Freelance workers organize for legal protections in NYC – Metro US

Freelance workers organize for legal protections in NYC

It took Tracy Ann Essoglou three months to get paid for an 89 hours worth of work she did for a recent freelance job.

“They loved me on the job,” she told Metro New York. “Then, lo and behold, when it was time to get paid it took me another 15 hours worth of work just to get paid.”

RELATED:Self-employment skyrockets in NYC

As an artist-slash-teacher-slash-author-slash-translator, Essoglouis one of the some 1.6 million freelancers working in New York City — of which an estimated77 percent of whomhave been paid late or not at all at least once.

On Thursday, freelancers from across industries are mobilizing in co-working spaces across Manhattan to draw more in more peers who are struggling to secure payment for jobs done.

“So much of New York City’s business is based on what we used to call underground economies,” Essoglou, 55,said. “They’re not really underground anymore.”

Thursday’s effort is the latest in an ongoing campaign pushing for legislative reforms to protect freelance workers across the five boroughs.

RELATED:Older New Yorkers avoid idle hands with startup selling knitted goods

“Freelancers are being stiffed on average $6,000 a year, which would have a big impact on anybody’s bottom line,” said Caitlin Pearce, an associate director with the Freelancers Union.

The group, which is a the forefront of the mobilization, has about 150,000 members in New York City — ground zero for what Pearce said she hopes will be revolutionary legislation to protect freelance workers across any number of industries that include writers, child care workers, tech sector employees, designers and more.

In September, Brooklyn Councilman Brad Lander committed to developing legislation to protect freelance workers rights, potentially allowing “gig-workers the right to organize and bargain collectively,” he said in a statement at the time.

No bill has been introduced by early November, but Lander previously said he wanted to do so by January.

Essoglou had at least one specific recommendation for whatever legislation comes about.

“If you’re a squeaky wheel it can also be the reason people walk away,” she said, explaining that workers don’t want to be punished by employers in response to asking of money due.

“A lot of us are freelancers because we’re either creative or we just have multiple responsibilities,” Essoglou said. “We’re trying to get paid but also get the next job. Whenever we don’t get paid, they dent the possibility of moving forward.”

#FreelanceIsntFree Events —11 a.m. and 1 p.m.

  • Center for Social Innovation (Chelsea)
  • Impact Hub (Tribeca)
  • The Yard (Herald Square)
  • The Yard (Flatiron)
  • Brown Bag Networking 12:30 p.m., LMHQ (Financial District)
  • Browk Bag Networking, 12 p.m. – 1 p.m., Civic Hall (Flatiron)
  • The Grind (Kips Bay)