Landmark email campaign victory

A RADICAL new strategy for freelance action - campaigning by email - has just produced unprecedented rates increases at Business Week, one of the most prestigious titles in the world. Pressure from Editorial Photo, an e-mail discussion group launched by nine San Francisco photographers, has produced increases ranging from 14% (day rate) to 50% (cover rate). Freelances striking in the land of the free end up in court, so the nine simply announced their new prices, individually. In the resulting stand-off they campaigned on the internet and got over 500 photographers onto their list before Business Week agreed to talk.

BW offered higher rates for a local deal. The nine refused. They got what they fought for - new rates for all photographers. They are not calling this a victory, partly because they have yet to negotiate rights, partly because the new day rate is only $400 . This is no more than the archaic industry standard which EP is campaigning to change. But it's up from $350 - that's a 14% rise - and I can't think of any other word than victory to describe the new space rates. For instance, quarter page goes from $175 to $225, 29% up. Half page from $250 to $325, 30% up.Covers from $1,000 to $1,500, thats 50% up. Quarter page is now the minumum rate quoted, so a minimum of $100 goes to $225, a 125% rise !

All this has been achieved without a head office, a general secretary, or full-time organisers. What trade union or photographic association has ever got results like this? EP is taking on bad rates, rights grabs & outrageous contracts throughout newspapers & magazines. They are now choosing their next target(s). I just can't wait to see what they'd call a victory !

As we go to press, EP's next target is Time magazine. They and others are negotiating with the mag on 23 July: would all Time photographers please contact EP.

PS: All this is an inspiring example for our own e-mail organisation, which LFB is launching later this year. But if you're a photographer, why not subscribe now to EP. Go to www.editorialphoto.com.

Jul/Aug 1999
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