This week, the New York City Council unanimously voted to pass wage theft protections for freelancers.
Across the nation, freelancers are often subjected to either late payments or no payment at all. Bereft of institutional support, many see their actual earnings take a nose dive as precious work hours yield nothing in terms of compensation.
A survey by the Freelancers Union found that in 2014, one out of every two freelancers experienced issues when collecting on their fees. In this day in age – when there are more than 54 million freelancers in the country and the gig economy is growing day-by-day – that is an unacceptable disadvantage that adversely affects millions of Americans.
As Melissa Thornton – a freelance graphic artist – shows us, nonpayments are all too real:
I fully accept that there are inherent risks in freelancing, but getting paid should not be one of them. You account for changes in the marketplace, you account for changes in industry, you even account for changes in the political landscape which can affect hiring practices. But you should not have to account for the fact that you might not get paid.
City Hall spokesperson Rosemary Boeglin discussed how the office of Mayor Bill de Blasio contributed to the efforts in a conversation with The Gothamist:
This Administration, which worked closely with the City Council on this bill, supports laws that protect all New York workers. Every person must be paid on time and treated fairly, whether their work is freelance or not.
Hopefully other cities will follow suit for the sake of the “precariat” – ie, non-salaried workers.