Freelancers get a union/agency – but will it work?

The Canadian Writers Group launched today. It’s essentially an agency that represents freelance writers in their negotiations with publishers (and taking a cut of their income). Or it’s a union which hopes to raise freelance rates by uniting writers behind a common front. Or both, depending on your perspective.

The Toronto Star explains a bit about the group.

The key to the CWG’s success is whether or not it can get to critical mass and keep members in line. With only 50 members so far, it wouldn’t be difficult for publishers to simply blacklist the group and deal with writers willing to accept less. On the other hand, if the group can get enough quality freelancers to sign up, publishers might decide it’s easier to deal with one group than dozens of individuals, even if it means spending more money. And other writers would notice they have a better chance with the group than without it.

But even if the CWG does reach that critical mass, it has to ensure its members don’t start taking deals “under the table”, either by convincing publications to deal exclusively with it or by punishing members who work outside the agency.

Its a tough road ahead, but if it helps freelance writers get better pay and better contract rights, it’s worth the fight.

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