NASW issues support for New York's Freelance Isn’t Free Act

On April 22, NASW President Jill U. Adams submitted a memorandum of support to the National Writers Union and its Freelance Solidarity Project regarding New York State Senate Bill 8369 and State Assembly Bill 9368.

Aerial view of the New York State Capitol

Aerial view of the New York State Capitol. Credit: Darren McGee/Office of the Governor of New York

Known as the “Freelance Isn’t Free Act”, the legislation would build on a 2017 law enacted by New York City ascribing policies and remedies protecting freelance workers. The state legislation would extend these protections under New York’s state labor laws and administrative oversight under the state Department of Labor.

The bill language further states: “It would mandate that any hiring party across the state retaining a freelancer's services for at least $250 provide such freelancer with a detailed written contract and timely and full payment. The bill also includes an anti-retaliation provision for the exercise of rights prescribed therein, and a cause of action when any of the above obligations are not met. Additionally, NYS DOL must create a navigation program which will include model contracts and court services as well as a non-judicial, administrative process for resolving disputes between freelancers and hiring parties.”

Follow the National Writers Union for further updates on this legislation.

Download a PDF version of the NASW memorandum from President Adams

April 22, 2022

Re: Memorandum of Support for Freelance Isn’t Free Act S8369 (Gounardes)/A9368 (Bronson)

The National Association of Science Writers is a community of journalists, authors, editors, producers, public information officers, students and people who write and produce material intended to inform the public about science, health, engineering, technology, and the environment. The association was formally incorporated in 1955 in New York with a charter to "foster the dissemination of accurate information regarding science through all media normally devoted to informing the public.” NASW actively promotes press freedom and facilitates efforts to preserve and improve access to information related to science and scientific research. NASW promotes the professional interests of science writers nationally and globally, plays an active role in supporting efforts to ensure writers are paid for their work, and advocates for copyright protections for writers.

**NASW strongly supports Freelance Isn’t Free Act S8369/A9368.** This bill is crucial in securing protections for freelance science writers in the state of New York, as well as freelance writers elsewhere with clients in New York. With passage of the statewide Freelance Isn’t Free Act, these science writers will have the rights to a written contract, timely payment, and protection from retaliation. The law would empower the Department of Labor to enforce it, providing for real consequences for violations. This enforcement not only protects freelancers who work for New York State-based businesses, but also deters bad actors.

Nearly 40% of NASW’s 2,500 members freelance full-time, and many more freelance on a part-time basis. New York and California are the top states where our members reside. Late payment, nonpayment, and lack of transparency around payment terms and other contract clauses are among the most common challenges our members and freelance science writers face, and they spend unpaid hours addressing these issues. Employees have the benefit of filing wage claims through the New York State Department of Labor, which helps them recoup lost wages. Freelance science writers deserve the same protections.

In 2017, New York City passed the Freelance Isn’t Free Act. It is now time to make sure that all New York science writers and those with clients in New York are protected. Please co-sponsor S8369/A9368 to ensure that freelance science writers are paid in a fair and timely manner for their work. Our industry, and many other industries, depend on it.

Sincerely,
Jill Adams, President

Founded in 1934 with a mission to fight for the free flow of science news, NASW is an organization of ~ 2,500 professional journalists, authors, editors, producers, public information officers, students and people who write and produce material intended to inform the public about science, health, engineering, and technology. To learn more, visit www.nasw.org.

NASW members qualify for discount membership to the National Writers Union (NWU). Membership includes access to NWU’s expertise to resolve payment disputes; negotiate contracts; secure international press passes for freelancers; promote books; and find health, dental, and vision insurance, among other benefits. To learn more, log in with your member credentials: www.nasw.org/memberdiscounts.

Hero image: Landscape photo of an aerial view of the New York State Capitol, overlooking the broader State Street hill area of government buildings and the Hudson River in the distance. Credit: Darren McGee/Office of the Governor of New York

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