For Immediate Release-
February 24, 2023
Contact: Jake Flynn, 213.473.7003, cell- 310.663.3770
‘FREELANCE ISN’T FREE ACT’ ADOPTED BY CITY COUNCIL, ESTABLISHES NEW PROTECTIONS FOR FREELANCE WORKERS
With over 300,000 freelancers in LA, Blumenfield’s law established new, vital protections, supporting the City’s economy and job prospects.
Los Angeles, CA – Today, the LA City Council unanimously adopted the final ordinance based on Councilmember Bob Blumenfield’s motion to establish protections for freelance workers. Partnering with the Freelancers Union and other national advocates who have been working on similar legislation across the country, the “Freelance Isn’t Free” law will help protect freelance workers from nonpayment and retaliation efforts through written contracts. This law empowers City officials to enforce these protections and has real consequences for violations of these rights, including statutory damages, double damages, injunctive relief, and attorneys’ fees and costs.
“Los Angeles has long been a leader in ensuring the dignity of work. Many of our efforts protect employees who are subject to exploitation, including hotel and retail workers. This simple measure will provide basic protections to another group of vulnerable workers–freelancers who are not “employees”–including the right to prompt payment for services rendered,” said Los Angeles City Councilmember Bob Blumenfield. “I’m proud to stand with the independent entrepreneurs who help make Los Angeles such a vibrant and creative community.”
Los Angeles is home to the second largest population of freelancers in the United States with over 300,000 freelancers. Yet, for too long, this group of workers has been devoid of adequate protections. It often takes weeks to months to get an invoice paid – if a payment even comes at all – and freelancers have virtually no recourse when they get stiffed. Freelancers make up one-third of the workforce or 59 million in the United States and non-payment has become the number one complaint received by freelancers with 74% of freelancers reporting having issues with non-payment.
“The nature of work is changing, and over a third of the American workforce has turned to freelancing as a way to fulfill their goals. But our social infrastructure hasn’t kept up with this change, and many freelancers struggle with basic things like getting paid for the work that they do,” said Rafael Espinal, Executive Director of the Freelancers Union. “With the passage of this law, Los Angeles is setting the precedent for a long-awaited state and national bill that makes payment protections for all workers the standard and will provide a major victory for the hundreds of thousands of freelancers who contribute to the city’s economy. We are proud to have worked alongside LA City Council legislators, including Councilmember Bob Blumenfield, in making sure freelancers don’t get left behind.”
“The National Writers Union and the coalition of freelance writers, media workers, photographers, graphic artists, authors and others, want to thank Councilmember Blumenfield, the City Council and the International Brotherhood of Teamsters for advancing the needed protections that freelance workers deserve,” said Larry Goldbetter, President of the National Writers Union. “We are one-third of the workforce. But we must go further. We need universal coverage for work done by any freelancer anywhere, because that is how work is done today. We trust we can count on you as we take our campaign statewide, to Sacramento.”
In 2016, the New York City Council passed its landmark Freelance Isn’t Free Act (FIFA), which has been extremely successful in protecting freelancers and establishing legal guardrails where there once were none at all. Currently, the New York City Department of Consumer and Worker Protection (DCWP) oversees and enforces the FIFA and according to their 2020 State of Workers Rights Report, more than 1,600 cases were filed and over $1.6 million in restitution and penalties has been collected since 2018. Seattle passed a similar bill that took effect September 2022, and statewide legislation was recently introduced in New York and Illinois.
Blumenfield concluded, “LA’s freelancers deserve these protections and I’m so grateful to the Freelancers Union and all our partners for helping make our effort successful.”