Over the past weekend I attended the Delegates Assembly of the National Writers Union/UAW Local 1981. (I’m Secretary of the Philadelphia chapter.) I was joined by Irving Jones, Chair of the Philadelphia chapter.
Tim Sheard, a member of the New York branch, handed out copies of the catalogue of his independent press, hardball Press, which publishes Labor-oriented histories, fiction, and children’s books. Another member presented a resolution supporting an” International Tribunal on US Colonial Crimes in Puerto Rico,” condemning the fiscal crisis imposed upon the island and the administration’s willful ineptitude in recovery from Hurricanes Irma and Maria.
Guest speakers included Lice Soskloine, from the group WAGE (Working Artists and the Creative Economy), which fights for appropriate wages for visual and dance artists. (http://wageforwork.com/home) Soskloine spoke of the “Womanifesto” that outlines the mission of WAGE, and the need to remunerate the artists for their work; she also spoke of the certification program for art institutions that pay artists fairly for their work.
Another speaker, Matt Taylor, spoke of the work of organizing writers for online news cites focusing on Vice Media. Taylor spoke of how receptive young workers are now to union organizing, and of how many of these sites, such as Slate, Salon, The Onion, Talking Points Memo, and MTV News project an image of progressive politics. Other speakers were Julia Salazar, who is running a progressive campaign for the New York State Senate (compatible to Alexandra Ocasio-Cortez’ campaign for the US House of Representatives) and Cedric O’Bannon, an African-American journalist who was arrested while video-taping a Neo-Nazi rally in Sacramento.
On Saturday evening, several of us delegates went to East Harlem, where we visited a museum dedicated to graffiti art-and yes, graffiti is now an art form-and the proprietor of the museum, James Top, spoke to us about the evolution of graffiti. Top showed samples of the current exhibit, “Ladies First,” honoring the work of female graffiti artists in a still-predominantly male field. We then moved to the El Paso Mexican restaurant, and after a nice Mexican dinner we listened to an address by Ginger Adams Otis, a writer for the New York Daily News.