NY City Councilmembers Introduce Freelance Protection Package


Press Release For 11/22/2022

Contact: Eric Thurm ethurm@nwu.org (914) 275-1122

New York, NY — Today the National Writers Union (NWU) announces our support for the bill package supporting freelance workers introduced by New York City Councilmembers Chi Ossé and Keith Powers.

Since it was enacted in 2017, New York City’s Freelance Isn’t Free Act has set a nationwide standard in establishing protections for freelance workers. Over the course of just a few years, the city was able to recover over $2.1 million in late and delinquent payments for freelancers. But the city’s original enforcement threshold of $800 meant that thousands of freelancers, who often work for multiple employers on single projects, were excluded from the law. Councilmember Ossé’s bill LS9577 lowers the threshold for enforcement to $250, recognizing the reality of freelancers in New York and dramatically expanding protections for workers.

Councilmember Powers’ bill LS8648 will also further protect freelancers by prohibiting non-compete clauses, which often force freelancers to lose out on future work. The bill also expands the city’s ability to go after repeated violators, who exhibit a pattern of enforcing non-compete agreements.

With more than 59 million freelancers in the U.S.—including 1.3 million New Yorkers—more than a third of the national workforce contributes more than $1.2 trillion to the economy. Freelancers make up a growing segment of workers, upon which our economy depends, and our laws must adapt to provide them the same basic rights and benefits guaranteed to employed workers.

NWU helped lead the coalition to pass Freelance Isn’t Free (A9368A/S8369B) that provides basic workplace protections for New York’s freelancers. These protections include the right to a written contract, guaranteed payment within 30 days, and protection against retaliation for negotiating. The laws being introduced by Councilmembers Ossé and Powers will help lead the way for other cities and states to lower their own enforcement thresholds, further expanding access to worker protections.

NWU President Larry Goldbetter said, “All of our members and freelance media workers applaud Councilmembers Powers and Ossé for introducing the legislative package for freelance workers. We are especially happy to see Councilmember Ossé’s amendment to lower the FIFA threshold from $800 to $250, which will allow so many more freelancers the protection of this most successful freelance law in the nation. We also welcome the end of the ‘non-compete’ clause in freelance contracts, and the ability of the Corporation Counsel and Office of Labor Standards to have strict enforcement powers to protect the rights of freelance workers.”

“These bills will provide further financial safeguards for the independent workforce. Not only will these bills ensure freelancers performing smaller paying jobs are finally protected from non-payment, but will also allow them the ability to choose their clients and projects without the fear of non-compete agreements restricting their financial opportunities. Withholding payments as small as $250 from a freelancer is the difference between feeding their family or paying for other costs of living,” stated Rafael Espinal, Executive Director of the Freelancers Union.  

“Councilmember Osse’s bill will ensure that countless more freelance workers can recover what they are owed by lowering the earnings threshold in the Freelance Isn’t Free Act, and Councilmember Powers’ bill will further protect freelancers by preventing overbroad and unfair non-compete clauses,” said Mary Rasenberger, CEO of the Authors Guild. “We are excited to continue our work with Freelancers Union, the National Writers Union, and our other partners to expand freelance worker protections across the country.”