Freelance victory in Los Angeles
February 24, 2023, ‘FREELANCE ISN’T FREE ACT’ ADOPTED BY LA CITY COUNCIL, ESTABLISHES NEW PROTECTIONS FOR FREELANCE WORKERS
With over 300,000 freelancers in LA, the new law established new, vital protections, supporting the City’s economy and job prospects. Partnering with the Freelancers Union and other national advocates who have been working on similar legislation across the country, the “Freelance Isn’t Free” law will help protect freelance workers from nonpayment and retaliation efforts through written contracts. This law empowers City officials to enforce these protections and has real consequences for violations of these rights, including statutory damages, double damages, injunctive relief, and attorneys’ fees and costs. . . .
“The National Writers Union and the coalition of freelance writers, media workers, photographers, graphic artists, authors and others, want to thank Councilmember Blumenfield, the City Council and the International Brotherhood of Teamsters for advancing the needed protections that freelance workers deserve,” said Larry Goldbetter, President of the National Writers Union. “We are one-third of the workforce. But we must go further. We need universal coverage for work done by any freelancer anywhere, because that is how work is done today. We trust we can count on you as we take our campaign statewide, to Sacramento.”
NWU Statement on Abortion Rights, June 30, 2022
The Supreme Court’s decision to overturn Roe v. Wade, which has guaranteed the constitutional right to abortion for the past 50 years, is a brazen attack on the right to bodily autonomy. Making one’s own decisions about medical care is a fundamental human right, and eliminating access to abortion will have a devastating impact on women, particularly working-class women of color. The decision also bolsters the current wave of legislation targeting LGBTQ people, many of whom will be forced to bring unwanted pregnancies to term. Furthermore, this ruling is a sure sign that other rights, all of which were fought for by working people, will soon be targeted by a Supreme Court whose views are contrary to those of the majority of Americans. The National Writers Union is committed to organizing in support of the rights of all people to make decisions about their own bodies, and will stand against all future assaults on individual and collective rights. A free, healthy, and creative world—the kind of world that unions like ours are building—requires nothing less.
Freelance victory in New York
In June 2022, thanks to a strong effort that included many members of the NWU, the New York legislature passed the Freelance Isn’t Free Act, which will protect freelancers contracted by New York companies (even if they don’t live in the state). As NWU member Eric Thum reports: “Thousands of freelancers—both those living in New York, and those working for New York-based employers—will now be guaranteed a written contract, have the legal expectation that they be paid for their work within 30 days, and be free from retaliation for negotiating for higher pay. . . . Since 2017, the New York City version of Freelance Isn’t Free has collected millions of dollars in unpaid fees for thousands of freelancers around the country.”
A coalition of unions, including the NWU, has been working to pass similar legislation in Los Angeles this summer. In a hopeful sign, the LA City Council Committee on Economic Development and Jobs voted unanimously to have the city attorney draft an ordinance making Freelance Isn’t Free the law in Los Angeles as of July 1, 2023. Freelancers in other cities, especially Chicago, are considering their next steps.
Congress of the International Federation of Journalists participation
NWU Delegates Tammy Kim and Larry Goldbetter attended the 2022 Congress of the International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) held in Muscat, Oman from 31 May -3 June 2022. In a report back, Tammy Kim shares that:
However chilling the Trump era was for the US media, we have generally had an easy time. This was a humbling takeaway from the four-day IFJ Congress . . . We heard from journalists in Togo and Afghanistan who face life-threatening violence on the job; a Ukrainian whose home in Lviv is now a crowded way-station for colleagues seeking westerly sanctuary; and a Mexican reporter who has lost many friends to their craft. Brazilian reporters described the dangers of their work under Bolsonaro, and all of us delegates stood for a minute of silence to honor Al Jazeera’s Shireen Abu Akleh, who was killed by Israeli forces in May. (NWU has joined IFJ and the Palestinian Journalists Syndicate to demand war crimes charges against Israel for its targeting of journalists.)