US: Freelancers secure second major deal securing rights and benefits in digital media

The National Writers Union (NWU) has joined forces with the subscription-based online publication Defector to agree a set of shared principles for their freelance workers. The IFJ welcomes the agreement which will ensure guaranteed standards and enhanced rights for the company's freelance workforce.

'Defector' is the second website that creates a list of shared principles for freelance workers alongside NWU. Credit: Detector

The principles, developed as part of the NWU's Freelance Solidarity project, will deliver guaranteed base pay rates, transparent conditions and the right of freelances to be represented by the NWU under a new grievance procedure.

These principles, which were announced on 14 December, cover any media worker providing information services to Defector, among writers, researchers, transcribers, photographers, artists, video producers, and/or audio producers.  

In addition to base pay guarantees, freelances will benefit from a graduated fee schedule, reporting costs & incidental expenses, protection of intellectual property, a pitching, assigning, editing and publishing process, and safety and legal protections.

Agreed standard base rates that all freelance digital media workers can negotiate above if desired are as follows: 

  • Longer essays and reported pieces will be paid a minimum of $1,000

  • Shorter pieces will be paid a minimum of $500

  • For audio and podcast work, producers/editors will be paid a minimum day rate of $400 

  • Standard rates and other conditions for photographers, video producers & engineers, illustrators, and other media workers will be posted as Defector determines its needs for such freelance services, in collaboration with the National Writers Union. 

All the principles will be in place until December 2021, when a representative of NWU, Defector’s editorial collective and a group of freelancers will re-evaluate these conditions and draft a new joint announcement. 

As part of the freelance solidarity project, NWU has collaborated with other media platforms in order to secure better conditions for freelance workers. One of the latest examples took place on 2 December, when they joined forces with online publication ‘The Intercept’ to agree shared principles for their freelance digital media workers.

IFJ General Secretary, Anthony Bellanger, said: “We congratulate the NWU and the Freelance Solidarity project for the successful efforts to regulate freelancers’ work and minimum rates and working conditions. We believe this agreement between the NWU and Detector is a great news for all freelancers contributing to the media and should inspire further agreements between other digital media and unions”.

For more information, please contact IFJ on +32 2 235 22 16

The IFJ represents more than 600,000 journalists in 146 countries

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