AFL-CIO President Liz Shuler delivered the following remarks as prepared to the National Writers Union Delegate Assembly:
Hello, National Writers Union!
I’m Liz Shuler, president of the AFL-CIO. I’m honored to be with you, even if it is by video.
Thank you to Larry, the NWU Executive Board and delegates for an incredible job leading this dynamic union forward.
On behalf of our 57 unions and 12.5 million people working in every sector of our economy, we are so excited to have the NWU in our AFL-CIO family as a directly affiliated local union.
Our job is to make sure you have the resources and solidarity you need to support your members, and connect your fights to the broader struggles working people are facing—because we are stronger together!
The National Writers Union has provided a voice and power to writers for nearly 40 years.
You educate freelance writers, journalists and creative professionals on fair contracts.
You provide access to healthcare and benefits.
And you make sure copyright and intellectual property rights for your members aren’t abused.
The publishing industry is one of the toughest industries to break into.
Freelance work often is an entry point for people pursuing a career in journalism. And it can be mystifying.
Making pitches. Dealing with rejection. Winning a contract and then figuring out if it’s good or bad. Knowing the value of your work.
All while navigating the ways technology continues to change the publishing landscape.
You help writers and journalists navigate a difficult and demanding career path.
If I had known about NWU after I graduated with a bachelor’s degree in journalism all those years ago, my career might have taken a different shape.
Instead, I got involved in an organizing campaign to help clerical workers get the wages and benefits they deserved.
And it has been my passion ever since. It’s why I get up every morning. To make sure working people get a fair deal. To fight corruption and misinformation. To help turn bad jobs into good jobs.
There was a lot of misinformation about the PRO Act when it was introduced in Congress, especially around freelancing.
Corporate interests led that misinformation campaign. It was intentional. They tried to muddy the waters. They tried to divide us.
But you didn’t let them get away with it. You built a broad coalition with other unions, community organizations and worker groups. And you set the record straight.
You communicated how the PRO Act would not prevent freelance journalists or creative professionals from doing freelance work.
You put the spotlight on how the PRO Act will protect freelancers’ rights to organize and collectively bargain.
How it will help you set and raise industry standards. Fair contracts. And consistent and equitable rates.
And how it will empower segments of workers previously shut out from having a collective voice the opportunity to have one.
That includes on-demand platform gig workers. Independent contractors. Freelancers.
All workers should be able to organize without intimidation or fear of getting fired.
Everyone should have access to the life-changing power of a good, union job.
We’re going to pass the infrastructure and build back better jobs bills in Congress to unleash massive investment in working people and build our country’s future.
We’re going to keep pushing to update labor laws for this century. And with your help we will. We’re going to pass the PRO Act and the Public Service Freedom to Negotiate Act.
We’re building a bold, dynamic and inclusive movement to meet this moment. A movement that dreams big and takes risks and isn’t afraid to fail.
We’re going to keep pace with changes in the economy and changes in our workplaces, especially as new technology is evolving and shaping our work.
Let’s show the nation why the labor movement is the single most powerful force for progress in this country.
Congratulations. Keep going. Keep up the great work. Our time is now.