I'm a proud member of the National Writers Union, UAW Local 1981 and today I'm asking you to join, too. We represent both fiction and nonfiction writers. But, you may say, I became a writer/poet/screenplay writer/ magazine freelancer to be a creatively independent professional. Why should I join a union?
Put aside your stereotypes for a minute and I'll tell you why. This isn't about politics- it's about protecting your work and your income as a writer no matter which end of the political spectrum you embrace.
It's a fact. In this day and age, writers need representation. I know from first-hand experience. When I needed help, the National Writers Union was there for me. But do you need to join this union? I think you should because of the benefits. This quote from the NWU Home Page makes the case:
"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."
Corporations are taking over the publishing industry like never before. The National Writers Union has stood up to the likes of the New York Times. They raised the warning flag about Google moving in on our copyrights. Believe me, they can stand with you for fair treatment from your publisher, no matter how big or small that publisher or media giant is.
And writers suffer financially as much and sometimes more than the rest of the workforce during these difficult times. Many of us don't have health insurance, dental and/or vision insurance. We can't always afford lawyers. We don't know where to go for contract advice. When our work is being threatened by plagiarists, copyright infringment or publishers that don't respect our electronic rights, most writers stand alone. When we're not paid on time or at all by publishers, what can we do? What do we do?
Most writers can't afford to stand up to an Indie Press publisher when they're not paid on time or at all, much less stand up to a large publishing house. In fact, most freelance writers can't even get a press pass.
Regular readers of this blog know that I was plagiarized a while back, and after it sunk in that someone had stolen from me,do you know who I turned to for both advice and moral support? It was to you, my fellow bloggers, and the National Writers Union, UAW Local 1981. So I thought I should bring the two of you together. Why might my fellow bloggers/ writers be interested in the NWU? Because the internet is still full of scam publishers and plagiarists and because the NWU is still the only labor union that represents writers.
My father was a Union President at the Post Office. He also owned his own business, repairing appliances at night. He believed in the right to being an independent, and he also believed in collective representation. The two are not mutually contradictory. As writers, most of us work independently at our writing business, but, like my father, I believe we still have the right to benefit from professional collective representation.
Stay with me for the next two posts and I'll tell you why being a Union member doesn't take the romance out of writing for me, it puts the excitement back in it!