It was a pivotal moment in early January: literally freelancers supporting freelancers. The Freelance Exchange (FX) of Kansas City presented a significant donation to the Freelancers Union in New York City. With a large Publisher’s Clearinghouse-type check, our member-at-large, Jeremy Lips, hand-delivered this surprise in person. You may have seen the picture or video on social media.
What is the Freelancers Union?
Freelancers Union is the largest organization representing the fastest-growing segment of the U.S. workforce: independent workers. It offers a powerful support system and voice through policy advocacy, benefits, resources, and community. Its goal is to secure a better future for freelancers as a whole.
Since it was founded in 1995, the organization has:
- provided high-quality, affordable, and portable health insurance
- advocated for new healthcare models for the self-employed
- fought for and won protections for freelance workers
- enacted the Freelance Isn’t Free legislation, giving freelancers protections from nonpayment.
How is FX Working with Freelancers Union?
In the spring of 2022, our founder and president, Julie Cortés, was invited to speak at and sit on a panel at a regional conference in western New York. Sitting alongside her on the panel was Freelancers Union’s president and executive director Rafael Espinal. Since meeting, the two have been Zooming regularly to discuss the different ways FX and the Union can work together.
As it’s always been a dream to take FX national, this seemed like a good place to start. If you look around, you’ll see that other industry-related organizations such as Ad Club, AIGA, PRSA, BMA, Social Media Club, etc., all have a national presence … chapters in other cities as well as a national umbrella for club management and national benefits. There are no national professional organizations just for freelancers. Now celebrating our 20-year anniversary, and knowing we’ve got a successful business model, what better time than the present to see this dream come true?
The second part of this partnership is to introduce and help pass the Freelance Isn’t Free (FIF) Law here in Kansas City, if not statewide in Missouri and Kansas as well. This groundbreaking law is designed to protect freelancers from nonpayment. How many of you have received late payments from clients … or no payments at all? Unfortunately, it happens all too often. This is exactly what the legislation aims to combat.
This law would apply to both sole proprietors and those incorporated as either an independent LLC, S-Corp, or C-Corp. Since its inception in 2017, FIF has passed already in New York City, Minneapolis, and Seattle. Los Angeles is currently under review. While a national law would be ideal, these baby steps will help move us toward that pie in the sky. Our goal is to bring it to the Midwest to help protect freelancers here, as well as to set an example and encourage those in other smaller to midsize cities to do the same. To learn more, visit the law’s plain language guide here.
Couldn’t We Do This on Our Own?
We could, but why reinvent the wheel?
Freelancers Union has the national connections to help us reach our goal of taking FX national. While the concept ought to be easily replicated in other cities, the problem lies in finding the movers and shakers (the volunteers) in those other cities to run the organization. Between its national (free) membership and community events, Freelancers Union has those connections.
Additionally, Freelancers Union has literally written the playbook and put together the toolkit to help introduce, advocate, and pass the Freelance Isn’t Free law. They’ve already been helping us in identifying and contacting the appropriate local representatives and have provided guidance with the language of the proposed Law for the Missouri state legislature.
This donation was approved unanimously amongst The Freelance Exchange Board, as we feel it will help strengthen our bond with the Freelancers Union, show a vested interest, and help us continue to give back to the freelance community.
We are excited for what the future holds and cannot wait to see our dreams come to fruition!