family, friends and colleagues,” said IFJ President Jim Boumelha. “We demand that Israeli authorities carry out a thorough investigation into this attack to ensure that justice prevails.”

IFJ urged journalists working in conflict zones to read its safety handbook, which was designed for journalists working in the Arab World, Front Line Journalism Handbook.

The condemnation of Hamid Shibab's tragic death comes just weeks after IFJ and the Federation of Arab Journalists (FAJ) issued a joint declaration of support for all Palestinian journalists and for their advocacy group, IFJ member the Palestinian Journalists Syndicate. The declaration came out of a joint meeting of the IFJ and the FAJ in Ramallah on June 21-22.

The Declaration in Support of Palestinian Journalists states:

  1. Their full solidarity with the Palestinian journalists who are continuously subjected to frequent violations at the hands of the Israeli authorities in breach of International laws.
  2. Their support for the Palestinian Journalists Syndicate's efforts to defend journalists, their professionalism, and to enhance their financial and moral rights and their commitment to independence from commercial or political interests.
  3. Their strong condemnation of the Israeli government's systematic policies aimed at preventing journalists from working in parts of Palestine, in particular in Jerusalem, and its full support for the Palestinian Journalists Syndicate's international campaign for journalists' freedom of movement.
  4. That Palestinian journalists who face daily dangers to their lives should be fully protected so they can work in safe conditions and that the Israeli government takes full responsibility for their attacks of Palestinian journalists in breach of international charters and covenants.
  5. Their vigorous condemnation of the continuous imprisonment of 14 journalists, including three in administrative detention without justification and demand their release.
  6. All violations against Palestinian journalists by the Palestinian security apparatus shall stop and that these violations are investigated so that the perpetrators of these crimes are brought to justice.
  7. Their welcome for President Mahmoud Abbas’ declared commitment that his government will respect freedom of journalists and investigate violations that take place against Palestinian journalists and ensure they come to an end.
  8. Their continuous cooperation between the two federations to support the Palestinian journalists and their Syndicate in line with signed agreement

Signed,

Jim Boumelha                                                       Ahmed Behbehani

President, IFJ                                                          President, FAJ

          

 

 


 

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06/27/2014 - 11:35am

Three journalists from Al Jazeera English have been detained in Egypt while doing their jobs. They were sentenced to 7-10 years in prison on June 23rd. The NWU stands with the International Federation of Journalists in calling for their immediate release.

“The verdict of the court, despite the lack of evidence and bizarre court proceedings over more than a dozen hearings, is an appalling attack on press freedom and carries an implicit threat to all media working in Egypt,” said IFJ Senior Vice President, Younes Mjahed in a press release. 

Read more on the IFJ website.


 

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06/27/2014 - 11:15am

By: Brigid O’Farrell, Bay Area Chapter

On Monday, June 23, the White House convened a summit in Washington, DC, to start an important conversation about issues affecting working families:  accessing good jobs, raising the minimum wage, creating flexible schedules, securing paid family leave, providing quality affordable child care. Labor was in the house.  I was honored to join over 250 union members and women from worker organizations.  First we met on Sunday at the AFL-CIO building where sisters and brothers shared their stories.  

I worked with the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers, Local 617 in San Mateo, California, to identify union members who benefited from California’s Paid Family Leave Act.  California is one of only three states to have a law that enables workers to take paid time off from work to care for a new baby or an ill family member. Unions worked to pass this law and now members are using it.  Krista Brooks and Johnathan Brooks are IBEW apprentice electricians and both of them used the California Paid Family Leave Act to take time of the job when their daughter was born. They were able to care for their child, maintain their economic stability, and return to their jobs.  They told their story at the AFL-CIO Working Families Speak Up Event on Sunday and then joined the White House Summit on Monday.

Connie Leak, President of the Coalition of Labor Union Women and a member of UAW, said this wasn’t just about boots on the ground, but about “heels, flats, and sneakers heading to the streets” and to the White House Summit to talk about working family issues and the importance of unions, collective bargaining, and public policy to create 21st century workplaces that nourish working families.  

The next day over 1,000 people joined the conversation with President Obama and the First Lady, Vice President and Dr. Jill Biden, Secretary of Labor Tom Perez, Democratic Congressional Leader Nancy Pelosi, and a host of corporate, media, and advocacy leaders.  Labor’s voice was heard through Liz Shuler, Secretary-Treasurer of the AFL-CIO,  Mary Kay Henry, President of the Service Employees Union, and Kay Thompson, Local 1-S Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union/UFCW.  A mother of four and an employee at Macy’s flagship store in Herald Square, Kay Thompson told the audience that “the fair work schedule secured by my collective bargaining agreement is one of the main reasons I’ve stayed at Macy’s for nearly 20 years.”

Kay Thompson, Krista and Johnathan Brooks, and many other powerful stories told over the two days were about the possibility of change.  Now attention is turning to how to translate the ideas and energy in that room into action.  As Eleanor Roosevelt said, “We can’t just talk.  We have got to act.”

 


 

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06/13/2014 - 3:33pm

The Free Flow of Information Act (S. 987) is a federal shield bill that would protect the public’s right to know by protecting the identities of journalists’ confidential sources. The bill is expected to be brought to the Senate floor this summer. The legislation has strong bipartisan support. On September 12, 2013 the Senate Judiciary Committee passed S. 987 by a 13-5 vote. The bill’s original co-sponsors are Sen. Charles Schumer (D-NY) and Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC), and it has a total of 24 co-sponsors from both parties.

On June 12, 2014, the Shield Coalition, made up of dozens of media groups and journalists organizations,  sent this letter (PDF) to every US Senator, seeking their support for this much needed and long overdue legislation.  It has taken on even more urgency given that the Supreme Court recently declined to hear the appeal of journalist and book author James Risen of the New York Times after the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals rejected his motion to quash a subpoena, issued in a leak prosecution, seeking the name of his confidential source. If potential sources, including government whistleblowers, fear that journalists will be forced to reveal their identities, these sources will not come forward, and the public will lose the ability to hold the government accountable.
 
The National Writers Union is a member of the Shield Coalition and a signer of the letter. We urge the Senate to pass the Free Flow of Information Act this summer.
 
 

 

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06/02/2014 - 1:34pm

The Supreme Court this morning raised the stakes for all reporters and increased the need for a federal shield bill.  The Court denied certiorari (refused to hear the case) of James Risen, a New York Times reporter.  Risen has been ordered to testify in the criminal trial of former CIA officer Jeffrey Sterling, accused of leaking information about a failed CIA effort to interfere with Iran's nuclear program during the Clinton Administration.  According to the AP report posted on Huffington Post, Attorney General Eric Holder has suggested that Risen might not be jailed if he refuses to testify.
 
The Supreme Court cited its 1972 case holding that nothing in the First Amendment protects reporters against being called to testify before grand juries.
 
Read the complete story from the AP via Huffington Post here.
 
If you are interested in helping NWU fight for a reporter's shield bill, please email nwu@nwu.org and let us know.


 

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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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