Since its founding in 1995, Freelancers Union has fought for and won protections for independent workers. These are just a few of the victories we've celebrated in that time:
In 2009, Freelancers Union led a campaign to address double taxation in New York City. For decades, independent workers were taxed on their personal and business income through the Unincorporated Business Tax. UBT was a well meaning-product created in the 1960s with the intent to capture revenue from businesses that were not subject to the General Corporate Tax. However, UBT had unintended consequences for freelancers, which is why we advocated for reforms to the tax. In 2009, the Union successfully advocated for the elimination of the tax for freelancers earning up to $100,000 and a tax credit for freelancers who earn up to $150,000.
In 2017, Freelancers Union led a campaign to enact first-of-its kind Freelance Isn't Free legislation in New York City giving freelancers unprecedented protections from nonpayment. The law requires 30 day payment terms (unless otherwise specified in the contract), mandatory contracts for work that is over $800, and payment agreement protections. The law also provides protection against retaliation, legal assistance and double damages for bad actors who violate the law.
An amendment to the New York City Human Rights law went into effect on January 11, 2020, to clarify that all freelancers and independent contractors are protected from discrimination and harassment in the workplace. The law includes provisions on anti-discrimination, protections against sexual harassment, reasonable accommodations for freelancers, and anti-retaliation.
Prior to 2020, freelancers were unable to access unemployment insurance benefits. At the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Union advocated for the inclusion of self-employed workers in unemployment insurance benefits as part of the CARES Act. Hundreds of thousands of people across the U.S. are now benefiting from Pandemic Unemployment Assistance, the newly created unemployment system for freelancers and other independent workers.