In the accelerating turmoil of e-rights and relations between editors and publishers and their freelancers, here is an interesting take on the situation, from writer Sarah Sheard. In her blog she has written an open letter counselling Canadian writers to consider joining the U.S.-based National Writers' Union. She met with two officials of the NWU in June, soon after resigning from The Writers' Union of Canada (TWUC) and wanted to say why she is joining the NWU.One of the reasons is that, unlike some Canadian writers' organizations, it stood up strongly against the Google Book Settlement.
It is an activist union. In my view, this is what writers must have, at this time. NWU is vocal and specific about contract terms and has set high royalties for erights. They are not afraid to litigate. Their affiliation with the UAW (United Auto Workers) puts hard-line union teeth into their commitment. I contacted them to discuss how Canadian writers might participate with NWU.
Ten days ago, I met in person with Larry Goldbetter, President, and Karen Ford, 3rd Vice President, who travelled to Canada to meet with me, writer David Bolt and Linda Page, a Canadian academic writer. We discussed how Canadian writers might join forces with NWU in order to fight together for a fair share of erights and related digital issues soon to confront all writers on this continent and elsewhere.
We agreed that digital publishing cannot be contained within geographic boundaries and will have vast implications wherever/however our writing is marketed to readers. We believe that writers can best fight for their creators’ share if they stand together, pool information and network with one another — certainly within North America.
The NWU has scalable membership fees and it is open to professional and aspirational writers.
Sheard explained why she resigned from TWUC:
In March, I resigned from The Writers’ Union of Canada. I do not believe it is sufficiently committed to fighting hard and smart on behalf of its members. This is a critical time for writers quickly to get savvy to the technology reshaping our livelihoods, and to put more voice into how we make our cultural contribution.
TWUC is currently searching for a new Executive Director. A steep learning curve lies ahead for whoever takes the wheel. Here’s hoping TWUC finds someone with both the passion and the steel to advance writers’ causes effectively. Meanwhile, there is no time to lose.
I am joining NWU. Its site is a model to me of what a writers’ union ought to be. At last, I thought, reading it. A real union.
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