Some NWU Legislative Priorities for 2021

Mixed Earner Unemployment Compensation (MEUC)

NWU has been part of a large coalition of mixed earners, those who have both 1099 and W-2 income. As many as one million workers with mixed incomes received artificially low unemployment benefits or none at all, in the first stimulus package. Arts and entertainment workers have been disproportionately impacted. This coalition was instrumental in successfully lobbying for $100/week Mixed Earner Unemployment Compensation benefit in the recent stimulus package, on top of the $300 increase. The Mixed Income website is operated by Future of Music Coalition. You can check your eligibility here.

The coalition will be holding a COVID Relief for Mixed Earners webinar next month. It will include someone from a UI office to explain the MEUC benefit and the application process. The discussion will focus on both short and long-term COVID relief plans, including MEUC & UI extensions/enhancements. We’ll get out the invitation as soon as we have a date/time set.

NY DIRECT Coalition

We have been part of the NY DIRECT Coalition for some time, along with the National Employment Law Project (NELP), the Taxi Workers Alliance, Nail Salon workers, and others. We have been trying to pass legislation in NY State against misclassification of workers while protecting the rights of freelancers, avoiding the problems that led to Prop 22 passing in CA. We are also looking to expand NYC’s Paid Sick Days law to gig workers and independent contractors.

Our proposed legislation, the Fair Play in Employment Act, extends the use of the ABC test to most industries in NY state. It also includes Professional Services language that exempts genuine freelancers from the ABC test so that we maintain our 1099 status and our IP rights.

Uber, Lyft and Big Tech, fresh from their $200 million effort in CA, are out to spread Prop 22 to NY and nationally. NY Gov. Cuomo is Big Tech’s best friend and the NYS State Fed is focused on “state bargaining rights” for gig workers, not having them properly classified as employees. This is an uphill struggle to be sure.  Our coalition and dozens of other labor and community organizations just sent a letter to the new Congress, supporting full labor rights for all app-based workers and rejecting a national Prop 22.

Amend the PRO Act to Allow Collective Bargaining for Freelancers

A group of Authors Coalition member organizations are meeting to try to amend the PRO Act to include language to exempt freelancers from the ABC test and legalize collective bargaining for freelancers.

Bills for collective bargaining were introduced in Congress in 2000 and 2005. The PRO Act was passed by the House last year, has 218 sponsors, and is likely to see some movement with the new Congress. We are working with the National Press Photographers Association (NPPA), the Dramatist Guild, the Authors Guild and others.  We want to focus on members of the House and Senate Labor Committees and see if we can enlist some labor support in lobbying.