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

02/25/2015 - 10:00pm

By: Elizabeth A Richter

“The bottom line is that the subpoena…was a form of harassment, a brazen attempt to follow up a gag on mainstream media with threats against a citizen journalist.”

I am a working writer for the mysterious Catharine Sloper, an outspoken critic of the family court system and the proprietor of the blog Divorce in Connecticut (DiC). 

On January 2, 2015, I was on my way to New Haven, when I received a phone call that a Marshall wanted to serve me with a subpoena.  The subpoena was for a very public child custody case, Foy v. Foy. Connecticut Judge Stephen Frazzini had issued an order prohibiting the "Connecticut Law Tribune" from writing about the case and the "Tribune" responded by calling the order a first amendment violation and was supported by the Connecticut ACLU.

The DiC website had published a single article on the Foy divorce back in November 2014. That article is what stirred up all the controversy leading to my subpoena, even though my name is not on the article as the author.

In addition, the majority of the information in this article was available publically at the time it was written with content that was known to be part of the public domain. It made no sense to hold me or the website responsible for publishing news that was readily available elsewhere and that had already appeared on other websites. Judge Frazzini acknowledged this when he rescinded the restraining order against the "Connecticut Law Tribune" back on December 3, 2014.  The bottom line is that the subpoena I received was a form of harassment, a brazen attempt to follow up a gag on mainstream media with threats against a citizen journalist.

The day before the court hearing, my attorney told me that I would have to disclose my news sources or face jail.  She also said that they intended to force me to admit that I am Catharine Sloper and responsible for the content on the website.  I told her that readers and potential contributors to the blog rely on its anonymity, and that it would be unethical for me to reveal a source.  My attorney was able to engage the services of the attorney who was also representing the CT Law Tribune in their case.  Before I left her office, she advised me to bring my toothbrush to court the following day as I could end up in jail. 

I appeared in court with my toothbrush, toothpaste and other essentials. I also brought my National Writers Union membership card and press pass, identifying me as a member of the media. I passed them to my attorney, who immediately pulled out the Connecticut Statute on the media, which he had played a part in writing, and showed me how the press pass put me in a much stronger position.

My attorney submitted a motion to the court defending my rights, and gave the court the opportunity to scrutinize my NWU credentials.  At 2:00 p.m., the court said my presence was no longer required and I was free to go. The documentation I had from the NWU played a major role in keeping me out of jail.

What is really funny (or maybe not), is that my membership had actually expired.  You can be sure I’ve renewed it.

 


 

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02/12/2015 - 8:53pm

By: Ann Hoffman
 
Republicans in Congress are seeking to invoke the rarely-used Congressional Review Act to overturn a rule of the National Labor Relations Board designed to speed union representation elections.  The Review Act is one of the few elements of the 1996 Newt Gingrich "Contract with America" that is still in effect.  It permits Congress to overturn federal agency regulations that they don't like.  Reversal of a rule is subject to special expedited procedures and requires passage by a simple majority of both House and Senate - but also the signature of the President.
 
An indication of the anti-union, anti-worker motivations of those invoking the Review Act is the fact that the only previous effort that passed both Houses (and was signed by President George W. Bush) was the overturning of a rule to protect workers from ergonomic injuries on the job.  Any move to overturn the NLRB election rule is likely to be vetoed by President Obama.
 
Public sector unions have been attacked head-on this week by the newly-elected Republican Governor of Illinois, Bruce Rauner.  The Governor, a former private equity manager, issued an Executive Order barring state workers from having to pay "fair share" fees to support collective bargaining if they choose not to join the unions that negotiate and enforce their contracts.
 
The Illinois effort, which could be rejected by the Democratic-controlled state legislature, is in line with other anti-union, anti-worker moves in the upper Midwest, formerly a heavily unionized part of the U.S.  Such moves are designed to weaken unions permanently and strengthen unfettered capitalism.
 
 

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02/05/2015 - 6:57pm

Member Lizette Wanzer was awarded two writing residencies last year: one at
Playa Summer Lake (OR), and the other at the Horned Dorset Colony (NY).  On
tap for 2015 is Writers' Colony at Dairy Hollow (Arkansas), and she has
received a generous fellowship to the Virginia Center for Creative Arts for
Spring 2015. 

She was a 2014 San Francisco Foundation Literary Award
Nominee.  Her essay, "Twisted," was accepted at the upcoming Far West
Popular Culture Association
Conference.  She will present the paper in
February 2015 in Las Vegas.  Lizette is a member of the SF Writers' Grotto
and serves as Parliamentarian for the Bay Area chapter of the National
Writers' Union.  She will complete both a sudden fiction and an essay
collection this year.

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02/04/2015 - 8:59pm

By: Pamela Johnson

Researching her latest novel, The Boston Girl, Anita Diamant poured over fashion photographs from the early 1900’s: She surveyed image after image of women in trippingly long dresses, cinched tightly at the waist. They helped the author understand the restrictive world of her protagonist, Addie Baum, who grew up in an era when women were expected to marry, become mothers, and then putter around the house. But Addie was part of a world of change; it included looser, shorter dresses (and even pants!), enabling her to take bigger strides into the world.

At the book’s open, Addie is 85 and telling the story of her girlhood in Boston to a 22-year-old granddaughter. The voice feels like a breezy oral history.

Diamant’s foundational stone for the novel came from a place roughly 40 miles northeast of Boston along the coast.

“I discovered a placed called Rockport Lodge, which is in Rockport, Massachusetts, where I vacation,” she says. “It was founded in 1906—a kind of Fresh Air fund vacation place for girls with very limited resources. It was part of the progressive movement era programming for girls who were young, not married and working.”

‘Slowly Addie became the voice of the book, the throughline, and I gave the book to her.’

For a week every summer, girls enjoyed days away from family and arduous work lives to bask in each other’s company, stay up late, or hike a trail.

“I created characters who went to the lodge,” says Diamant, “and as is my wont, a group of friends emerges. The bunch Addie falls in with is interdenominational, historically accurate to the North End of the time, with Italians and Jews and some Irish girls. Slowly Addie became the voice of the book, the through-line and I gave the book to her.”

And to Boston, as well.

To meet The Boston Girl is to meet the city she grew up in, peering just over her shoulder. Milestones of her tale are set in and around Beantown, from Paul Revere Pottery, to the famous Swan Boats in the Garden, to the Boston Symphony Orchestra. As Addie comes of age, the women’s movement gathers force, spilling out of brownstones and tenements and into the work world, from the garment industry to libraries to secretarial jobs, and into post-secondary education at Simmons College and the Portia Law School for Women.

‘Addie spends a short chapter of her life there, and it opens up the world to her.’

Boston, it should be noted, is Diamant’s adopted city. Her earliest roots were set down in Newark, New Jersey, and then at 12, her family migrated west to Denver. But her undergraduate and graduate years took her east again, first to St. Louis, and then to Binghamton, New York, and finally Boston, where she took a job as a journalist 40 years ago.

“The early Boston newspaper scene was incredibly vibrant,” Diamant says, referring to her research. “The Boston Transcript was one such place. Addie spends a short chapter of her life there, and it opens up the world to her.

“My first real job [at the Boston Phoenix] was answering the phone for an editor, writing stories and handing them in over the transom… but the differences between Addie’s experience in a newsroom and mine are vast. I didn’t have to put up with the danger posed by her colleagues; the world changed so profoundly between 1921 and 1980,” Diamant says.

About 35 years ago, she sought a new challenge and added long-form, non-fiction work to journalism, and eventually wrote six guides to contemporary Jewish life, from birth to death and mourning.  In the mid-90s, however, she decided to try writing fiction and wrote the novel that has become her most popular work, so far: The Red Tent (1997), a first-person story told by the Bible’s Dinah, daughter of Jacob and sister of Joseph, who is mentioned only briefly in Genesis, but becomes fully fleshed out in Diamant’s work. The title refers to the place where women of Jacob's tribe go while menstruating or giving birth; it’s also where they find mutual support and encouragement from their mothers, sisters and aunts—a theme of Diamant’s books.

“When people say, ‘I read your book,’ I know which one they mean. But I let them know, I’ve written some other fiction, too.”

“I was very lucky,” Diamant recalls of her New York Times bestselling first novel. Its reception and residuals made it such that, “I could continue to write fiction.” Optioned on and off for years, Red Tent was finally made into a Lifetime TV movie and shown in December 2014.

“When people say, ‘I read your book,’ I know which one they mean,” she says, adding, “I will always be grateful for the success of it.” But she lets fans know, “I’ve written some other fiction, too.” To date, she’s the author of more than a dozen books.

Recently Diamant was set to travel to support The Boston Girl, with trips to Washington, D.C., San Francisco, Dallas, Florida and Phoenix on tap. She also scheduled some breaks in between to go home and recharge.

“People come to readings and apologize for asking me to sign five books, but I’m so grateful to them.  A book doesn’t come to life until there are readers,” she says, adding, “That means everything to me.”

‘Both of my parents were union members:  It’s in my DNA to be in a union.’

Diamant says that rewriting helps her refine the voices and smooth out a novel’s plot; feedback from her writing group also helps toggle the words into place. “The three of us have been together for a long time,” she says. “We meet on occasion … when we need each other. These are people I trust completely; I take what they say very close to heart.”

The author joined the NWU 10 or 15 year ago. “Both of my parents were union members,” she remembers. “My father was a typographer, and my mother was in the International Ladies Garment Workers Union (ILGWU). It’s sort of in my DNA to be a union member. Writers need to do whatever we can to work together to better our lot. No one else is going to do it for us.”

Anita Diamant photo courtesy: Gretje Fergeson


 

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02/04/2015 - 8:36pm

By NWU President Larry Goldbetter

NEB Follow-up

As discussed during our last NEB meeting, we’re establishing an education committee. Fernando Gapasin (chair - OR) and Helena Worthen and Joe Berry (Bay Area) will begin this effort. Fernando, Helena and Joe have all previously worked together in labor education. They’ll explore an internal education plan for chapter chairs and members, which will include organizing, NWU history, policies and issues. We’ll soon call a meeting of the broader committee of volunteers; please let me know if you’re interested.

Fund Raising and NWUSO

Recently I met with Esther Cohen and Terry Schwadron about NWUSO, our 501(c)(3). Over the past year we’ve had some success gaining small grants to assist in the Workers Write project, but haven’t had luck raising funds for other educational projects. For one thing, it’s difficult to get backing for such union projects as the webinars or updating the Freelancers’ Guide

Calvin Ramsey, one of our NY members, is a children’s book author; he’s holding an April luncheon and awards presentation for 4th-6th graders in our conference room. Calvin is currently seeking commercial sponsors to underwrite the event. We’ve agreed to have any donations made to the NWUSO, which thereby makes them tax deductible. NWUSO will receive a portion of these funds as an administrative fee.

Over the next six months, Esther and I will approach the NY State Legislature, the NY City Council, the NY Council on the Arts, and other potential funding sources. We’re also considering bringing younger leadership on board to play a role in this effort. I contacted our Level 4 and 5 members to ask for contributions to the webinar project. To date, we’ve received $200. Out of this, we’ll create a fundraising committee. If you’re interested in serving on it, please contact me.


 

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02/04/2015 - 7:45pm

By Barbara Mende

Copyrights are important to a writer’s success, but so is money. Sometimes work for hire (WFH) is a great way to earn money.

Freelancers can make good incomes writing promotional materials, product manuals, grants, or books in series (think Dummies). Without owning the copyrights they can’t sell the movie or smartphone app rights, but how much are the rights to Assembling Your EZ-Burn Oven worth?

The key is to get paid enough so that you won’t miss those movie rights. And commercial clients, who are likely to be more profitable than conventional publishers, often pay better. If a magazine commissions a work-for-hire article, or a contract clause states that the work doesn’t qualify as work for hire under the Copyright Act—there are legal limitations, but they’re easily circumvented—and the writer has to surrender all rights, that is a red flag.

Work-for-hire writers have other concerns. If you want to use portions of your work on your website, you need to write that into your contract. If the contract contains a harsh indemnification clause you can’t remove, be sure that it applies only to the work as submitted, so you won’t be sued if the employer makes changes.

Above all, watch for confidentiality and non-competition clauses that can interfere with your livelihood. Change any restrictions on your dog-training booklets from “writing on the topic for two years” to “writing booklets on training Dachshunds in Greenwich Village apartments.” Anything over a year is oppressive, too. Your GCD contract advisor, whom you can find at advice@nwu.org, will help you with these changes.

Barbara Mende is the grievance and contract division coordinator.


 

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02/04/2015 - 7:43pm

The New York Labor History Association is pleased to announce a call for entries for the First Annual Debra E. Bernhardt Labor Journalism Prize. The deadline is Tuesday, September 1, 2015. The $500 prize will be awarded to the author of an article or series of articles, which is published between January 2014 and August 30, 2015, and which furthers the understanding of the history of working people. The work needs to have been published—in print or online—in a union or workers’ center publication or by an independent journalist.

In sponsoring this award, the association hopes to inspire more great writing for a general audience about the history of work, workers, and their organizations. The award is co-sponsored by LaborArts; Metro New York Labor Communications Council; the NYC Central Labor Council, AFL-CIO; and the Robert F. Wagner Labor Archives at NYU’s Tamiment Library. The winner will be announced October 7, 2015. The late Debra E. Bernhardt worked in many different realms to share the hidden histories of working people. Entries should include a cover sheet with name of the author, place and date of publication and the article(s); six copies should be submitted to:  New York Labor History Association, Tamiment Library, 10th Floor Bobst Library NYU, 70 Washington Square South, New York NY 10012. (For additional information: info@LaborArts.org or 212-998-2637)

Photo courtesy: Creative Commons


 

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02/04/2015 - 7:42pm

By Kathleen Foster

A police officer killed Shantel Davis, a young African-American woman, through the open window of her car in June 2012. It happened in Flatbush, a Brooklyn neighborhood near where I live. Distraught residents described hearing the fatal shots and watching officers drag Davis’ bleeding body onto the street, where they left her to die.

As I listened, I remembered similar emotional responses of women whose innocent family members perished in NATO attacks in Afghanistan & Pakistan, where I made my last two films: Afghan Women and a History of Struggle, as well as 10 Years On: Afghanistan & Pakistan. I decided it was time to turn my lens on a subject closer to home.

In my new documentary Profiled, police brutality and racial profiling are explored through the stories of Black and Latino mothers of unarmed victims of fatal police shootings. With the widely circulated video of Eric Garner on Staten Island, killed in a police officer’s choke-hold, followed just days later by the killing of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri, the issues and concerns raised by the women resonate across the nation. The ranks of demonstrators have swelled into the thousands.

We experience the grief the families suffer in the face of such tragedies, the struggles women confront when raising children in segregated neighborhoods that present few options for young people, and their anger at a justice system that often seems pitted against them. And we witness the women's transition from grieving parents to activists. I have completed the filming and have launched an Indiegogo campaign to raise $25,000 to edit and finish the film. A short 3-minute trailer and more information about the film can be seen at:

https://www.indiegogo.com/projects/profiled--4/x/9440765

Photo Courtesy: the author


 

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02/04/2015 - 7:41pm

From left to right: Scott Sommer, UAW-NY regional sub-director; Raymond Nat Turner; Larry Goldbetter, NWU president; Toby Emmer, NY UAW education fund director and NWU member; Barry Hock MA CAP gaming director and NWU member; Peter Fullerton, UAW Local 365 President; Dennis Williams, UAW president; Chris Rhomberg, NWUSO board member and NWU member; Kathleen Flarhety, NWU Connecticut CAP rep and Zigi LowensteIn, NWU MENBER. Not shown: Calvin Ramsey (NY) and Chris Donavan (CT).

The 22nd Annual Region 9A Civil Rights Dinner on in late January in Hartford, Connecticut, proved a big UAW and NWU success. More than 300 participants from all over New England and New York, including nine NWU members, heard inspiring talks from the three award recipients: International UAW President Dennis Williams spoke about stepped up organizing in Tennessee, Alabama and Mississippi, and how “labor rights are Civil Rights.” Casey Green, a spokeswoman for the bargaining committee of the University of Connecticut Graduate Research and Teaching Assistants, UAW Local 6950, reflected on the school’s struggle for its first contract and how, in only six weeks, more than 70 percent of the bargaining unit had signed union cards to gain recognition. Heather McGhee, president of DEMOS, an emerging leader in the progressive movement, asserted that changing US demographics are setting the stage for a bright future, if labor and its allies team up for the fight in the days ahead.  

Photo Courtesy: NWU


 

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02/04/2015 - 7:39pm

For my blog, papersplease.org, I get paid a stipend that is a living wage.

-- Edward Hasbrouck

By Edward Hasbrouck

"I used to work for a travel agency that specialized in around-the-world airline tickets." In the fall of 2001, we found out about a new TV show, The Amazing Race, which had us excited. CBS premiered its reality series about teams of people going around the world competing in challenges on Sept. 5, 2001, and each day after the show was on, the team that had been eliminated was to appear on The Early Show. Since I’d recently published, The Practical Nomad, my publicist worked to get me on the show to give commentary.

So the morning of September 11th, I wake up and see that I’ve missed a call from a 212 area code. I figured it was CBS in New York, and that I would be getting on a plane to do The Early Show the next day. But when I listened to the message, I realized it was a wrong number: The person who had dialed me thought she was calling one of her colleagues. In the background I hear sirens and screaming as she says that she’s just come out of the subway and, “can’t find anybody, there’s smoke everywhere…” I turn on the TV just in time to see the second World Trade Center tower fall.

For a time, with all the fear around air travel, there was doubt that The Amazing Race would even go forward. But eventually it found its audience and went on to win Emmy awards for reality TV. I thought the show would spark a lot of interest in global travel, and have been writing a column about it since its first week on air 14 years ago. Since I acquired a lot of readers, and could keep up with the demands of a monthly column, I took the leap of launching a blog.

I LIKED THE FLEXIBILITY

I’d been writing in different venues, published more books, and created a small, static website as an online brochure to advertise my books. But I wanted a place to publish things that didn’t fit in other formats, and over which I had more control. Blogs weren’t common in 2003, so I had to manually code the html (Internet language) to update the individual articles. But I liked the flexibility of it.

My blog initially was a way to advertise my books, but now my books serve as an advertisement for my website, which generates more income in ads than I get from the books. With books I only get 15 percent of the wholesale price, whereas I get all the revenue from the ads. I’ve never come close to making a living from books, but if someone clicks on an affiliate link on my website, and ends up buying a trip around the world, I get a nice piece of that. I can make upwards of $5000 a year in ad revenue from my website (hasbrouck.org).

For my other blog, papersplease.org, I get paid a stipend that is a living wage. A nonprofit organization that deals with civil liberties for travelers gives me a fixed, monthly amount to write their corporate blog. It contains information that both their members and the general public want. I blog 500 to 2000 or more words a couple times a week for them. It’s more newsy and analytical than my own blogs tend to be. I was hired to blog because of volunteer work I was already doing on travel-related civil liberties, and because I had a depth of understanding of the travel industry.

VIRTUAL TRAVEL AGENCIES

After working as a travel agent for 15 years, I helped as the industry made the transition from brick and mortar to online. I worked with programmers as a subject-matter expert, developing systems that duplicated the work of human travel agents, including the software, databases, the airlines’ information, etc. 

After September 11th, the newly formed Department of Homeland Security (DHS) began to perform wide-ranging surveillance, and the privacy information contained in travel reservations became vulnerable to being abused. People have even used travel reservations to stalk and kill other people. But more often they were going to be used by the DHS to control where you could go. When you make a reservation to fly somewhere, it’s sent to Homeland Security, which keeps a lifetime travel history on you; most people don’t realize what the codes in a reservation mean. But they’re the modern equivalent of an FBI file. So the civil liberties group came to me and said, you have this knowledge, can we put you on retainer to work on this issue. It was a dream assignment because it was what I was doing already.

NO ONE WAY TO DO IT

I’m in Brussels right now because some European officials are seeking to use the massacre at the magazine, Charlie Hebdo, in Paris as the excuse to look at all the reservations and decide who is allowed to fly. It's a proposal rejected four years ago, but now they’re reconsidering.

I recently attended a conference of professional travel bloggers. Not everybody there was successful at making their living from their blog, but everyone there who was successful was doing so in a slightly different way. They had a revenue mix that was a mix of monthly stipend, staff blogger for corporation, they sold different individual articles, they had sponsor pay them to blog about it. There’s no one way to do this.

Edward Hasbrouck's most recent trip around the world to update the 5th edition of The Practical Nomad lasted more than a year, and covered more than 80,000 miles through 28 countries on 6 continents.                          

-As told to Pamela K. Johnson, Jan. 2015

Photos courtesy: the author


 

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Union News

05/03/2011 - 4:50pm

02 May 2011

Shadow of 9/11 Attacks Hangs over Journalism, Says IFJ on World Press Freedom Day

The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) marks this year’s World Press Freedom Day by focusing on the legacy of the terrorist attacks on 11 September in New York and Washington ten years ago. The Federation plans to launch a major campaign - Journalism in the Shadow of Terror- to consider the impact of those terrible events and to call for a reversal of the tide of legal and official intimidation of journalism and attacks on civil liberties that has followed the events of 2001.

“The last ten years have seen an alarming erosion of press freedom as governments adopted a hard line in the fight against terror,” said Jim Boumelha, IFJ President. “There is no doubt that journalists have been among the prominent victims of a widespread assault on the democratic rights of all citizens and this has to change.”

The IFJ says that the laws introduced in the wake of the attacks of 11 September in America such as restrictions of movement and the right to investigate public authorities and to report and to publish freely have reduced the rights of journalists. The Federation is calling for a fresh debate on the new information landscape and how governments are responding to the challenge of groups such Wikileaks in exposing government secrets and the impact this has on journalism.

04/14/2011 - 4:00pm

 

 

 


NWU/UAW 1981 at the NYC May Day rally. The Union of Huffington Post Writers and Bloggers "call on journalists and bloggers to join the National Writers Union."

 

 

See http://www.facebook.com/l/60538/www.hpub.org for details."

 

04/12/2011 - 6:18pm
nwu.org

NEW YORK, NY: A class action lawsuit was filed today against The Huffington Post.com, Inc., Huffington Post owner Arianna Huffington, her co-owner, and AOL.com, Inc. alleging that thousands of writers and other content providers have been wrongly denied any compensation for the substantial value they created for the Huffington Post.  The Huffington Post was recently sold to AOL for $315 million.
 
“Arianna Huffington is pursuing the Wal-Martization of creative content and a Third World class of creative people,” said Jonathan Tasini, the lead plaintiff in the suit. “Actually, that is unfair to Wal-Mart because at least Wal-Mart pays its workers something for the value those workers create. In Arianna Huffington’s business model, economic gain is only reserved for her.  Everyone else, apparently, is expected to work for free regardless of the value they create. Greed and selfishness is the order of the day.”
 
The class action, filed in the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York on behalf of a putative class of over 9,000 writers and other content providers to The Huffington Post.com states deceptive trade practices and unjust enrichment as causes of action.  The complaint requests at least $105 million in damages on behalf of The Huffington Post’s uncompensated writers and other content providers.

THE FULL COMPLAINT CAN BE DOWNLOADED HERE: http://www.huffingtonpostlawsuit.com/uploads/Tasini_et_al._v._Huffington_et_al._Filed_Complaint_April_12_2011.pdf
 

03/30/2011 - 10:15am

VICTORY!!!

Quick response to USLAW's alert by 452 people helped to free the four young journalists who had been detained by Iraqi security forces following a demonstration by workers demanding respect for labor rights, reliable electricity, clean water, sanitation and jobs for the unemployed.

INTERNATIONAL LABOR SOLIDARITY WORKS!!!

03/23/2011 - 3:28pm

NEW YORK CITY:  March 23, 2011 –  "Judge Denny Chin's decision that the Google Book Settlement was 'not fair, adequate and reasonable' gives the National Writers Union even more reason to pursue other means through Congress and the courts to protect and affirm writers' rights against this sort of corporate infringement," declared Larry Goldbetter, president of the NWU, the union of freelance writers. "Because writers' copyright infringement claims against Google have yet to be resolved, the NWU calls on Google to stop scanning without permission -- now." 

Google digitized the contents of several university libraries started in 2004 without getting permission of any of the copyright holders of those books and journals.  The Authors Guild and the Association of American Publishers sued, claiming infringement of copyright.  After a few years, the parties agreed to settle the law suit.  The proposed settlement and an amended settlement designed to meet objections to the first agreement not only tried to resolve rights arising from the illegal copyight.  The settlement also set up a new system to permit Google to sell the books it had digitized.  The National Writers Union and many foreign governments, individual writers, other writers groups and the U.S. Justice Department objected to the amended settlement.  Judge Chin rejected the settlement on March 23.

After seven years of Google digitizing books without the consent of the copyright holders, the only point that is clear is that the efforts of three parties – Google, the Authors Guild (AG) and the Association of American Publishers (AAP) – to resolve the many issues involved were totally unsuccessful and left most matters yet to be decided, added Goldbetter.   NWU hopes that any future settlement talks will include other writers' groups like the NWU in addition to the Authors Guild, which, according to the judge, may have “antagonistic interests” with at least certain other writers.  (Authors Guild v. Google, Inc., 05 CIV 8136 (DC 2011), p. 20.  "NWU looks forward to hearing from Google, AAP and AG about how they plan to broaden the negotiations to include all those who offered substantive objections to the settlement," stated Goldbetter. 

03/22/2011 - 8:25pm

New York March 22 - NWU applauds Judge Chin's decision today rejecting the Google Book Settlement as not "fair, adequate, and reasonable." Along with our co-objectors, we will continue to pursue justice for authors and the establishment of a digital Library of Congress, not Google.

See the decision here: http://thepublicindex.org/docs/amended_settlement/opinion.pdf

See some initial news coverage on the decision here:

http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052748704461304576216923562033348.html

http://www.washingtonpost.com/nyc-judge-concludes-google-book-settlement-not-fair-adequate-and-reasonable/2011/03/22/ABG2DuDB_story.html

http://news.cnet.com/8301-13577_3-20045967-36.html

03/22/2011 - 10:35am
Right now 50 bloggers at ArtScene and the newly formed Huffington Post Union of Bloggers and Writers (HPUB) are striking the Huffington Post for unpaid wages. The Natioinal Writers Union and others are honoring what the Newspaper Guild called, their "electronic picket lines." We urge our members and everyone reading this, not to write for HuffPo until they brought to the bargaining table.
 
We can think of no better way to launch our campaign to establish a living minimum wage for on line content writers. From HuffPo, which was bought by AOL for $315 million to Demand Media, with a December IPO that valued it at $1.5 billion, huge profits are being reaped off the unpaid or penny-a-word labor of freelance writers. This can not go on.
 

The following article by NWU member John Sandman is the first of a series to further the discussion, struggle and buzz among freelance writers and bloggers, to gather the forces needed to make this fight. We look forward to hearing from you and to your participation in this campaign.

03/14/2011 - 3:37pm

News about union support for single-payer health care and HR 676 <singlepayernews@unionsforsinglepayerhealthcare.org>

Conyers Reintroduces HR 676 into the 112th Congress

On February 11, 2011, Congressman John Conyers, Jr., Democrat of Michigan, reintroduced Expanded and Improved Medicare for All, HR 676, the national single payer health care legislation, into the 112th Congress.  With minor changes, such as the addition of oral surgery to the benefits, HR 676 is the same and will provide all medically necessary care to everyone through progressive public funding and elimination of private health insurance companies.  There are no premiums, no co-pays, no co-insurance, no deductibles.

Congressman Conyers stated:  “Millions of Americans are frustrated with rising health care costs, and have a deep mistrust of private health insurance companies. The for-profit medicine model has resulted in rationed care and created undue stress and financial hardships for millions of Americans across the nation.