Monday, February 18, 2008


Last night I broke my personal ban on watching NOW on PBS. Why do I have a ban? Just because every time I watch I get so depressed that it makes the Sunday blues ever more painful. Beyond that it has been an essential news program post 9/11.

Last night was a particularly good piece on the Freelancer's Union and traditional labor.

How corporations are using the designation "freelancer" to avoid paying benefits.

Temporary workers and independent contractors make up nearly a third of the U.S. workforce, and represent a growing asset to companies who rely on freelance flexibility. But corporations are using the designation “freelancer” to avoid paying health care and other benefits, even though many of these workers put in the same hours as their covered counterparts. This week, NOW looks at the effect of this tactic on the lives and personal economy of freelance workers.

We also examine an Enterprising Idea to help independent workers manage their personal needs, including benefits, networking, and investment help. Freelancers Union, founded by former labor lawyer and MacArthur grant recipient Sara Horowitz, provides a safety net for over 60,000 workers, but how is it viewed by the traditional labor movement?

This is part of NOW’s series on social entrepreneurs called “Enterprising Ideas“.

At NOW’s website, learn more about the issue, read personal stories of freelance workers, and watch recent more NOW reports of America’s hard-pressed workforce.

Freelancer's discuss the good/bad of freelancing.

Some additional permalance stories at Gawker
No secret that many of the workers in this roll are creative workers and people highly involved in media/tech fields. Most of the economic development is being developed by people working in these fields and largely done by the growing freelance work force. Global business dictates the short term - unfortunately for workers, that's bad.

For NYers one of the interesting sides mentioned in the article is a task force by Governor Spitzer to investigate fraud by company's that take advantage of the freelance/permanent worker divide. So far in 4 months, $29 million has been found to be unpaid to the state by private companies. Those are profits that should have gone towards employee benefits and state taxes designed for the state's infrastructure.

Of course New York is the leading state by far for freelance union membership. To get a complete 50 state coverage for freelancers is something completely other. Many states have completely allowed insurance companies to dominate local governance regarding health care.

Watch the clips as I assume the majority of artists fall into this purgatory of permalance and adjunct
teaching. Perhaps the freelancers union is a partial solution for you.


Anonymous said...

Considering that the Freelancers' Union was started by a lawyer, it's even more baffling to me that they don't cover workers in the "legal industry". That means if you're a temp and work as a legal secretary, paralegal, etc., you can't join.


highlowbetween said...

That's interesting as the whole idea was born out of a law firm that had that exact divide. I'm unclear as to who is eligible or not but would hope that membership will expand to all sectors. I imagine the medical field is littered with permalance workers too.