Freelance Labor Isn’t Free

22 May

I have great clients who pay me as agreed. Unfortunately, many independent workers do not. The good news is that something’s being done to stop non-payment of independent contractors in New York State, but we need your help to make sure our efforts are successful! See the two simple steps that you can take to help get freelancers paid, after the jump.

unpaid wages flyer

Download this nifty flyer to attach to an email or post on your wall, and remind co-workers, friends, and family that they’re being ripped off, too!

Last year, according to estimates from a Rutgers University study, New York State saw a staggering $4.7 BILLION IN LOST WAGES! I had the privilege of traveling to Albany this week with the Freelancers Union (where I’m also running for a spot on the board) to lobby at the Capitol for the Freelancer Payment Protection Act (S4129/A6698). This bi-partisan bill gives NY State independent contractors the existing legal protections that traditional employees have under the Department of Labor. The legislation is self-funding: companies found liable by the DOL Commissioner will be fined 25% of the amount they owe, which will pay for the law’s enforcement. The investment of passing the bill—about $500,000 according to lobbyists’ estimates—would pay out exponentially by generating $323 MILLION in NY State tax revenue that’s not being collected, due to non-payment of independent contractors. We’re pulling out all the stops to make sure the bill is passed in the Senate before it adjourns for the summer, and we need your help!

1. Please call or write your NY State Senator to ask him or her to support our bill. Go to the New York State Senate website, enter your information in the “Find My Senator” fields at the top left of the window, and once you click submit, fill out the Contact Your Senator form (copy and paste the editable text below, or write your own). You can also call your senator’s office using the numbers listed, and use the text below as a script for your conversation. Or, even easier, use this form from Freelancers Union and edit the pre-written message, which will be sent to the appropriate legislators based on your address when you enter it.

2. Forward this post to friends and family, and ask them to support this legislation. Even if you’re not an Independent Worker, you know some of us, and likely work with or hire us.

Passing this bill will help to bring fairness to the Independent Workforce in NY State, which encompasses occupations such as Management, Arts, Entertainment, Transportation, Legal, and Healthcare, and pump millions of dollars into the State’s economy. The bill is sponsored in the Senate by Sen. Martin Golden (R) of Brooklyn, and as of right now, has 15 co-sponsors spanning both parties.

Thanks in advance for taking the time to help NY State’s economy and workers!

All best,

Joe

Cut and Paste this editable text and
email it to your New York State Senator

Subject:
Co-Sponsor the Freelancer Payment Protection Act (S4129)

Editable Text:
As a resident of your district, and the (parent/sibling/relative/friend) of a New York freelancer, I know that Freelancers often struggle to collect owed wages from clients. Yet unlike traditional employees, Freelancers lack any labor protections to ensure that they get paid for the work they do. A recent study by Rutgers University economist William Rodgers shows that 42% of independent workers in New York State had trouble collecting payment last year, totaling an estimated $4.7 billion in lost wages.

The bipartisan Freelancer Payment Protection Act (S4129) was introduced this spring to provide the same wage protection to independent contractors that New York has provided to employees for decades. Rather than having independent contractors waste time and money pursuing owed wages on their own—through small claims court or by hiring an attorney—this bill would allow independent contractors to file a claim through the New York State Department of Labor. This solution not only helps the individual but also could help New York State recoup millions in state tax revenue that is lost every year due to client nonpayment.

As your constituent, I ask that you please co-sponsor S4129 to ensure that my (child/sibling/relative/friend)–and every worker–can collect the money that they have rightfully earned.

Sincerely,

(Your Name)

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2 Responses to “Freelance Labor Isn’t Free”

  1. josephcaserto June 16, 2011 at 1:57 pm #

    The Business Council http://www.bcnys.org opposes the Freelancer Payment Protection Act (S4129), pulling out the old no-government-involvement card, often used by those who are afraid of loosing the power they’re abusing, not to mention the money that abuse is putting in their pockets.

    Their argument: “The Department of Labor is not the arbiter of contractual and other affairs between private parties and therefore has no business being involved.” Read the full legislative memo from the BC here:

    http://www.bcnys.org/inside/Legmemos/2011-12/a6698s4129-dol-oversight-of-independent-contractors.htm

    Government has a responsibility to protect its citizens. In this case, that protection is sorely needed, from clients who are essentially stealing our work without compensating us for it, and as a result are also stealing hundreds of millions of dollars of income tax revenue from the State of NY.

    So, the BC has written to the NY State Government, to say that it indeed SHOULD get involved—in this case, to ensure the status quo that allows independent workers to be ripped off—and therefore, allow the Government ITSELF to continue to be ripped off.

    Please call your representative today, to urge him or her, to pass this legislation, but HURRY; time is running out! The 2011 Legislative Session is ending in only a few days!

  2. josephcaserto June 20, 2011 at 9:27 pm #

    Great news: the Freelancet Payment Protection Act passed in the NY State Assembly! Now, on to the Senate. C’mon, Senators, New York State’s Indy Workers need your support!

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