Membership - well worth it
IN THESE hard times, some skint freelances may be reviewing whether they can afford their NUJ subscription, set to rise by approximately 15p a week following a resolution passed at the recent NUJ ADM (annual conference). But two LFB members at a recent Branch meeting got up and gave spontaneous testimonials to the value of their Union membership.
Award-winning education journalist Francis Beckett said:
I was hired by a publishing company to produce a magazine, for £5000 an issue. Having done the first issue, they asked me to do the second; and I was a couple of days into the work when they changed their minds. I asked how much they proposed to pay, and they said: nothing. They wouldn't discuss it. They did this because they thought they could. It was stupid, I'd have settled for £1000. As it was, (NUJ Freelance Organiser) John Toner and (NUJ lawyers) Thompsons screwed the full £5000 contract price out of them. If I hadn't had the NUJ to help me, they could have bullied me and got away with it. That £5000 pays a good few years of my NUJ subs.
Francis added that:
I've needed it (my NUJ membership) three times as a freelance, and each of those times the union has got me money which I was owed, but which I couldn't have got for myself. The £5000 is by far the largest of the three - the other two were about £300 each. It's the very last thing you cut - lose the NUJ and you're aty the mercy of every rich shit in publishing, and there are lots of them.
Sub-editor Martin Cloake said:
ADM's vote to raise subscriptions by up to 15p a week is bound to attract some criticism. All price rises do. But as price rises go, this is a pretty small one, especially if you consider what's on offer. I'd still argue an NUJ membership represents better value than any other subscription I pay.
Martin went on:
I've been a member for 21 years, and in that time the help and assistance I have had have more than covered my cost of membership. Made redundant from my first full-time job when the paper I was working on shut, I received a payment of six months of my annual salary thanks to the minimum agreement negotiated by the strong chapel at Thomson Publishing. Even 20 years ago on a junior's salary, that was a pretty decent payout - one which would more than cover my NUJ membership with change to spare were I to stay in the union for another 20 years.
Martin also drew attention to the Union's NUJ Training's courses, which are "available to members at rates far below most other commercially-available courses. When I look at my other monthly bills - mobile phone, buildings and contents insurance, car insurance, council tax, mortgage - my NUJ subs look even better value. Especially when, unlike the NUJ, those organisations offer me little or no chance to participate and shape their policies."