The Benefit for Freelancers of Joining a Union

There was no post in February.  I’ve been away dealing with family illness.  I’m back, but part of my mind and energy was left in Michigan.  It will take some time to recapture them.  In the meantime, I thought I’d put in a plug for the National Writers Union, UAW Local 1981.

Freelancers, by definition, are at a disadvantage when bargaining concerning pay for their work, especially when dealing with large corporate concerns, whether book publishers, newspapers, or magazines, etc.  No-one should work for nothing–not even interns.  And categorizing people as “independent contractors” is a way both to get rid of the responsibility to provide benefits and to get rid of collective bargaining–the same old struggle.  Organizing “independent contractors”–especially freelance writers who may live and work anywhere–is a more difficult task, I think, than doing so in an industry where the employees work together in the same location.  But the adage is just as true amongst freelancers as amongst any other workers:  there is strength in numbers and in unity.

What does the National Writers Union (NWU) offer to freelancers?

NWU has already proved its worth in fighting for freelancers’ rights in Tasini vs. the New York Times, as well as in mass grievances brought against Inkwell Publishing, Heart and Soul and Natural Solutions magazines that refused to pay their writers, though using their work.

NWU’s contract and grievance section provides advice about agent and book contracts; and about contracts with magazines and newspapers (a starting point, at a minimum, for what terms are okay and what to avoid; what rights to NOT give away; copyright; and what you may bargain over and how).

In coordination with other authors’ organizations, NWU is working to defend copyright and combat Google’s copyright infringements.

NWU is contacting online writers and bloggers about what they do and who they do it for as part of an effort to establish a livable pay scale for those who write for for-profit online publishers like the Huffington Post, etc.

NWU has local chapters that offer seminars, webinars, workshops and writer networking.

NWU’s political action committee is working for a federal shield law for freelancers, the Freelance Payer Protection Act, and a Copyright Small Claims Court.

The yearly dues are fairly reasonable and, based on self-reporting of writing income, are staggered according to the amounts one earns from writing per year.

To learn more, see






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