LA CITY COUNCIL PASSES BLUMENFIELD’S ‘FREELANCE ISN’T FREE ACT’ CREATING NEW PROTECTIONS FOR FREELANCE WORKERS
Los Angeles, CA – Today, the LA City Council passed Councilmember Bob Blumenfield’s motion to establish protections for freelance workers. Partnering with the Freelancers Union and other national advocates who have been working on similar legislation across the country, the “Freelance Isn’t Free” law will help protect freelance workers from nonpayment and retaliation efforts through written contracts. This law empowers City officials to enforce these protections and has real consequences for violations of these rights, including statutory damages, double damages, injunctive relief, and attorneys’ fees and costs.
"Los Angeles has long been a leader in ensuring the dignity of work. Many of our efforts protect employees who are subject to exploitation, including hotel and retail workers. This simple measure will provide basic protections to another group of vulnerable workers--freelancers who are not "employees"--including the right to prompt payment for services rendered,” said Los Angeles City Councilmember Bob Blumenfield. “I'm proud to stand with the independent entrepreneurs who help make Los Angeles such a vibrant and creative community."
Los Angeles is home to the second largest population of freelancers in the United States with over 300,000 freelancers. Yet, for too long, this group of workers has been devoid of adequate protections. It often takes weeks to months to get an invoice paid – if a payment even comes at all – and freelancers have virtually no recourse when they get stiffed. Freelancers make up one-third of the workforce or 59 million in the United States and non-payment has become the number one complaint received by freelancers with 74% of freelancers reporting having issues with non-payment.
"The Los Angeles Labor Movement is proud of this victory that protects the rights of freelance workers and will help put millions of dollars in the pockets of these workers across Los Angeles,” said Ron Herrera; President, Los Angeles County Federation Of Labor. “Our movement is centered on the principle of a fair day's pay for a fair day's work. Thank you to Councilmember Blumenfield for his leadership in developing this policy that embodies those values and ensures that workers in this industry receive fair wages and are treated with dignity and respect on the job."
“Freelancers of all industries are drawn to Los Angeles in pursuit of their dreams and these innovators have been left with no social safety net,” said Rafael Espinal, Head of the Freelancers Union and former NY State Assemblymember/NYC City Councilmember. “With the passage of this law, Los Angeles is setting the precedent for a long awaited national bill that makes payment protections for all workers the standard and will provide a major victory for the hundreds of thousands of freelancers who contribute to the city’s economy.”
“The boundaries between traditional employment, freelancing, and gig work have become increasingly murky, leaving millions of workers unfairly excluded from US labor law. But everyone deserves to be paid on time, no matter what tax form you file,” said Eric Thurm, Campaigns Coordinator for the National Writers Union. “As a national hub for creative industries, Los Angeles is the perfect place to expand on our recent victory in New York State, and to set new standards for how freelancers across many different industries get paid. We’re glad our members have been able to share their experiences with freelancing, and we look forward to continuing our work with the Los Angeles City Council as they take steps to lead on this issue by passing robust protections for freelancers.”
In 2016, the New York City Council passed its landmark Freelance Isn’t Free Act (FIFA), which has been extremely successful in protecting freelancers and establishing legal guardrails where there once were none at all. Currently, the New York City Department of Consumer and Worker Protection (DCWP) oversees and enforces the FIFA and according to their 2020 State of Workers Rights Report, more than 1,600 cases were filed and over $1.6 million in restitution and penalties has been collected since 2018. Seattle has passed a similar bill to be implemented starting in September, 2022, while just this June, New York State became the first to pass a statewide bill.
Blumenfield concluded, “LA’s freelancers deserve these protections and I’m so grateful to the Freelancers Union and all our partners for helping make our effort successful.”
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