By Bill Parry
Nearly a third of the American workforce, close to 54 million people, now freelance instead of getting regular paychecks and over 71 percent experience late or non-payment at some point in their career.
At a town hall meeting at the Museum of the Moving Image March 31 many of them shared their experiences with the founder of the Freelancers Union, Sara Horowitz.
“Whether it’s an Uber driver, a health-care worker, or a freelance web developer, more and more New Yorkers are choosing the freedom and flexibility of the gig economy over the traditional 9-to-5 rat race,” Horowitz said. “These workers make up the backbone of NYC’s economy, but unfortunately, there is no system in place to protect them when they don’t get paid. It’s time to hold these deadbeat companies accountable.”
City Councilman Jimmy Van Bramer (D-Sunnyside) is a co-sponsor of the Freelance Isn’t Free Bill that would protect freelance workers from late and non-payment by requiring companies that hire them to have a contract outlining the scope of the work, rate, payment method and due date. The legislation provides greater avenues of recourse, including a new ability to file a complaint with the Department of Consumer Affairs, for freelancers who don’t get paid on time.
The average freelancer loses up to $6,000 every year, and Van Bramer, the chairman of the Council’s Cultural Affairs Committee is acting to protect the city’s artist community, among others.
“Late and nonpayment is wage theft and it must stop,” Van Bramer said. “For New York to continue to be the cultural capital of the world, our freelance artists must get paid in full and on time, as must the rest of our city’s 1.3 million independent workers.”
Reach reporter Bill Parry by e-mail at bparr