On December 23rd, Freelancers in New York State received a major blow with the news of Governor Kathy Hochul vetoing the Freelance Isn’t Free legislation (S8369B/A9368A). This unfortunately marks the second freelance-related legislation that has been vetoed by the Governor this year after rejecting a plan to expand the Secure Choice Law (S8654A/A9882A), which would have included freelancers in a state sponsored retirement savings program. Freelancers Union continues to believe that New York is the most progressive home to freelancers nationwide, but with this news, we are urging New York to increase protections for independent workers in accordance with the significant contributions derived from freelance work.
Rafael Espinal, Executive Director of the Freelancers Union, said: “With 39% of the entire U.S. workforce freelancing this year and a total of $1.35 trillion in annual earnings to the U.S. economy from freelance contributions, we are saddened by the Governor’s calculation that there is not enough room in our budget to adequately protect the growing independent workforce in the state. We thank the legislature for passing this significant legislation and we will be no doubt back in January to make sure we get this done next session.”
“The National Writers Union and the tens of thousands of freelance writers, authors and media workers in NYS are extremely disappointed in the Governor’s veto. Freelance Isn’t Free simply requires a written contract and payment within 30 days of invoicing, which should be the bare minimum in worker protection,” said Larry Goldbetter, President of the National Writers Union. “To veto a package of bills over a lack of funding for the Department of Labor at the last minute is disturbing, particularly when Freelance Isn’t Free, like the other bills in the package, passed both houses in a legislative session that ended over six months ago. This is especially concerning given that Governor Hochul was elected in November with the support of unions and workers. This set-back only strengthens our determination to fight for protections for freelancers, and win Freelance Isn’t Free in the New Year.”
We thank sponsors Senator Andrew Gounardes and Assembly Member Harry Bronson for standing besides freelancers and championing Freelance Isn’t Free. We also thank the sponsors of the Secure Choice expansion bill, Senator Diane Savino and Assembly Member Albert A. Stirpe Jr.. The Freelancers Union is proud to have worked alongside these legislators and all the advocacy groups in our coalition. Despite this unfortunate outcome, we are proud of the progress we have made in service of independent freelancers.
Roughly one third, or 60 million Americans are freelancer or contract workers, with New York being home to the largest population of independent contractors. The pandemic has further changed the landscape of working in America and has steadily given rise to an increase in freelancers, while also highlighting the lack of protections offered for this growing labor sector. A recent study by the Independent Economy Council found that 74% of respondents are not getting paid on-time while 59% are owed $50,000 or more for already completed work. We continue to see the real-world consequences of NYC’s groundbreaking Freelance Isn’t Free Law that has protected over 2,000 freelancers and recovered over $2 million in owed compensation for their work in New York City. Freelancers across New York State will remain devoid of safe-guards to receive timely payment and be free from exploitation until this is passed statewide.