More than a year after the National Writers Union and representatives of Heart & Soul magazine agreed that a dozen freelance writers and editors would collect more than $125,000 in unpaid fees, the health and wellness magazine has paid only about half of what it promised, according to the union.
“We are still fighting to get our second grievance resolved,” Larry Goldbetter, union president, told Journal-isms by email on Wednesday. “So far we’ve collected over $60k for 12 writers, about half of what the settlement calls for. We have a third group waiting in the wings. Please send any interested folks my way.”
Asked to explain the second grievance, Goldbetter wrote, “The second grievance is the group of 12 women we have been representing for about 2 years now. There is a third group that is not a part of this settlement, who we will pursue after we have made sure this settlement is honored.”
Allegra Bennett, who describes herself as a contractor doing business as a writing and editing consultancy, told her Facebook friends Wednesday that she was so frustrated that she had to go public.
“Such a shame to say this but I must,” Bennett wrote. “If Heart & Soul magazine contacts you to write for them be prepared not to get paid. Their business model appears to be theft of services. The CEO’s way of addressing writers he owes money is to ignore them. This is a public service announcement.”
Bennett told Journal-isms by email, “The owners appeared to have disappeared without paying their bills — or at least their bill to me which is over $1,200. CEO Clarence Brown contracted me to do a couple Q&A stories for the magazine earlier this year. I delivered, he used them and now won’t respond to any of my emails and requests/demands for payment. Trying to avoid the next legal step and for this amount of money I can’t possibly just let it go without doing something.”
Neither Brown, president and CEO, nor Patrick H. Detry, executive vice president, advertising, responded to messages left Wednesday at the company’s Silver Spring, Md., headquarters.
Heart & Soul has had a rocky time since journalist George Curry and his partners in Brown Curry Detry Taylor & Associates, LLC announced in January 2012 that they had bought the then-18-year-old health and wellness publication from Edwin V. Avent, a Baltimore-based businessman who now heads a nascent cable network, Soul of the South.
The new Heart & Soul owners promised to compensate a group of angry writers who said they were owed more than $200,000 in back pay. But after failure to satisfy the writers and other setbacks, Curry said in November 2012 that he had resigned as executive vice president/content and editorial director.