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

09/11/2013 - 5:56pm

September 9, 2013

The Honorable Patrick Leahy, Chairman
The Honorable Chuck Grassley, Ranking Member
Senate Judiciary Committee

Re: Media Coalition Support for S. 987 – Free Flow of Information Act

Dear Chairman Leahy, Ranking Member Grassley and Members of the Committee:

We, the undersigned publishers, networks, broadcasters, and journalism organizations, are pleased that the Committee began consideration of the Free Flow of Information Act (S. 987) on August 1. We write again to urge you to favorably report the bill and oppose any amendments that would weaken the bill when it is again considered by the Committee on September 12. In the wake of revelations that the Justice Department secretly obtained the communications records of AP and Fox News reporters, a federal shield law is needed now more than ever to prevent government overreach and protect the public’s right to know.

For the entire letter, click here

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09/11/2013 - 5:30pm

Singing Deemed Illegal in the People’s Rotunda
(by Greg Gordon and NWU member Jonathan Rosenblum)

A kind of lyrical “Wisconsin UpriSING” has become the daily successor to the 100,000-strong rallies of February and March 2011. (VIDEO)...

The Walker administration in December 2011 created rules requiring that groups of four or more wishing to have an event in the rotunda must obtain a permit from Capitol police, pay for any additional required monitoring, and accept possible liability for damage, including in some cases advance insurance.

But the sing-along has no legal or group structure, so there is no one to seek a permit. Moreover, the peaceable gathering is respectfully unamplified, delivered when Capitol offices are closed for lunch, and expressive of protest about ongoing legislative issues. The singers have argued this kind of protest is protected by the First Amendment and by Wisconsin’s constitution.

A few weeks ago, a federal judge declared unconstitutional the rule that limits rotunda rallies to four people, in an ACLU lawsuit filed on behalf of a University of Wisconsin employee who couldn’t get an answer about when he could legally sing. When the judge offered advice that permits might be applicable to rallies of more than 20, the police promptly began their crackdown, on July 24.

The first day they nabbed the 80-year-old retiree with her husband, 85. News photos flashed across the nation. (VIDEO)

AFSCME Council 24 assistant director Jana Weaver, The Progressive magazine editor Matt Rothschild, a 14-year-old girl, and three members of the Raging Grannies were arrested August 14...

The very first sing-along was called by Wisconsin Peace and Justice Network coordinator and math instructor Steve Burns, who felt sure that the massive crowds who'd chanted and sung in the rotunda in winter 2011 would want a continuing outlet to protest and petition the government after the legislation was signed.

One musician “localized” the chorus of “This Land is Your Land” to Wisconsin—to feature Lake Geneva, Madeline Island, rolling prairies, and lovely dairies, in place of California and the New York islands—and this incarnation of Wobbly corner sing-alongs was off and singing.

During its two-and-a-half years, the sing-along has grown to a “gentle-angry” variation on the sit-down strike. A “sing-out strike,” once a day.

Singers are petitioning their government in a space constructed just for that purpose. Judge William Conley’s recent injunction acknowledged this special history:

“The Capitol rotunda is closer to an out-of-doors, traditional public forum…with a unique history as a place for government and public discourse, which…was designed for a certain level of disturbance that would not be proper in a typical state office building.”

A trial to determine the precise constitutional boundaries is scheduled for January 2014. In the meantime, there is no end in sight (or hearing) to the unharmonious arrests.

For the complete article, click here
 

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09/04/2013 - 4:58pm

Tell White House & DOJ: Stop the Attacks on Journalism

"Democracy demands an independent news media free of government interference. But recently, journalists have been the subject of surveillance in the government's pursuit of whistleblowers. Through intimidation and harsh prosecution, officials are attempting to silence those voices brave enough to speak up about government wrongdoing. We know that our country has real and serious national security concerns, but we strongly believe authorities have crossed the line by targeting journalists. We are preparing to send a letter to the White House and Department of Justice asking President Obama and Attorney General Eric Holder to stop and renounce their actions threatening America's free press. Please join with us by signing the letter, and by adding your own comments as desired."

Sign the letter here.

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08/30/2013 - 10:44am

Immediate Release: National Writers Union Joins With Wisconsin Solidarity Sing Along on Friday August 30, 2013

Contact: Jonathan Rosenblum, jdrlabor@aol.com

On March 11, 2011, Scott Walker signed into law Act 10, effectively ending collective bargaining for most Wisconsin public workers. Since that very day, a group of citizens has gathered every weekday to sing civil rights and political protest songs at what has become known as the “Solidarity Sing Along” in the Wisconsin State Capitol Rotunda. This act of solidarity has continued uninterrupted—more than 600 sing alongs, more than 6,000 songs, sung by thousands of participants of all ages.

But for the past month, the Wisconsin State Capitol Police has declared nearly every sing along to be an unlawful assembly without a police-approved permit. The singers have responded that they don’t need a permit from the Walker Administration to exercise their civil rights of protest. On July 24, the police began arresting and handcuffing singers. Each of the approximately 200 people arrested has been assessed a fine of $200.50, plus a $36 jury fee for those requesting jury trials. On August 26, police singled out for a show of force a black supporter of the sing along who was photographing that day’s events.  When he sought to leave—an option the police had offered others for weeks— they wrestled him to the ground and later charged him with felony battery.

Taking a cue from one of the sing along’s spirituals, “Keep Your Eyes on the Prize,” the National Writers Union declares that it “ain’t gonna let nobody turn” the Solidarity Sing Along around. National Writers Union/UAW Local 1981 stands with Wisconsin public workers in the fight for collective bargaining, and with the Solidarity Sing Along.  Our members have been there with you, on the line and in the Rotunda.

On August 10, our Delegate Assembly in Chicago unanimously passed a resolution of support. This Friday, August 30, we will come to the State Capitol and meet you on the State Street side at the old oak tree—the Solidari-tree—to present a check to the First Amendment Protection Fund of Wisconsin.

We invite everyone in singing distance or who can make the trip to join us!

View and “Like” the Wisconsin Solidarity Sing Along on the PBS “This Land Is Your Land Project” honoring Woody Guthrie here

 

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08/28/2013 - 3:15pm

NWU STATEMENT OPPOSING GOVERNMENT INTIMIDATION

The recent 9-hour detention of David Miranda at Heathrow Airport on August 18, marks another step in journalists, and journalism, becoming targets in the US sponsored, global War on Terror. Miranda is the partner of Glenn Greenwald, the Guardian journalist who has written about, and released some of the thousands of documents obtained by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden.  He had gone to Berlin to meet with US film-maker Laura Poitras, who has worked with Snowden and Greenwald, and was returning home to Rio de Janeiro.

After the 9-hour interrogation, without a lawyer, Miranda was released, but his cell phone, laptop, camera and other electronic equipment were taken. This arrogant abuse of power is a serious escalation in government intimidation, and threatens journalists everywhere.

Schedule 7 of the U.K.'s Terrorism Act gives police the power to stop and search individuals without a warrant or even probable cause. Those stopped have no right to a lawyer, and it is a crime to not cooperate. 

David Miranda's detention is part of a growing web of intimidation. Recently the AP phone lines were secretly and illegally tapped in their NY, CT, and Washington DC bureaus, including the House of Representatives press gallery. More than 100 lines were tapped for two months, including the home and cell phones of individual reporters, essentially exposing all the confidential sources they had. A New York Times reporter faces jail in yet another Obama Administration attempt to stop leaks. And of course, there is the brutal treatment of Chelsea (Bradley) Manning followed by a 35-year sentence, for exposing war crimes, including the indiscriminate killing of civilians and journalists.

The National Writers Union stands firmly on the side of a free press and the public's right to know. We stand with all those who seek to report the truth and will not be intimidated. 

On August 11, our 2013 Delegate Assembly unanimously passed a resolution which reads:

[We] support the "Whistleblower Protection Enhancement Act of 2012," and the extension of similar whistleblower protections to all government employees as well as employees in the private sector; and

[We] call for the United States to cease and desist from efforts to detain, arrest or prosecute any and all whistleblowers, institutional, corporate or government, for attempting to provide the public with information necessary to the operation of an informed democracy; and

That the United States take whatever steps necessary to affirmatively protect, defend and further the First Amendment freedoms of the press and of expression, and those freedoms which have, by treaty, become the law of the land, and are recognized as essential to a free and informed society.

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08/16/2013 - 6:01pm
Former National Writers Union member Nancy Schiffer has been confirmed as a Member of the National Labor Relations Board.  Schiffer, former AFL-CIO Associate General Counsel and a former attorney for the United Auto Workers, was one of five members of the NLRB confirmed recently by the U.S. Senate.  This is the first time in a decade that the Board has had five confirmed members, as required by law.
 
The other members of the NLRB, which oversees union representation elections and hears labor disputes involving private sector workers, are:  current NLRB Chairman Mark Pearce; NLRB attorney Kent Hirozawa, currently the chief counsel to Pearce; and former management attorneys Philip Miscimarra and Harry Johnson.
 
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08/14/2013 - 4:54pm

READ ALL ABOUT THE 2013 NWU DELEGATE ASSEMBLY (August 8-11)

The National Writers Union held its biennial convention in Chicago from August 8th to 11th. Here are some congratulatory messages from friends and allies around the country and the globe:

Dear Sisters and Brothers:  We know that the mega-corporations think they own and control publishing.  And we know that organizing writers is like herding cats. So -- let's imagine a huge herd of lean, hungry, highly organized cats coming at those fat-cat corporations, and clawing the stuffing out of them. I can't wait.

In solidarity<

Ursula K. Le Guin

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Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America
Greetings in solidarity from the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America! I want to take this opportunity to thank Larry Goldbetter, Edward Hasbrouck, and Ann Hoffman of the NWU for continuing to work for US copyright owners and making submissions to the Copyright Office and the Judiciary Committee on a Small Claims Copyright Court and Orphan Works Legislation. I hope that the SFWA and NWU can work together on other projects in the future to defend and advocate for writers’ rights.
 
Michael Capobianco
Past President, Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America (SFWA)

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The Newspaper Guild
Dear NWU Delegates:

I send this message of solidarity to you as you meet at your delegate assembly in Chicago.
The Newspaper Guild-CWA has worked closely with NWU in the last couple of years. It’s been a pleasure to work with your President, Larry Goldbetter. The work just seems to get tougher, but the fight is worth it, and we share that fight.
I believe the future of journalism and certainly the future of media, has yet to be written. As writers we need to expand our list of allies, and I know that NWU and Larry are on my list.
Workers of every stripe, whether they be freelance, temporary or full-time are suffering in America. It doesn’t have to be that way and that’s why you work so hard for NWU.
We in the Guild share your mission and your fight for social justice. Good luck with your meeting.
 
In Solidarity,
 
Bernie Lunzer
President, TNG-CWA

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The Association of Taiwan Journalists expresses our solidarity and our best wishes for the National Writers Union`s congress in Chicago this weekend. We were very pleased to see that the NWU has returned to active participation in the International Federation of Journalists and that your president was able to meet and hold productive discussions with our two delegates to the Dublin Congress. Freelance and all journalists in the United States and Taiwan face similar challenges of confronting the impact of increasing media ownership concentration in the hands of tycoons and conglomerates, intensifying pressure on working conditions and even growing threats to freedom of expression and news freedom. We hope that cross-Pacific cooperation and solidarity between our organizations will deepen and expend in the coming year. Best wishes from all of us in the Association of Taiwan Journalists.

ATJ President Ms Chen Siao-yi
August 9, 2013

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National Union of Journalists UK and Ireland

On behalf of the 30,000 members of the NUJ in the UK and Ireland can you please extend our solidarity and best wishes to members of the National Writers' Union. They are challenging times in the industry here and in the US right now, making the work of trade unions more vital than ever, both in defending hard fought for terms and conditions and jobs, as well as standing up for quality and standards.

I hope your delegate meeting goes really well. All best wishes from us in the NUJ,

In solidarity,
 

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07/29/2013 - 9:31pm

"When the news spread through Washington this weekend that the unwavering, pioneering journalist Helen Thomas had died, there must have been a collective sigh of relief throughout the halls of Washington."  continued here.

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07/20/2013 - 9:02pm

UAW statement on the Trayvon Martin tragedy
07/19/13

DETROIT -- UAW President Bob King released this statement today on the Trayvon Martin tragedy: "The UAW is deeply saddened by the Trayvon Martin case and the tragic death of a vibrant young man. The Florida Stand Your Ground law is an inhumane piece of legislation that is leading to horrifying consequences, not just this case, but many others.

"The UAW has a long history of fighting for fairness and equality for everyone in society and will be a strong voice for bringing justice in the Trayvon Martin tragedy. We are committed to work together with our allies in fighting for justice, beginning with the August 24 March on Washington. We encourage all UAW members and citizens of conscience to join us in Washington, D.C., to demand enactment of a new Voting Rights Act and justice in the Trayvon Martin tragedy."

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07/19/2013 - 9:49pm

The Steering Committee of the Chicago Chapter of the National Writers Union endorsed Iraq Veterans Against the War's (IVAW) forthcoming public event, "Twenty-first Century Militarism:  Occupation Abroad and Resistance at Home."  The event will be held at the Chicago Temple, Friday night, August 2, 2013 at 7 pm.  Featured speakers are Christian Parenti and Nick Turse, both internationally-known scholars and activists.  More information can be found here.

This event is part of IVAW's National Convention that will be taking place in Chicago that weekend.
For more information, please visit IVAW here or contact Kim Scipes, Chicago Chapter Chair at 773/615-5019 or kscipes@nwuchicago.org .

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Union News

04/30/2010 - 11:54pm

Writers across the country are receiving letters from HarperCollinsRandom House, and other publishers asking them to sign e-book amendments to their book contracts.

  

 If you receive such a letter from any publisher, please contact the NWU's Grievance and Contract Division right away. The GCD will set you up with an NWU Contract Advisor who can examine your contract and provide you with expert advice. Contract advice is a free benefit available to NWU members. You can contact the GCD via email at advice@nwu.org. If you are not an NWU member, join today.

04/03/2010 - 9:33pm

On March 24 the National Writers Union submitted a brief to the Intellectual Property Enforcement Coordinator in response to a request for public comments about “the costs IP infringement imposes on the U.S. economy, the threat to public health and safety posed by IP infringement, and recommendations for a U.S. government strategic plan for dealing with IP infringement.” In the past, publishers have tried to speak for writers on this issue. Now it's critical that writers speak for ourselves about who the real copyright infringers are and what we think should be done about it.

03/23/2010 - 12:17am

On March 2, the US Supreme Court reversed the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals and voted 8-0 (Justice Sotomayor did not participate in the case) to uphold an $18 million settlement of a copyright infringement suit between Internet publishers and freelance writers.

02/11/2010 - 1:05am

 Dan McCrory, Recording Secretary, explains this important legislation

 The U.S. Senate will soon consider a proposed federal shield law that provides the same protections to freelance journalists as to writers employed by newspapers, magazines, broadcast outlets and online publishers. The Free Flow of Information Act, S. 448, could have implications for all media workers, legislators and government officials, opinion leaders and the general public.

02/11/2010 - 12:27am

A message to NWU members from Edward Hasbrouck (co-chair Book Division):

We saw many lapsed and former NWU members at recent events about the Google Book settlement in New York and Berkeley. Here's what one of them, a member of the Authors Guild, wrote to the court after the NWU event:

http://thepublicindex.org/docs/amended_settlement/borsook. pdf

Our work on this has been for all writers, not just our members.

Please tell your friends about what we've been doing, and let them know: If you want to make a living from writing -- books, articles, blogging, technical writing, Web content, any kind of writing in any medium, genre, or format -- the NWU wants and *needs* you back!

02/06/2010 - 12:18am

 

On February 4, the U.S. Department of Justice broadened its opposition to the proposed Google Book settlement, including key objections raised by authors. Click here for the DOJ brief.
01/29/2010 - 4:42pm

Howard Zinn, historian, activist, and a member of the National Writers Union and the Boston Chapter for almost 20 years, died on January 27, 2010. But his life and writing will inspire grassroots activists for many future generations.

01/29/2010 - 4:27pm

New York City - January 28: The NWU's objections to the revised Google Books settlement proposal were filed with the U.S. District court today by our pro bono counsel from the Fordham University Law School.

01/27/2010 - 12:59pm

 At 10:00 PST/1:00 EST, Apple is unveiling its long-awaited somewhat mysterious new reader (code name: tablet). This isn’t just a new techie gadget, but a big story for writers.  In addition to the new reader, Apple is coming up with a new business model.  Unlike Amazon’s fixed low book prices, Apple is allowing publishers discretion and book prices are expected to be higher.  The split will favor publishers: Amazon splits revenue 50/50 with publishers, Apple’s model is expected to be 30/70. This sounds good, but it may not translate into higher royalties.  What else is new? 

 
Here are a couple of links about this subject.  The WSJ is a preview (they’ve recently started charging for content), but it explains the model pretty well, so if you are interested I recommend reading the full article (the comments attached to the preview are free):
 
Back to Amazon’s e-books: Publishers have been giving away some authors’ e-books as a free download on Kindle. The other day, the New York Times ran an article (With Kindle, the Best Sellers Don’t Need to Sell) about the impact on writers when their books are being given away for free as e-books. It tackles the question of whether or not writers are benefiting from their books being given away for free.  While at first blush we would disagree, it really is a lot more complex of an issue.  Some writers are seeing a bounce in sales of their newer books when their older ones are being given away as free e-books.
 
Please join us in talking about these issues.
 
12/28/2009 - 8:00pm

If you've ever written anything that might be in the collection of a major library—not just books—you might be affected by the proposed settlement of the Google Book Search ("GBS") copyright infringement lawsuit.

 
To help inform NWU members and other writers, the NWU has posted a new set of answers to Frequently Asked Questions about the revised Google Book Search settlement proposal and the choices all authors need to make by the new deadline of January 28, 2010.  This also includes a sample letter writers can use if they want to opt out of the proposed settlement.  This document (FAQ) is on the Google Settlement page of the website. 
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