Defending writers' rights and economic conditions is a tough job, one that requires the collective efforts of both NWU members and leaders. The NWU engages the publishing industry on many fronts through the union's various activities and campaigns:
Contract Advice and Grievance Assistance. The union's network of contract advisers and grievance officers helps empower writers in their individual business relationships with publishers. From informed negotiation over the terms of a contract to the backing of the union in contract disputes, writers can confront employers on a more equal footing.
Copyright Defense. Despite writers' legal right to the economic benefit of their creative works, as embodied in copyright law, writers are confronted by widespread theft of those rights. Especially with the advent of digital formats and Internet distribution of writers' work, publishers are demanding that writers surrender their rights in "all-rights" contracts, or simply ignoring writers' legal rights. The union has aggressively defended copyright rights, up to and including a Supreme Court victory.
Legislative Efforts. Many laws at the federal and state levels impact writers' ability to survive and to advocate collectively in their common interest. Whether it be on the issue of establishing industry standards for pay and contract conditions, on the issue of the offshoring of high-tech and professional jobs, or on the issue of health insurance for NWU members, the union has mobilized its members for legislative action.
Censorship and Freedom of Expression. For members of the NWU, and writers in general, freedom of expression is an economic as well as a political issue. Without avenues for the expression of divergent points of view and without access to information, the writing profession would cease to exist, as would democracy itself. The centralization of the industry into a few giant media monopolies, and a political climate that supports their corporate ambitions, poses a huge threat to the writers' economic survival. The NWU actively confronts these challenges.