In a letter to New York Governor Kathy Hochul, Authors Guild CEO Mary Rasenberger urged the governor to help New York become "the first state in the nation to protect the resourceful and industrious freelance workforce" by signing the Freelance Isn't Free Act into law. In 2017, a local version of the Freelance Isn't Free Act (FIFA) was enacted in New York City. Now a state-level iteration, passed in New York State in June 2022, awaits Hochul's signature.
The regulatory terms proposed in FIFA aim to protect freelance contractors in New York and New York-based businesses from wage theft by setting clearly written contractual terms and payment agreements. At a state level, the bill would allow freelancers to collect double compensation if they are not paid in a timely manner and make it easier for freelancers to make claims on payments that are owed.
With a coalition of freelance groups, including the Freelancers Union and the National Writers Union, the Authors Guild has led efforts to lobby the New York State Assembly and Senate to take up and pass the bill on the grounds that it would ensure that New York's authors, journalists, and other creatives are compensated for their work in a timely fashion.
"This historic milestone will not go unnoticed as freelance workers across the country continue to mobilize for their rights to work with dignity and respect," Rasenberger wrote in the letter.
In a statement asking Hochul to make signing the bill into law a priority, Rasenberger explained that freelancers already face "so many challenges in trying to earn a living," adding that having to "fight to be paid" is another challenge.
"We’ve seen a major increase in complaints from writers about having to devote valuable working hours to chasing down payments they’re owed—and in some cases about never getting paid in full,” Rasenberger said. "New York City’s law has proven successful at curbing this rampant form of wage theft, and freelancers across the state deserve the same protections."
The Authors Guild, the Freelancers Union, and the National Writers Union, are currently working to pass similar FIFA bills in Los Angeles and to introduce one in Illinois. Read the Guild's full letter to Hochul here.