It’s here! Contract Creator has arrived! You can create and customize your own contract with the easy to use template we’ve provided. Contract Creator also comes complete with easy instructions and detailed explanations and is free to all Freelancers Union members. We will also be posting a series of blog posts and will keep you updated on all the latest developments, issues, upgrades, and general fun and frivolity surrounding Contract Creator. You’ll also be able to read the absolute latest about our great upcoming public education campaign - who, what, where and how you can help with spreading the word about the importance of freelancers using contracts to protect themselves. Now how did all of this come about? The Contract Creator was born eight months ago, in part as an outgrowth of the many comments posted by the Freelancers Union membership regarding the Freelancers Bill of Rights. It became undeniably clear from your remarks that* freelancers needed something to help them achieve their most fundamental rights, among them *getting paid on time and being treated with respect in the modern workplace. It was decided that the best way to help freelancers achieve these goals was to take your comments and create a model that each freelancer could use to design their own individual contract, regardless of job or industry. The Contract Campaign Working Group was then formed, made up of participants in our Monthly Member Meetings to work toward these shared goals, and this hardy group met almost every week at 8:00 a.m. in a downtown office building, a Greenwich Village cafe, and the Freelancers Union Headquarters to create the tool. Among the obstacles the Group overcame were snow, sleet, rain, heat, subway tie-ups, and debating Contract Creator's contents over the sound of patrons ordering lattes and banana nut muffins in the café. There were numerous discussions and drafts as the Working Group debated in great detail all the elements – what to put in, what to leave out, what format this resource should take. Yet the Working Group plowed on, knowing that their work would result in this incredibly important weapon for today’s freelancers, one that would empower and protect them in today’s modern and, at times, ruthless workplace. The result of all this work is here – and we urge all freelancers to use Contract Creator to help insure that they get paid on time, that their jobs are clearly defined, and that they are considered professionals by their clients. The work of our team is just beginning. The next step is to educate people about Contract Creator’s existence and the importance of negotiating the to both freelancers and those who hire freelancers today. Our public education campaign will be starting soon and you will be able to read all about it here in the coming weeks. We would love it if some of you blogged in the future about your experiences using Contract Creator or just general experiences in negotiating your own contract* – the idea is to make a lot of noise and have freelancers start to talk about this important aspect of our work-life. For now, let us know if you can help spread the word to your other associations and networks!* The more the merrier! Every comment counts – your feedback is vital. Welcome! And good luck with using Contract Creator! -------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Meet past & present members of the Contract Campaign Working Group *This team, all intrepid volunteers, have brought an enormous range of talent and experience to the project over the last few months: *Simone Tarantino, Italian by birth and New Yorker by adoption, works as a freelance Strategic Business Consultant for American and international companies, and manages, with other partners, the record label Gallery Records. He’s known to make very good Italian coffee with a French coffee press. When he’s not making coffee for the Group’s early morning meetings, Simone is developing the Professional Associations outreach plan for the Contract Creator’s publiceducation campaign. Judith Koron Hoffmann *is a freelance medical copywriter: she's not a doctor, but says she's paid to write like one. Judy’s years of experience are coming in quite handy in her role as Team Leader for thef and postcards section of the public education campaign. *Crystal Mary Willingham is a human resources consultant and career coach that specializes in talent development and project management. She brought invaluable insight from her perspective as a corporate world hiring manager and gallantly led the focus group that reviewed an early draft of the contract. Bryan Swift is a freelance developer with an eye for design and user experience. He's also got a humanitarian streak and is bounding off to Japan to help with the Tsunami relief effort. Jaye Miller *is a freelancer who has worked in fields ranging from real estate to children's rights. She added her expertise as both a paralegal and public speaker. And there’s me, Suzanne Surbeck,* a freelance writer here in New York City. I specialize in feature stories covering people and places “with a heart” in New York City. I’ll be helping Kaitlyn with the care and feeding of any upcoming blog posts. And of course, we were led by Kaitlyn Newman, Freelancers Union Organizer, whose dedication has only been matched by her willingness to get up at the crack of dawn to guide our group through our early morning meetings. - Suzanne Surbeck is a freelance writer living in New York City. She has been published by Google News, Allvoices.com, the American Society of Mechanical Engineers and The Christian Science Monitor, among others.