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Yesterday, Graphic artists, writers, domestic workers, and other representatives of NYC’s 1.3 million freelancers testified before the City Council’s Committee on Consumer Affairs today and rallied outside City Hall to demand passage of the “Freelance Isn’t Free” Act.

The proposed legislation, the first-of-its-kind in the country, provides basic protections for independent workers from deadbeat companies who refuse to pay, or force freelancers to wait months for their checks. More than 70% of freelancers experience late or nonpayment at some point in their career, getting stiffed an average of $5,968 every year – forcing many to use credit cards or rely on government assistance to make up the difference. First introduced by Council Member Brad Lander and a broad coalition of business and labor organizations led by the Freelancers Union, the bill has gained support from a majority of the Council, with 27 of 51 members currently signed on. Full Release

WHAT PROGRESSIVE CAUCUS MEMBERS SAY: 

“Everyone who works deserves to get paid, on-time and in-full. Unfortunately, 70% of freelancers in NYC have been cheated out of payments they were owed. I’m proud to work with Freelancers Union and many of my colleagues to advance first-of-its-kind legislation to provide independent workers with real protections against payment theft,” said Council Member Brad Lander. “Thank you to the writers, web-designers, domestic workers, and many more who shared their stories today. Together, we can write new rules for the new economy that insure fair treatment for all workers.”

“Credit card companies don’t accept late payments. Neither do cashiers at the grocery store. So why should freelancers wait months, or even years, to get paid?” said Council Member Margaret Chin. “That is why I am joining Council Member Lander and others to push legislation to establish the simple principle that all New Yorkers should be paid in a timely manner for their work.  For the first time, this legislation would make deadbeat companies accountable to our City for refusing to pay or delaying payment to their workers. I urge my Council colleagues to join us in this effort to protect workers struggling to take care of themselves and their families.”

“Freelancers make invaluable contributions to a variety of sectors and their hard work and dedication are an important element of our city’s economic strength.  New York’s freelancers and other independent workers need to know that the City will have their backs if they are the victims of wage theft.  I am proud to support this legislation to give freelancers the protections they need and deserve,” said Council Member Stephen Levin.

“Every worker who successfully executes their job should be paid on-time and in full, regardless of their status as a freelancer. This innovative legislation would finally provide necessary protections to the City’s 1.3 million members of the independent workforce, and make NYC the nation’s leader in protecting freelancers. After the hearing, it should move quickly through the legislative process and on to the floor for a full Council vote,” said Council Member Ritchie Torres. 

“Freelance workers are too often denied compensation and are taken advantage of after they perform a job. This violates a fundamental tenet of commerce and undermines the productivity of every-day workers who drive economic growth. New York City should be a leader in reforming this status quo, and it’s why I’m proud to stand with Council Member Lander and leaders in the labor movement, so we can finally end this injustice once and for all,” said Council Member Mark Levine.

“This bill is a direct response to a changing economy where we are seeing more New Yorkers, including a large number of immigrants, turning to freelance labor. It requires that employers remember that freelance work is dignified work that should be treated with respect. This Council will not sit back and watch the hard labor of New Yorkers be exploited,” said Council Member Carlos Menchaca.

“The proliferation of the ‘gig economy’ in New York City and across the country raises serious concerns about job security and worker protections that must be accounted for,” said Council Member Ydanis Rodriguez. “Too many workers are left to the whims of a tumultuous market, often compounded by less than scrupulous employers, an untenable  situation for many working families. Intro 1017 will take a much needed step in the right direction and I am proud to support Council Member Lander’s initiative.”

IN THE NEWS

NY1, City Council Member, Freelancers’ Union Director Discuss New Push to Protect Freelance Workers

Gothamist, NYC May Pass “Freelance Isn’t Free Act” To Help Screwed-Over Freelancers

Gotham Gazette, Protecting Freelancers: Policy Innovation at Work

Ditmas Park Corner, Freelancers Of Ditmas Park And Kensington Unite

Washington Post, For freelancers, getting stiffed is part of the job. Some in New York City want to fix it.

WBAI, Freelancers in NYC Rejoice in “Freelance Isn’t Free” Act

Employment Law Watch, NYC Mulls Bill Requiring Written Independent Contractor Agreements

National Writers Union, ‘Freelance Isn’t Free’ Bill Introduced

DNAinfo, We Doubt We Can Enforce Proposed Law to Help Freelancers, City Agency Says

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