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

02/09/2014 - 10:36pm

Maxine Kumin of New Hampshire was one of the Boston NWU chapter's longest-term members. She also served on the NWU advisory board. She passed away on February 6th, 2014 at the age of 88. Her obituary was published the next day in the New York Times. ABC also reported her health had been in decline for a year.

An NWU "Datebook" with photos and quotes on each page published in 1988 included the following quote from Maxine Kumin: "Butchers & bakers and wordmakers all deserve the umbrella of a good union."

Maxine Kumin's essay "Letter to a Young Writer" was originally published in Teachers & Writers, 33, no. 4 (March/Aprils 2002), and was reprinted in The Roots of Things: Essays, by Maxine Kumin (Northwestern University Press, 2010). It has been posted on the NWU Boston Chapter website with permission of the author.


 

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02/06/2014 - 3:10pm

Leaders and members of the National Writers Union joined the United Auto Workers (UAW) Community Action Program (CAP) Legislative Conference Feb. 2-5. The CAP Conference is the annual political and legislative gathering of the entire UAW. Together with some 1,500 delegates from across the United States, attendees lobbied Congress on issues on the UAW's list, including raising the minimum wage and stopping Fast Track trade authority. During the 4-day conference, delegates lobbied their members of Congress.

High-profile speakers at the conference including U.S. Vice President Joe Biden, who told union delegates they "built the middle class," and U.S. Secretary of Labor Thomas Perez, also addressed the gathering. Delegates also heard from House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi, Democratic labor stalwart Rep. George Miller of California, Congressional Black Caucus co-chair Rep. Marcia Fudge and others.

National Writers Union (UAW Local 1981) President Larry Goldbetter, First Vice President Ann Hoffman, CAP Committee Chair  Keith Bagwell and New Hampshire CAP Committee Member Gail Kinney represented the NWU at the conference. Hoffman lobbied most Members of Congress from Virginia with two other members of the UAW.

During the conference, President Bob King announced that workers at the Volkswagen factory in Chattanooga, TN will vote whether to join the UAW between February 12 and 14.  If the vote is successful, VW and the UAW will form a works council, similar to those in existence in Germany and other countries where VW manufactures.  A works council would be a new form of union representation in the U.S., but is well established and highly successful in Europe. King discussed the upcoming election on the "Ed Show" on MSNBC.

“Volkswagen is known globally for its system of cooperation with unions and works councils,” said UAW President Bob King. “The UAW seeks to partner with [Volkswagen Group of America (VWGOA)] and a works council to set a new standard in the U.S. for innovative labor–management relations that benefits the company, the entire workforce, shareholders and the community. The historic success of the works council model is in line with the UAW’s successful partnerships with the domestic automakers and its vision of the 21st century union.”

The works council model has been successful for Volkswagen elsewhere. The company is recognized around the world as being a leader in respecting the rights of workers to organize and collectively bargain, with standards that go beyond labor standards, according to a UAW press release.

 

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01/28/2014 - 12:39pm

 

The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) today announced the launch of a campaign to advocate for the safety of Ukranian journalists in the wake of an estimated 150 journalist injuries since protests began in Kiev. The IFJ has posted videos and other documented evidence of journalists' injuries and intimidation in Ukraine, including a link to this video of a December attack on journalist Tatyana Chornovol. The campaign includes safety tips for journalists as well as a suggested draft letter to the Ukrainian government (direct link to file download) urging the government to protect journalists. The IFJ urged its affiliates to fill out the letter and send it to communications@ifj.org.  

IFJ has also launched a social media campaign under the Twitter hashtag #SOS_Kiev. Find IFJ on Twitter @IFJGlobal. IFJ is asking journalists covering the protests in Ukraine to submit photos and messages to help the IFJ document the protests on the ground. Journalists can send post their photos and messages to IFJ on Facebook or to European Federation of Journalists on Facebook and use the hashtag #SOS_Kiev on Twitter.

 


 

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01/24/2014 - 12:34pm

 

On January 22, Judge George B. Daniels in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York granted a “Preliminary Approval of the Revised Class Action Settlement” in the legal case called "In Re Literary Works in Electronic Databases Copyright Litigation."
 
This settlement grew out of class action lawsuits initiated in 2001 by the National Writers Union and two other writers’ organizations to compensate freelance writers for electronic uses of their work in print periodicals prior to the Supreme Court’s 2001 decision in Tasini v. New York Times.
 
The lead plaintiff in that case, Jonathan Tasini, was President of the NWU when the suit originated in 1995. The NWU brought this lawsuit because we believed that freelance writers, who were only paid for print publication, should be paid for electronic uses of their work. With the legal and financial backing of the United Auto Workers union (UAW), we were able to continue the fight to the Supreme Court, who ruled in our favor and established that work published in electronic media constitutes a separate use of the work, which publishers must pay for.
 
Because only the plaintiffs to the original Tasini lawsuit were compensated after that decision, follow-up class action laws suits were initiated to pay other freelance writers. After a long and contentious legal process, a revised settlement was negotiated and has received preliminary approval from the court. A fairness hearing on the settlement is scheduled for June 10.
Formal notice of the proposed settlement will be posted on our website for our members shortly. This will give Class members the opportunity to opt out of the settlement or to present objections to the settlement. The deadline for filing a request to opt out of the settlement or for filing objections is May 9, 2014.
 
The National Writers Union is pleased that under the proposed settlement the publishers that used our work without our permission or payment have agreed to pay more than what was stipulated in the first proposed settlement. We are also pleased that each author of an article or work that did not have a registered copyright will receive more compensation than originally proposed. Mostly, we are pleased that once the settlement is finally accepted by the court, money will eventually be in writers’ pockets where it rightfully belongs. We will provide detailed advice to our members about the proposed settlement.
 

For more information contact the National Writers Union: 212-254-0279

 


 

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01/16/2014 - 6:35pm

In two separate releases this week from the International Federation of Journalists, the group called for safety and justice for journalists around the world in their critical work covering anti-government protests. It urged journalists to be vigilant covering ongoing unrest and protests in Bangkok, Thailand and issued a link to its tips for journalist safety. The Federation this week also urged Russian to admit journalist David Satter whose visa to re-enter was rejected after he left his station in the country to cover protests in Kiev. Upon attempt to re-enter Russia, Satter's visa was rejected with authorities saying only that he was "undesirable." Satter has posted links to support statements from around the world on his website. Those interested in following his case can follow him on Twitter @DavidSatter.

The NWU sends out a message of solidarity to journalists in Thailand and to David Satter and supports demands that journalists be allowed safety and freedom of movement so that they can conduct their critical work.

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01/11/2014 - 6:47pm

 

Video about the NWU by Mauricio Niebla:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=syiZ29aboIc

 


 

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01/09/2014 - 6:12pm

Press Release - via IFJ/EFJ
09.01.14

The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) and the European Federation of Journalists (EFJ) have praised the tireless efforts of their affiliate, the Swedish Union of Journalists (Svenska Journalistförbundet, SJF), in helping to secure the release of two Swedish journalists who had been held in Syria since last November.

According to media reports, Magnus Falkehed, a Paris based reporter for Swedish daily newspaper Dagens Nyheter, and freelance photographer, Niclas Hammarström, were freed separately over the course of the last few days. One of the men was freed on Saturday while the other was transported from the Lebanese border town of Arsal to Beirut on Wednesday.   

"We welcome the fantastic news that these journalists have been released and can now return to their family, loved ones and colleagues," said IFJ President Jim Boumelha. "On this day of great relief and joy we congratulate our affiliate, the Swedish Union of Journalists, and thank them for their dedication and unwavering commitment in helping to secure the safe return of their colleagues."

The two journalists were abducted by unknown assailants on November 23 as they were trying to leave the country. The IFJ/EFJ issued a statement appealing for their safe and immediate return (26.11.13).

Jonas Nordling, President of the Swedish Union of Journalists, said it was "extremely satisfying that Magnus and Niclas have been released." He sent his thoughts to the journalists' families, and said he hopes they can reunite as soon as possible.

While welcoming the journalists' release, the IFJ/EFJ have issued a stark reminder that many other local and international journalists are still being targeted in Syria. Since the country's uprising in March 2011, 30 Syrian and international journalists have been kidnapped and many are still being held.

According to the IFJ's List of Journalists and Media Killed in 2013, Syria was the most dangerous country in the world for journalists, with 15 media workers killed there last year.

"The release of these Swedish journalists represents a further positive step forward in the struggle for press freedom, justice and the right of journalists to work freely and safely in Syria," said EFJ President Mogens Blicher-Bjerregård.

"But there are a number of other cases of international journalists who are still being held there. We appeal to all the factions involved in the Syrian conflict to respect press freedom and to release the other journalists being held and return them to their countries."  

For more information, please contact IFJ on + 32 2 235 22 17
The IFJ represents more than 600.000 journalists in 134 countries


 

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01/03/2014 - 1:56pm

 

 

Authors Guild Will Appeal Google Books Decision

 

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12/31/2013 - 12:19pm

IFJ PRESS RELEASE

108 Journalists Killed in 2013

The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) today issued a desperate appeal for governments across the world to end impunity for violence against journalists and media staff after posting 108 killings for 2013. Fifteen more lost their lives in accidents while on assignments.

According to the list released today by the IFJ, at least 108 journalists and media staff lost their lives in targeted attacks, bomb attacks and other cross fire incidents around the world. The 23rd annual IFJ list shows that the deadliest regions for journalists were Asia Pacific, with 29% of the killings and the Middle East and Arab World with 27%. The number of killings is slightly down by 10% on last year’s. View IFJ List of Journalists and Media Staff Killed in 2013.

The ongoing turmoil in Syria means it tops the list of the world’s most dangerous countries for media in 2013, while violence and corruption in the Philippines, insurgents in Pakistan, and terrorism and organised crime in Iraq and India have accounted for high fatalities of journalists in these countries.

The IFJ has stressed that while the numbers of killings are down, levels of violence are still unacceptably high and there is an urgent need for governments to protect and enforce journalists’ basic right to life. It has urged countries such as the Philippines, Pakistan and Iraq to take drastic action to stem the bloodbath in media.

The Federation has welcomed the UN Resolution establishing an International Day to End Impunity for crimes against journalists which was adopted by the UN General Assembly on 18 December.  

The Resolution “condemns unequivocally all attacks and violence against journalists and media workers, such as torture, extrajudicial killings, enforced disappearances and arbitrary detention, as well as intimidation and harassment in both conflict and non-conflict situations”. It further stresses that” impunity for attacks against journalists constitutes the main challenge to the strengthening of the protection of journalists.”

“Following the United Nations’ resolution establishing 2 November as an International Day to End Impunity, we urge countries across the world to take immediate action to protect the safety and freedom of journalists,” said IFJ President Jim Boumelha. “We give our full support to this new initiative which we believe will contribute to fighting impunity across the globe provided that governments are willing to adopt a zero tolerance approach to violence targeting journalists.”

The IFJ figures also show that violence against women journalists is on the increase. Six women journalists lost their lives this year, while many others were the victims of sexual abuse, intimidation and discrimination.

According to the IFJ statistics, many journalists were deliberately targeted because of their work and with the clear intention to silence them, a finding that conveys the critical need for countries to improve the protection and safety of journalists and punish the perpetrators of violence against media.

In response to this need, in October this year the IFJ launched its campaign to End Impunity for violence against journalists. This ongoing campaign, which kicked off with a focus on Pakistan, Iraq and Russia, calls on the governments of the countries with the highest death tolls of journalists to investigate these killings and bring their perpetrators to justice.

“It is clear that there is no sign of the horrific treatment of journalists abating,” said IFJ General Secretary Beth Costa. “The UN Day for 2 November is of huge importance in the fight to protect the rights, safety and freedoms of journalists across the globe, including the many women journalists who deal with discrimination and violence on a daily basis.”

The statistics are as follows:-

•As of 31 December, the IFJ recorded the following information on killings of journalists and media staff in 2013:

Targeted killings, bomb attacks and cross-fire incidents: 108
Accidental and illness related deaths: 15
Total Deaths: 123

•The 23rd annual IFJ list shows that the deadliest regions for journalists in 2013 were the Asia Pacific where it is estimated that 31 journalists were killed, Middle East and Arab World with an estimated 29 journalists killed in the region, and Africa where it is estimated 22 journalists killed. Latin America comes in fourth position, with an estimated 20 journalists killed, and Europe records three journalists dead.

•Among countries with the highest numbers of media fatalities are:

Syria: 15
Iraq: 13
Pakistan: 10
Philippines: 10
India: 10
Somalia: 07
Egypt: 06

For more information contact:

Jim Boumelha, IFJ President, on +44 7963 12 53 43 (English, French)
Beth Costa, IFJ General Secretary, on +32 479 07 71 94 (Spanish, English)
Ernest Sagaga, IFJ Head of Human Rights and Safety, on+ 32 477 71 4029 ( English, French)
Andrew Kennedy, IFJ Communications Officer, on +32 479 13 86 82 ( English)

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12/30/2013 - 2:09pm

International day for the elimination of violence against women

(25.11.2013) The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) has launched a global campaign to denounce violence against women journalists and alert public authorities on the need to end impunity for these crimes.

"Tragically, women journalists are under bigger threat than their male colleagues when it comes to attacks, bullying, threats, cyber-bullying, rape and abuse; all effective tools to silence women's voices in the media. As we encourage more and more women into the profession, their safety must be paramount," said IFJ Gender Council co-chair Mindy Ran.

According to the IFJ, seven women journalists were killed this year in the course of their profession. Rebecca Davidson, a New Zealand national, deputy head of programming at the Dubai-based Arabian Radio Network was killed on 8 February in a boat collision while on assignment in the Seychelles.  Journalist Rahmo Abdulkadir working for Radio Abudwaq was shot in Towfiq district in north Mogadishu, Somalia capital, when she was close to her house. Baiu Lu, from the Urumqi Evening News died on 18 April, in an accident while conducting interviews on a construction site in Urumqi, capital of Northwest China. Habiba Ahmet Abd Elaziz from UAE-based Xpress newspaper was killed on 14 August together with four other journalists in Egypt. Yarra Abbas, television correspondent for Al-Ikhbariyah TV was killed on 27 May, while covering clashes near the border with Lebanon. French reporter Ghislaine Dupont, who worked for Radio France International (RFI) was abducted and shot dead on 2nd November  together with her male colleague Claude Verlon in the Malian northern city of Kidal. Nawras al-Nuaimi, an Iraki TV presenter was shot dead on 15 December as she was walking near her home in the city

"We urge media organisations to do their best to fight violence against female media workers," says Mounia Belafia, IFJ Gender Council co-chair. "Respect for gender equality is an important step for this and media must be made accountable for mainstreaming gender in all their activities."

IFJ Gender Council Co-Chair Mindy Ran underlines, “As women, 70% of us will experience violence in our lifetime, a human rights violation and, according to the UN 'a consequence of discrimination against women, in law and also in practice, and of persisting inequalities between men and women'."  (read more)


 

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Union News

12/25/2009 - 12:05am

Award Winning Author Supports National Writers Union.  Award-winning author Ursula Le Guin, a member of the National Writers Union since 1990, has resigned from the Authors Guild after 37 years of membership.  Her Dec. 18 letter to the Authors Guild follows:

To Whom it may concern at the Authors Guild:

I have been a member of the Authors Guild since 1972.

At no time during those thirty-seven years was I able to attend the functions, parties, and so forth offered by the Guild to members who happen to live on the other side of the continent. I have naturally resented this geographical discrimination, reflected also in the officership of the Guild, always almost all Easterners. But it was a petty gripe when I compared it to my gratitude to the Guild for the work you were doing in defending writers’ rights. I went on paying top dues and thought it worth it.

And now you have sold us down the river.

11/16/2009 - 7:51pm
           On Nov. 14, 2009, NWU released the following statement:   “The proposed revised settlement of the Google Books copyright infringement lawsuit fails to address the concerns of several writers’ organizations and many American writers, and allows Google to get away with violating writers’ constitutionally protected rights,” said Larry Goldbetter, president of the National Writers Union.
            “While the new proposal might appear to answer some objections, it still offers American writers a pittance for their already-scanned books, still requires writers to ‘opt out’ of the Google Books program, and still interferes with author-publisher contractual relationships,” Goldbetter said.
11/01/2009 - 12:23am

Sarah E. Wright, a novelist, poet, teacher, writer, social and political activist and founding member of the National Writers Union died from cancer on September 13, 2009.  A memorial service will be held for Sarah on Saturday, November 14, at the Ethical Culture Center on 64th St. and Central Park West, at 2:00 p.m.

10/24/2009 - 7:55pm

On October 12, 2009, NWU President Larry Goldbetter wrote a letter to the editor of the New York Times in response to an OpEd written by Google co-founder Sergey Brin ("The Library That Lasts Forever," October 9). Brin praised the Google Book Settlement (GBS) and boasted of having copied "10 million [books] and counting." He forgot to mention he never got the authors' permission or that the settlement has been opposed by the Department of Justice and the U.S. Copyright Office.

10/07/2009 - 5:54pm

On Oct. 7, 2009, the National Writers Union issued the following press release:

At a status hearing today in federal court in New York City, the Authors Guild, speaking on behalf of Google and the Association of American Publishers, told U.S. District Court Judge Denny Chin that a new agreement to a four-year old copyright infringement case could be worked out in a matter of weeks, that the parties involved should be kept to a minimum, and that notification of the new agreement for authors to opt out should be kept to a minimum.

 Also, regarding the Reed Elsevier v. Muchnick case that was argued today before the Supreme Court of the United States, Larry Goldbetter, president of the National Writers Union said: “On October 29, 2007, two members of a three-judge panel of the Second Circuit Court of Appeals decided that writers who had not registered their works with the U.S. Copyright Office are denied any access to federal court for copyright protection and cannot make claims for damages for infringement of their work. The Appeals Court also claimed the U.S. District Court had been wrong to accept Re Literary Works in Electronic Databases Copyright Litigation and approve the settlement."

09/25/2009 - 1:15pm

On September 25, 2009 the National Writers Union issued a statement in response to the Department of Justice filing in the Google Book Settlement.  NWU President Larry Goldbetter stated, “We support the Department of Justice recommendation and call on the Authors Guild to withdraw from the current settlement, so that they can join in new negotiations with the many voices that have up to now been excluded.”

09/09/2009 - 1:11pm

NEW YORK, NY -- On September 8, the National Writers Union filed legal objections to the proposed settlement of the Google Books copyright infringement lawsuit.  In the brief filed today in the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York, the NWU joins as a “friend of the court” in support of objections also being made by the American Society of Journalists and Authors (ASJA) and 58 individual authors.

09/09/2009 - 1:00pm

On September 1, the National Writers Union called on former Vice President Al Gore to use his considerable influence to urge Google Inc. to seek a delay in the proceedings of the Google Book Settlement. 

09/09/2009 - 12:54pm

Submissions are being accepted between September 1 and October 2, 2009, for this year's Bellwether Prize for Fiction. The Bellwether Prize is awarded in even-numbered years, and consists of a $25,000 cash payment to the author of the winning manuscript in addition to guaranteed publication by a major publisher.

08/31/2009 - 12:45am
National Writers Union Opposes Settlement of Class-Action Lawsuit Against Google for Copyright Infringement  (Press release dated Aug. 13, 2009)
 
 The National Writers Union today announced its opposition to the proposed $125 million settlement of a class-action copyright infringement lawsuit brought by writers and publishers against Google because its massive book-scanning project violated their copyrights.
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