This article is from the Natl Writers Union FAQ, by Vicki Richman firstname.lastname@example.org with numerous contributions by others.
o Our vision
We are fighting for the right to bargain collectively and to
have labor mediators and arbitrators hear our grievances
against unethical publishers. We have launched campaigns for
sweeping changes in the working conditions at all levels of
the publishing industry.
We don't see ourselves as entrepreneurs with dainty home
offices. We see ourselves as sweaty workers running from job
to job with notebooks and laptops. We stand in solidarity
with other workers.
o Our grievance system
Our grievance officers have recovered over $1,000,000 (yes,
a million) for our members. They did that by going directly
to the publisher -- by letter, phone and personal visit --
and presenting the facts. No wrongfully injured NWU member
has to confront a publisher alone. A trained grievance
officer will represent any member who has been ripped off
or who suffers unjust discrimination.
That often (but not always) spares our members the pain
of appearing in Small Claims and other civil courts to get
the payments denied them -- or just eating the loss to avoid
court appearances and legal expenses. If a lawsuit cannot
be avoided, the grievance officer discusses legal strategy
with the writer and the writer's attorney.
Of course, before taking action, a grievance officer must be
satisfied that the publisher has violated the law, professional
ethics or standard industry practice, and has refused the
union member's request to correct the violation.
o The benefits of solidarity
Our Publication Rights Clearinghouse (PRC) is a database of
writers who have had journalism, fiction, poetry and works
in other genres published in periodicals. It identifies the
author as the copyright owner. If any person or corporation
wishes to republish a work online -- as on the World Wide
Web or in a proprietary service -- the PRC collects a fee
and delivers it to the writer as the copyright owner.
We offer our members health insurance and other benefits
that they could not get as individuals, or that would be too
costly. Faced with the challenge of finding low-cost health
care for themselves and their families, freelance writers
are sometimes forced to leave the industry. NWU tries to
answer that challenge with a group health plan for members.
We maintain confidential databases of agents and jobs for
our members. We issue press passes to eligible members.
o Our influence on the political system
Our Political Issues Committee urges Congress and state
and local legislatures:
a. to reform copyright law to protect hard-working
writers from theft and fraud, instead of merely
protecting multimillion-dollar corporations from
b. to establish freelance writers as creative
workers, not as unprotected contractors;
c. to give writers full protection of the First
d. to protect writers from prosecution or retaliation
against their work, and to so protect agencies that sell
or distribute their work;
e. to keep the Internet open to all writers and
readers without government interference in personal
or family decisions;
f. to end discrimination by age, color, creed,
ethnicity, gender, ideology, physical disability,
race or sexual orientation in publishing and in all