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

06/27/2014 - 11:15am

By: Brigid O’Farrell, Bay Area Chapter

On Monday, June 23, the White House convened a summit in Washington, DC, to start an important conversation about issues affecting working families:  accessing good jobs, raising the minimum wage, creating flexible schedules, securing paid family leave, providing quality affordable child care. Labor was in the house.  I was honored to join over 250 union members and women from worker organizations.  First we met on Sunday at the AFL-CIO building where sisters and brothers shared their stories.  

I worked with the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers, Local 617 in San Mateo, California, to identify union members who benefited from California’s Paid Family Leave Act.  California is one of only three states to have a law that enables workers to take paid time off from work to care for a new baby or an ill family member. Unions worked to pass this law and now members are using it.  Krista Brooks and Johnathan Brooks are IBEW apprentice electricians and both of them used the California Paid Family Leave Act to take time of the job when their daughter was born. They were able to care for their child, maintain their economic stability, and return to their jobs.  They told their story at the AFL-CIO Working Families Speak Up Event on Sunday and then joined the White House Summit on Monday.

Connie Leak, President of the Coalition of Labor Union Women and a member of UAW, said this wasn’t just about boots on the ground, but about “heels, flats, and sneakers heading to the streets” and to the White House Summit to talk about working family issues and the importance of unions, collective bargaining, and public policy to create 21st century workplaces that nourish working families.  

The next day over 1,000 people joined the conversation with President Obama and the First Lady, Vice President and Dr. Jill Biden, Secretary of Labor Tom Perez, Democratic Congressional Leader Nancy Pelosi, and a host of corporate, media, and advocacy leaders.  Labor’s voice was heard through Liz Shuler, Secretary-Treasurer of the AFL-CIO,  Mary Kay Henry, President of the Service Employees Union, and Kay Thompson, Local 1-S Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union/UFCW.  A mother of four and an employee at Macy’s flagship store in Herald Square, Kay Thompson told the audience that “the fair work schedule secured by my collective bargaining agreement is one of the main reasons I’ve stayed at Macy’s for nearly 20 years.”

Kay Thompson, Krista and Johnathan Brooks, and many other powerful stories told over the two days were about the possibility of change.  Now attention is turning to how to translate the ideas and energy in that room into action.  As Eleanor Roosevelt said, “We can’t just talk.  We have got to act.”

 


 

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06/13/2014 - 3:33pm

The Free Flow of Information Act (S. 987) is a federal shield bill that would protect the public’s right to know by protecting the identities of journalists’ confidential sources. The bill is expected to be brought to the Senate floor this summer. The legislation has strong bipartisan support. On September 12, 2013 the Senate Judiciary Committee passed S. 987 by a 13-5 vote. The bill’s original co-sponsors are Sen. Charles Schumer (D-NY) and Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC), and it has a total of 24 co-sponsors from both parties.

On June 12, 2014, the Shield Coalition, made up of dozens of media groups and journalists organizations,  sent this letter (PDF) to every US Senator, seeking their support for this much needed and long overdue legislation.  It has taken on even more urgency given that the Supreme Court recently declined to hear the appeal of journalist and book author James Risen of the New York Times after the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals rejected his motion to quash a subpoena, issued in a leak prosecution, seeking the name of his confidential source. If potential sources, including government whistleblowers, fear that journalists will be forced to reveal their identities, these sources will not come forward, and the public will lose the ability to hold the government accountable.
 
The National Writers Union is a member of the Shield Coalition and a signer of the letter. We urge the Senate to pass the Free Flow of Information Act this summer.
 
 

 

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06/02/2014 - 1:34pm

The Supreme Court this morning raised the stakes for all reporters and increased the need for a federal shield bill.  The Court denied certiorari (refused to hear the case) of James Risen, a New York Times reporter.  Risen has been ordered to testify in the criminal trial of former CIA officer Jeffrey Sterling, accused of leaking information about a failed CIA effort to interfere with Iran's nuclear program during the Clinton Administration.  According to the AP report posted on Huffington Post, Attorney General Eric Holder has suggested that Risen might not be jailed if he refuses to testify.
 
The Supreme Court cited its 1972 case holding that nothing in the First Amendment protects reporters against being called to testify before grand juries.
 
Read the complete story from the AP via Huffington Post here.
 
If you are interested in helping NWU fight for a reporter's shield bill, please email nwu@nwu.org and let us know.


 

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05/22/2014 - 3:38pm


 
The 2014 Civil Rights Summit at the LBJ Presidential Library in Austin, Texas, April 8 -10, which celebrated passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, featured the voices of veterans of the civil rights struggle, including former U.N. Ambassador Andrew Young, Georgia Congressman John Lewis and former President Jimmy Carter, to political recipients of the Act’s passage like former President Bill Clinton and President Barack Obama. The LBJ Library has posted photos and videos from each day of the event.
 
Dispatches from the Civil Rights Summit 2014, Austin, Texas
 
By: NWU Member James Patterson: Diplomat, Writer, Speaker, Educator

The Civil Rights Act of 1964 banned discrimination based on race, color, religion, sex and national origin in public accommodations including restaurants, hotels, theaters and retail businesses. The Act created the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission to ban workplace discrimination. Before the Act employers could legally exclude blacks from job openings with a simple “no Negroes.” Congressman John Lewis, who was brutally beaten at Selma in 1965, told participants “times have changed” but work needed to be done on civil rights, such as restoring important provisions of the Voting Rights Act of 1965. (The GOP-dominated Supreme Court struck down key provisions in 2013.)

 
Lewis said the Civil Rights Act of 1964 was “a living document” and the struggle goes on for equality and justice. Public furor over Johnson’s disastrous handling of Vietnam has somewhat abated, many say, and historians are looking at more positive aspects of his administration, especially his work on civil rights legislation. Summit planners said they hoped the event would help people see beyond Johnson’s failed Vietnam policy. That may not happen, however, as Pulitzer Prize- and National Book Award winning author Robert Caro is currently at work on his fifth and final volume on Johnson and it may bring attention back to the president’s role in escalating the Vietnam War.
 
The Civil Rights Summit, though, was essentially a Vietnam Free Zone where there was nothing but praise for the late Texas president. Caro was absent from the Summit reportedly due to differences with planners over Johnson’s civil rights legacy. Also absent were members of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s family. Reportedly, they are in legal disputes with each other and with some of the panelists over some of King’s personal items. Further, one family member claims Johnson was involved in the assassination of Dr. King. University of Texas Austin students were upset with planners. Reportedly, there were few Summit seats for students. An estimated 9,035 students applied for tickets and only 640 received them. The Lady Bird Johnson Auditorium at the LBJ Presidential Library seats only 967 people.
 
There were 46 panelists who spoke at the event. Summit planes invited controversial Texas Republican Governor Rick Perry but did not invite him to speak. As a result, Perry had “a schedule conflict” and could not attend. According to LBJ Library spokesperson Anne Wheeler, Vice President Joe Biden and U.S. Senators Ted Cruz, Texas, John Cornyn, Texas, Mitch McConnell, Kentucky, and Harry Reid, Nevada, were invited but could not attend. Similarly, GOP House Speaker John Boehner and House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi did not attend. In my view, Cruz, McConnell and Boehner would have likely drawn angry protesters, especially over their views on immigration reform. According to the Daily Texas, a UT-Austin newspaper, Social work freshman Addis Gezahegn said, “I would gladly miss class to be in the same room as the first black president of the United States. The only black person on the UT campus like 50 years ago carried a mop and a broom.”
 
On the last day of the Summit, President Obama spoke and Summit planners panicked when they realized the audience was, well, very light for his speech. They opened doors for students and even herded press from the Media Center into the auditorium. Summit planners had, they said, worked on this event for three years. Still, problems arose. One of the most embarrassing problems was the total exclusion of civil rights for the disabled from the agenda.
 
The landmark American with Disabilities Act of 1990, signed by former President George H.W. Bush, who did not attend the event, celebrates its 25th anniversary next year. At the very last minute, Summit planners added distinguished educator and disability rights advocate Lex Freidan to a panel on Civil Rights in the 21st Century. He had an important message and it is sad few heard it. Friedan’s name did not appear in the official Summit program. President Lyndon Baines Johnson, during his first twenty years in Congress, adamantly and wholeheartedly opposed all civil rights legislation. His Texas constituents opposed it and so did he. President Kennedy’s tragic assassination in Dallas in November 1963, the televised brutality and violence against blacks in the Deep South, Klan murders of white civil rights workers in Mississippi, and Dr. King’s compassioned plea for help in ending segregation, changed Lyndon Johnson and the course of our nation’s history. 
 
Johnson was not perfect but when history called, he listened and acted to help end bigotry and discrimination. Few other Southern politicians heard history’s call at that time. As a youth in Alabama in 1964, LBJ was a hated man. Arizona’s Republican Senator Barry Goldwater, who said the Civil Rights Act of 1964 was unconstitutional, was the white man’s savior. Fortunately, Goldwater lost in a landslide. He won Alabama by a Klanslide. Johnson famously predicted his signing the Civil Rights Act of 1964 would cost his party the South. Solidly Republican today, Alabama, like much of the South, is still resistant to civil rights for gays and marriage equality.
 
As Congressman John Lewis and other Civil Rights veterans said at the Summit, the Civil Rights struggle goes on for equality and justice. Like Johnson, the Civil Rights Summit was not a perfect event. It was, though, historic and its messages provided participants with the energy, enthusiasm and promise for the ongoing fight for a better and more just America.

About the Author:

James Patterson, who attended Alabama’s segregated schools in the 1970s, received a family education in civil rights. His father, a member of the Alabama National Guard, was federalized by President Kennedy for the integration of the University of Alabama in June 1963 and by President Johnson for service at Selma in March of 1965 to prevent violence by “domestic terrorists,” the Ku Klux Klan. Patterson is now a San Francisco-based writer and speaker.
 

 

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05/21/2014 - 5:39pm

The case of New York Times reporter James Risen highlights the need for a federal shield law. In 2006, Risen published “State of War,” a book that described Operation Merlin, a failed CIA attempt to disrupt Iran’s nuclear program. Risen used classified information given to him by confidential source(s). The Obama Administration investigated the leak and filed criminal charges against former CIA agent Jeffery Sterling under the Espionage Act. The federal prosecutor also subpoenaed Risen, who is not charged with a crime, to testify in court to reveal his source(s). He refused.

Last year, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit, ruled that there is no First Amendment reporter’s privilege to protect confidential sources in criminal cases in federal court. Risen has appealed to the US Supreme Court, who may decide as early as June 2, whether to hear his appeal. If the Court denies his petition, Risen could be held in contempt of court and face jail time or fines if he refuses to reveal his confidential source(s).

In September, 2013, the Senate Judiciary Committee passed the Free Flow of Information Act (S. 987) on a 13-5 bipartisan vote. The bill would create a qualified reporter’s privilege, which would allow federal judges to strike a balance between protecting confidential sources and facilitating the public’s right to know and compelling a reporter to testify.  NWU and the Shield Coalition support this bill as it includes freelancers as “qualified reporters.”

The bill contains a national security exception in leak cases (Section 5), which states that the risk of future leaks by a confidential source is not enough to force a reporter to testify. A reporter would have to reveal a confidential source only if the government proves that the reporter’s testimony would help to prevent an act of terrorism or other acts that could harm national security.

Risen’s book was published years after the alleged CIA operation. Under the Free Flow of Information Act, the government would have had to prove that forcing Risen to testify would prevent some future harm to national security.

If Risen’s petition is denied by the Supreme Court, it will be up to Congress to enact concrete legal standards for when reporters can and cannot protect confidential sources. The time has come for Congress to pass the Free Flow of Information Act.


 

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05/07/2014 - 3:40pm

It's time for NWU members and other writers to submit comments to the U.S. Copyright Office once again. It was very helpful when we did it in 2012, so we need to do it again. The idea of an "orphan works" law just won't die. An orphan works law or an expanded definition of “fair use” would let anyone who claims they can't identify or find whoever they think holds the rights to your copyrighted work have the right to use, copy, or even publish your work for free without your permission.

Here are a couple of scenarios about orphan works: You published an article or poem in a magazine long out of print. If a library has a copy in its collection, but can't find the magazine publisher (out of business?), they could call it an “orphan," scan it, and publish it on the Web. Say, your book has been out of print for years, so you self-publish your own e-book. If someone can't find the publisher of the original book, they could call it an "orphan" and issue their own edition without your knowledge or permission, which would compete with your e-book and deprive you of income. Or a story posted on your blog could be plagiarized on another Web site without your knowledge, permission, or payment.

So much for your ability to resell or republish your backlist work!

You can help NWU prevent a disastrous so-called “orphan works” law by submitting comments to the Copyright Office by May 21. Fill out the form on the US Copyright Office website and attach a file of your letter. The link to the NWU sample letter is provided here, or below.

You can use our sample letter, but it will be much more effective if you tell your own story. Examples of how you are earning money from stories, articles, Web content, books, or excerpts whose original editions are listed in bibliographies and library catalogs as "out of print" will be extremely helpful.

Please spread the word to NWU members and other writers. This is our final opportunity to be heard before the Copyright Office makes its recommendations about "orphan works" to Congress.

Thank you for making NWU’s advocacy much stronger!

Orphan Works Comments: Form Letter (download as a .doc file here)

Submit electronically at www.copyright.gov/orphan/comment-submission

 

To: Maria Pallante, Register of Copyright
U.S. Copyright Office
Library of Congress

Re: Orphan Works and Mass Digitization

(FR Doc. 2014–02830; Copyright Office Docket Number 2012-12)

Dear Ms. Pallante:

I endorse comments to the Copyright Office submitted by the National Writers Union. As a working writer, I oppose any "orphan works" legislation or any interpretation of “fair use” that permits use of my work without my permission or restricts my remedies for copyright infringement because someone claims they were unable to identify or locate me or any person or entity they thought held certain rights to my work.

Proposals for "orphan works" legislation and expanded interpretations of “fair use” fail to consider ways working writers earn our living. Under the Berne Convention, an exception to copyright for “fair use” or other use of “orphan works” is permitted only if it "does not conflict with normal exploitation" of the work. But, as far as I know, the Copyright Office has never conducted research on the market for works whose original printed editions have gone out of print and might be deemed "orphaned.” Nor has it asked writers about new norms of commercial exploitation of our “out-of-print” works, especially via self-publication and digital publication.

Orphan works” legislation or “fair use” cannot properly be evaluated without understanding writers' new business models that only writers can provide. If work to which I hold some or all rights is deemed “orphaned" because it is not in publishers' or libraries' records, despite the fact that I am currently earning money from it, any so-called “orphan work” would unfairly compete with and destroy the value of my rights.

Before the Copyright Office or Congress considers any "orphan works" or “fair use” legislation, I request you hold hearings to learn from writers and other creators about how we are currently exploiting our rights to our work and how such a law would affect us. No "orphan works" legislation should be considered unless it respects the rights of creators.

Sincerely,

 

 

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04/23/2014 - 1:59pm

Wednesday April 23, 2014 is World Copyright Day, a day designated by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) to promote literacy and recognize authors. Copyright law varies across the world, but the idea of copyright is that laws around creative works should benefit society at large and also protect and incentivize creators, who enrich and enliven culture with their original stories, music, poems and photographs.

But the International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) and the European Federation of Journalists (EFJ) say journalists and other creators are being deprived of their rights and ability to earn a living from future use of their creations. And it is happening with the stroke of the pen, with the signing of unfair contracts riddled with clauses writers might not understand when they sign their rights away.

Across the world, IFJ and EFJ say writers, photojournalists, and other creators are being asked to sign “model contracts” with clauses that cut creators out of future decisions regarding their work – and out of future profits.

The IFJ and EFJ are asking for laws that would protect creators in negotiations, “ensuring that both moral and economical rights are respected.” Moral rights refers to a special framework of recognitions and protections for the intrinsic creative bond between creators and their works. Moral rights are more broadly recognized in Europe than in the US.

The advocacy groups called for stronger laws worldwide. “One cannot expect journalists to make a living when they are systematically asked to sign away their authors’ rights”, said IFJ President Jim Boumelha.

The National Writers Union Grievance and Contract Division (GCD) provides free contract advice to members. Earlier this year, the division advised writers to protect their rights to revenue from future digital publication of their own works and, when negotiating contracts, to“negotiate each type of publication right separately, and strike any reference to 'all media' in contract language.”

The EFJ and IFJ also critized contracts that contain buy-out clauses, assignment for future unknown uses and moral rights transfers.

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04/11/2014 - 4:28pm

 

“Thrive” is the title of a new book out by Arianna Huffington, and she talks about the project in an interview with Deirdre Donahue in the April, 2014 issue of AARP Bulletin. The new book focuses on work-life balance and redefining traditional notions of success. Yet Huffington's progressive blog Huffington Post was enormously succesful, at least in part thanks to the work of professional journalists who worked without compensation. She built a business model that doesn't pay freelance contributors.

In 2010, Huffington sold her blog to AOL for $350 milion dollars and took a job as AOL's head of content. National Writers Union and the Newspaper Guild led a boycott of HuffPost at the time. The boycott has ended, but we still want to see a pay scale for online writers (view a panel session we hosted on the topic here). Writers create more than content. We create value and wealth. Just ask Arianna Huffington.

Working without pay should not be the expectation of online publications – or online writers. Quality journalism must be justly compensated. National Writers Union members have started sending off their own letters to AARP. Now we are asking everyone to do the same. Please cut and paste the letter below and send it to: Bulletin@aarp.org. And keep an eye out for the "Thrive" tour coming to your town.

To: Bulletin@aarp.org :

In your April issue of the "AARP Bulletin," Deirdre Donahue interviewed Arianna Huffington about her success and her latest theme, "Thrive." The interview failed to point out that one of the reasons Arianna "thrives" is because she doesn't pay most of the writer/contributors to her flagship huffingtonpost.com. HuffPost became a large progressive blog because of the unpaid contributions of many full-time journalists that brought quality reporting, traffic, and value that allowed her to sell it to AOL for $350 million in 2010. Along with the sale price, Arianna enjoys a $4 million annual salary as AOL's head of content. She shared none of the sale price with the many working writers that created that value. Some might call that "thriving." Others might use another term.

 

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04/04/2014 - 4:19pm

The European Federation of Journalists today condemned the killing of an Associated Press (AP) photographer from Germany who was killed while working in Afghanistan ahead of elections Saturday. The photographer was killed and another was wounded when, the AP reported, an Afghan police commander approached the convoy the photojournalists were traveling with - a convoy of elections workers delivering ballots - and opened fire on the journalists.

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03/31/2014 - 9:49am

Event: Copyright in the Digital Age: Creators in a landscape of Google Books and orphan works
Hosts: National Writers Union, DC Chapter and the Special Libraries Association, Social Science Division
When: April 24th, 2014, 12:30 pm - 2:00 pm EDT - Click to add this event to your iCalendar.
Where: AFL-CIO, 815 16th St NW, Washington, DC 20005, President's Room

US copyright is in flux. How can our copyright system continue to strike the right balance between social good and the need for benefits and incentives to diverse creators? What can we learn from listening to creators themselves about how they are negotiating a new landscape? Join us for a panel session focusing on how writers are making a living in the digital age, the state of fair use, and authors' perspectives on book scanning services such as Scribd, Google Books, and Amazon's Look Inside The Book program.

Speakers include Edward Hasbrouck, activist, journalist, author, consumer advocate and NWU Book Division co-chair; Michael Capobianco, author, Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers Association of America (SFWA), President 1996-1998 and 2007-2008; and Kurt Wimmer, an expert in privacy and digital media law and general counsel for the Newspaper Association of America. Larry Guthrie of the Special Libraries Association, Social Science Division's Labor Section will moderate.

Bring a brown bag lunch. The event will be webcast. For more information visit:
http://www.nwu-dc.org/content/copyright-digital-age

Contact: nwudc.news@gmail.com

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Union News

07/27/2011 - 6:24pm

By Wendy Werris
Jul 27, 2011

In a move as significant for its breadth as its implications for the future of book coverage, the Los Angeles Times book review laid off all of its freelance book reviewers and columnists on July 21.

Susan Salter Reynolds was with the Times for 23 years as both a staffer and freelancer and wrote the “Discoveries” column that appeared each week in the Sunday book review. She was told that her column was cancelled and will not be replaced by another writer. “I don’t know where these layoffs fit into the long-storied failure at the Times,” she said yesterday, “but these are not smart business decisions. This is shabby treatment.”

Jon Thurber, editor of the book review, explained to Reynolds last Thursday that all books-related stories will now be done in-house, and that the decision to cease eliminate non-staffers was based on his freelance budget being cut. Richard Raynard’s popular “Paperback Writers” has also been eliminated. As children’s books editor at the Times for the last several years Sonja Bolle, who most recently wrote the monthly “WordPlay” column, said, “This indicates an even deeper contraction of the business, a continuation of a process at the Times that doesn’t stop here.” Bolle is most concerned about the shrinking coverage of children’s books. “This is a great loss for readers,” she said of the elimination of her column.

Four staffers remain in the book review section: David Ulin, Carolyn Kellogg, Nick Owchar, and Thurber. In December 2009 the Times laid off 40 features writers, including Reynolds and Bolle, but brought many of them back to work part-time. “We were paid about one-third of what we had been making, and lost our health insurance,” Reynolds says. "Then two months ago we were shifted to freelance status, which meant none of us were allowed to enter the Times building.” Thurber did make an exception for Reynolds so she could come to the office to pick up the multiple review copies she received daily in order to produce her column.

When contacted, Thurber deferred to Nancy Sullivan, the Times’s v-p of communications. “This was a cost-saving move,” she said, “strictly related to our budget.” Sullivan would not provide details on the number of freelancers who were eliminated last week. “Staff writers from outside the book department will take over for those who left. We have not changed our commitment to book coverage or the amount of space the Times will devote to it.”

07/22/2011 - 4:39pm

There was a "status conference" July 19th in New York in the ongoing Federal copyright infringement lawsuit against Google for scanning millions of books without the permission of the copyright holders.

The parties to the lawsuit asked for more time to try to negotiate a new settlement proposal. Judge Chin scheduled another hearing for September 15th, but suggested that if the parties had not reached at least an agreement in principle by then, he would set a schedule for the case to move forward toward discovery, briefing, argument, and decision of the legal issues without an agreed-upon settlement.

Law Prof. James Grimmelmann, who spoke at the NWU's forum on the case last year, has more about the hearing in his blog:
http://laboratorium.net/archive/2011/07/19/gbs_status_conference_opt-in_settlement_in_the_wor

Earlier this year, Judge Chin agreed with the NWU and numerous other writers' organizations from around the world that the previous settlement proposal was not "fair and adequate".  But Google, the Association of American Publishers, and the Authors Guild (whose membership is limited to authors of books published by major publishers with substantial advances, unlike the NWU which is open to all writers) have continued to exclude the NWU and all other interested parties from their ongoing negotiations.

The NWU is continuing to monitor the case, and will advise our members on future developments.  Backgorund information incluidng the NWU's submissions to the court is available from the NWU Book Division at: http://www.nwubook.org

07/15/2011 - 5:07pm

BBC journalists in one-day strike

BBC Television Centre The BBC has apologised to viewers and listeners
for any disruption
Continue reading the main story
<http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/entertainment-arts-14152795?print=true#story_continues_1>

Journalists at the BBC have begun a 24-hour strike in a row over
compulsory redundancies.

Members of the National Union of Journalists (NUJ) voted in favour of
industrial action last month because a number of World Service
journalists are facing compulsory redundancy.

The NUJ has warned that the strike will cause "widespread disruption" to
radio and TV programmes.

A BBC spokesman said the corporation was "disappointed" by the action.

Viewers and listeners saw some changes to BBC output on Friday morning
as a result of the strike.


BBC journalists in one-day strike
BBC          Television CentreThe BBC has apologised to viewers and listeners for any disruption
Continue reading the main story
Journalists at the BBC have begun a 24-hour strike in a row over compulsory redundancies.
Members of the National Union of Journalists (NUJ) voted in favour of industrial action last month because a number of World Service journalists are facing compulsory redundancy.
The NUJ has warned that the strike will cause "widespread disruption" to radio and TV programmes.
A BBC spokesman said the corporation was "disappointed" by the action.
Viewers and listeners saw some changes to BBC output on Friday morning as a result of the strike.

07/14/2011 - 4:09pm

Forty years after it was first published, the book Occupied America: The History of Chicanos has been banned, and its author, Rudolfo Acuña, widely published professor and prominent immigrant-rights activist thinks he knows why.

To Acuña, a member of the National Writers Union, UAW Local 1981, it boils down to two things: numbers and control. He says that banning his book and shutting down an ethnic studies program that has been widely successful in Arizona are part of an effort to undermine social inclusion and financial uplift for Chicanos, or people of Mexican descent. Not only has his work come under fire, but Acuña has received numerous death threats from unidentifiable individuals who are at odds with his commitment to improving the system of education and living conditions for Chicanos. 

This work is very much tied to the immigration issue, which Acuña, who was born in Los Angeles to Mexican immigrants, says, "puts panic in people [and makes them think] 'We're losing our country.'"

This might be why so many politicians have rallied against his groundbreaking work in Chicano Studies - an academic program he helped develop in the late 1960s at California State University, Northridge. While this initiative remains the longest running and largest such program, many others have since been established at universities across the country, and even some middle and high schools. 

Not everyone is so keen on seeing Chicano studies expand. Among the program's most vocal critics is Arizona's attorney general, Tom Horne, who has called it a sort of "ethnic chauvinism." He has also claimed that the program is "an officially recognized, resentment-based program," even though the National Education Association has shown that such curriculum instead increases interracial understanding and significantly enhances students' interest in academic pursuits. 

07/14/2011 - 4:01pm

On June 21, 2011, just before heading on to the Delegate Assembly in Detroit, 1st V.P. Ann Hoffman and I met at the Executive Office Building in Washington, next door to the White House, with President Obama's lead advisor on intellectual property enforcement and policy issues.

This meeting was a follow-up to comments on writers' difficulties enforcing our rights that we submitted in 2010, shortly after the creation of the office of the Intellectual Property Enforcement Coordinator: http://www.nwubook.org/NWU-ip-enforcement.pdf

The office of the IPEC doesn't carry out enforcement actions itself, but exists to coordinate the Administration's executive actions -- including copyright and other IP-related law enforcement -- and legislative recommendations such as those on future copyright "reforms": http://www.whitehouse.gov/omb/intellectualproperty/

We received no response to our initial written submission, and writers' interests (especially vis-a-vis publishers and distributors) were not reflected in IPEC reports and strategic recommendations.

Accordingly, we requested a face-to-face meeting with the IPEC office. Somewhat to our surprise, we found the door wide open. (Not literally, of course -- admission to the building required not only an appointment and "screening" at the entrance to the White House compound but detailed submissions of personal information, in advance, to the Secret Service.)

We met for the better part of an hour with the head of the office, the "IP Enforcement Czar" herself, Ms. Victoria Espinel, along with four of her staff advisors she had invited to provide expertise on specific aspects of IP enforcement ranging from copyrights to international law. All had read our comments in preparation for the meeting, although they still seemed to be surprised when we began our presentation by identifying publishers and distributors as the most significant infringers of writers' copyrights.

06/03/2011 - 5:49pm

New York City June 1 - At a brief status conference this afternoon, Google, the Authors Guild and the American Association of Publishers asked
Judge Denny Chin for additional time to explore settlement possibilities. Judge Chin scheduled the next status conference for July 19.

There's more on the google Books hearing from Publishers Weekly:
http://www.publishersweekly.com/pw/by-topic/digital/copyright/article/47490-no-progress-on-google-book-settlement-talks-tone-changing-.html

05/26/2011 - 11:08am

The Executive Committee of the Union of Cyprus Journalists is greatly concerned and expresses its abhorrence over incidents of violence against Turkish Cypriot journalists by the so-called “police” in the occupied part of Cyprus.

Following a second bomb attack against the car and the life of a Turkish Cypriot colleague and the shooting attack against the offices of a newspaper, an assault against journalists by “policemen” of the occupation regime comes to clearly confirm that freedom of the press is under undisguised persecution in the occupied part of Cyprus.

The latest incidents of violence against journalists came about when Turkish Cypriots colleagues, covering a protest march by employees of the so-called “Turkish Cypriot Airlines” made redundant by its closure, were beaten and had their cameras damaged by “policemen” trying to prevent them from carrying out their work.

The Union of Cyprus Journalists strongly deplores raw violence and stresses that it will report on the above mentioned actions against freedom of the press to all European and world journalists organizations.



The Executive Committee
of the Union of Cyprus Journalists

05/16/2011 - 5:19pm

When:  Sunday, May 29, 2011

What:  The first  "Net Needs News Day." 

Who:  Association of American Editorial Cartoonists. Has invited members to simultaneously publish a cartoon about how the web is mostly useless without original reporting generated by newspapers.  (Note: Cartoonists are participating on their own.)  Society of Professional Journalists President  Hagit Limor will blog on this topic at www.spj.org.

Why:  Increase public's awareness and appreciation of journalism and its vital role to information on the worldwide web (95% of all original content online.)   

2nd reason: SPJ recently favorited a motion graphics video on the same topic for its new channel for journalists. ("The Fat Lady Has Not Sung: Why the Internet Needs the News" is also airing at Stanford University graduate classes) : http://www.youtube.com/user/spjournalists#p/a/f/0/PRdUTWn-Zvo     

Where:  As many newspapers as possible.

Contact:  Sharon Geltner, Froogle PR, geltner@netneedsnews.net.  

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/reqs.php#!/pages/The-Fat-Lady-Has-Not-Sung/168436819844750

05/06/2011 - 12:09pm

Situation of NWU member highlights benefit of Union Plus disaster help program

The case of At-large co-chair James Sandefur, whose family suffered losses in the recent tornadoes, highlights the benefits available to NWU members through Union Plus, a wide-ranging program for members of the UAW and AFL-CIO.

One program offers a $500 grant to any member suffering a documented financial loss as the result of a FEMA-certified natural disaster or emergency.  That program is available only to members who have participated for 12 months or more in the Union Plus credit card, mortgage or insurance program.

For more information on the disaster relief program, go to http://www.unionplus.org/money-credit/natural-disaster-relief-fund.

Remember too that Union Plus has a free prescription drug discount card for NWU members and their family members.  Go to unionplus.org and log in as a member of the UAW, then go to health benefits and download your cards.