Writers skeptical of UNEQ union dues

Des é writers skeptical of UNEQ’s union dues

The Union of Quebec Writers and Writers will require in the imminent future union dues of 2.5% for members and 5% for non-members on their copyrights.

On social networks, authors are skeptical of the decision of the Union of Quebec Writers and Writers (UNEQ) to demand union dues of 2.5% for members and 5% for non-members in the imminent future. on their copyrights, decision reported by Le Devoir.

The one who published her novel The Queen of Nothing last October, Geneviève Pettersen, mentions in particular in a publication the meager incomes that writers in Quebec receive, “ who are at the bottom of the book food chain.

With the adoption of the new law on the status of the artist (which defines artists as independent contractors) in June 2022, the UNEQ “can now negotiate collective agreements on behalf of writers”, indicates the union in a press release on its website. 

Its new strategic plan for 2023-2027 “should make it possible to overcome the potential obstacles that will stand in its way”, can we read. 

“TheLawdoes not require publishers to be members of a professional association, and many do not. We will therefore have to multiply the opinions of negotiations in order to hope to reach all the publishing houses in the medium term”, declared in the press release the director general of the UNEQ, Laurent Dubois, for whom “it is essential that the authors can finally be protected by collective agreements negotiated in good faith and in a spirit of dialogue and social progress”. 

This protection will apply equally to all writers, translators and illustrators, regardless of the literary genre (novel, cookbook, poetry, essay, etc.), whether the work is self-published or not. 


If this decision took people by surprise, it is in particular because of “the haste with which, in this case, things were done: the information did not have time to circulate, the discussions are held in a hurry on social networks, and all this gives many a feeling of unpleasant surprise”, writes the author, literary critic and professor of literature David Dorais in an email sent to Métro. 

Furthermore, the fact that the minutes of the general assembly that led to the dues resolution “are hard to find” contributes to the grumbling, says Subway a source in the literary community, corroborating a question raised in Geneviève Pettersen's publication.  

According to this same source, the UNEQ would have difficulty mobilizing its union members, who are not very present at general meetings, while negotiations began at the beginning of the month with the National Association book publishers and Sogides, the Book group of Quebecor Media.  

On social networks, some writers consider these percentages reasonable, others do not, especially since that required of non-members — who constitute the majority — is double that required of members. 

Common union practice 

“It's a complex question, but I would say that I see this decision of the 'UNEQ', believes for his part David Dorais.  

It is a democratic decision, because it aims to ensure uniform and respectful conditions for writers. The principle behind this is that all workers benefit from the action of a union. The idea of ​​making mandatory union dues is not new. In labor law, this is the principle of the Rand formula, which has been in place since the 1940s.

David Dorais, author, literary critic and professor of literature

UNEQ has in fact determined its dues based on the models of the Union of Artists (2.5% of income), the Society of Radio, Television and Cinema Authors (2.5% for members and 5% for non-members) and the Guild of Musicians of Quebec (between 3% and 4%), details Le Devoir

Therefore, “the choice between two percentages […] allows everyone to modulate their contribution according to their level of income”, concludes the author of the story Before death

Until now , the writers negotiated their conditions with the publishing houses, the UNEQ issuing recommendations with a view to directing the contracts.  

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