Friday, August 21, 2009


1. Aug. 30-Sept. 4
2009 International UAW Veteran's Conference
Walter and May Reuther UAW Family Education Center
Onaway, Mich.

2. Sept. 10-Sept. 12
2009 Region 4 Competitive Shop IPS/TOP Conference
UAW Pat Greathouse Education Center
Ottawa, Ill.
(workshops on Workplace Violence and the Dislocated Worker)
(elections of Region 4 UAW IPS Executive Board)

3. Sept. 18-Sept. 20
Region 4 Skilled Trades Conference
UAW Pat Greathouse Educational Center
Ottawa, Ill.

4. Sept. 24
Chicago Jobs With Justice rally on economic crisis
downtown Chicago

Anyone interested in attending any of these events should contact NWU Chicago chapter head Martin Zabell at 708-832-2595

Thursday, August 20, 2009


State of Illinois
Executive Department
Springfield, Illinois

Presented this 7th Day of August 2009

Whereas: The National Writers Union UAW 1981 is the only labor union that represents freelance and contract writers in all genres, formats, and media; and

Whereas, as a union for freelancers, the National Writers Union (NWU) works to improve the economic and working conditions for writers; and

Whereas, the NWU seeks to achieve this goal by educating and empowering its members and by working with writers in regards to protecting copyrights, fighting corporate media, and advocating for legislation that protects the rights of writers everywhere; and

Whereas, the National Writers Union represents approximately 1,500 members in 17 chapters across the United States; and

Whereas on August 5-9, 2009 the national delegates assembly of the National Writers Union will meet in Chicago. This marks the first time that this legislative body has met in the Midwest;

Therefore, be it resolved, by the State of Illinois, that I hereby welcome the National Writers Union national delegates assembly to the Land of Lincoln and offer my best wishes for an enjoyable and productive meeting.


Below is a press release from The Chicago Headline Club

The Illinois Freedom of Information Act has been strengthened, thanks to Gov. Pat Quinn signing revisions to FOIA Aug. 17. Thanks also go to Attorney General Lisa Madigan, who led the effort to make government in Illinois more transparent.

Taking effect Jan. 1, the law “makes state government more accountable to the people we serve,” Quinn said.

“The people of Illinois will now have a greater ability to know what their government is doing,” Madigan said.

The law, for the first time in Illinois, will prevent government officials from ignoring FOI requests. The law formalizes an Illinois public access counselor, who will be authorized to issue decisions on a case-by-case basis, finding that public bodies should or should not release information. People can go to court to seek enforcement of the counselor’s decision. Government bodies that break the law can be fined $2,500 to $5,000.

“We would have preferred bypassing the courts and allowing the counselor to issue fines, but this is a huge step in the right direction,” said Susan S. Stevens, Chicago Headline Club FOI vice president who was among numerous journalists and public interest group representatives who served on the task force Madigan created to revise FOIA.

Another benefit of the law: a reduction from seven days to five the length of time that officials have to provide information. Also in the law: fewer excuses officials have in delaying release of information.

An additional thanks to all of you who wrote Quinn to urge him to sign this legislation, Public Act 96-0542.

You can view the new law at
The law also requires the governor’s office to maintain a Web site with information on state boards and commissions and implements stricter ethics standards for members of boards and commissions. The sites are: and

“As newspapers continue to struggle economically, as public reliance on blogs and the Internet continues to grow, the burden of being a watchdog on government will increasingly fall to private citizens,” said Southtown Star columnist Phil Kadner, former CHC FOI vp who also was on the task force and had urged Madigan since she took office to work toward a stronger FOIA. “I believe this revised law, which I have advocated for nearly a decade, will give private citizens the weapons they need to do precisely that.”

Still pending: legislation to create a federal Shield Law. CHC and SPJ urge you to contact Sens. Dick Durbin and Roland Burris to urge them to stand fast for this measure.

For more on this and other developments, see

Thursday, August 13, 2009


Below is a press release issued by the national office of the National Writers Union on Thursday, Aug. 13. The press release follows a decision by NWU delegates at the Aug. 5-Aug. 9 national convention in Chicago to oppose an agreement between Google, the Authors Guild and the Association of American Publishers. This pact would settle a suit against Google for allegedly profiting illegally by scanning books and displaying parts of them.

The press release was written by Tom Gradel of the Chicago chapter of the NWU with input from a few of his colleagues, including NWU president Larry Goldbetter, the former leader of the Chicago chapter.

A few publications have written stories based on the press release. Goldbetter and Gradel have both been quoted in the stories, and I will keep you up to date on how the media covers this story over the next few years.

Martin Zabell
Chicago chapter of NWU


National Writers Union Opposes Settlement
of Class-Action Lawsuit Against Google
for Copyright Infringement

The National Writers Union today announced its opposition to the proposed $125 million settlement of a class-action copyright infringement lawsuit brought by writers and publishers against Google because its massive book-scanning project violated their copyrights.

“The proposed settlement is grossly unfair to writers,” said Larry Goldbetter, president of the National Writers Union, Local 1981 of the United Auto Workers. “It gives Google monopolistic control over access to many previously published copyrighted books and materials, and allows Google to collect and sell information about the reading habits of individuals.”

The NWU’s decision to oppose the settlement was approved by the union’s Delegates Assembly following three days of discussion last weekend in Chicago.

Though the NWU is not a party to the lawsuit, many of its 1,500 members – book authors, journalists, technical, academic and educational writers – will be directly affected by the settlement.

“More importantly, the economic well-being of all writers will be greatly impacted by precedents set by any court-approved agreement,” Goldbetter said.

“By scanning and digitally reproducing millions of copyrighted books and articles without permission by the writers, Google violated authors’ constitutionally protected rights,” Goldbetter said.

“According to our understanding of the proposed settlement, writers whose copyrights were violated might receive a check for between $60 and $300 for each book and $15 per article,” he added. “Compared to the number and seriousness of the violations, the amount being offered by Google to each writer is ridiculously low. Also, of the $125 million offered by Google, only $45 million is for writers. This seems way short of the amount needed to compensate authors of millions of books,” he said.
( more)

NWU Opposes Google Settlement.../ P 2.

The NWU also opposes the proposed settlement because it would give Google a license to reproduce a writer’s copyrighted work unless the writer specifically tells Google to remove his or her work from the program. This would apply to U.S.-based and foreign writers who might not be aware of the settlement and to those who presume – with good reason because it’s the law – that their copyright protects them without the need to take further action.

“Putting the onus on writers to contact Google is also grossly unfair,” Goldbetter said, “Google is essentially saying ‘we are going to steal your work and sell it under terms we dictate unless you tell us not to.’ A corporation, no matter how powerful, shouldn’t be able to profit from your work without first contacting you and obtaining your permission in writing.”

Finally, “the NWU opposes the settlement because it interferes or might interfere with the relationship writers have with their publishers,” Goldbetter said. “The settlement makes assumptions about electronic rights that writers may or may not have assigned to publishers and it sets up an unfair binding arbitration process to resolve disputes between writers and publishers. These disputes must be arbitrated on a case-by-case basis. The settlement does not allow for writers, who were collectively targeted, to collectively negotiate to settle these disputes.”

The NWU’s decision to oppose the settlement is especially timely. Individual writers, publishers, organizations or anyone else who wants to opt out of the settlement, object to the settlement, intervene in the case, or file a “friend of the court” brief, must file his or her objections, notices or legal briefs with the Federal District Court in New York City by the close of business on Friday, Sept. 4, 2009. A hearing on the matter is set for Oct. 7, 2009.

The National Writers Union is the nation’s only labor union and advocacy organization for freelance writers in all genres, media, and formats. In addition to print media writers, NWU represents electronic writers and editors of blogs, e-newsletters and web sites. NWU is affiliated with the United Auto Workers (UAW) and the AFL-CIO. NWU’s headquarters are at 113 University Place, 6th floor, New York, NY 10003.