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

11/16/2013 - 9:07am

NWU Disappointed in Court's Google Books Settlement Decision

The NWU is disappointed with the District Court decision
dismissing the Google Books Settlement lawsuit brought by the Authors
Guild against Google's unauthorized digitizing of entire libraries of copyrighted books.

We continue to believe that Google's practices violate writers'
copyrights. These practices interfere with our ability to control and
receive fair compensation for secondary uses of works included in the
books that Google is scanning and using for its own purposes and profit.

Judge Chin found Google's mass digitization of the contents of several large
libraries to be "fair use" of copyrighted works. Such broad interpretation extends
the meaning of fair use beyond all previous boundaries.

In particular, Judge Chin considered only the impact of Google's practices
on sales of books, and not the potentially more significant negative
impact of Google's actions on the many other business models for content
included in books that publishers deem "out of print" in their original editions.

As working writers who depend on our copyrights for our livelihoods, we
can say with certainty that Judge Chin is mistaken in his belief that
works included in books that are out-of-print in their original editions
"have been forgotten in the bowels of libraries."  The original publishers
may have forgotten many "out-of-print" books, but entrepreneurial writers
are generating increasingly significant revenues from new e-book editions,
self-publishing, Web publishing and advertising, and licensing of rights
to use content included in "out-of-print" books in electronic formats.

We welcome the announcement by the Authors Guild that it intends to appeal
this decision.

--
Larry Goldbetter, President

Read more...
11/07/2013 - 10:57pm

Turkey: “For the Government, Journalism is Terrorism”
By Ricardo Gutiérrez, EFJ General Secretary

This is the account of EFJ Observer Ricardo Gutiérrez, who attended the 6th hearing of the KCK "Press Wing" trial in Istanbul, Turkey, on 25 September:

Zeynep Kuray smiles, but she is angry. Sitting on the steps of the new courthouse built just outside of the Silivri prison complex, Zeynep Kuray is one of the 44 journalists who appeared on Tuesday before the High Criminal Court in the context of proceedings against the alleged "press wing" of the Group of Communities in Kurdistan (KCK), an organization allegedly affiliated with the banned Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK), which has been leading an armed struggle against the government since 1984.

The sixth hearing of the KCK "Press Wing" trial took place from 25-27 September. The General Secretary of the European Federation of Journalists (EFJ), Ricardo Gutiérrez, followed the debates, alongside other observers: MEPs Jaroslaw Walesa and Sajjad H. Karim and journalist Erol Önderoglu of Reporters Without Borders (RSF).

Zeynep Kuray is an investigative journalist who worked for the left-wing daily BirGun and as a correspondent for Firat News Agency. She was released on 26 April 2013. Twenty-two of the 46 journalists and media workers arrested in December 2011 are still in custody. All are accused of terrorism.

"I had to wait more than eight months, in prison, before I could find out my indictment," said Zeynep Kuray. The charge is based on telephone conversations with other journalists, a series of articles she wrote on sexual harassment cases at Turkish Airlines, and investigative material mentioning the use of chemical weapons by the Turkish army against the PKK.

If found guilty, Zeynep Kuray risks seven years in prison: she is charged with "membership of an armed organization" (under Article 314 .2 of Turkey's Penal Code) and "membership of a terrorist organization" (under Article 5 of the Anti-Terror Act). "The truth is that they have nothing against me," she said. "They just accuse me of doing my work, of showing the truths they intended to hide."

Like most prosecuted journalists in Turkey, Zeynep Kuray continues to write from prison: "I denounced the dire health situation of South African women at the Bakirköy Women's Prison. A real scandal! Some have AIDS but they are not being treated. The authorities know that I will never be silent."

Reporter Baris Terkoglu, prosecuted in another case (OdaTV), made the same choice: "Continuing to practice journalism was obvious. To abandon my job would have been a victory for prosecutors who obey government orders. The state apparatus wants to intimidate the sector. We serve as an example."

Ercan Ipekçi, president of the Turkish Journalists' Union (TGS), confirms: "The government not only tries to silence dissenting voices, conducting robust operations to break the opposition media, whether pro-Kurdish, left-wing, or nationalist, but also intends to put pressure on journalists from ‘mainstream' media, who do not dare step out of line... It is very difficult for our union to organize solidarity with imprisoned journalists: those who are not in prison are afraid of being fired, as was the case with a number of chief editors, following the critical coverage of the crackdown at Gezi Park in Istanbul."

At the trial of the alleged "Press Wing" of the KCK, as in other trials targeting the press, one is struck by the lack of substance in the prosecution's arguments and by the severity of the charges. The EFJ General Secretary has repeatedly said: "The Turkish government criminalizes the mere exercise of journalism. There is no trace here of charges of violence or formal links with alleged terrorist organizations. Our brothers and sisters are just wrongly prosecuted for doing their job. Erdogan's government criminalizes legitimate coverage of the Kurdish cause."

The EFJ has repeated this message to Turkish journalists, but also to the organizations defending freedom of expression and gathered in Istanbul by MEPs Walesa and Karim: Human Rights Watch (represented by Emma Sinclair-Webb), Reporters without Borders (represented by Erol Önderoglu), and the Committee to Protect Journalists (represented by Ozgur Ogret).

"Business as Usual"

Before the High Court of Silivri, one of the defendants in the KCK case, Çagdas Kaplan, 25 years old, who worked for the Diha news agency, carefully dismantles all the prosecutor's arguments. He challenges the magistrate, who had access to all his email messages and his telephone conversations, to produce a single piece of evidence that proves he received instructions from the PKK.

One of the cornerstones of the charges against Çagdas Kaplan is a photograph of his making a victory sign in front of the signboard marking the entrance to the city of Kandil. This was considered in the indictment as a sign of affection for the PKK. But the man in the photograph taken is not Çagdas Kaplan! And Kaplan has never visited this city... "Business as usual," said his attorney Ramazan Demir. "The arguments of the prosecution sometimes border on the ridiculous," says Ricardo Gutiérrez. "One could smile if the fate of journalists who have nothing to discredit them was not at stake."

For the EFJ and the TGS, there is no question of easing the pressure - a commitment that is shared by other stakeholder organizations: RSF, CPJ, and Human Rights Watch. The European Parliament also keeps up the pressure: the EP Ad Hoc delegation for observation of trials of journalists in Turkey is expected to submit its final report - "A critical document," according to Jaroslaw Walesa - in the beginning of next year.

The EFJ more than ever recalls its demands: the immediate release of the 62 imprisoned Turkish journalists and the abolition of anti-terrorism laws, misused by the Turkish government to criminalize freedom of expression.

Read more...
10/30/2013 - 5:13pm
NUSOJ Calls for the Ministry of Information to withdraw the threatening and Unfair call for Media Registration in Respect to Press Freedom and Freedom of Expression

Mogadishu, October 30, 2013

The National Union of Somali Journalists (NUSOJ) is concerned about the recent call by the minister of Information, Posts, Telecommunication and Transport ordering the independent media to register or face closure by giving a deadline untill 10 November, 2013 and calls for the ministry to withdrew its unfair decision in respect to the media freedoms and freedom of expression.

The call for registration, which the Somali media stakeholders called "Scarring Act" comes a mid the media law consultations is underway and several consultative media law conferences were held in Garowe, Puntland and in Galkacyo, Galmudug administration and further consultations is planned to be held in the southern Somali town of Baidoa and Beletwein of Hiiraan region in central Somalia with the support of Internews. The media law review is handled by an independent technical committee appointed in July.

In July, the Minister of information, posts, Telecommunication and Transport, Abdullahi Elmoge Hersi said, that the Ministry wants the independent media to register with 45 days, the minister also underscored that the registration was for free with the aim that the ministry wants to get the data of the Somali independent media, their locations, contacts for which the ministry will use in a publication of media directory in Somaliaduring a dinner hosted by the Somali Prime Minister, Abdi Farah Shirdoon Saacid which the media stakeholders including the officials of the National union of Somali Journalists (NUSOJ) were invited, .

Later, the Ministry of information distributed forms to be filled by the media managers and thus was filled by the major media institutions in Mogadishu, providing the media houses hold legal licenses to operate provided by the the ministry , according to NUSOJ assessment.

However, the National Union of Somali Journalists (NUSOJ) is appalled by this call for registration, which threatens media closures if not met, which contradicts the previous call of registration announced by the minister and endangers the media freedoms and the freedom of expression.

"We are appalled by this unfair call of registrations, which threatens the freedom of expression and the media freedoms at large." Mohamed Ibrahim, Secretary General of the National Union of Somali Journalists said, "We call for the ministry to withdraw this serious decision which completely looms the media freedoms."

Link here

Read more...
10/24/2013 - 4:52pm

With the International Day against Impunity one month away, the International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) has launched a campaign to End Impunity, urging the authorities of the countries with the highest death tolls of journalists to investigate these killings and bring their perpetrators to justice. The campaign is initially focusing on Iraq, Pakistan and Russia.

IFJ President, Jim Boumelha, and General Secretary, Beth Costa, signed letters expressing the IFJ’s concern about the lack of accountability for those who carry out acts of violence against journalists, urging the leaders of these three countries to do everything in their power to resolve all the cases of murdered journalists and to punish all those responsible.

Examples of murdered journalists whose cases remain unsolved are Pakistani reporter Wali Khan Babar, who was killed in 2011, Russian journalist Anna Politkovskaya, who was killed in 2007, and former President of the Iraqi Journalists’ Syndicate Shihab al-Timimi, who was gunned down in 2008.

The IFJ is calling on its affiliates across the world to send similar letters to the embassies of the three countries in their regions, or directly to the governments of the three countries. The campaign follows the resolution adopted by the IFJ World Congress in Dublin calling for a new strategy to mobilize support against the impunity for violence targeting journalists.

To print or download a copy of the each of the letters, go to: http://www.ifj.org/en/pages/end-impunity

  • In Iraq, at least 300 journalists have been killed since the US invasion in 2003. Not a single case has been investigated;
  • In Russia, at least 124 journalists and media workers have died in work related killings since 1991. While the authorities initiated investigations in some cases, these have been few and far between and led to even fewer convictions;
  • In Pakistan, 37 journalists were killed in 2010-2011. There have been no arrests or prosecutions in any of these crimes.

 Over the next few months the IFJ will be calling on the governments in the three countries to investigate cases of impunity by sending letters, using social media, issuing statements, running protests and events and highlighting specific cases. And the IFJ is asking all affiliates to do the same.

Read more...
10/16/2013 - 2:03pm

Dear Shield Coalition Members –

We just received word that the Fourth Circuit has declined James Risen’s request for rehearing en banc (see attached). We do not yet know whether he will appeal to the Supreme Court. But even if he does, given that only one judge dissented from the en banc decision, the odds of the court granting cert and ruling in his favor are low. (Judge Gregory, the lone dissenter, noted the absence of a federal shield law.) Therefore, unfortunately, Risen is in imminent danger of being held in contempt of court and imprisoned for protecting his source. We will keep you posted.

As for the Senate bill, as you can imagine, progress has slowed given the government shutdown. We have, however, been working with Sen. Schumer’s staff on the report to accompany the bill that passed the Senate Judiciary Committee on September 12. The purpose of the committee report is to explain the bill and chronicle the legislative history. We’ll send along the report once it’s finalized. The bill as amended in committee is available here: http://www.judiciary.senate.gov/legislation/mediashield/S987AsReported09...

Please let me know if you have any questions.

Thank you!

Sophia Cope
Director of Government Affairs/Legislative Counsel
Newspaper Association of America
4401 Wilson Blvd., Suite 900, Arlington, VA 22203
Phone: 571.366.1153 | Web: www.naa.org
sophia.cope@naa.org

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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.

###

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

Read more...
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
 

Read more...
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.

Read more...

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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