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

10/09/2013 - 2:46pm

Press Release   October 7, 2013

IFJ Hails Momentous Agreement Between Palestinian Journalists' Syndicate and Employers

The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) hailed today an agreement reached by its affiliate in Palestine, the Palestinian Journalists' Syndicate, and employers as a momentous breakthrough for its journalists...

 "It took many months of hard work by the leaders of our affiliate in Palestine to achieve such a historical milestone for their members", said Boumelha. "The PJS can now set out to negotiate with employers the first collective trade union agreement for journalists in the region.  The IFJ congratulates them for this major achievement which will benefit journalists, secure their future and enhance the profession."

The three employers from the major state-owned media in Palestine committed themselves to start a national social dialogue with journalists' representatives on all aspects of social and professional working conditions of journalists and achieve by 1 January collective agreements based on recognised core international labour standards.

The declaration of intent set out the principles that will guide such negotiations, in particular:

• Recognition of public service journalism conducted in the public interest;

• Commitment to protect and advance editorial independence as the cornerstone of public service media;

• Setting quality media as a central objective guided by the core ideals of the mission of journalism and the highest standards of professional ethics.

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For the complete press release click here

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09/24/2013 - 11:16pm

Writers Alert: The Intelligent Optimist magazine

NWU has received a complaint that The Intelligent Optimist magazine still owes one of its freelancers about $1,500 (out of an original $4,000) for work done over a year ago, despite many promises of payment and intervention by an NWU grievance offer. Writers should keep this in mind when considering whether to take an assignment from the publication. The NWU is interested in hearing from other writers who may have had problems with The Intelligent Optimist. Please contact the grievance and contract division at: gcdcoordinator@nwu.org.
 

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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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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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