[biztech-discussion] A proposal

  • From: Bruce Hartford <bruceh@xxxxxxxxxxxxx>
  • To: biztech-discussion@xxxxxxxxxxxxx
  • Date: Mon, 17 May 2004 10:21:06 -0700

While I certainly agree with Tom regarding the self-evident justice 
and legitimacy of the moral and community issues and arguments he puts 
forward, the sad fact is that they are the same issues and arguments 
that labor has been using for years to no effect. They have failed to 
move politicians, they have failed to garner widespread public 
support, and they have even failed amongst the directly affected 
constituencies (as witnessed by the quotes from freelance techwriters 
I appended to my previous posting). Someday in the future when the NWU 
and labor in general is stronger, and the political climate is better, 
we might be able to win on those issues, but that time is not now.

Sometimes it is good and healthy for a union to fight the good fight 
for a morally correct but impossible-to-win-at-this-time position. But 
for the past many years the NWU has focused its efforts ONLY on trying 
to win the un-winnable. Yes, freelance creators deserve collective 
bargaining rights, but we are not strong enough to achieve that at the 
present time and it was disingenuous to tell our members otherwise. 
Yes, AOL-Time Warner's All Rights contracts are an abomination, but 
given the actual realities that campaign used scarce resources to tilt 
at an un-winnable windmill. To rebuild the NWU we now have to take on 
campaigns in which we have at least a tiny prayer of achieving some 
actual concrete success.

As you know, I believe that attacking offshoring from the national 
security perspective provides the highest chance of success. But, -- 
facing reality, -- it is clear to me that as Mike so succinctly stated 
that approach "creeps people out." Okay, I accept that. So let's focus 
on one or two concrete issues that NWU activists will support and that 
have some (slight) chance of achieving some success in chipping away 
at the "globalization/offshoring-is-good-for-everyone" ideologic tidal 

Let me propose that we focus on two of the issues that Al outlined in 
his memo of 4/25:

1. Government subsidies and tax credits that reward the offshoring of 

2. Personal data privacy. Making it illegal to offshore personal 
medical and financial data.

This year's election gives us an excellent opportunity to raise these 
issues in an effective way. So I suggest we do something like the 

May & June. Research the hell out of the selected issues. Assemble the 
facts, figures, background, etc. At the end of June publish both a 
succinct summary of each issue, and an in depth "white paper" (both 
website and hard-copy). The white paper to provide activists with the 
info they need, the summary for wide public distribution. Also 
research if there is any existing legislative proposals we want to 
support, and if not, draft some proposed legislative language of our 
own (as we did in the successful freelance-writer tax fight here in 
California a few years ago).

July-August. Circulate petitions among our members, writers, and the 
high-tech communities in support of the issues in general and specific 
concrete legislative remedies. Use this as an organizing-recruiting 
opportunity. Obtain support from, and work with, other organizations 
and unions. Focus on key states and those Congressional Districts 
where we have significant membership numbers. 

September-Early October. Have local NWU members meet with and 
personally present the petitions to Congressional and Senatorial 
candidates. Have national NWU leadership meet with the Kerry campaign 
(and other campaigns if appropriate). Ask for specific commitments to 
support existing legislation (if any) or our draft legislation. Tell 
all the candidates we will be publishing to our constituencies their 
stand on these two specific issues. The goal is to obtain commitments 
to sponsor our legislation. 

Late October. Publish to our members and our broader constituencies 
the results of our meetings with candidates. Use the web and email 
bursts ("forward this to all your..."). 

Post November. Begin systematic lobbying by local NWU members to push 
legislative remedies to our two issues. 


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