She says, in part:
In honour of Dr Hendrix, I am declaring Monday 23rd April International Pixel-Stained Technopeasant Day. On this day, everyone who wants to should give away professional quality work online. It doesn't matter if it's a novel, a story or a poem, it doesn't matter if it's already been published or if it hasn't, the point is it should be disseminated online to celebrate our technopeasanthood.
Whatever you're posting should go on your own site. I'll make a post here on the day and people can post links in comments to whatever they're putting up on. If you are a member of SFWA, or SFWA qualified but not a member (like me) you get extra pixel-spattered points for doing this. If other people want to collect the links too, that would be really cool. Please disseminate this information widely.
Yeah, yeah, I've been staying out of the SFWA thing because I frankly don't care [/Tommy Lee Jones]. I'm not a member anymore, and I don't expect to be ever again.
But it's hard to let this pass:
I'm also opposed to the increasing presence in our organization of webscabs, who post their creations on the net for free. A scab is someone who works for less than union wages or on non-union terms; more broadly, a scab is someone who feathers his own nest and advances his own career by undercutting the efforts of his fellow workers to gain better pay and working conditions for all. Webscabs claim they're just posting their books for free in an attempt to market and publicize them, but to my mind they're undercutting those of us who aren't giving it away for free and are trying to get publishers to pay a better wage for our hard work.
--Howard V. Hendrix, SFWA's current Veep, as reprinted by Will Shetterly.
nihilistic_kid, with whom I often disagree, nevertheless knows a lot about labor unions and comments here on the fallacious definition of scab.
scalzi responds at length here.
As the granddaughter of a union plumber, raised in a staunchly pro-union household, and--apparently--a webscab, I have this to say: if SFWA were an effective labor union, in touch with the realities of publishing in the 21st century and interested in serving the professional needs of its members, I would rejoin in an instant.
And this purblind sentiment is an example of why, and how it got that way.
Unofficial writer's organizations (Critters, the OWW, Forward Motion, the Rumor Mill) do a far better job of serving my needs as an independent artist than SFWA does. If I were working in Hollywood, I'd join the Writer's Guild. I still pay dues to the Author's Guild, which is at least marginally more effectual than SFWA, and I'm far enough on the outside that I don't notice whatever mindless infighting there might be.
But it's not just selfish laziness that keeps me from joining any attempt to reform SFWA. In other reasons:
1) it's not my job--I have no investment in the organization, and the organization is set up to insure that I never develop one, and when I did, some time ago, attempt to answer honestly a question regarding why younger SFF writers weren't joining, I got alternately tarred-and-feathered and told that if I wanted the organization different, it was my job to change it, which kind of defeated the point of the original question.... which soured me on the whole thing somewhat. (Don't ask if you don't want to know.)
2) I actually suspect there is no salvaging SFWA, but I'm pleased that there are people who want to try, and I'm not about to get in their way. I will cheer from the sidelines and bring lemonade and gatorade and soda pop, how's that?
3) I think it would be easier, frankly, to form a new trade organization (one that's interested in actually defending authors' rights, not arguing over codes of conduct, having flamewars, holding award ceremonies, practicing bizarre policies of secrecy, and panicking about e-piracy) and start from scratch.
No, I'm not willing to organize one. I'm not an organizationally talented person, and I'm not a politician, and I'm certainly not a leader, and I'm not much of a joiner either.
I know my limits.
(Although that would be a great indicator of a trade union I might want to join right there: No awards. Ever. Except service awards.)
So, Howard, no worries about rotting the organization from within, at least from my direction. I'll do my rotting from without, like a proper scab.
I'm leaving comments on this entry open, but I won't be responding to them. I have to clean my house and do laundry and watch Doctor Who today. So, you know, knock yourselves out.
In the meantime, there are some links to some of my free online fiction in my CV, here.
(eta: suricattus points out rightly in comments that it's not a union, and never was one. Fair enough, and my mistake in adopting HVH's metaphor without clarifying. It's also not an effective trade organization, although I hear tell it was one, once.)