#EbonyOwes was a call to action, catching the attention of media patrons and observers alike following the magazine’s cover featuring Chance The Rapper. The impressions surrounding the hashtag forced the media outlet to release a self-imposed deadline to pay their freelancers by June 30. Clearly, the deadline has gone and passed without any paychecks, so the National Writers Union (NWU) announced Wednesday (July 12), that they’ll be taking EBONY Media Organization (EMO) and its parent company Clear View Group (CVG) to court.
Currently, there are 50 freelance writers who have yet to be paid a collective amount of $200,000. EBONY did make an effort by issuing $18,000 worth of checks to eleven writers, only three of which were paid in full. The union is currently representing 30 of the 50 writers who are owed approximately $60,000.
NWU President addressed the issue in a press release stating, “This is completely unacceptable. 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.”
The time has finally come to seek justice for us writers. From the National Writers Union to @EBONYMag: “See you in court!” #EbonyOwes pic.twitter.com/vlzQexR64P
— ASHLEY 🍋 (@Ashlemonade) July 12, 2017
One writer, Kimberly Hayes Taylor admits that she resents the “excellent job” she did for them after the media outlet created a great hardship for its constituents.
Taylor’s father was diagnosed with serious health concerns and the expected payments from EBONY were supposed to finance her dad’s trip to visit family before he started his treatments.
“This whole situation is already heartbreaking enough. The stress of not getting paid and having no idea when that will happen makes it even worse,” Taylor expressed.
Fellow contributor, Marissa Charles attests that she was relying on a “substantial amount of money” from the print magazine in order to pay her bills. While she’s thankful she was finally paid, she’s frustrated it took so long because “their delay set [her] back financially.”
Unfortunately, this lawsuit lends to the idea that black people don’t pay bills. What are you doing? @EBONYMag https://t.co/ClugtBGmlu
— David Davis, Jr. (@daveedalon) July 12, 2017
On this July 4th please don’t forget those who made black people work for no pay:
No im talking about @EBONYMag #ebonyowes
— michaelharriot (@michaelharriot) July 3, 2017
I want people to really READ this press release and think about the implications of @EBONYMag not paying its freelancers. #EBONYOWES https://t.co/BSyf8brPCb
— AJ (@JustAnt1914) July 12, 2017
My 90y/o grandma told me she ended her subscription. She dislikes injustices. Born in Alabama in the 20s, she knows injustices. #EbonyOwes
— Marlon A. Walker (@marlonawalker) July 7, 2017
NWU explicitly notes that EBONY is not the only enemy in this case, yet, their main goal is to shed light on a prevalent epidemic that has plagued freelance writers for quite some time.
“Non-payment is an epidemic for freelance writers. That is why we joined the campaign to establish the Freelance Isn’t Free law in NYC last year. Many publishers feel they can trust 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.”