Local Membership Meetings

Mar 26, 2010

Last night Freelancers Union wrapped up our first series of organizing meetings across New York City: each evening, we met with members from a different borough and discussed the issue of unpaid wages.We had over 50 members come out and discuss their experience with delayed and unpaid wages. Many spoke about the sense of helplessness and shame they felt for something that is not their fault. More than one member said, "It's hard for me talk about--it's embarrassing to get screwed over like that." In the meetings we focused on the current protections that independent contractors have when claiming lost or delayed wages (hint--outside of small clams court, there isn’t much) and discussed members’ experiences in trying to track down money owed. Most went the route of calling and emailing their clients daily, some luckily having contracts and meticulous records to use in making their case. Others had clients who were notorious for their non-payment habits, so they banded together with other freelancers who were denied their rightful compensation. Through a small but targeted public awareness campaign, they shamed the client into paying all who were owed money. But sadly, the most common experience was waiting months for a payment they’re owed. The scary thing is that during those lapses in payment, over 30% of people rely on credit cards or payday loans to tie them over, starting a cycle of debt that is hard to break. These meetings were inspiring because of the pluck and determination of our members, but it was frustrating to hear from every industry and ever corner of this city an experience in delayed or denied payment for services rendered. Together, were aiming to change that. We’re about to launch a new page on our website dedicated to ending the injustice that is doing work and not getting paid for it, and you’ll be able to use tools to put an end to unpaid wages once and for all. For example, if you've ever been taken advantage of, you’ll be able to out the perps. Together we can drag protections from the 20th century to the 21st and make sure you get paid and not played.