It’s been a couple of months since #EbonyOwes became a trending hashtag after several freelancers complained about not getting paid, and now the National Writers Union is preparing to take Ebony magazine to court.
Ebony, which is owned by Clear View Group, did not meet its own deadline to pay as much as $200,000 that’s owed to about 50 freelancers. CVG said that it would pay the writers by the end of June, but it’s now July 12.
“This is completely unacceptable,” NWU President Larry Goldbetter said about the missed deadline in a press release. “We took them at their word, in good faith, despite some freelancers going more than a year without payment. Now we move on to the next step.
“Creatives don’t work for free, and there are very real consequences when we don’t get paid. While Ebony Media executives from CVG were throwing lavish Super Bowl parties and Hollywood events, unpaid freelancers were struggling to pay the rent,” he continued.
One writer, Kimberly Hayes Taylor, who is a caregiver for an ill parent, spoke about how missing payments have affected her family.
“This whole situation is already heartbreaking enough,” she said. “The stress of not getting paid and having no idea when that will happen makes it even worse. Ebony magazine has created a great hardship for us, and I resent it after the excellent job I’ve done for them.”
Goldbetter said that nonpayment just isn’t an Ebony issue but a rampant issue across the board.
“Ebony is not the only offender,” he said. “Nonpayment is an epidemic for freelance writers. That is why we joined the campaign to establish the Freelance Isn’t Free law in [New York City] last year. Many publishers feel they can treat individual freelancers any way they want. What’s different here is that Ebony freelancers are standing together, as a union, and they are drawing a lot of attention in the industry. We’re hearing from writers at other publications as well.”
They definitely aren’t hearing from writers from The Root.