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Natl Writers Union FAQ, Part 1/4: Introduction and History

( Part1 - Part2 - Part3 - Part4 )
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Archive-name: organizations/union/natl-writers/part1
Posting-frequency: monthly
Last-modified: 2004 Oct 31
Version: 7.1.9 7.1.9vr-usenet

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		   National Writers Union
	  Usenet newsgroup: alt.union.natl-writers

Maintained by: (Vicki Richman)
NWU staff:

                         PART ONE

Quick Hints: This FAQ is divided into four parts. You are
             reading Part One. The complete contents are
             in only this part. Every other part has only
             its own contents.

             The Charter to alt.union.natl-writers is in
             Part Four. Go to Part Four first for guidelines
             on posting and advice from Emily Postliterate.
             Please read the Charter before you post.

             For an NWU membership application, go to
    or read Part Three.

             Note the Last-Modified date above. If this
             version is more than 45 days old, it is
             obsolete and should be discarded.

		 NWU-FAQ v. 7.1.9 7.1.9vr-usenet
	       Copyright 2000 Vicki Richman.
		    All rights reserved.

**                                                              **
**  Permission is  hereby  granted  to copy,  reprint and dis-  **
**  tribute this document  without payment or recompense,  for  **
**  noncommercial purposes only.  But permission is so granted  **
**  only for copying the entire text, without  changes,  dele-  **
**  tions, editing or cutting.  Permission must be sought  and  **
**  received for  any commercial use  of this text.  Any  copy  **
**  must retain the copyright line and this permission notice.  **
**                                                              **

                         PART ONE

Section 0:  Introduction and Disclaimers

0.0  What are the contents of this FAQ?

o  Section 0:  Introduction and Disclaimers

    0.0.  What are the contents of this FAQ?

    0.0.1.  How does this version differ from previous versions?

    0.1.  Who maintains this FAQ?

    0.1.1.  Who died and made Vicki Richman the boss of the NWU

    0.2.  How did this FAQ get on

o  Section 1:  History

    1.0.  What is NWU?
    1.1.  If you're a UAW local, why don't you call yourselves the
          Local Writers Union?
    1.1.1.  Exactly when was the NWU founded?

    1.2.  How can the NWU both have locals and be a local?

                         PART TWO
o  Section 2:  Freelance Writing and the Labor Movement

    2.0.  What have automobiles to do with writing?
    2.1.  I thought it was illegal for freelance writers to have
          a union.
    2.1.1.  What's union scale for 5000 muckraking words exposing
            the corrupt FAQ-maintaining industry?

    2.1.2.  My publisher says my theater reviews serve the gay
            community, so I should be proud to work for zilch.

    2.2.  That's great, but what makes you a union?
    2.2.1.  "Sweeping changes" in "the publishing industry"? You
            mean "industries," right?

    2.2.2.  I got an offer to ghostwrite academic theses. Does
            that make me a kind of dope dealer to the fuzz? 

    2.2.3.  Do "the benefits of solidarity" mean you offer
            group health insurance?

    2.2.4.  So what you're saying is you're a union because you
            rig your elections and claim to be a democracy.

    2.3.  Get real. If you're contractors, you need a professional
          association, not a labor union.

    2.4.  Okay, you're a real union. So real that a publisher would
          have to be crazy to use my work if I joined the NWU.

    2.5.  But a real *freelance* union. So how come your president
          gets a full-time salary?

                         PART THREE
o  Section 3:  Electronic Writing

    3.0.  What are you doing online?

    3.1.  I've HTML-ized my work for my Web site, but my publisher
          claims all rights to it and won't let me post it.

    3.2.  What are electronic rights?

    3.3.  I write code. Why should I join a union that puts me in
          the same campaign as an advertising copywriter?

o  Section 4:  Membership
    4.0.  So, how can I join?

                         PART FOUR

o  Section 5:  NWU Groups on the Net

    5.0.  What are the online NWU groups?

    5.0.1.  What is alt.union.natl-writers?

    5.0.2.  Vicki again! Don't tell me that any rank-and-filer
            may run a BBS forum in the name of the NWU.

    5.1.  What is the charter of alt.union.natl-writers?

0.0.1. How does this version differ from previous versions?

After challengers to the 2001 election for NWU president and
other officers charged improper use of union funds and
resources to support the slate headed by incumbent Jonathan
Tasini, who was re-elected, the Oversight Committee has
vacated the results of all contested elections and ordered
new ballots within 90 days. The Tasini team has vowed a
vigorous appeal, to the courts if necessary.

The 2001 Delegates Assembly voted to pay the elected
president a "part-time salary" of about $25,000 per year,
and to hire a full-time executive director, who reports to
the president and the National Executive Board, at about
$60,000 per year. Hence Question 2.5 is changed.

The text of the passed amendment to the By-Laws:

The number of NWU members is now about 7200.

In a lawsuit financed and primarily supported by the
National Writers Union, President Jonathan Tasini and six
other writers prevailed before the U.S. Supreme Court in
gaining copyright protection for freelance articles archived
in profit-seeking databases. The answer to Question 2.4, on
putative blacklisting of NWU members, has been changed to
note the decision.

The number of locals is now nineteen, with the addition of
San Diego and Tucson, formerly At-Large sublocals.
Westchester(NY)/Fairfield(CT) has elected to remain separate
from the New York City local, while the Miami Area
Organizing Committee is no longer cited as a local. See the
updated Question 4.0 for the latest list of locals.

The NWU membership application is now excluded from the
FAQ. The citation of fees and request for financial data was
inconsistent with Usenet netiquette. Question 4.0 cites only
the professional data requested by the application and
advises readers how to get the application.

0.1. Who maintains this FAQ?

The version you are now reading is by Vicki Richman
<>. Other versions may have other
maintainers. In maintaining this FAQ, Vicki does not speak
for the union leadership and is independent of it. Vicki is
only a rank-and-file union member.

0.1.1. Who died and made Vicki Richman the boss of the NWU

o  Vicki's answer:

    The First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, bozo -- read
    it and weep!

o  The disclamatory answer:

    FAQ-writing -- or *maintaining*, as it's called -- has
    become a literary genre. A genre has conventions, which
    invoke one of two fates when violated:
    a. The envelope is pushed, and the genre is never again the
    same; or
    b. The document and its author are discredited or ignored.
    One of the FAQ conventions is that no FAQ should deny the
    authenticity of any other FAQ on the same subject. Anyone may
    write a FAQ; only the audience chooses among them. (The
    audience of course includes the MIT moderators of the Usenet
    newsgroup news.answers -- see Question 0.2.) 
    Accordingly, every FAQ should have a disclaimer -- like the
    answers to Questions 0.1.x, which you are now reading --
    acknowledging at least the possibility of another FAQ,
    inviting contributions, corrections and addenda from diverse
    sources, and identifying a person or a small group of
    collaborators as solely and independently responsible for
    the content.
    Another convention is that no FAQ is carved in stone.
    FAQs necessarily shatter the stone into electrons, which
    continually flutter, float, flit about and displace each
    If the National Writers Union wrote its own FAQ, or
    empowered an official FAQ-maintainer, its FAQ would be more
    permanent, more authentic, than any other FAQ on the union.
    It would be constitutional, biblical in nature, changeable
    only clumsily -- by committee perhaps -- antithetical to the
    FAQ genre. Such a FAQ would be like a candidate's press
    release or a TV commercial that pretends to interview a
    person on the street. Neither is journalism -- either is a
    parody of journalism for political advantage or corporate
    An official NWU FAQ would either push the envelope of
    FAQ-maintaining to include public relations, advertising and
    self-promotion, or be scoffed at by the FAQ congnescenti,
    who would make it an object of Net ridicule.
    In its present form, a FAQ is a cross between a dry, objective
    technical manual and an intense confession of the author's 
    most secret vanities, fears and, of course, obsessions. It
    reveals not so much about its subject as about its author's 
    personal relationship to its subject.

0.2. How did this FAQ get on

Almost all FAQs are regularly posted to Usenet newsgroups,
and many seek to be voices for their groups. This FAQ is
connected to the newsgroup alt.union.natl-writers. Some faculty
and students at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology have
taken it upon themselves to archive Usenet FAQs as:*

with the asterisk representing the archive name at the top
of the FAQ. In fact, by popular consensus, acceptance for
such archiving has come to be a minimum standard of FAQ

Any other site may seek to accomplish the same end. Several
sites mirror some or all of the MIT site.

To be archived at MIT, the FAQ must satisfy many technical
niceties. Most of the check is by digital code, with minimal
human intervention.

The maintainer of a FAQ that passes the digital and human
screening typically posts it to news.answers and to the
various *.answers groups that are in the same hierarchies as
the newsgroups in which the FAQ appears.

Section 1:  History

1.0. What is NWU?

The National Writers Union is the labor union for freelance
writers. It is Local 1981 of the United Automobile Workers
(UAW), a member of the American Federation of Labor and the
Congress of Industrial Organizations (AFL/CIO).

1.1. If you're a UAW local, why don't you call yourselves the
     Local Writers Union?

Beginning in 1979, _Nation_ magazine hosted national writers
conferences at different U.S. cities. Hoping to found a
writers' union, the participants at two of the conferences
-- in New York, sometimes called "the publishing capital of
the world," and in San Francisco -- set up organizing
committees in Boston, New York, San Francisco, Washington
D.C. and several other major U.S. centers.

In 1981, those committees sent delegates to the convention
that founded the NWU. Each committee with a delegate became
an NWU local. Later, writers in other geographical areas
organized their own locals. Writers remote from their
colleagues organized the At-Large Local, which is the only
NWU local that seeks to grow smaller. When At-Large members
find that their neighbors are also NWU members, they form
their own geographical local, with blessings and assistance
from the At-Large officers.

We now have nineteen locals. The number grows faster than we
can write FAQs.

Our members now number about 7200. They live in every part
of the U.S. and in 35 other countries. The international
members are either emigrated Americans or writers who have
contracts with U.S. publishers.

Therefore we are truly the *National* Writers Union.

1.1.1. Exactly when was the NWU founded?

We celebrate our anniversary on November 19. The year, of
course, is our UAW local number: 1981.

1.2. How can the NWU both have locals and be a local? 

The NWU locals elect Delegates to convene at the annual NWU
Assembly. The 1989 Delegates Assembly voted to affiliate
with the United Automobile Workers after considering offers
from two other historic U.S. unions. We did that to gain the
labor-union benefits that the UAW fought hard to achieve for
most of the 20th century; the UAW took us to gain strength
through solidarity.

The UAW is a federation of locals, so we had to become a UAW
local, even though we're a national union. Taking the year
of our founding, we became UAW Local 1981. So the rest of
the world sees us as a single local. But, what's in a word
(besides the writer's tool of the trade)?

Internally, we have maintained our federal structure:
national officers and staff, with bicoastal offices; and at
least nineteen independent locals (okay, call them "units"
or "sublocals"), each with its own officers and staff.

--------END PART 1/4--------CONTINUED IN PART 2--------

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