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

07/22/2014 - 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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05/22/2014 - 3:38pm


 
The 2014 Civil Rights Summit at the LBJ Presidential Library in Austin, Texas, April 8 -10, which celebrated passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, featured the voices of veterans of the civil rights struggle, including former U.N. Ambassador Andrew Young, Georgia Congressman John Lewis and former President Jimmy Carter, to political recipients of the Act’s passage like former President Bill Clinton and President Barack Obama. The LBJ Library has posted photos and videos from each day of the event.
 
Dispatches from the Civil Rights Summit 2014, Austin, Texas
 
By: NWU Member James Patterson: Diplomat, Writer, Speaker, Educator

The Civil Rights Act of 1964 banned discrimination based on race, color, religion, sex and national origin in public accommodations including restaurants, hotels, theaters and retail businesses. The Act created the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission to ban workplace discrimination. Before the Act employers could legally exclude blacks from job openings with a simple “no Negroes.” Congressman John Lewis, who was brutally beaten at Selma in 1965, told participants “times have changed” but work needed to be done on civil rights, such as restoring important provisions of the Voting Rights Act of 1965. (The GOP-dominated Supreme Court struck down key provisions in 2013.)

 
Lewis said the Civil Rights Act of 1964 was “a living document” and the struggle goes on for equality and justice. Public furor over Johnson’s disastrous handling of Vietnam has somewhat abated, many say, and historians are looking at more positive aspects of his administration, especially his work on civil rights legislation. Summit planners said they hoped the event would help people see beyond Johnson’s failed Vietnam policy. That may not happen, however, as Pulitzer Prize- and National Book Award winning author Robert Caro is currently at work on his fifth and final volume on Johnson and it may bring attention back to the president’s role in escalating the Vietnam War.
 
The Civil Rights Summit, though, was essentially a Vietnam Free Zone where there was nothing but praise for the late Texas president. Caro was absent from the Summit reportedly due to differences with planners over Johnson’s civil rights legacy. Also absent were members of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s family. Reportedly, they are in legal disputes with each other and with some of the panelists over some of King’s personal items. Further, one family member claims Johnson was involved in the assassination of Dr. King. University of Texas Austin students were upset with planners. Reportedly, there were few Summit seats for students. An estimated 9,035 students applied for tickets and only 640 received them. The Lady Bird Johnson Auditorium at the LBJ Presidential Library seats only 967 people.
 
There were 46 panelists who spoke at the event. Summit planes invited controversial Texas Republican Governor Rick Perry but did not invite him to speak. As a result, Perry had “a schedule conflict” and could not attend. According to LBJ Library spokesperson Anne Wheeler, Vice President Joe Biden and U.S. Senators Ted Cruz, Texas, John Cornyn, Texas, Mitch McConnell, Kentucky, and Harry Reid, Nevada, were invited but could not attend. Similarly, GOP House Speaker John Boehner and House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi did not attend. In my view, Cruz, McConnell and Boehner would have likely drawn angry protesters, especially over their views on immigration reform. According to the Daily Texas, a UT-Austin newspaper, Social work freshman Addis Gezahegn said, “I would gladly miss class to be in the same room as the first black president of the United States. The only black person on the UT campus like 50 years ago carried a mop and a broom.”
 
On the last day of the Summit, President Obama spoke and Summit planners panicked when they realized the audience was, well, very light for his speech. They opened doors for students and even herded press from the Media Center into the auditorium. Summit planners had, they said, worked on this event for three years. Still, problems arose. One of the most embarrassing problems was the total exclusion of civil rights for the disabled from the agenda.
 
The landmark American with Disabilities Act of 1990, signed by former President George H.W. Bush, who did not attend the event, celebrates its 25th anniversary next year. At the very last minute, Summit planners added distinguished educator and disability rights advocate Lex Freidan to a panel on Civil Rights in the 21st Century. He had an important message and it is sad few heard it. Friedan’s name did not appear in the official Summit program. President Lyndon Baines Johnson, during his first twenty years in Congress, adamantly and wholeheartedly opposed all civil rights legislation. His Texas constituents opposed it and so did he. President Kennedy’s tragic assassination in Dallas in November 1963, the televised brutality and violence against blacks in the Deep South, Klan murders of white civil rights workers in Mississippi, and Dr. King’s compassioned plea for help in ending segregation, changed Lyndon Johnson and the course of our nation’s history. 
 
Johnson was not perfect but when history called, he listened and acted to help end bigotry and discrimination. Few other Southern politicians heard history’s call at that time. As a youth in Alabama in 1964, LBJ was a hated man. Arizona’s Republican Senator Barry Goldwater, who said the Civil Rights Act of 1964 was unconstitutional, was the white man’s savior. Fortunately, Goldwater lost in a landslide. He won Alabama by a Klanslide. Johnson famously predicted his signing the Civil Rights Act of 1964 would cost his party the South. Solidly Republican today, Alabama, like much of the South, is still resistant to civil rights for gays and marriage equality.
 
As Congressman John Lewis and other Civil Rights veterans said at the Summit, the Civil Rights struggle goes on for equality and justice. Like Johnson, the Civil Rights Summit was not a perfect event. It was, though, historic and its messages provided participants with the energy, enthusiasm and promise for the ongoing fight for a better and more just America.

About the Author:

James Patterson, who attended Alabama’s segregated schools in the 1970s, received a family education in civil rights. His father, a member of the Alabama National Guard, was federalized by President Kennedy for the integration of the University of Alabama in June 1963 and by President Johnson for service at Selma in March of 1965 to prevent violence by “domestic terrorists,” the Ku Klux Klan. Patterson is now a San Francisco-based writer and speaker.
 

 

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Union News

11/12/2010 - 1:22am

The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) today backed a strike by journalists at the Croatian daily newspaper Voice of Istria in a crucial battle over workers’ rights and independent journalism in the country.

The IFJ affiliate the Croatian Journalists’ Union, which organises 117 workers at the Glas Istre Novine company, has called a strike tomorrow after nine months of turmoil at the paper which has seen a company buy-out, plans for massive wage cuts, job losses and internal interference in the work of journalists.

“This strike is a result of management ‘slash and burn’ tactics and a refusal to negotiate with the union,” said Aidan White, IFJ General Secretary. “The workforce refuses to see their rights wiped away by a company that has lost all sense of decency in its treatment of staff.”

11/12/2010 - 1:17am

The European Federation of Journalists today called on journalists across Europe to support journalists at the BBC who have launched a strike campaign to defend pension rights. At the weekend journalists staged a successful 48-hour stoppage across the network, forcing a number of flagship programmes off the air. Now fresh actions are planned as the network seeks to impose a "pay-more, get-less" retirement plan on thousands of its staff.

"The BBC journalists are showing the way to tackle head-on the media agenda of cuts and down-grading of staff rights," said Aidan White, EFJ General Secretary. "It's a strike campaign that will resonate in all European media houses where journalists and media staff are being targeted to shoulder the burden of the financial crisis."

The EFJ says that European journalists are facing savage budget cuts, declining social rights and a lack of social dialogue not just in the broadcasting sector, but across the whole of the media landscape.

10/18/2010 - 5:03pm

The NWU National Executive Board voted to oppose an Arizona law, House Bill 2281, which threatens ethnic studies classes in the state. The vote took place at the September 25-26 meeting in New York City.

Outgoing Arizona Schools Superintendent Tom Horne drafted the measure after launching vicious public attacks on the ethnic studies program, particularly Mexican-American Studies class of the Tucson Unified School District. Horne, a Republican, is running for Arizona Attorney General...

10/04/2010 - 4:45pm

With the folding of daily newspapers and an overwhelming number of other commercial print publications, the bulk of paid published writing has shifted to the Internet. In the world of Internet publishing, we have seen the rise of Content Farms claiming to offer desirable writing assignments. These companies, owned by AOL, Yahoo and Demand Media among others, pay writers very little—such as $50 dollars for ten or more 500 word articles, pay by amount of web site page clicks—and other nonspecific methods with no guaranteed amount or very low payment. Demand Media, which has contracts with the San Francisco Chronicle, the National Football League, The Houston Chronicle and more, boasts of having 10,000 freelance writers that they pay a penny-a-word!

10/04/2010 - 4:09pm

Despite long hours of travel to get to Washington, UAW members showed up in the thousands to support the march's goals. Photo by Susan Kramer.Despite long hours of travel to get to Washington, UAW members showed up in the thousands to support the march's goals. Photo by Susan Kramer.


“The voices of division will try to divide us by race, gender, age and other ways. Those rallying here today are leading us on a path of community, of compassion and common humanity.” That’s what UAW President Bob King told almost 200,000 marchers from more than 300 unions and progressive organizations at the “One Nation Working Together” rally.


10/04/2010 - 4:03pm

On September 24, the FBI raided the homes of anti-war activists in Chicago and Minneapolis, removing computers, cell phones, boxes of papers, posters, children’s art and more. They claim they were investigating “material support for terrorism.” More than a dozen federal warrants were served in four states calling people to testify at a Grand Jury this week. On September 27, NWU President Larry Goldbetter issued the following statement which was read by NWU members at a rally protesting the raids in front of FBI headquarters in Chicago. He and other NWU members joined a similar rally in NY on September 28.

 

10/01/2010 - 11:46am

In its press release, the European Federation of Journalists demands that journalists currently in jail in Turkey must be set free immediately if the movement towards key changes in the country’s constitution is to deliver promises of democracy and freedom.

The EFJ has joined its affiliate, the Turkish Journalists Union (TGS), in a call for the immediate and unconditional release of more than 40 journalists jailed in Turkey who they say are in prison for nothing more than doing their job.

09/12/2010 - 3:49pm

Crain’s new york business.com reported that freelance workers in NY state are owed more than $4.7 billion in lost wages. The article (http://www.crainsnewyork.com/article/20100829/SMALLBIZ/308299994) sited a study by a Rutgers University economist that “shows that 42% of nearly 900,000 independent workers in New York State reported having trouble collecting payment for their labors last year.”

08/23/2010 - 8:18pm

Lee Lockwood (1932-2010), a photojournalist who made his name with influential 1960s articles about Fidel Castro and an American prisoner of war in North Vietnam, was a member of the National Writers Union from 1989 until he retired in 2006. He died on July 31 of complications from diabetes.

Lee Lockwood (1932-2010), a photojournalist who made his name with influential 1960s articles about Fidel Castro and an American prisoner of war in North Vietnam, was a member of the National Writers Union from 1989 until he retired in 2006. He died on July 31 of complications from diabetes.

According to an obituary in the August 7 New York Times, Lockwood viewed his work as a photojournalist as an instrument of social change. A freelancer, he was associated for many years with the Black Star Agency, which sent his work to newspapers and magazines around the world.

Lockwood also wrote books. His most famous, Castro’s Cuba, Cuba’s Castro: An American Journalist’s Inside Look at Today’s Cuba in Text and Pictures (Macmillian, 1967), was based on a week-long, smoke-filled interview for Playboy in 1965. The book covered a wide range of topics, from Marxism, the Cuban missile crisis, and American race relations to sex and prostitution. Lockwood explained in the introduction why he wrote the book: “We don’t like Castro, so we close our eyes and hold our ears, Yet if he is really our enemy, as dangerous to us as we are told he is, then we ought to know as much about him as possible.”

While in Cuba, Lockwood obtained a visa to North Vietnam, the scene of another famous article. That made him the first outside photographer allowed there in more than a decade. Lockwood’s 28-day visit was chronicled in a long, heavily illustrated cover article for the April 7, 1967, issue of Life magazine. As the Times notes, “In words and pictures, Mr. Lockwood portrayed the life of a country then under heavy bombardment by United States forces: bare, ruined villages; deserted factories; a boy with a missing leg, lost to a bomb,” as well as scenes of everyday life.

 

One of Lockwood’s subjects was American Navy pilot Lt. Cmdr. Richard A. Stratton, who had been shot down and captured in January 1967. Clad in striped prison pajamas, Stratton read a “confession” denouncing U.S. bombing over a loudspeaker and then bowed on orders from a prison official. Lockwood’s photo of Stratton bowing, given a full page in Life, was reproduced around the world. Coupled with Lockwood’s description of Stratton – “His eyes were empty.… His expression never changed.” – the State Department soon after charged the Vietnamese with brainwashing. However, in a Times interview in 2008, Stratton called his actions merely common sense: “You are being tortured, and all you have to do to get them to stop is say the same thing that Bobby Kennedy is saying.”

Lockwood joined the Boston Chapter of the NWU in 1989, inspired by the opportunity to belong to a fighting union. The 1954 graduate of Boston University with a degree in comparative literature showed an avid interest in computers in the early 1990s when other writers were pooh-poohing the emerging technology. Members remember that he gave an informative workshop on that topic for the Western New England Chapter. A review of Boston Chapter doings yielded this from 1993: “Lee Lockwood wanted more on-line exchange of information and ideas, so he pressed the NWU to make our bulletin board an active networking service.”

The major arena where Lockwood contributed his many skills to the NWU was the Grievance and Contract Division where from 1992 to 2005 he spent about 90 percent of his time as a contract advisor. Phil Mattera, the long-standing National Book Grievance Officer, remembers: “Lee was also the member who brought the NWU's first grievance (in 1994) involving an electronic book. Playboy Enterprises was putting together a CD-ROM compilation of interviews from the magazine and planned to include Lee's Castro piece – without asking permission and without more than token compensation. Unlike other contributors to the magazine, Lee had never signed over all rights. After getting publicity for the case in Publishers Weekly, The Wall Street Journal   and other publications, we got Playboy to pay Lee a $1,000 fee.”

Having members of Lee Lockwood’s reputation certainly enhanced the NWU’s stature and encouraged similar writers to join. We salute Lockwood’s many professional achievements and contributions to the NWU as we continue to advocate for freelance writers’ rights which greatly concerned him.

Note: If you wish to send a few words of remembrance to the Lockwood family, you may do so via the online guest book.  It’s interesting to note that Richard Stratton posted the following message there: “Lee's 1967 Life Magazine "Bowing Picture" ensured my release from Hanoi in 1973. For this my family is forever grateful. Deepest sympathy from our family to yours.” One hopes Lockwood knew that. 

Susan E. Davis
National Contract Advisor
Book Division Co-Chair
New York Chapter Co-Chair

07/10/2010 - 11:09pm

The National Writers Union joins with the Pakistan Federal Union of Journalists (PFUJ) in condemning the brutal murder of Faiz Mohammad Khan Sasolion June 27.

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