**We want New York City to be a freelance-friendly city. As the collective voice of our New York City members, Freelancers Union sent questionnaires to the 2013 candidates for city-wide public office to get their take on issues important to freelancers. **
**Over the next several weeks, we will be posting the responses from those candidates who got back to us. Check back regularly to hear what the candidates have to say about freelancers. And remember, make sure your voice is heard! Get out and vote in the primary on September 10 and in the general election on November 5. **
Bill de Blasio is a Democratic candidate for Mayor of New York City. To learn more about Bill de Blasio, visit his website. His responses are below.
1. In your opinion, what is the role of freelancers in New York City? What value do they bring to the City? Please describe any past experience you may have working on issues of importance to freelancers.
My campaign is based in the belief that we must end the growth of income inequality and halt economic development that focuses solely on big business and developers. Any policy designed to create living-wage jobs must take into account the growing number of freelancers and their importance to the City’s economy.
I am a strong supporter of the Freelancer Payment Protect Act. We must ensure that the City’s fastest-growing workforce is afforded necessary protections from predatory clients. Independent workers deserve recourse to hold non-paying clients accountable. I have also supported the Freelancers’ efforts to increase access to affordable, quality health care, including the 2009 pilot program authorized by the State Legislature to help the Freelancers provide health insurance to independent workers.
2. Many freelancers are self-employed and/or entrepreneurs who face a myriad of legal, regulatory and tax issues when starting and operating their business in New York City. How would you expand offerings for independent workers to start, maintain and grow their businesses?
I have taken a strong stance against City regulations that harass, rather than support, small businesses owners and freelancers. The City’s business support must be aimed at helping small businesses, including the self-employed and freelancers.
As Mayor, I will advocate for the Freelancer Payment Protection Act. I will also work with the Freelancers Union and other organizations to determine what services are most needed, taking into account the needs of immigrant and foreign-born freelancers.
3. Nearly 1 in 3 workers (or 42million people) work freelance across the U.S., according to a 2006 GAO report. But 2006 was the last time the federal government counted this crucial part of the new workforce. Accurate, comprehensive data is crucial to crafting policies that address the needs of this sector. How important do you feel it is that the Bureau of Labor Statistics revives the survey? What are your thoughts on conducting a comprehensive survey of NYC freelancers to collect demographic data and assess the economic impact of their work?
It is impossible to have the proper policies without correct data, especially on this important and growing sector of our economy.
As Mayor, I will join with the Freelancers Union and our Congressional delegation and other interested parties in fighting to ensure the federal government regularly collects data on freelancers in New York and around the country.
Anything that counts is counted. Freelancers count.
4. Unlike many other workers, freelancers have episodic income but are not eligible for unemployment benefits. What would you do to assist freelancers during periods of unemployment? What ideas do you have for assisting freelancers in saving for these times?
First, the City should encourage and support the creation of job exchanges and other methods that help freelancers avoid or reduce periods of unemployment. The City should also allow freelancers to qualify for job training programs, so that they can broaden their skill set and marketability. Additionally, we should explore the possibility of tax-advantaged savings accounts and specialized credit unions that provide financial support tailored to freelancers.
5. Freelancers are, by nature, entrepreneurs who have built their own communities to support their work and themselves. This is a model more and more New Yorkers are learning from and building more economically sustainable, cooperative, and collaborative institutions. How will you support these new institutions, including cooperatives, social purpose businesses and collaborative consumption organizations?
First, the City should support efforts by freelancers, the self-employed and small businesses owners to collaborate in growing their businesses and reducing their costs. These efforts increase these individuals’ success rate, increase the income of this major economic sector, and, thus, significantly decrease the City’s income inequality. Second, the City must review its own tax structure and
work for reform at the state and federal level so that freelancers and the self- employed no longer suffer from unfair taxes that are greater than those of workers and big businesses. Finally, ensuring freelancers’ access to affordable health insurance must also be a top priority.
**Thanks to Bill de Blasio for answering our questions. If you need more info on how or where to vote, check out NYC.gov's voting resources. Please remember to vote on September 10! **
Freelancers Union has endorsed Daniel Squadron for Public Advocate. Come join other Freelancers Union members as we volunteer for his campaign and show our support for a freelancer-friendly candidate! Send your contact information to firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.