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Get Paid Not Played: Squeaky Wheels Roll into Albany

24 May

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Did you know that NY is the first State to pass a bill to help freelancers get paid? It happened last year, when the Assembly voted in favor of the Payment Protection Act (S4129/A6698). The bill never made it to the Senate, but this year we’re determined to get it into law. That’s why a busload of Freelancers Union members got up at the crack of dawn on Tuesday, May 22, and traveled to the Capitol with The World’s Longest Invoice, detailing $16 million in unpaid wages being picked from the pockets of indy workers.

Sure, that’s a big number, but it gets worse. Deadbeat clients stiffed NY freelancers to the tune of $3.7 billion in 2010, and in turn cheated the Empire State out of $323 million in tax revenue. Those funds were badly needed to keep roads safe, schools running, and libraries open, to name just a few necessities that go beyond the independent workforce.

Why else should you care about this? Freelancers now make up one third of the American workforce, and that number is rising. In this tough economy, today’s staffer (you, your relative, your neighbor) can very easily be tomorrow’s freelancer. You have the power to say, “This isn’t right. The work was done, you’re using it without paying for it, and the people of New York State won’t let you get away with that.”

This bill lays the groundwork for bringing change to the outdated labor laws of the US, which were enacted to protect our grandparents, and great-grandparents. When NY passes it, we will be the first state—but surely not the last—to give freelancers the same protections under the law that traditional employees have if they don’t get paid. We will be able to report non-payment of wages to the State Department of Labor, which will make deadbeats pay two things: our invoices and penalties for not paying in the first place.

Convinced? Great! Here’s what you can do:

  • Ask your NY State Member of Assembly and Senator to support the Payment Protection Act (S4129/A6698). If you or someone you know have faced non- or late-payment, share the story. Be sure to mention that this is bipartisan legislation, and if you’re in a Republican district, say that it’s sponsored by Sen. Golden (R), and has 6 Republican co-sponsors: Robach, Lanza, McDonald, Grisanti, Zeldin, and Ball.
  • If your representatives support the bill, thank them! Be sure to ask your State Senator to get Speaker Skelos on board. His support is crucial to get it passed.
  • Ask your Facebook friends and Twitter followers to do the same.

I’m working to get this landmark bill into law with Freelancers Union, where I’m the Member Representative on the Board of Directors, because it’s an exciting and important opportunity to expand crucial protections to American workers. Join us in our fight to pass the Payment Protection Act and bring fairness to Empire State workers. Help us make history in Albany.

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